Bir varmış, bir yokmuş… when the world was literally full of Lokum… just as sıcak as today but more acı, there were 5 Romanian girls discovering the East at 45 degrees… tasting its kırmızı biberli dishes, drinking its sıcak çay, cooling down with limonlu ve vişneli dondurma on the crowded streets… learning to complain “Çok sıçak!” and to ask “Bir soğuk su şişesi!”, instead of çay… Lately, Romania has been almost as “sıcak” as Elazığ two years ago, bringing the already “soğuk” memories to my mind. I decided to melt them into my blog before they become as cold as ice. Therefore from now on I’ll be writing my late diary, some of my “soğuk” stories from “sıcak” Turkey.
It all started in July 2012. Location: Elazığ havaalanı. Main characters: 5 Romanian curious girls determined to “conquer” Eastern Turkey: Bibi, Giorgi, Cristina, Flavia and me. Or according to our welcoming committee, who misspelled my name and Flavia’s second name turning them into something funnier: Lulia instead of Iulia and Mandalina istead of Mădălina:
In the case of Mădălina the explanation is simple: Mandalina means mandarin in Turkish. As for the misspelling of my name, it probably occurred because of the differences between English, Romanian on the one hand and Turkish on the other hand. While in the case of English and Latin languages the capital “i” is dotless and written like “I” in Turkish is written with a dot above as “İ” given that the dotless “I” is another letter (Check my lesson about Alphabet and Pronunciation). Therefore, as ıulia (with dotless i) is very hard to pronounce, they thought my name should be Lulia. While in Romania I was used to be called Lulia only by babies who couldn’t pronounce my name (The first syllable of my name, “iu”, is pronounced like the English pronoun “you”), in Turkey I was Lulia for almost everyone! And Lulia is still hunting me… If Turkish people had problems to pronounce our Romanian names we were not better at pronouncing our destination’s name: Elazığ. I still remember the confusion on the face of an airport employee in Istanbul when asking about our flight to ElaZİG.
When we finally arrived we were all tired, given that we travelled almost 20 hours by car and plane, including the never-ending waiting in the airports (around 3 h in Bucharest and 7 h in Istanbul).
But we were too excited and too hungry. So we decided to discover the city together with the students who had waited for us in the airport. We were informed that it was not safe to walk in the city on our own after dark without being accompanied by a male. So we were really grateful to have our “welcoming committee”. We took the city bus, a memorable experience as the şoför was driving like a crazy, balancing the bus on the rhythms of Turkish music. We went to a lokanta and ate more than we could for only 7 TL per person (around 2,5 Euro). The low cost of living in Eastern Turkey was a nice surprise. Our scholarship was 500 Euro per month and it was more than enough. We even travelled and had some serious shopping sessions with that money. Back to our story, I had my first ayran, real Turkish kebab and çorba (which I have to confess is not my favourite) that night falling in love with Turkish cuisine.
The garson was very excited to serve us when he found out that we are yabancılar, as the city is not really a touristic destination, even though it has a rich history and culture. I’ll write more about in my following posts until then let’s learn some Turkish words!
Bir varmış, bir yokmuş-Once upon a time
sıcak- hot (weather)
acı- hot (taste)
kırmızı biberli- chilli pepper
sıcak çay- hot tea
limonlu ve vişneli dondurma- lemon and sour cherry ice-cream
“Çok sıçak!”- Very hot!
“Bir şişe soğuk su!”- A bottle of cold water (We used it incorrectly as Soğuk su şişesi or cold water bottle)