For me traveling the world was all about sightseeing, adventure, and the sense of freedom it gives me. I never thought it could be a life-changing experience. Turkey was my first travel, and so I didn’t have a high expectation about what could come out of it. After I spent 9 days in Turkey, I have a strange feeling of change, a sense of accomplishment and belief that my dreams can come true. But most of all it’s the people that I’ve met traveling in Turkey that made me feel better than I felt before the trip. I’ve met many people in Cappadocia, Sisli, Taksim, Sultanahmet, but some of them made an impression on my trip.
José and his beloved wife – the happiest people from Costa Rica
I traveled to Cappadocia after 4 days of stay in Istanbul, Sisli – I had a hair transplant and I was traveling alone. The first night I took a walk to the downtown of Goreme and after that went to a show called Turkish night, but didn’t engage with anyone. The next day, the plan was to do a Red Tour of Cappadocia. It was on the tour bus that I met Jose and his wife, who greeted me with a warm, Hello! I could clearly see their excitement to see places, I liked their spirit. Our tour group went on to visit Uchisar Castle, Goreme open-air museum(Goreme church), Love Valley, Cappadocia ceramic shop in Avanos, Pasabag(Monks valley) & our last stop was Imagination valley. When I got off the bus at the entrance of Monks valley I could feel extreme sunlight on my head and avoid the risk of sunlight on my transplanted hairs I decided to take some rest; it was at this moment that Jose and his wife approached me & asked if I want to take my picture, they were the first ones to offer a help and It felt good!
I told them about my hair transplant and we had a nice chat for almost 10 minutes. The next day, I had booked another tour called Green tour of Cappadocia and we were reunited for yet another day of fun. During our Ihlara valley hike, we had more time to chat about many subjects while walking along the green river. I tied to tell my story – sometimes it could take me a whole day to tell a story! And they also shared theirs, they told me the rip was a special occasion – they have been together for 25 years and it’s their wedding anniversary. From that point on my respect for them took another level, I never had a long term relationship let alone 25 years of marriage with a spark of a newly wedded couple. They were very happy, excited and hungry for adventure – it deserves respect!
They love their country and I don’t think Costa Rica tourism board could do a better job promoting Costa Rica than these two people from the country that is ranked the worlds happiest people live in, one of the five blue zones in the world with only 5 million population and no army. It was a new set of information for me, cause whenever I think about South America all I could think about is the mainstream media news about Venezuela, immigrant problems and the famous cartels & Brazilian movie City of God. I wouldn’t believe these facts about Costa Rica if it didn’t come from Jose and his wife. I am even keen to visit Costa Rica – which is a 3-hour flight away from the Bahamas(a place I’ve always wanted to travel to). I have learned a thing or two from them which could be very helpful for my future life. Thank you!
Young British couples – affable people I met on my way to Nevsehir Airport
I guess traveling alone makes it easy for me to interact with couples, I met Paul and his girlfriend(I’m having problems remember Latin names) on a shuttle service that drives from Goreme to Nevsehir airport. I took the last seat in the minibus, but the luggage was placed over each other in such a way that it could hit the back of my head, unnecessary risk to take, so I changed a seat. Paul said hi, and asked where I’m from. I replied from Ethiopia, proudly! He told me he had never been to Ethiopia, but once he was on a connection flight to Malawi via Ethiopian Airlines and he was in Addis Ababa Airport.
Then Paul asked, how the country is doing? a subject I don’t like to talk about, don’t get me wrong I love my county, but It’s been more than 13 years since I lost my childhood perception about Ethiopia and it’s people. Ever since I joined one of the newly constructed Universities, I had lost some part of my sense of belongingness. Learned it the hard way, that it’s everybody for themselves, money is the engine that drives people and we value quantity over quality. I am proud of the history, nature & gifts of my county, but I have a reservation when it comes to my people. And I didn’t try to promote Ethiopia in a glorified way to anyone I met on my travel. Lucky for me it was days after our Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed received a Nobel peace prize, so I bragged about that, told them about our calendar & 13 months of sunshine and invited them to visit when they can.
While boarding to Istanbul at Nevsehir airport, we talked for over an hour. They were very easy to talk to, also very good listeners, while discussing some issues another subject was raised Religion. Which I have many ideas about, as someone who was raised in a Protestant Christian family, who used to go to church every Sunday and now doesn’t believe in the concept of religion & been years since I have attended a church, I was on a mission to convince this couples that, Humans are the cruelest creation in this universe who justify their shortcomings using religion as a shield. I don’t think I succeeded, but It was a nice try! But I have learned some lessons from meeting this young couple, and it was an unfortunate one. Paul asked for my name & phone number, and we did exchange some information, he also told me his name is very common & it’s difficult to find online, but I was confident that I will find it on social media & he could also contact me through my phone. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find him and didn’t receive any WhatsApp messages. This was the first time that I realized technology could fail me and a hard paper print business card can be very useful while traveling – Jose knew these facts, he had a business card with him & he gave one to me. I didn’t take any pictures of this young couple, wish I did. I don’t have any contact info of them, wish I did. Regret is a bad feeling to have after a trip and I won’t let it happen again. Thank You!
