Only The Tee Shirts Are In English: Antalya, Turkey

By

Leonard Zwelling

The BW (Beautiful Wife) was invited to give a talk at the 20th Annual Turkish Pediatric Oncology meeting in Antalya, Turkey. I tagged along.

Antalya is a beautiful resort city that also happens to be the fastest growing one in Turkey. And no wonder. It sits on the country’s southwestern end on the Mediterranean with gorgeous beaches, a mild climate and world-class resorts, including many golf courses. Who knew?

The Russians, the Germans and, of course, the Turks know for they flock here all the time on holidays.

We are staying at the meeting site, the Cornelia Deluxe Resort, and it is. The grounds are beautiful, the beach pristine and the service both gracious and all-inclusive. That’s right. It’s like a cruise. Food all day and it is all in the price of the room.

Last night we stopped by poolside to witness something I hadn’t seen in fifty years. The Catskill Mountains. On a small stage a tummler, the emcee and comedian, gathered groups of people together and played games like seeing which of the four women contestants could kiss the most people in the audience in two minutes. The contestants were from Russia, England, Belorussia and Latvia. The Russian got the most applause. Apparently it’s holiday time in Russia and there are many Russian families here. The tummler could speak four languages and did—Turkish, German, Russian and English. I always feel ignorant in Europe and Asia where everyone speaks their own language plus English if not more.

So there are people here from all over Europe and very few from the United States. I got a distinct sense that this is not a common destination for Americans, but, of that, I am not sure.

I am sure of one thing, while we don’t export the tee shirts, it is our words on them. Almost every single tee shirt I saw on the beach was in English and many with American pictures or characters. Most of the people gathered at the show last night had on blue jeans. Many no doubt American blue jeans. And the music was pure American.

I got that particular feeling that Donald Trump should worry less about America’s place in the world and enjoy the fact that the world is getting smaller, that we have much in common with people who used to be our enemies, and that America still is making a huge impact on the world, if not with steel than with blue jeans and Britney Spears.

We are in Antalya for a few more days and I hope to have more to report, but this getaway for Europeans certainly ranks right up there with one of the most luxurious spots I have encountered and off the beaten track for most Americans, I surmise.

But unlike in France, Spain or most of the rest of Western Europe, don’t expect to be able to read the signs using high school Romance language skills. Those languages do not include Turkish and the signs here are not in English as they are in the Istanbul Airport.

Antalya is in a foreign country and most of the guests are not English speakers even if many Turks are taught English in school. My impression is that many don’t use it all that much. The tee shirts are in English and some of the menus. Little else.

Leonard Zwelling