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Loco for Lokum: on assignment inTurkey The lowdown on winning the 2011 World Nomads/Rough Guides Scholarship...

Going Solo in Edirne

TURKEY | Monday, 27 June 2011 | Views [2555]


235km from Istanbul, the quiet town of Edirne seems to get overlooked by the majority of tourists but still holds a few notable attractions in its beautiful mosques and cluster of easy-to-meander shopping streets. It was here, after a semi-stressful navigation of Istanbul’s typically disorganized bus station and a couple of hours dozing off against a window of blurring greenery, that I began my first solo assignment for Rough Guides. Now, with little more than two days ‘experience’, a few jumbled words of Turkish and a fistful of scribbled place names in my notebook, I was understandably a little daunted at the task lying ahead of me.


It was already midday when I arrived and my list of things to do was rapidly increasing every time I turned a corner. Thankfully Edirne is small enough to walk through at a rapid pace and I soon found myself gliding seamlessly between hotel rooms of widely varying standards, stunningly beautiful mosques and quaint cafes. I visited so many hotels that my mind became a flurry of logoed carpets, parquet flooring and bath-shower combos, each one being quickly transcribed into page after page of furiously scrawled observations in my notebook. I spread my maps against walls, benches and forearms, haphazard arrows darting from place to place as I marked each new find and scrubbed out places that had seemingly disappeared or turned into something new. It was almost 5pm when I realized I hadn’t yet stopped for lunch.


Finally, I checked into a tiny box room for a measly 30TL, with a sweat-dampened shirt and throbbing feet, and passed out amidst piles of business cards and pamphlets. Such is the life of a travel writer, or so it seems.


My second day in Edirne was notably more relaxed, partly due to my blitzing of all possible tourist attractions on the first day and partly due to the fact that, having now realized that I am up to the task, I had begun to relax and enjoy the job, as apposed to panicking about getting everything done. In fact, having realized that I am actually pretty good at dashing frantically between locations and finding interest in the most humdrum information, I have been thoroughly enjoying myself. There is a strange satisfaction in being allowed the chance to poke around each hotel and restaurant in town, and review places as you see fit. My travel finally seems to have a purpose and I couldn’t be happier for it.


Edirne's famous fruit-shaped soaps


In the courtyard of the incredible Selimiye Mosque


Tags: edirne, istanbul, mosques, rough guides, travel writing scholarship, turkey

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