I was born and brought up in Iran. My family has always been interested in traveling on holidays, with Turkey being our first priority. As a result, for many years we used to travel to Turkey every summer, especially in the heat of August during which humidity would badly hurt us. That is probably the reason why summer has always been my favorite season. Every year, I was looking forward to summer to make the journey. Weeks before the journey, I used to dream of lying on the beach and swimming in the sea far from the hustle and bustle of life in my hometown. Then, when we returned, I would enjoy showing off my suntan. You may ask why Turkey every year. Well, it was mainly because Turkey is a neighboring country to my homeland, Iran. The flight from Iran to Turkey tends to be only about three hours’ long. Moreover, as my father went to Turkey for his higher education course, Istanbul Technical University precisely, he tends to claim that Turkey is his second homeland, being in love with its people, culture and traditions. Thus, we already had much information about the country and how enjoyable it would be if we spent a week or so there, especially in the summer. In addition to us, i.e. my parents, siblings and I, my beloved aunt in Iran and her family, my three lovely cousins, would accompany us. Every summer my parents, siblings, aunt, uncle, and cousins would plan ahead and choose which city in Turkey we wanted to go and we would choose a hotel that had the best features.
To plan the journey usually one month ahead, we would definitely enjoy surfing the net, and negotiating the best options. Each of us wished to find the best choice and the winner could be proud of finding the case. Our first travel to Turkey started with Istanbul, a fantastic historical city with all tourist facilities, to satisfy all tastes and appetites. The only downside for me and my cousins was not providing us with ultra all-inclusive amenities. To meet our requirements, the older members, mainly my mother and aunt, decided to solve the problem by changing the destination in Turkey to highly facilitated hotels in Antalya and Kusadasi so that we had nothing to complain about. Imagine, from dawn to dusk we had whatever we wished at our disposal in addition to the animation groups who were trained to entertain us with games, water sports, competitions to win the prizes. The prizes although not highly valuable regarding the price could greatly motivate us to devote much energy and enthusiasm to gaining them. What could be more interesting for teenagers like us? I can remember, we would go to bed around 2:00 in the morning and get up as early as possible to wake each other up. All of us used to be early birds on the journey.
Let me tell you about our preparation for the journey. One or two days, in advance, we used to go to Tehran to by our trip equipment, say swimsuits, sunscreen, and beach clothes, with our suitcases coming down from the attic to be packed happily. One would buy, for example, sunscreen, another body lotion, and so on, and we used to share them. We became expert in estimating how much of them we would require. The Turkish currency was enjoying a much higher value then, so it wasn’t economical to buy them in Turkey. I think I should talk about the freedom of wearing swimsuits without any stress since in Iran women are forced to put on Hejab, and the beaches can be used with many restrictions. So, for the female members of the party, this was the best aspect of the journey. That is why we tried our best to enjoy every second of it, otherwise we had to wait for the following summer blaming ourselves for not enjoying enough. We could swim together irrespective of our sexes, males and females, an impossibility in Iran.
The competitions were held late at night. One night one had the chance to be called the prince of the hotel, and another the princess, the following night. It included dancing, singing, shouting, whatsoever, and we could deplete all negative energy we might possess. I can remember one night for my brother to win prince hood, we were almost killing ourselves, applauding and jumping, and when he indeed won the title, we started running on the beach, singing and dancing. We took photos with him as if he had been the real prince of that kingdom, the hotel.
Food was the only thing that we did not need to worry as we were surrounded by plenty. If we missed morning breakfast, late breakfast was available. Around the beach and the swimming pool we were provided with all cuisines, what else could we wish for. I can remember my youngest cousin, who has always loved French fries was just enjoying the feast. Wherever she went, she could order them, a heaven for her. Being hungry was nonsense.
Lucky our parents, they wouldn’t worry about us thanks to the maximum safety around. They went shopping, sightseeing, rafting, etc. just informing us without any anxiety. For them it could be the highest possible freedom from parenthood. When they came back, just tried to find us somewhere around to tell us they were back. If we found them with bags, we would run after them to our rooms to try on the pieces they had bought for us, complimenting one another’s new items of clothing. Then, in a second we went back to our happiness.
Suffice to say that traveling to Turkey was the best, and the most memorable experience in my life. I am looking forward to being given the chance again as unfortunately since I came to the US, I haven’t seen my beloved parents, aunt and cousins. I am just enjoying remembering every second of spending time in Turkey with them.
By Ghazal R.