…You know you want to
I hope it’s been a lovely Easter for you. I wish you all the bountiful love and grace that the gift of Easter is to us all and may the resurrection of Christ Jesus find expression in your lives. Amen
So!…I know it’s been a while since I posted anything here and I think it’s only fair that I spill on what I’ve been up to lately.
I’ve been out and about a bit. Got a gracious holiday from my uber important lawyer job #serious face#…#silly giggles#. I wish I could tell you that I had a really busy last week of work; finishing up important paper work and having a series of wild, manic last few days at work…well, no, I can’t. Instead, I had a very easy week; one or two court appearances, a little bit of paper work and I was skipping gleefully out of the office to begin my long awaited adventure.
I told some people that I was going to Turkey. Most couldn’t hide their surprise. I got a few “errr….what’s happening there?” and a couple more “who goes to Turkey?” I guess that means it’s not a very popular holiday spot for Nigerians.*shrug*
I sashayed onto my private jet in my six inches stilettos with my waist length hair floating carelessly in the cool breeze; just like a real diva. *side eyes*
Ok, seriously, I flew by Turkish Airline for the first time. It was a good flight; thank God for fair weather. The flight had a group of mid-teens on a school trip to Belgium. They could hardly stop chatting and giggling all through the over 7 hour flight so there was a constant vibe in the atmosphere. I watched a very lovely movie- “The Lucky one”. I recommend it if you’re a romantic. I also watched for a second time, the legendary “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”. The in-flight dinner was not really my taste but I dug in all the same, and then managed intermittent snoozes.
My initial arrival at the Istanbul International Airport was mostly uneventful; just the usual following of signs and directions to the Immigrations desk. I should probably state that as popular as the City of Istanbul (formerly known as Constantinople) is, it’s not the capital of Turkey. Ankara is. Things started to get a little more ‘interesting’ when at the Immigrations desk, the man at the desk called in some other fellow from the back and they both took a long look at my passport, speaking in their local language.
Apparently, being a Nigerian and flying into Turkey, by itself makes me a prime drug trafficking suspect. In summary, some very bad Nigerians have earned the country a nasty reputation in Turkey and innocent people take the brunt. I have to also state unrepentantly that the Turkish Immigration agents have used that as an unfair excuse to harass and embarrass visiting Nigerians. For crying out loud, they seemed rather shocked that I didn’t have any hard/illegal drugs and they carried out the same humiliating routine with every single person who presented a Nigerian passport. #sigh#
An ordinary holiday was starting to turn into a nightmare but it got better when I passed Immigrations and sat at the lounge, waiting to get picked up from the airport. That gave me a chance to observe the very modern airport. I started to see signs of a developed country that probably gave the Turkish government the boldness to try and accede to the European Union. Needless to say my bias isn’t very much in their favour after the unsavoury welcome. #eyes rolling#
Moving on to after getting picked up from the airport; I saw so many mosques through the window and I just had to ask just how many mosques are in Istanbul altogether. The driver was certain that there are at least a thousand and two hundred (1,200) mosques in the City of Istanbul alone; not very surprising for a Muslim country. Some of the mosques are over a thousand years old. I also observed that hijabs and niqabs were common to the women but that notwithstanding, I noticed a fair degree of liberality which allowed other
women people to dress as their own culture, tribe or religion allowed.
I checked into the “Home Suite Home” Hotel in the Osmanbey shopping area. The Receptionist, Aslan was quite nice and helpful but he struggled with his English like many other Turkish nationals. The hotel room was warm and comfortable #understatement#, a welcome break from the blistering cold outside – Huge Compliments from grand uncle. Teşekkür ederim Sir (Thank you in Turkish). The soft fibre beddings were quite inviting but I ignored the temptation and stepped into the 10⁰ centigrade weather in the hope of finding a warmer jacket than the one I had on. As cold as it was that Friday afternoon, I didn’t see a single warm jacket on display. The shop owners’ excuse; spring! Even the shop attendant snickered when she said the word. Obviously, even they had not seen the cold cold March coming.
I went into full shopping mode since my stay was destined to be a short one and I found out that the City of Istanbul is famous for selling things in bulk and that’s why it’s so encouraging for people looking to buy for retail. As much as the wholesale prices were quite fair deals, bulk sales made it difficult for someone looking to shop for themselves alone so I decided to do some business when I get back home. I look forward to seeing how much of a business woman my Turkish experience can make out of me.
The temperature alternated between 10⁰ and 15⁰ for the three nights I was at Istanbul. The people don’t speak a lot of English so it’s hard to say whether they are generally friendly or not but of course I met a couple of people who were simply excited to meet me and my family.
Particularly, there was this Kebab shop in the Laleli shopping area where I met two young boys. The father of one of them owned the shop and I think the other boy was a visiting friend. Neither of them spoke a word of English but they managed to introduce us to all the staff and in the midst of the explanations and gesticulations, I picked up that the father of the visiting friend was killed with a gun (or guns). I cannot for the life of me explain the circumstances of the shooting though. #Language!# Bottom line, the boys and their folks were very chatty and friendly.
Most Turkish shops close early during weekends but some stay open till as late as 6pm. The Turkish equivalence of the South African Shoprite and English Tesco is Migros, a store that stocks basic consumables and a limited number of non-food products. I particularly enjoyed their wide range of fresh vegetables.
Well, after a frantic two and a half days of shopping, it was time to pack up my luggage and prepare to continue my trip. Next stop- London, England. As I hopped on the plane and turned my back on Turkey (most likely for good), I bade the country farewell and settled into a warm delicious in-flight meal of Chicken, rice, Vegetables, ice cream and crackers.
Though a less unfamiliar destination, my trip to England promises to offer more sight-seeing and interesting experiences. I’ll be sharing on that very soon so watch the space #wink#
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