Turkish life: Lessons from our first Roadtrip: Istanbul is not Turkey
Last month I was really fortunate to go on (our first) roadtrip in Turkey!
I was amazed by the landscape- mountains in the distance, green fields and farms, and the wide open space to breathe! It looks like this:
I don't know what I was expecting but what I saw reminded me how different Istanbul is to the "rest-of-Turkey." Whilst Istanbul is beautiful, and there are beautiful places to walk around and chill especially on the mighty Bosphorus, it just has a more "closed -up" feel to it. Like take Bebek for instance, you can sit near the water edge - but just in a small space and then there's buildings in and around you.
In Istanbul, at least on the modern European side which is what I'm more familiar with, sure there are parks, but it's surrounded by loads of flats and tall buildings. So when driving around your view usually includes sprawling flats on hills. It's different out in the countryside and even in Izmir, another big city in Turkey. Things just feel more open, and because it's more flat I guess that also contributes to the sense of openness, which is just wonderful.
Driving through some mountains as we neared Turunç, our destination for the trip-the views hit you like waves - one picturesque scene after the next. We made one mandatory photo opp stop to take some pictures of a scene in a valley below us which was simply spectacular - it was the city of Turunç from above - a lovely village near the Aegean Sea, blue waters, a little town and all against a brilliantly blue sky. Subhanallah
Ilica Plaji (Beach)
We also visited Çeşme on this road trip where we were treated to a gorgeous beach called Ilica Plaji. Here we enjoyed soft white sand, turquoise water and gentle yet effective waves! This made an awesome swim and great way to spend the afternoon while enjoying a beautiful sunset. I am truly amazed by the spectacular beaches in Turkey, a few hours drive ( ok, a good few hours!) from Istanbul.
Just like London is not England, I see now that Istanbul is not Turkey! This means you have to explore outside the busy city to truly appreciate the whole country and it's amazing landscape and feel.
I look forward to discovering more towns and regions beyond Istanbul, Insha Allah.( But we will investigate an easier route, perhaps half flying/half driving rather, as the ten hours drive we took on the way back from Turunc with a tired baby wasn't the greatest fun!!)
Stay tuned for more adventures from "The Organised Traveler", my other writing name :)
We like to structure our weekends with one day of rest/chores/catch up, and the other day for adventure! This usually involves exploring an undiscovered area, trying out new food or just doing something different. This weekend, we woke up to a sunny sky, albeit with a slight chill in the air and decided to head out to Cengelkoy, a neighbourhood in Uskudar, across the bridge on the Asian side.
This place is best known for "Cikolata Kahve" - a chocolate boutique store specialising in exceptional chocolate. So this made our first stop for a "snack" , since we had already had a big breakfast at home. Inside, it was quaint and cosy, friendly staff and quite busy, which I kind of expected for such a popular place.
There are no menus, because really there are only 3 items on their menu to drink - Cay (Turkish tea), hot chocolate and Turkish coffee/hot chocolate. Besides this, you can order chocolates from their attractive display made up of dark, milk, white, nut…
While studying the story about Moosa AS in our weekly halqa, I came across this ayah from the Quran on showing gratitude:
And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed, 'If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]; but if you deny, indeed, My punishment is severe.' " (14:7)We discussed what the Shaykh had taught us in a course on "Discourses from the Quran" that we attended in London a few years ago and we remembered how he had mentioned that gratitude is something you ARE and LIVE, not just DO. So through your actions you are grateful, not just doing a ritual for a few minutes when you feel like it, thinking your gratitude action is done for the day (or week or month!).
I started thinking about being grateful and made me realise that you can't be grateful and complain at the same time. Go on, try it!
So every minute we spend complaining, it's taking us away from focusing on all that's good and counting our blessings. Rather we are left feeli…