|A photo I took of a small hotel in the neighborhood where we stayed in Istanbul.|
Recent events in Turkey have made me remember the five days that I spent there a few years ago. I was on my way back from Bangladesh and some fellow teachers and I decided to stop in Istanbul to see the sights.
I was sorry to hear about the recent terrorist attack on Ataturk Airport in Istanbul as well as the disruption caused by the coup attempt last week. This is not the first time I have been aware of trouble in Turkey. When we were planning our "stop over" in Istanbul, a few weeks before our date of arrival there were large demonstrations in the city that met with government forces determined to supress them. There was significant news coverage and the scenes we were seeing did not look good. However, our tickets and accommodations were booked so we decided to continue with our travel plans (hoping we wouldn't be confined to our hotel rooms!).
When we arrived things had calmed down and we felt free and save to explore the beautiful city. After living in the crowded and less developed city of Dhaka for a year, we were thrilled to be in a calm, well organized city with nice green spaces, outdoor cafes and civilized traffic with no unnecessary honking of horns! Our hotel was near the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia .... prime tourist attractions.
|Kristina and I in the Blue Mosque|
|Liz and Kristina outside the Grand Bazaar|
As we spent our days strolling the streets, exploring the Grand Bazaar and other sights, we had the opportunity to ask some of the locals what all the recent unrest was about and what they thought of it. The gist of the trouble was that the government was attempting to restrict some of the freedoms that the people of Turkey presently have and impose a more Islamic style culture on its citizens. Those we spoke to were opposed to having their freedom limited and all wished to have a secular form of government.
|Locals outside an ice cream shop near Taksim Square|
The people we met in Istanbul were friendly and kind and I hope that the situation in their country will stabilize. Turkey seemed like a place were all faiths and cultures could live together respecting each other's religion and customs. I will be watching the news very closely in the coming months!
|Chatting with a local|
|My travel buddy Leckie makes a new friend|
|The guys from The Pudding Shop|
You can also read more info about the situation in Turkey by reading Nahlah Ayed's CBC article: