Istanbul, Turkey

Are You As Excited About Travel As This Woman?

Derek Interesting People, Turkey 52 Comments

Istanbul, Turkey

A couple of months ago, a friend of mine asked me to recommend a guesthouse in Istanbul for her mother, an adventurous soul at the age of 70, who was heading to Turkey to do some traveling. I recommended one of my favorite places and that was that.

But, then, a few days ago, this very same friend forwarded me an email that she had just received from her mother. Her mother was now in the midst of her trip and the email was sent to all of her children in order to update them on her adventures.

My friend wanted me to see how much her mother was enjoying Istanbul and so I naturally had a read through the message. Well, once I finished reading, I couldn’t think of anything else but to share that email here.

So, here it is (it’s copied exactly as it was sent):

“so how many miles do you suppose i have walked today having left the hotel at 9am returning only for an hour to stretch out and wait for the ibu [ibuprofen] to work…and now just returning at 8:40pm? i should have brought a pedometer on this trip. i bet i put in over 10 miles today…maybe way moreç

after bypassing the aya sofia sophia whatever (ayasofya just looked it up on my little istanbul map) due to long line this morning, i found no line at 4. amazing place. but first things first. out the door at 9 and went first to the blue mosque again as this time i had my head covering (wearing two different pieces of tiedye at once) and could go all the way in. these architectural wonders take my breath away. so then i bypassed the line at aya and went on to find the grand bazaar…and it was…both huge and bizarre. and i did NOT buy a kilm….sort of not anyhow. i did buy a kilm bag to be my new carry on as now i will begin to check the aging eagle creek bag. should have seen me getting the eagle creek bag into the overhead in amman coming hereç

almost didn,t make it! balanced it on my head to then shove it up there. i need to go a little lighter for the next flights as i,ve been picking up a few things here and there and things are getting tight…and the next flight is to bordeaux and no one will be meeting me…i just have to find the shuttle to the airport hotel to FIND MY TRAVEL BUDDIES who will get there at two different times and earlier than i. and i sit in the madrid airport many hours during the day waiting for the flight to bordeaux. hard to believe that the time for france has nearly ARRIVED!!!!!

anyhow, kilm bag…carpet bag…it,s wonderful. kept circling through the bazaar walking walking walking and it is really big. and of course i got turned around and came out a different way i went in and ended up walking forever in places where there were no tourists or at least not manyçççççonly other lost ones, i thınkç that damn ö button is where the period is supposed to beö see?

and you know, i think all of you kids would really like istanbul. there,s something here for everyone…and it,s friendly and really manageable…the language sounds so cool…and tonight i had the best calamari i think i,ve ever had!

so anyhowö i finally found my way back to the hotel so that i could lie down for about 40 minutes and see if ibu would help my back feel betterç. it did so off went the energizer bunny once again this time to the underground cisterns and then back down to the ferries and i hopped one for the asian side…and had the wherewithall to remember to note the name of the place i was supposed to come BACK toç. brilliant. so on the asian side i had the best calamari, and perhqaps (rememberö there,s no mouse with this laptop computer and the keyboard isn,t as user friendly lalalalala) the best sauteed fresh veggies i,ve ever had…and a great cold beerç

oh and i forgot to say that while i was stretched out for 40 minutes it suddenly started pouring and thundering…very exciting…it just started again this minute…and so it was GOOD that i was in my room where i could grab my good rain jacket that i got when i was in nepalö or chına or wherever…a northface knockoff…but nice and light and rainproof for as long as i need it. since the rain was threatenıngö (maybe the ö is where the comma is supposed to be…) i went to the indoor activity of ayasofya which was amazingç lots of photosç (so the ö ıs where the comma is supposed to be and the ç is where the perıod is supposed to beç) (i know that is important to you)ç

so walk walk walk it,s been another incredibly wonderful day. my lower back aches and low neck aches7burns. and i,m stupidly tired. and you know what? there,s a jacuzzi in my tub. see ya allç have to rest up for my last full day here tomorrow…and that should include topkapi [palace].

love to all
me that energizer bunny”

I loved reading this email. This woman seems so excited to be out there traveling the world and you can tell that she has a positive attitude at all times, something that leads to non-stop amazing experiences for her.

