In 2011, I spent six months living in Istanbul during my study abroad. After these six amazing months I made myself the promise that I would return at least once a year. As I write this I am living up to this promise.
What I loved about Istanbul when I first got here was the fact that the city has everything, from great fancy places to shitty kebab stores, from very rich to very poor and fun very quiet to extremely busy.
Since I left in the beginning of 2012 I followed Turkey with great interest, during the Gezi Park protests I was online all the time and my Dutch friends were calling me to ask if my Facebook was hacked because there were so many posts about the protests.
As I am sitting here sipping my çay I am wandering about what has changed over the last couple of years. I think it has changed, the city has become a bit harsher. I think the differences between people are more shown that before.
What do you think about Turkey is a question frequently asked? It really depends on what you want to know when you ask this. If you follow the news about Turkey and you hear the president say that men and women aren't equal, pregnant women should not walk on the street (because than men can see they had sex), that turkish women should give birth to at least three children or that Muslims and not Columbus discovered America and so on and so on.
But when I visit Istanbul and meet it's people you feel warmth, you feel welcome and I feel at home. There is no one who can match turkish hospitality. I spent the last couple of days with so many new Turkish friends and this city shown me again that it is a city like no others. As said all the extremes are present, from extremely rich to extremely poor. Even though the Turks can be very divided when it comes to football, politics or basically everything when it comes to friendliness they're all extremely the same. Extremely friendly. So you want to know what kind of country Turkey is like? Don't listen to a president but visit and I am sure that you'll love it.
Photo Credits: Bass Nroll