So far, Turkey is nothing like what I had expected. My only other experience of Muslim majority countries has been in the Balkans, which still show many scars from war just two decades ago. Granted, I have only seen the airport and the airport hotel so far, but even in just these two things, Turkey has surprised me. The airport is nicer, cleaner, better organized than any of Milan’s airports. It’s even nicer and cleaner than a lot of American airports.
The airport hotel is probably the nicest hotel I’ve ever stayed in—and at a cost far less than you would imagine. The staff all speak English, and they are super-attentive and very courteous. The hotel’s restaurant had a good variety of offerings, both international and local. I always go for the local specialties whenever I visit a new place, so I had beef shish kebab with a yogurt dressing accompanied by a local wine. The waiter offered me a bottle of the local wine, which was on sale for only Four Turkish Lira. That makes it the cheapest wine I’ve ever had at about $1.40 a bottle. However, I assured him that one glass was plenty for me. The wine was very good, and complimented the meal nicely.
The next morning at breakfast, I was astounded to discover that the hotel brings in a fresh honeycomb each day for breakfast. It was quite a nice breakfast.
Later, as I reflected on all this, I remembered that Turkey had applied for membership in the European Union. The EU, however, had not wanted to open the floodgates for a Muslim invasion of Europe (ironic now, isn’t it?). I had heard that Turkey had put forth a lot of effort to show itself a European country. So I think what I’m seeing here is some of the fruits of that effort. Turkey has actually made itself nicer, cleaner, and better organized that the European countries it had wanted to join. At least from the little that I’ve seen so far. It has been a real pleasure to visit here. God is good!