And that’s how it should be. After all, we make the decision to travel. We are not forced to do so. And whether we travel to faraway lands, or lands nearby, and no matter if our goal is to explore, relax, learn, eat or whatever we want to get out of our travels, we are doing things that much of the world can only dream about.

We dreamed about it once too, but as soon as our plane lands or our bus or train arrives at our destination, we’ve somehow managed to turn those dreams into reality.

By remembering, as often as possible, that we are literally living a dream as we travel this world, it will ensure that every conversation, every email, every single journal entry is filled with the exact same intensity, appreciation and excitement that can be felt in the above message.

And as a side note, if she can travel independently to the Middle East, Turkey and Europe at the age of 70, I certainly don’t want to hear anyone say that traveling on your own is not possible!


Do you still maintain this level of excitement when you travel? Or how excited do you think you’ll be once you start traveling?

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Comments 52

  1. Pingback: You're Never Too Old To Stay At A Hostel | How to Travel SoloHow to Travel Solo

  2. Randy

    Great post. If all goes according to plan (Ha!) I will be joining the nomadic ranks in about 3.5 years at the age of 62. Read blogs like yours and they all seem geared toward much younger travelers. Great to see an “experienced” person hitting the road with the zest of your correspondent.

  3. jake

    yes.. it truly is awesome to hear of stories like this. have met some friends who were less than enthusiastic about their travels. dont understand how you could experience something new and not take advantage of using this experience to become a better person and bring more excitement to your life.
    for sure i get feelings of excitement like she spoke of. when i first moved to south korea, for example, i was in awe every day. moving to china has been completely new inspiration for me. even doing little bits of travel can be awesome. definitely remember that one nite last summer at my hostel in honduras. looking out the window and realizing how lucky i was to be able to do all of this travelling. every day will lead to a new experience! one must just have an open mind about their situation.

    1. Earl

      Hey Jake – Seems like you’re definitely full of the same spirit! And you’re right that little bits of travel can still be amazing as it all depends on our mindset. We should be thankful for it all, not just the big trips but the small every day experiences we might have in a new place as well. Enjoy China!

  4. Jessica

    First off, I’ll proudly claim that 70-year-old woman as my mother. 🙂 She’s always had more energy than people half her age, & is a more adventurous traveler than most people will ever be. She just got home from her most recent trip (during which she sent the email quoted above), & even through jetlag she’s still bubbling & giddy.

    Second, a couple people have mentioned how funny her email reads because of the Turkish keyboard – & yes, I agree… But you really should have seen the ones she sent from Mali a couple years ago. They read like some coded message from World War II – I was, quite literally, crying with laughter as I attempted to decipher them (which I could only do by reading them aloud).

    Third, enormous thanks to Earl for all his suggestions for my mom’s stop in Istanbul (she can’t stop talking about how great it was), & for highlighting her palpable enthusiasm here. I might have to talk her into starting her own blog… 😉

    1. Earl

      Hey Jessica – She should definitely start her own blog, in the exact same style as her emails. I’m quite certain she would provide a great deal of both inspiration and humor for anyone who reads her words, especially if she continues going to countries with different keyboards 🙂

  5. Dyanne@TravelnLass

    Well of course – as a 60-something lass myself, who’s traveled the globe solo for more than 30 years (and is presently living/teaching EFL in Saigon, about to spend a month in Mongolia amid the nomadic Eagle Hunters) – I uh, most emphatically concur with the lass cited above. 😉

    Admittedly we wanderlust seniors are somewhat of a rare breed among our more sedate counterparts (playing bridge/bingo at a senior center? Eeeeeew!) Nonetheless, it amazes me that the backpacking youngsters out there find us such a novelty.

