Football Travel in Turkey

Gaziantep, again…

July 30, 2018

An exquisite spring weather.

Birds chirping resoundingly from the single tree in front of me. The only sound that never bothers me no matter how loud; the sound of nature.

My brain, callous from overworking, was urging me to throw myself to the loving bosom of Anatolia, while my other half was telling me not to do anything, to eat and drink well, to read and to understand again and again how little I know as I was wondering the streets of Gaziantep… 



Having mentioned eating well, I was talking about how I single-handedly ate a full one of the  super-sized “katmers” from Orkide Bakery, which has been one of my biggest reasons to visit Gaziantep in the recent years, as soon as I got off the plane.

Again having mentioned eating well, I have also devoured one of the famous kebabs of Mehmet Usta –he is the brother of the even more famous Halil Usta- which I have tested and approved many times before, for lunch.

After eating the katmer that smells profusely of pistachios and butter, and wondering the history-infused streets, I arrived at the pride of Gaziantep, Ali Ihsan Göğüş Museum. Göğüş, who lived between the years 1923-2011 and has been a journalist, a member of the parliament and  a minister of the state, was saluting visitors from his black-and-white photographs.

As I was overcome with admiration towards the people of Anatolia, my soul, freed by the winds of the spring, was flowing from one place to the other. A smile blossemed on my face. Doesn’t spring exist for this? For hope, to pull us away from the cold and the pessimism of the winter and fill us with hope.


Even though there have been a lot of campaigning to end our deep-seated love, I am thankful for the love I have for Galatasaray and for soccer that never dies, for becoming a means for me to see Anatolia and get the know Anatolian people through my trips to watch matches.

As we always say, our love is a romantic one. This love doesn’t end whatever the other does, it continues regardless of whether the love is requited or not and it is platonic no matter victorious or defeated…

Always one-sided.

Very much joyful, seldom painful, but no matter what, always ours.

This love for our team depends only on the love we give.


Even though we’re not “the black shadows of the red dreams”, we are the lovers of the world of red and yellow.

I am very fortunate to feel such love for Galatasaray, because I have been able to visit dozens of cities of Anatolia, Europe and the world that I otherwise wouldn’t. How else would I see these beautiful cities if it wasn’t for Galatasaray? How else would I feel the light in bright eyes of children? I would have never known people who open their houses to a complete stranger and host them as if they’re at home, I would have never been able to hold their hands in friendship…



One shouldn’t go through life without visiting cities of Anatolia, which are a thousand times more beautiful than many mundane European cities that have become spots of attraction because of a sculpture, a couple streets and  inflated advertising campaigns. The state of peace and calm the people have, which we –people from the metropolitan- lack tremendously, and their happiness and willingness to make their surroundings beautiful without ever losing hope regardless of the poverty and illiteracy they have been trapped into have been my biggest reward from my travels.

Only if we could stop fighting each other.

I am writing these lines 4 hours before the game. Thus I don’t yet know the result. Love for a sport, for a team is only beautiful when you are able to accept loosing as much as winning. Like loving someone with all their flaws. Everyone can love the beautiful, it is loving the ugly that is more challenging, isn’t it? (There can’t be fault in comparison) For those who may be bored of philosophy, it is time to leave the depths and delve into more shallow waters.

As I often mention here, I have travelled to Sivas on Saturday and to Paris on Sunday just to watch the team. Similarly I have travelled to Sivas on Saturday and to Ekaterinburg on Sunday and back for the same reason. What I’m saying is life is short and time is flying by. We need to follow our passions whenever we can. We should even create opportunities to do so.


Don’t waste your days, at least your weekends, for nothing. Visit these places even if it is just for a day. See Antep, Kayseri, Trabzon, Antakya, Mardin… Even though 2 days won’t be enough, it is better than nothing. Eat, drink, see, love… Seeing people in their own life conditions is the best way to love and show understanding to people who are different than yourself. It is cheaper, shorter and much more joyous than siting idly in Istanbul or breathing the air at a mall that is depleted of necessary negative electrical charges. You can fly an average of 2 hours with very affordable plane tickets available. I don’t know why I’m advertising the sales promotions of airlines… Come on, it’s time to get yourself out of the house before the spring is gone. It’s time for one to teach the other how to take photographs, like the couple below…

Since Gaziantep has been the home of the most away matches I have watched, I saw the old city streets that have developed a lot since I last visited. I have seen a couple museums at the historical city center before, but this time the streets were completely renovated and a number of new museums have opened.


I visited the Toy Museum, which I am embarrassed to say that I haven’t visited in Istanbul. I am very happy to have done so. Anyone who visits Gaziantep has no excuse not to. It only costs 1 lira.

Dearest Sunay Akın has always talked about how important and effective toys were in developing creativity and imagination. I saw it with my own eyes during my visit. Take a look below at the toys of a population back in the 1950s that visited space.


And these are our toys many years after that;

Judge, I rest my case…

Now I aim to see the Toy Museum in Istanbul as soon as possible.

There isn’t much to write about the match. I haven’t been able to travel to see an away match since Trabzon this season. This year we have lost at home, away, and everywhere. As a classic tradition, people expect from a person who has come to watch a match for the first time after a number of losses is expected to bring luck to the team. I think this mission was laid on me this time around. I was even promised free attendance to matches as an invitee of the team’s administration for the rest of the season if the team won. -In a parenthesis I would like to note that I have been paying for my own travels for years, for those who may be curious- After watching the match and seeing the condition of the players, I can safely say that even I can’t save this team.

I wrote my diary about Gaziantep when I was there. I though I’d be able to wrap it up when ai return, but uh-huh! After leaving that atmosphere and coming back to the hurdles of the life in the city even I haven’t been able to get back to my routine. Now it’s time to wind myself up, like I’ve wind you up about traveling, and finish the writings I have accumulated.



    Leave a Reply