I could start this blog post, like I started all of my other blog posts by complaining how fast the time goes by. But to make it brief and short: 2/3 of my voluntary year are finished.
This led to an increase of traveling, due to the fact that we want to see as much as possible before we go back to Germany. So, in April we finally made our way up to Istanbul and spend a week in this gigantic city of Art, History and Culture. There is really no possible way to experience Istanbul in less than a week. In my opinion, the 6 days we spend there are the bare minimum to give this incredible city justice. It was quit refreshing to get out of Izmir again, but soon I came to realize that this 16 million inhabitant city is no place to relax. Istanbul is probably one of the mist historic cities in the world and it likes to show it. While you run around Izmir desperately looking for some historic landmarks, the sightseeing in Istanbul is inevitable. No matter where you go, you are faced with hundred years of history. Of course, we went to see all the usual landmarks like Galata Tower or Hagia Sofia, but to be honest my favourite sight was the maritime museum, probably because of my little obsessions with ships and everything maritime related.
I was even lucky enough to go sailing myself, directly after our Istanbul visit! Toni’s parents came to visit and offered me a bunk on the sailing boat, they wanted to go sailing with. So, with only one night in Izmir, I directly went to Foca to go sailing in the Bay of Izmir. We had discontinues and weak winds and due to a planning mistake we were not able to hoist the mainsail. With the wind coming from the north-west we could use our foresail for a downwind course from Foca-Bay towards Manal. The unsteady winds picked up in front of Mordogan and gave us, despite only having one sail, a very good speed as we sailed into the bay of Manal. We thought the water would be warmer but were a little disappointed when the Water wasn’t as comfortable as we hoped for. But still we used our night on anchor to go swimming in this beautiful day. I am very thankful for the opportunity to go sailing again. I learned to love sailing throughout the years in Germany. But unfortunately, Covid put a stop the already rare opportunities I had for sailing. The stronger wind in front of Mordogan made it harder the next day to cross up against the wind, heading back to Foca. Our crossing between Mordogan and Uzun Ada didn’t seen to bring us any further and as it got a little warmer the wind died as well. That left us with motoring our way free from Uzun Ada and picking up the wind at a different time again.
After a week in Izmir, I packed my bags again, because my parents came to visit me for two weeks. The journey that was following was not planned by me, but by my dad. Firstly, we went to Pamukkale, where we realized that the whole place is crowded by tourists and Instagramers. Usually when I saw so many foreign tourists in Turkey, I always thought “turist degilim” and that I was different. But given that I was there with my parents who don’t speak any Turkish and don’t live in Turkey like me, I realized: “Shit! Ben turistim…”. I know it sounds weird, but normally I don’t feel like a real tourist in Turkey, because I live and work here. But I also know that in touristic places like Pamukkale everyone sees me as a tourist, especially when I am there with my parents. That feeling didn’t go away when we went to Fethiye and Ölüdeniz. Those are probably the most touristic places in Turkey. Ölüdeniz is just made out of hotels and restaurants. I came to the realisation that this journey with my parents is disrupting my volunteering experience a little bit. Don’t get me wrong, I loved that my parents came to visit me, but it didn’t make me feel like I am exploring the country with my volunteer-friends, it was more like going on a vacation with my family. It got better when we went to Selcuk to visit Ephesus. I mean Ephesos is a huge tourist destination, but everything around it seems more relaxed and not so touristic. I came to that conclusion when we walked back to Selcuk in the rain, walking our way back through fields and over little roads, because we didn’t want to take a Dolmus.
My most recent travel was a solo adventure. My friends decided to go to Pamukkale, where I just went two weeks earlier. So, after trying to find a rental car in Izmir and not finding any that rent to 19-year-olds, I took the Izban to Aliaga. From there I took the Dolmus to Candarli where I spontaneously booked a room and discovered the village in the evening. The next day I took the Dolmus to Bergama, a city which is very lively and beautiful. My plan was to see the ancient Pergamon by taking the Teleferic up the mountain. But when I arrived at the google location of the Teleferic, I realized that the GPS location is wrong in Google Maps. So, I walked up the mountain and every time a car came by, I tried to hitch-hike. Finally, a group of Chinese tourists stopped for me and took me up for the rest of the road. Pergamon itself is a lot like Ephesus, but with less people. For me it was also a rather new experience because I can’t remember the last time, I went out with a backpack without knowing where I was about to go. When you come out of your comfort zone and decide to travel alone somewhere without a plan, it becomes quit addicting!
In conclusion, these months were month of traveling and I am very keen to go on even more journeys in the next months!