We flew to Istanbul, Turkey just over a week ago. For me, the first several days were a working vacation as I sat at the computer grading final papers each morning. Maybe it was because I was working for a short time when I got here, or because Amy felt really exhausted from the last three months of work, but as the vacation approached we found we were having trouble really looking forward to this trip.

We had wanted to travel to Turkey for some time (Amy’s aunt is from Turkey), but we were just so drained. Also, Turkey was proving to be surprisingly difficult to imagine, harder than any other place we’ve been. We had visited Egypt less than three months before, and it was easy to anticipate most of what we saw there, such as the Nile, the pyramids, and the Sphinx. Turkey was harder, though. We had looked at the travel books and Amy’s cousin’s photos, but we still found ourselves thinking Turkey is like Egypt, only different.

That has proven to be partly true, and because of our trip to Egypt, we have found Turkey to be more familiar than exotic so far. Both countries are largely Muslim and are filled with mosques (the call to prayer can be heard several times a day in all the cities, and while it’s not something we’re used to at home, we both find it soothing and familiar now). Many of the styles of clothing are the same in both Egypt and Turkey, in that much of the clothing is brown or black. There are bazaars with tourist souvenirs, and the touts are fairly aggressive in both places. But Turkey seems calmer, quieter, slower (in a good way). Yes, the touts can be persistent in Turkey, but they aren’t as persistent as the touts in Luxor. Istanbul is a big city, but there is less traffic, and things seem less hectic, than in Cairo. In some ways, Turkey has less of a “wow factor” than Egypt, but I feel more content here. Amy and I have decided Turkey is a place we could live for some time and be comfortable (when travelling now, we no longer just ask ourselves if we’re enjoying a place, or if we would come back, but whether we could live there). Egypt was great for a visit, but it’s harder (but not impossible) to imagine a life there.

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