    Seriously. If you’re blessed with good health (at ANY age), then of course the wanderlust never wanes. Indeed, it’s a miiiighty big and wondrous world out there, and few of us can only hope to experience an nth of it in our lifetime (though I’m sure as hell doing my level best to try!) Indeed, I hope to be discovering ever new lands and exploring the back corners of exotic locales for many years to come!

    1. Earl

      Hey Dyanne – I think it only seems like such a novelty because, for example, if most people were to think of everyone they know who is 60-something or older, they are most likely almost all headed towards the bingo side of things 🙂 But you are right, there’s no reason for the wanderlust to wane nor is there any reason for someone to not travel just because they reach a certain age. Not everyone believes this to be true, which is why so many do head for bingo instead, but I have no doubt you will indeed be out there in the world for as long as you can!

      Apart from that, I can’t wait to hear about your month in Mongolia 🙂

  6. Norman

    Hi Earl! So glad I stumbled across your blog. It’s fantastic. I’ll have lots of fun trawling through all the posts. Loved this one with The Energizer Bunny’s email a lot. Such spirit! I am a 62 year old independent traveller and this story gives me hope I can continue until at least into my 70s 🙂

    I just realised that I also stayed at Agora Guesthouse in Istanbul last September on my 6-month journey (mainly through the Balkans) in 2011 as mentioned in my blog http://middleseamournfulness.wordpress.com

    My first trip ever to Europe was a 6-month (Eastern Europe only) trip in 2010 (blog at http://middleeuropeanmelancholy.wordpress.com) and my shorter trip overseas in 2008 was mainly to Iran for 4 weeks. Before those 3 trips I had hardly gone anywhere for nearly 40 years since backpacking through Asia in the 1970s when I was in my 20s.

    I came to your site because I was thinking about doing a trip in 2013 to the Caucasus (Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan) and wondered if it was possible to combine that with a short visit to Iraqi Kurdistan. From what have written here my estimation of the do-ability of that possibility has gone up enormously.

    Thank you 🙂

    1. Earl

      Hey Norman – It’s great to have you here and even better to hear of your own adventurous spirit! And that’s funny you stayed at Agora as well…seems to be quite a popular places these days.

      And as for Iraqi Kurdistan…it is more than doable and I can’t recommend it enough! If you have any questions about that region, please don’t hesitate to send me an email through my “Contact” link at the top of the page.

  7. Someday I'll Be There - Mina

    Love the energy and the enthusiasm she has! I’m jealous 😀 Wish my mother was someone like that haha 😀

    I met many elder people while walking el camino de santiago and those were a greater inspiration to continue walking than the younger ones. Seeing a French couple that are at least 75 walking hand in hand and climbing the pyrenees while I am having a hard time catching my breathe? they sure gave me the required dose of energy and the required push to go on!

    many people (including me) should learn something for people like this woman 🙂

    1. Earl

      Hey Mina – I’m sure many of us wish we were surrounded by more people like this woman! And I love how the travelers you met on the el camino had such an effect on you. I’m sure if I saw the same thing I would have suddenly found a new burst of energy myself 🙂

  8. Meg | One Love Meg

    I love little tidbits like this that remind me of why I love being on the open road. I hope when I am 70 I still have the same passion and love for traveling and culture that I have now. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Earl

      Hey Meg – There’s no reason why you won’t have that same passion! If you have it now, it should be easy to hold on to.

  9. Mikaela

    So true, most of the world are not allow to travel (no matter short or long), which I always try to keep in mind when travelling 🙂 And I am going to show this post to my grandmother, so perhaps we then can do a trip together, since she has been a bit cautious 🙂

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Earl

      Hey Mikaela – That’s a great idea and hopefully that will convince your grandmother to take a trip with you. It’s one of those things that many people are cautious or afraid to do but once they finally do take that trip, they never regret it!

