Cairo airport, June 18th 2006:
"Now, i am sitting at the airport now, outside the gate that we will pass through. Gate 7.I can really admit that i do not like the traveling process: including the trip to airport, crossing gates and passing by officers, and then sitting alone, wishing the flight takes off soon. I always thought that the idea of traveling is good, but when i actually come to apply it, i do find it that appealing. I remember now all the times i traveled before and i come to realize "i'm not the traveling type!" Anyway, here i am waiting for the flight, & for my colleagues to arrive. I'm wondering: how this trip will affect my relationship with them? Will we bond more and become life long friends, or are we just going t spend some days together and that's it?Let's wait & see."
I wrote this in the airport on the first trip, it was 3:00am and i was really aprehensive to what will come up.
Izmir, July 2006:
Izmir. the typical Mediterranean city, with the sea view and the big ships going back and forth its coast, where i spent many wonderful days.Izmir reminds me so much of Alexandria, mainly because of the atmosphere that you find in the Kordon area, very similar to Alexandria Corniche. Lots of cafes and restaurants along side the Kordon. People selling grilled corn and teen shoky to the couples sitting in peace. Beggers even look like Egyptian ones. Kids playing in the garden near the Kordon while their mothers are sitting gossiping. Amateur fishermen trying to catch a few fish from the polluted sea, but enjoying the fishing more than the fish itself. Yes Izmir is so live and joyful. You can sit in any cafe or restaurant and find the service very welcoming. All kinds of food and deserts are found there. If you prefer brands names you can also find International and famous restaurants.
Window shopping is as fun as in Egypt. But for night dresses and wedding gowns it was always on the 1st floor of buildings and not in the street level. I was always wondering how to get there, but never had the chance to visit one of those atheliers.
As i walk in the Kordon, heading for the boat station, i look at all the people sitting there and thinking about the major cultural contradictions found in Turkey, specially in Izmir. Turkey has been always the link between many cultures, and has an extraordinary mix of people and their origins. It lies in the middle of European, Eastern, Russian and Arabian cultures, and hence, people. It is fighting to maintain a character in the mid of this mixture. So as i walk i find girls dressed in the European style, dying their hair blond and showing an intimate relation with their boyfriends. Next to them you will find an Eastern type veiled girl, with her husband and children. The 2 pictures seem very contradicting but the are found next to each other in Izmir.
While getting on the boat i take a glimpse at the people getting on board with me. Some of them look like they are going home from work, others like they are just taking a public transportation to go to the other side of Izmir to do shopping or do some errands. Very few seem to ride the boat for fun as i do. They got used to using this boat as a transportation means that they seem to forget how enjoying it is. Then comes the waiter with the traditional Turkish tea. They call it Chay. I didn't like its taste for it's too bitter for me. It has the same Egyptian tea flavor but with this bitterness. I pass the tea invitation with a smile and say "Tesekkurler", meaning thanks a lot. After 20 minutes we reach "Karsheyaka", the neihbourhood on the opposite side of Izmir. The side i was staying in was "Alsancak", pronounced Alsanjack.
Though all what was said to me about being careful and not stay late out of the hotel, i find the hotel area quite safe. Being the central place in Izmir for "trans-sexuals", they always tell me there is nothing i should fear :) and my colleagues (males) are the ones who should be worried :D i guess it's fair that men should experience being afraid on the street once ;)
Anyway, i used to take rounds, walking in the kordon and the narrow streets of Alsancak, and stay late without being worried. Anyway, the kordon restaurants, cafes and bars stay open till after midnight, during the whole week. I don't like staying alone in the hotel room so i usually exhaust myself walking before going to the hotel, so as to fall asleep once i arrive there.
August - September 2006:
The Turkish cuisine:
The Turkish cuisine is very delicious, like Egyptian and Lebanese food. Turkish food is floating on olive oil (as all medierranean sea cities) and Yogurt!! yes, all dishes, all courses are served with yogurt. Dairy products in general are consumed heavily by Turkish people. And they should actually :) they have the best dairy products i have ever tasted... all kinds of cheese are delicious, specially goat cheese. Yogurt also is very tasty there, and also the most famous drink, Ayran, whic is more or less like el laban el rayeb in Egypt, a little salty. Very famous with Doner (el shawerma).. Oh i just loved everything there, the doner, kebab, pastry, cheese... everything!! I guess now there are no questions about why i gained weight this summer :D
I have a long time love story with the sea. In my life i saw lots of seas, lakes and rivers, in Egypt, USA and Turkey. But still the mediterranean sea is my love. So what else can i ask for other than having a sea view room on my beloved? The sea has always fascinated me, and gave me the feeling of mystery and adventure. Water, it's just water, but the power and danger that lies within is overwhelming. Some wind only can cause this power to emerge, and show its strength and what it can do when it goes mad. I loved the boat trips in the Egean sea (part of the medierranean) and enjoyed the water splashes on my face. Everytime the boat arrives to its destination, i wish i can stay more and not leave. I always wanted a job that has to do with the sea, and i actually applied for jobs in hotels and resorts in Hurghada & Sharm el Shiekh, but never did a single interview there :) So i was happy to stay in Izmir by the sea, and as i mentioned, it reminds me so much of Alexandria. I love Alexandria in Winter, so i am anxious to sea how does Izmir look in Winter. My next trip (4th trip - end of October) will be in Winter, let's wait and see.
to be continued..