Saturday, 12 July 2014

Discover Turkey!

Shopping with my cute niece
After 6 long weeks of separation, it was time again to reunite with my beautiful wife who spent most of her time with her family in Paris. We drove to Istanbul to pick her up just a day before my birthday. It was wonderful to see her again. During the same time period, my brother, his wife and my little niece, who live in the U.S. came to Turkey for holiday. I hadn't seen my adorable niece for more than 2 years and could not believe how much she had grown. It certainly was a family reunion. After spending one night in Istanbul, we drove back to Eskisehir for my birthday celebrations.

Family time
We arrived at one of my auntie’s house who prepared 15 different dishes. Wow, what a feast! There were lots of mezes, soup, main courses and desserts. At the end of this amazing dinner, I could not move from my chair for a while. I was definitely putting back on the kilos that I had lost in India. It was a wonderful to start my new age with all this love and food.

While we were in Eskisehir, Taksim Gezi Park protests started in Turkey. The initial protests were led by some environmentalists opposing the replacement of one of last parks in Istanbul with a shopping mall. The protests developed into riots all around Turkey against the government when a group occupying the park was attacked with tear gas and water cannons by the police. 

Alex at protests
Many of these events were peaceful until the police started to attack the protesters. Alex and I went to a couple of these demonstrations in Eskisehir, which did not have any violence. However, there were also very brutal riots in many cities. Unfortunately, 11 people lost their lives and around 8,000 people were injured. According to Amnesty International Turkish authorities committed human right violations on a massive scale in the government’s attempt to crush Gezi Park protests. It was very distressing to see the police violence towards innocent people who were simply using their democratic rights. I wish for a peaceful resolution of this conflict.

When our time came to an end in Eskisehir, we started to drive towards the south-west to discover the Aegean cost of Turkey before meeting my wife’s parents in Side. Our first stop was Pamukkale. It is a natural wonder which contains travertines (terraces of carbonate minerals left by the flowing hot springs). It is a spectacular place with great views which cannot be missed if you visit Turkey.

Beautiful Pamukkale
After spending the night in the coastal town of Marmaris, we continued to the next tourist attraction. Ephesus was an ancient Greek city on the coast of Ionia which was built during the 10th century BC. It is situated in Selcuk, a small town located 30km away from Kusadasi. It is a magnificent site where we spent around 4 hours visiting some incredible ruins, striking temples and a colossal amphitheatre. The archaeological excavations are still continuing in this stunning historical site.

Magnificent Ephesus
Only 7 kilometres away from the incredible ruins of Ephesus, the House of the Virgin Mary welcomed us. This small shrine attracts many pilgrims based on the belief that Mary was taken to this stone house by Saint John and lived there until her death. This site has an incredible calming energy and we felt very Zen after our visit.   

Ruins of Amphitheatre in Ephesus

After some spectacular sightseeing, we drove to another coastal town called Oludeniz (official translation Blue Lagoon) which is very close Fethiye. This place became one of my favourite spots in Turkey. We checked into great hotel called Vento Boutique Hotel, a lovely little guest house that provides warm Turkish hospitality. It is an ideal place to relax and unwind. At night, we checked out Fethiye’s fish markets where you can select different variety of fish and eat at one of the local restaurants. Once again, we weren't disappointed with the food.

Fethiye Fish Markets
The next morning started early with a delicious breakfast at the hotel, followed by a peaceful swim in the crystal waters of Oludeniz. Around midday, we started driving towards Side where we would meet Alex’s parents that night.

Before reaching Side, we visited my uncle and his family in Antalya. It was terrific to see them again after many years. This trip became all about reconnecting with the family and I am very grateful for that. A major disadvantage of living in Australia is that we don’t get to see our family very often.

Alex and I don’t really like staying in resorts as it makes it hard to experience the culture of the country we are visiting. However, this time we were catching up with our extended family including my my in-laws, my brother and his family. The week at the Hotel Otium Eco Club Side turned out to be an unforgettable family holiday. 

This resort mostly caters for families with children. So, it was perfect for my little niece, Lara. Our days were filled up with swimming, tennis, beach volley, and water polo. The food in the open buffet was exquisite. At night, we watched exciting shows presented by different dance and acrobatic groups. I was also  happy to catch up with one of my friends, Murat, from the university years in Germany who now lives in Side. Many thanks to Murat to show us the dynamic night life of Side.

Mum's Birthday Party!
On our last night, my in-laws organised a surprise birthday party for my mother. It was a grand closure to our trip in Turkey. 

Most of my time in Turkey was spent to reconnect with the family and friends. I feel very fortunate to have such amazing people in my life. I did not always have good relations with my family but in the recent years, things have gotten much better. Family relations aren’t always easy to manage and they can be very challenging at times. You might even choose to emotionally cut off from your family like I did many years ago.

Emotionalcut-off describes the way which people manage their unresolved emotional issues with other family members by reducing or totally cutting off emotional contact with them. A cut-off can happen through physical distance or forms of emotional withdrawal. Although the immediate pressure might be relieved by cutting off, the patterns of reactivity in intense relationships continue to be the same (Brown, 1999). Therefore, these unresolved issues or the patterns of reactivity repeat themselves in new relationships (Richardson, 1995). 

My personal experience is that cutting off from family does not really solve any family problems. Through individual and group therapy over a long time, developing awareness and accepting who I am, I managed to reconnect with my family. It is continuous work which requires willingness, patience, forgiveness and love. You can’t change your family. You can only change yourself and through that everything around you changes. Put the effort in, you won’t regret it.

Last night in Otium

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