Our trip to Turkey begins on the Bulgarian-Turkish border, which is relatively easy to cross, a BGNES reporter reported.

Early in the morning there are usually no long queues waiting to cross into our southeastern neighbor. Our team was checked and passed in about half an hour.

Customs officials told us that traffic through the Kapitan Andreevo-Kapakule border checkpoint is all day and will increase. Turkish guest workers working in Western European countries, primarily Germany, have already begun to return home.

Once you enter Turkish territory, it’s easy. The distance from Edirne to Istanbul is taken in negative time. It’s a little harder as you enter the metropolis on the shores of the Bosphorus. It can take you more than an hour to get to the more central parts of the city. But the wait is worth it.

Istanbul – Constantinople – Constantinople – the city of about 20 million people never sleeps and offers countless attractions to everyone. If you want, you can visit the palace of the Ottoman Sultans Topkapi or Hagia Sophia, which has been a functioning mosque since last year. For us Bulgarians it is mandatory to go to the iron church “St. Stephen”, which was restored and opened in 2018.

But before visiting these extremely important places in the history of the Balkans, we decided to drink a cup of Turkish tea. For this purpose we stop in front of a large shopping center. Getting into it is very easy. It is enough to scan the barcode of your vaccination certificate at the entrance. In Turkey, vaccination continues at a rapid pace because local authorities see this as the only way out of economic recovery and tourism. President Erdogan himself set an example by giving himself a Chinese vaccine on Sinovak, which is far less effective than the ones we have in Bulgaria. But this is the advantage of being a member of the European Union.

The shopping center has many cafes and shops for oriental sweets, where we can eat baklava or kunefe with tea. Then we decide to look for souvenirs. Turkey is famous for its glass, ceramic and porcelain shops. They are very exquisite, some of them with drawings from Ottoman history.

Wearing masks is mandatory everywhere in restaurants, shops and indoors.

After the first acquaintance with the situation we go to the hotel. Metin greets us at the reception with a “welcome, neighbor.” In Istanbul, which is close to our country, Bulgarians are loved and welcome guests.

Despite the warm reception of the city on the Bosphorus, today the weather is with us – about 28-30 degrees, we can not miss the traces left by the coronavirus pandemic.

Metin says this period has been extremely difficult for traders and businesses. “Virtually everything was blocked,” he told us.

“The state was partially compensating, but that was not enough. It was very hard. People with closed businesses received 75% of the minimum wage, which is about 2,500 Turkish lira. Very, very difficult, “added Metin, who has been working in the hotel business for nearly 20 years.

Now people have more opportunities to move outside, but recovery will be slow, painful and long … We hope so. So that we can immerse ourselves in the unique atmosphere that Istanbul has.