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To Turkey and Back in One Day!

A weekend with nothing scheduled became a rich experience when our Turkish friend, Lemis' (Larry), invited us to attend the Chicago Turkish World Festival at Navy Pier. After a sumptuous breakfast together at a new restaurant in the suburbs, we headed to the nearest Elevated train stop and made our way to Chicago on public transportation. Larry had not ridden the El before and although it is not any shorter, it is way more relaxing. We took the Blue line from Cumberland and then transfered to the red line at Jackson Street in the Loop where we just had 3 more stops to Grand and then a six block walk to the Pier. The sky was clear and the temperature in the high eighties, but the closer we got the the Pier, the more refreshing was the lake air that surrounded us.

We walked the length of the pier enjoying the sights, sounds and smells all along the way to the very end where the festival was taking place in the grand ballroom.

From a distance we could hear music and entering, we experienced a cacaphony of sounds and songs and many booths on display by the various Turkish and other countries Turkey has relationships with: Turkmenistan, Ubekistan, Bosnia, Macedonia,etc. Sponsored by the Turkish American Society of Chicago, the generosity of these various groups was impressive as they shared their cultures, free to the public with richly colored handouts and tasty temptations. We wandered leisurely and explored the displays. "Chciago Turkish World Festival share a positive message to help unite all races, cultures, and religious to live in harmony."

The textiles , both for sale and on visitors, were a thrill for me, of course! The colors, textures and various tecniques were a sight behold.

To my surprise, we came upon a yurt on the showfloor! It had to have been my favorite part of the whole festival; well, maybe except for the baklava and Turkish coffee!My cousin, Jeff, has been wanting to build a yurt and before he started talking to me about these, I was not familiar. The shape, design, colors and textures are amazing, not to mention the fabulous textiles displayed within. The yurt proved to be a popular destination with the fextival particiapnts and not only the colors in the textiles, but the many humans enjoying the displays created created a pleasing "warmth". A very welcoming Turkish man who owned the yurt was happy to explain the process. Made of fulled wool, which is water resistant, it is covered in winter to protect from snow with another layer of wool and wood. He says it takes 4-5 hours to assemble the yurt; somewhat less with practice.

View through opening of top of yurt:

They were encouraging everyone to try the traditional costumes and have their photos taken.
Another type of tent:

Larry had one main goal and that was to see the performance of Mehter, the Ottoman Military Band. For centuries it has commpanied the Ottoman army. We had some time to wait so we went outside to enjoy Lake Michigan at the end of the pier. This weekend there was an added bonus as the "Air and Water Show" was also going on further north on the lake. However, Navy Pier is a good vantage point to see some of the flyovers! We saw parachuters dropping from 10,000 feet and the noice when the jet formations flew over was enough to satisfy Larry and Alan!

View of John Hancock Building in distance

We returned inside the ballroom and enjoyed some folk dances and singers while waiting on the band.

Thoroughly entertained by the band and satisfied with our adventure, we are ready to reverse course and head home. Back home in the suburbs, it's all-American hamburgers, well, maybe "larry-style" burgers, and relaxation in the delicious breeze on the deck!

Larry says we HAVE to go to Turkey with him and he will arrange everthing to share his beloved culture with us. We're up for it! When shall we go?


Jeff Blakley said…
Taking the El and public transportation probably meant less stressing out about traffic, no doubt! From the looks of it, the festival was a wonderful event to participate in. I don't know if there is a Turkish community in Miami or not - there probably is, though.

The yurt that I was contemplating building was similar, at least in shape. But it has more "modern" construction, not that traditional construction is something to dismiss. It is just that felt to make the fabric covering is hard to come by in this country! The jury is still out on the idea of a yurt - it might happen yet! It is just that progress is painfully slow for a number of reasons - it is taking much longer than I thought to get to where I think I should be!
ReviewGal said…
Turkey is on my list of "Top 10 Places to Visit". I have always wanted to go, so you can go first and then give us the "scoops" on where to go when you get back. I think early/mid autumn would be a good time - comfortable weather and fewer tourists.

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