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The neighbor I never met before – Turkey

26 Oct

(At the bazaar. Photograph by S. Trakiyska)

I have wanted to travel to Istanbul for many years, and I finally decided to no longer postpone my voyage.  My curiosity about this city started as a teenager in my history class as we explored the mystery of Constantinople.

But I never went to visit, even though I grew up right next-door.

During my childhood years I heard many stories about people traveling to Turkey. Some traveled there for leisure, others for business. Everyone spoke about the Turkish bazaars.

(The bazaar. Photograph by S. Trakiyska)

Istanbul was an instant surprise.

The architecture of Istanbul is very unique, a mixture of styles, reflecting on the many cultural influences over the centuries. The sophisticated designs and the colorful mosaics provide a rare glimpse of the rich Ottoman cultural heritage. Seeing the spectacular monuments and viewing the breathtaking scenery over the city instantly made me regret my way-over-due arrival to this city.

I learned that just because something is close to you it doesn’t mean that you know it.

(Turkey at night. Photograph by S. Trakiyska)

A friend of mine Hilmi Calis, a Turkish native, said to me: “Istanbul is a city from which everyone leaves enriched.”

As I headed back to the airport, I reflected on a week that just went by filled with some great memories having explored Istanbul’s ancient history, tasted it the delicious food and experienced the hospitality of its people.

Be your own witness.

On the ground of “the other,” I tasted home

14 Oct

( Morocco, Marrakech)

This happened almost two years ago, when an unplanned and sudden journey filled the dates on my travel calendar. I had less than a month to prepare for a trip that was going to last over forty days. One of the countries that I was going to visit was located in the North African part of the world, Morocco. I was fairly knowledgeable about this geographical region and I knew quite a bit about the practiced religion, the architectural design patterns and the customs, but what I didn’t know was some fundamental knowledge of the Moroccan and Berber cuisine, which I was ready to explore. Continue reading