Though we still sometimes pretend to be Canadian, our welcome here has been truly remarkable.  The Turkish people are incredibly friendly and their hospitality must rank right up there with the Japanese.  Most often this hopsitality comes in the form of a delicious cup of tea–çay as it is called here.  When you are shopping in a store they bring you tea, when you are waiting for the bus or checking into a hotel they give you tea.  As we quickly learned, it is impolite to say no and useless anyway because they always insist.  Also, you are given tea at breakfast and expected to order tea at the end of every other meal.   Needless to say, by the end of the day I am often quite shaky from the caffeine. 

Turkish hospitality begins but does not end with tea.  When my glasses broke the optica store refused payment for the repair.  Taxi drivers and waiters have given back our tip.  And young people have more than once approached us when we looked lost and happily accompanied us to our destination. 

I won’t pretend that it is always so hunky-dory.  We have gotten ripped off a couple times and some people seem to twitch if we admit to being Americans, but mostly, American or Canadian, we have been welcomed with open arms.

I am sure the Turks are always this welcoming, though I do know that this year they are especially happy to see us.  Tourism is at rock bottom this year.  We have yet to see a single other westerner outside of İstanbul for example. The tourist officer in Guzelyurt listed three main reasons: bird flu, the Danish cartoons, and the World Cup.  These were, in fact, the very reasons we almost considered changing our plans, but once here it is obvious that such worries were needless.

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