For our Honeymoon we took a Mediterranean cruise. While I don’t think cruises can always give you a real in-depth look into whatever place you are visiting, I do think they are a lot of fun and you get a great “glimpse” at that culture.
When you book a cruise you can choose to book either a private table, or be at a larger table with other couples or families. We always choose to be at a table with other people so we can mingle and meet new people. We have been on four cruises and only have a bad table once – it is a gamble, but if it pays off you have lifelong friends!
Here we are in Turkey. Before our travels, our family was uneasy about us traveling to Turkey.We had lots of verbal conversations with words of advice and things we needed to make sure to do or not do. Schriber is a travel writer who discusses women travelers and explains that women travelers “work against gender roles and the cultural forces that would ensure their continuation.” I think that quote is one of the many points of this blog. I also think that quote accurately explains why I wanted to travel to to Turkey, even when some family might be weary. While looking back on this and creating this post I went and read through old emails.
Here are some things that my dad said in various email convos:
Dad: “I am worried about you two traveling to Istanbul. They are turning more and more strict Muslim. Only travel with a group; you never know what could happen. I read in the papers all the time about another Westerner getting attacked.”
Dad: “Make sure to go with Alex everywhere. If you need to use the restroom make sure he waits outside the door.”
Dad: “Also make sure to dress conservatively; I have heard they are pretty strict on women’s attire.”
Here are some things my grandma said in various email convos (she spent a couple weeks there a couple years back):
Grandma: “The gyros are amazing! I think I gained 5 pounds that trip. Make sure to have a gyro for me.”
Grandma: “When I was there I smoked hookah a lot. My favorite flavor was strawberry. I am pretty sure people smoke other things besides tobacco though!”
Grandma: “Ephesus has great leather stores. You won’t be disappointed if you shop there. Make sure to bargain; no price is set!”
Did I realize I was in a Muslim country?
Yes-in Istanbul, but No in Ephesus. They did the call to prayer multiple times a day in Istanbul, which I have never experienced. They separated men and women praying in some mosques. Istanbul was the first time I have ever seen women in a Burka or a Niqab. (Here is a good website to learn about the Coverings Worn by Muslim Women.) In Ephesus I did not see a single woman in a Burka, and I saw many women wearing short sleeves and without a head scarf.
However, what is a “Muslim Country?” So, I noticed these couple differences, but honestly, isn’t that just part of the “culture?” Holland and Huggan’s are two authors who discuss travel writing.They argue, “Travel writing, after all, is a pseudoscience of observation; inhibiting the indeterminate area between fact and fable, history and myth, it has thrived on a diet of whose geography is only partly covered, and whole multiple possible histories are only partly understood.” Maybe I only partly understood or my trip was a partial glimpse at the culture; it doesn’t take away from the fact that it is still exciting and fun to experience a new culture. Spurr, a well-known travel writer, and says, “Western writers are united by “this idealization [that] always takes place in relation to Western culture itself…it conceives an idea of the Other that is readily incorporated into the fabric of Western values.” I have traveled all over Europe and I definitely noticed cultural differences while abroad: kissing on the cheeks in Italy and France, eating very late in Spain and businesses closing down in the afternoon for siesta, beer being more common than water for a drink during lunch and dinner in Czech Republic (water is much more expensive too!) All of these places are more “westernized” so maybe I find the differences fun and exciting and in a way “idealize” them as Spurr says, but Turkey is literally half in Europe and half in Asia, although most consider it an “Eastern” country.
The things I noticed in Turkey are nothing but the cultural difference of Turkey, right? I think so. I don’t think it is me idealizing it, and I really don’t think I idealize Western countries; I embrace it all! The only difference of traveling to Turkey is it was overall more of an experience that I am unfamiliar with because it is not a “western” country. Eating late, kissing on the cheek and enjoying a beer, aren’t that “shocking” to a westerner like me, but yes, I have never seen a woman in a burka before or experienced a call to prayer five times a day. However, I view it as part of the whole wonderful experience. There is no better way to learn about a culture than to experience it, and I LOVED my experiences in Turkey and I LOVED to embrace the culture differences. My dad still might not understand why I find Turkey so appealing because of everything he reads in the papers, but I think he saw the joy I felt about my travels and accepted it more. And for the record, my grandma was right – I did buy a beautiful leather jacket in Ephasus, I ate lots of yummy gyros and I had some hookah!
A woman making a Turkish rug. People all over the world pay great money for these rugs!
Pulling the silk for the Turkish rugs from the cocoons. Such an amazing process!
My husband in one of the famous Turkish rug shops.
A yummy Turkish meal!