Veysel – 16 years old Turkish boy with a huge Sales Potential
While I was in Istanbul, I was staying in a hotel located in one of the districts on the European side of the city, Sisli. And there is a shopping mall, where food is ridiculously cheap, Western union & commission-free exchange are available, where I watched the Joker movie and most importantly Technosa – a place where 3 floors of electronics equipment are displayed. The shopping mall was my go-to place, and on my last day of Istanbul, before I went to visit Sultanahmet, I stopped by the mall to have breakfast. But I didn’t know that most Turkish businesses open at 10 Am in the morning(I didn’t understand it either), so I had to sit for a while & I couldn’t resist the fountain. And then Veysel – 16 years old Turkish boy with Indian accent & headshake approached me to sell his electronics, I wasn’t interested to buy.
Veysel tried to explain how it works and he had a strong sales pitch – he is the kind of person who would sell you “The famous Pen”. But his greatest asset was his charm & his English accent, He was asking 30 Turkish lira(around 5 Usd) for a vibrating electronic massage tool, which I find of no use for me, but he kept on trying, offered me 5 lira discount but I knew from my Cappadocia trip Turkish people like to bargain, so I wanted to push him down and also to spent some time talking with him. But he was checking his watch, time is of the essence for him – I respected that about him. Finally, we agreed upon 27 Turkish lira with batteries included(3 TL extra), I bought the massage electronics & even though I am not going to use it I felt great about buying something from him. He thought me one thing, while I am traveling its a vacation for me, but other people are working hard to make the day count and their time is valuable to them. Thank You!
Cool history Guy from Latin America – Every sighseeing tour needs someone like him
I am not good with history and I find it hard to read a book unless it’s for an exam or research. These are one of my weakest qualities, even I was getting bored on Red & Green tours of Cappadocia – lucky the tour guides had a sense of humor that helps in following the history of these places. When our Green/South Cappadocia tour was in its final stages, we had to stop for a visit of a Jewelry shop, I was checking out some Zultanite(color-changing rare gem), out of nowhere I feel the urge to ask about the Armenian people and their Jewelry craftsman, since I have heard on Ethiopian medias about their influence on Ethiopian Jewelry crafts and though I have seen the designs in the Jewelry sho somewhere else. I was asking around and then I approached a Latin guy who I have seen answering history questions earlier in the tour. He took me to a free space and told me that some parts of history are sensitive, that I can ask these questions, but some people might become uncomfortable answering them. And explained the history of Armenian people and how they could have come to Ethiopia. It was a big lesson to take and I believe we need people who read history as a hobby on every sightseeing tour. Thank You!
Turkish People who took the time to show me directions and offered a help
Turkish people are awesome! They don’t expect anything in return to be nice to anyone, they are genuinely nice people. There were many situations when I needed help with directions, especially Sultanahmet was very difficult to navigate for me. I remember getting into a Grand Bazar and having a difficult time returning to the entrance I used to get inside. And to make things worse with all the sightseeing & lively atmosphere of Sultanahmet, I forgot that my hotel is in Sisli which is around 10 km away. So by the time that I decided to go back to Sisli it was already dark and I wanted to save money for shopping. I had to take the Metro which will have two stops, Sultanahmet to Kabatash, Kabatash to Taksim and then Taksim to Sisli. I was all over the place asking people on the streets to show me the way, most Turkish people don’t understand English but they will try to help anyway. After taking more than 30 minutes trying to get to the next Metro station, I finally found it and I asked an older guy to help me get a pass to Sisli(I thought it was going to be a straight journey), he explained and helped me get a pass. He was very nice & helpful. But still, I didn’t really understand how to get to Sisli so I asked another guy on the train to help me get to Sisli, he speaks very good English and he guided me until Taksim square, he paid for the pass with his card and refused to accept my money. He said he wouldn’t mind helping and told me that he owns a car, but he uses the metro to get around the city due to the traffic in Istanbul. What I found interesting is that the cost of Sultanhamet to Sisli trip by Metro is 15TL, but the meter taxi will ask for 75 TL and the taxi could take more than 45 minutes. I arrived on time for dinner in Sisli before the shopping mall closes. These taught me how to be nice and helpful to people. Thank You!
My first trip opened up my eyes to the way I perceive the world and the people I’ve met traveling in Turkey will make me think of Traveling the world as a way to engage with other people, culture and learning from the experience. Hope this article was helpful and relatable to you in someways.