Poetry of Robert Fisher
 
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My Travels

 

 
 

Braddock, PA May 2010

Trip to Sweden, June 2010

Amalfi Pompei Liguria 2010

Trip to Hungary 2009

Photos of trip to Portual 2008

Photos of My Trip to Turkey 2007

Trip to Sicily 2009

Photos of our trip
to Cuba, December 2009

Photos of our trip to Italy June 2008

 

 


 



Turkey reminds me strongly of Japan: both are Asian nations with a veneer of Westernization. The veneer is uneven: it is deep in technology, commerce, the educational system, the look of the cities, to varying degrees in democracy, and in the separation of religion from politics. On the other hand, the veneer is shallow in people’s basic attitudes towards life and society: face or honor is still a dominant fact of everyday life; women are in an inferior social position, especially in the business world and the professions, directly or indirectly arranged marriages are common, and tradition is a heavy millstone that stifles innovation and progress, especially, in the case of Turkey, outside the main city, Istanbul, which is almost a nation unto itself.
        One thing that strikes the visitor to Turkey immediately is the absence of women in public places, particularly unaccompanied women. It’s a man’s world, men everywhere in little knots smoking and talking, sitting in cafés, or walking in little bands along the streets. In Pera, the fashionable, upscale part of Beyoğlu, you might as well be in Milan or Paris: women aplenty, dressed in the latest fashions, chatting and shopping. In Sultanahmet, the old Constantinople with its Saint Sophia, Blue Mosque, Topkapı Palace, the Hippodrome, all clustered in one tight area, the women who are out are almost always wearing a headscarf, if not an ankle-length black coat, and never alone, but with children and neighbors. Outside Istanbul, the towns and villages are predominantly like Sultanahmet, with tinier versions of Beyoğlu.
        Turkey is at the crossroads: in July the national elections will decide whether the country will continue to follow the policies of the revered founder of the Republic, Kemal Atatürk − secularism, separation of church and state, looking toward Europe and modernism − or begin to include Islam in the school curriculum, involve religion in politics and align the nation more with other Islamic countries.
        The greatest attraction in Turkey is the Turks: the people are exceptionally friendly and courteous. Men give their seats on the trams to women. People, even in large crowds, are quiet and orderly. Shopkeepers, waiters, policemen, just ordinary people on the street, are kind and helpful, smiling. It’s a delight to be in Turkey primarily because of the wonderful people.
        Istanbul can be seen as a tourist in five days at the most. The highpoint is, for me, the spectacular Bosphorus and Golden Horn, with their myriad of ships from every nation and their busy ferries beetling from station to station. An inexpensive ferry can take you all the way to the last station, Anadolu Kavağı, just where the Black Sea begins.
        The other reason to visit Turkey is to see the extraordinary and beautiful rock formations in Cappadocia. Cappadocia is one of those natural wonders that are awe-inspiring, like the Grand Canyon. The little town of Göreme is a delight: an eccentric community that reminds me of Telegraph Avenue in the ’sixties, filled with artists, musicians and unusual people who have drifted there and decided to remain. The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly.