First, thanks to everybody who posted such kind comments yesterday. It absolutely made my day! :) The photo above is one I took of my wife in a Mosque in Istanbul (women have to cover their heads to enter the Mosque). Here are some quick things I learned during the trip:
- I was curious how we’d be treated (as Americans), but everywhere we went, without exception, the people were incredibly warm, friendly, and very genuine.
- Barack Obama is an absolute rock star over there. People would see us, figure out that we were American’s (we kinda stuck out), and they’d start yelling “Obama” and high-fiving us when we walked by. I even saw locals in Turkey and Egypt wearing Obama pins, and I saw Obama stickers in store windows. Our local English-speaking guides all were huge Obama fans (and let us know in no uncertain terms that Bush was even more unpopular there than he is here, if that’s possible).
- I was surprised at how “Western” both Istanbul and Cairo had become. You didn’t have to look far to find a TGI-Fridays, Chili’s, Fudrucker’s, Burger King, McDonalds, Starbucks, a BMW dealer, Sony Plasma TV retailer, or a big multi-level shopping mall.
- Coke Light, their version of “Diet Coke” is incredible! (even better than Coke Zero), and I wish we had it here in the states.
- It’s a small world. I was sitting in a coffee shop in Istanbul, when the manager come up and said, “Excuse me…are you Scott Kelby?” He had the Turkish translation of my book, The Digital Photography Book, and my Photoshop Book for Digital Photographers, and he recognized my photo from the back cover. Really nice guy.
- My wife and I stopped in a small town in the countryside of Crete and had a real Greek Gyro for lunch—they were unbelievable!!!
- Our guides went out of their way to try and counter what they said was a “bad opinion” of Muslims, (because of terrorism). They were frustrated and embarrassed (their words), with what they said was the world’s current view of Muslims. It was kind of ironic, as American foreign policy hasn’t made us any friends in the Middle East, but when you go to the Middle East, they’re worried about how we see them.
- So many locals we talked to told us that their dream was to one day visit America.
- I’ve never seen more tourists (from all over the world) shooting DSLRs. I still saw plenty of point-and-shoots, but I was surprised at how much “big glass” and high-end Nikon, Canon, and Olympus DSLRs I saw around the necks of tourists. That’s a cool thing.
- People everywhere are pretty much the same, and want the same things; they want a good job so they can pay their bills and have nice things, they want to raise their families in a safe place, and they’re worried about their kids and the future. They’re concerned about high taxes, the price of gas, war, global warming, and the same things we’re all worried about, and they’re as crazy about their national football team as I am about my NFL teams. It was nice to see that while our governments may have major differences—people are all pretty much the same.
One more thing; the food in Egypt was just delicious, and at one point we asked our guide (a really nice and very sharp guy), what his favorite meal was (hoping to get an idea of what to try for dinner the following night). He said that was easy; it was a Whopper, fries, and a coke from Burger King. Sigh.