Friday, July 13, 2012

Traveling from Turkey

One of the greatest things about living in a country like Turkey is the close proximity of so many other European and Asian countries. Since moving to Turkey, I haven't been able to travel as much as I would have liked, but I have traveled a bit.

Two months after after arriving in Turkey, we hopped on a ferry in Ayvalik and trekked over to the island of Lesbos (Lesvos - Mytilene) in Greece. For 30 Euros per person, the quick 45 minute ferry ride was easy and fun. I was traveling with my Turkish wife and two Turkish friends. One of my first observations after arriving in this beautiful working class island was how friendly the locals were! I know that politics between Greece and Turkey haven't always been smooth sailing, but these Greeks were incredibly friendly. We were repeatedly asked where we were from and we always replied America and Turkey. This was always followed by a smile and a greeting by the local calling us their neighbor and brother.

A few months later we took a trip to Amsterdam. I had been to Amsterdam once during a scheduled 13 hour layover on the way to Turkey from Seattle and I absolutely loved it! I knew I wanted to go back to spend a few days there and check out the sights. We traveled to Amsterdam in late January and it ended up being perfect timing as we were able to avoid the crowds and had beautiful weather. I love the winter months and I think this added to the overall ambiance of trekking around Amsterdam.

Fast forward a few more months and our travels took us back to Greece, this time to the Island of Kos. Kos is a 25 Euro ferry from Bodrum with the journey lasting about 40 minutes. They do offer a nice hydrofoil high speed boat for a few more Euros, but we decided to go the scenic route on the slower boat. Kos was another beautiful Greek island with super friendly locals, a more colorful nightlight and lots of tourists from all over the world.

For our next big adventure, I hope to visit Vienna during Christmas. I really miss the holiday spirit from back home. Celebrating the Christmas holiday in Turkey is not all that common as most Turks don't celebrate Christmas. This is starting to change in the bigger cities with Turks traveling to western countries and bringing some of our traditions back with them (and the international retailers in Turkey trying to capitalize on the Holiday with their "sales"). If I can make it to a spot like Vienna for a few days to soak in the holiday spirit, I would be a happy camper.