Expat Magazine

Gifts and Stories From Turkey

By Gail Aguiar @ImageLegacy

gifts from Turkey

I showed around some visitors from Turkey today. This group of three intrepid souls have been running all over Porto, undaunted by the lousy weather, trying to take in as much as possible with very limited time (just a few days). I’d like to think we drove the rain away, because we were outside the whole time and it stayed dry. I brought them to some of my favorite haunts including cafés and viewpoints, passed along some tips, but much of the time we ended up talking about Turkey, not Portugal.

Although Turkey has been on the birthday list several times, I still haven’t made it there for one reason or another. Nearly 20 years ago, I had a Turkish boyfriend and we lived together in Vancouver for two years. I ate Turkish food, learned Turkish words (long forgotten now), attended Turkish weddings, and was given as close a look at Turkish culture as one could have while living in Canada. My boyfriend’s Turkish friends all married Canadians, traveling regularly to Turkey for holidays and family visits. When they had children, they sent their kids to Muslim schools. I had a pretty good idea of what my life would be like if we’d taken the next step, but we didn’t — I broke up with him in the middle of the 1998 World Cup Final between France and Brazil (yes, that game, on purpose1).

{ On a side note, I wrote a blog post in January 2010 about planning my birthday trip for that year and it was a toss-up between Turkey and Portugal. At the last minute, I chose neither and went to Barbados instead. The following year I went to Portugal… and the rest is history. }

It was interesting to talk about Turkish culture for an afternoon, because it’s been a very long time since the Turkish chapter of my life and almost two decades later it suddenly came flooding back. It underscores my belief that the strongest reasons for travel are based on people more than anything else, more than buildings or landscapes, history or food. People will travel for all those other reasons, but it’s the interactions (positive or negative) that bear the most influence on their overall experience. It’s something I hear time and again when it comes to tourism OR migration. Whether your travel is just a few days or for settlement reasons, people can make it or break it.

So now that I have some souvenirs from Turkey and an open invitation, is it Turkey’s turn next year for the birthday trip — FINALLY — after years of being postponed? I know better than to declare this early! Stay tuned.

gifts from Turkey

October 29, 2015
Album: Portugal [Autumn 2015]

  1. If you are the bearer of this sort of bad news, I highly recommend choosing a distraction like a huge sporting event to cushion the blow.

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