The shock is not as great as you'd think. I didn't see any women in chains. No extremists took me hostage while I was there. I might have seen an occassional 1001 Nights scene here and there, but that only added to the charm. Overall, Turkey chanted to my soul and awed me in a way I couldn't have forseen.
For a sheltered, little european, my first encounter with the oriental world was as spiritual as can be. And pretty stereotypical, while we're at it: pungent smells of spices and perfumes, volatile faith and imposing mosques, exotic sounds and babeled tongues- what you'd, by design, expect from a muslim country with a rich historical past. What I didn't see coming was the great level of european urbanization, which is most obvious in Istanbul, a modern city most deserving of the title of successor of greatness. In this respect, Turkey, an asian country with an european twist gives us, "the white people", a lesson of civilization.