  10. Andrea

    You are beautiful! I’m so happy that I came across this blog. I feel connected with different parts of the world and I share the love that you have experienced trvelling with others with all my friends. You help connect all the amazing cultures! You are doing your part.

  11. Mzuri

    I met several solo women travelers aged 70ish in Ethiopia last year. Budget travelers, no less. A friend of mine, also 70ish, soloed to Egypt last month. So loved your post – anything that helps get the encouraging word out to older adults who want to travel alone but wonder if they’ll like it.

    I do have a quibble about this statement: ” … she has a positive attitude at all times, something that leads to non-stop amazing experiences for her.”

    Maybe that was just a casually thrown-off line? Because I’d have to say that speaking only for myself, my goal in travel isn’t necessarily non-stop amazing-ness. It’s also beyond my capability to be positive at all times. Maybe if I were on drugs …

    Sometimes a trip includes many hours of nothing much happening, but enjoyable nonetheless, interspersed with moments, perhaps hours, of amazing-ness. That’s not a bad thing, in my view.

    1. Earl

      Hey Mzuri – Thanks for the comment! The point I wanted to make with that statement is that as a result of her positive attitude towards many things that most people would not have a positive attitude about, she would have many more amazing experiences than someone who spends half their time plodding around, bothered and annoyed by some of the cultural differences they might encounter during their travels. And being positive all the time doesn’t necessarily mean that someone is smiling and completely happy every second of the day. I was thinking more along the lines of her first reaction to any situation being positive instead of negative. I try to do the same so that even when something ‘bad’ happens, I look at the positive and therefore, don’t fall into a state of anger or frustration.

  12. Uwan

    Great Post Earl :),,you always have great something to share..
    Always have fun, enjoy and keep smiling even get lost on trips,, but getting lost will give new experience and know more than expected..

    1. Earl

      Hey Uwan – If a traveler is afraid to get lost while exploring a new country/city, then it’s difficult to have a similar attitude as this woman. Some of the most memorable and life-changing experiences tend to happen when we just let our days flow, not paying attention to a strict itinerary or worrying about every detail.

  13. regina

    This so reminds me of my mother, who taught me travelling. She savoured her own and other’s travels with every fiber of her being, always, and was never without travel plans up to her last day on this planet. Now guess who’s looking toward perpetual travel as of 2013. Sure Mom’s delighted for me!

    1. Earl

      Hey Regina – That’s awesome to hear that you’re carrying on the traveling spirit and I’m sure you’ll have some amazing adventures ahead of you! Your mom seems to have taught you very well 🙂

  14. Linda

    Like Steve C said, there are two things going on in your post. So far as the first one, travel goes I have to say that I’ll bet that her attitude to just about everything in life is the same, not just travel. I’d intended to be on the road by now (hit 65 late last December) but my plans were changed for me. I’d been getting a bit claustrophobic and thinking of nothing else but getting away, so when I realized my plans were on hold I decided to treat this island as if I were a stranger. It’s been a revealing, interesting and sometimes exciting experience!…..not that I don’t get away every chance I get, mind you!

    So far as age goes, it’s a hobby horse of mine. I am sick to the gills of people thinking that the moment one reaches 60 one is over the hill (let alone 50 or even 40 – I’ve been known to be scathing with friends of those ages who moan about “getting old”!…..what cr*p!). I’ve been meaning to write more about that, but then I like the look on peoples’ faces when they find out my age!

    This is a terrific post. Greetings from me to your friend’s wonderful mother!

    1. Earl

      Hey Linda – Seems like you possess that same attitude for sure and there is no reason why we can’t maintain such a positive energy even when at home or in a place that we are already familiar with. And I now have friends complaining that they are too old to do any travel as well and all I can do is shake my head and feel bad for them. There are endless stories out there, similar to the one in this post, that prove over and over again that age plays little role in our ability to achieve our goals.

  15. Lynne Nieman

    I love it! She is to be admired and respected. It is how I feel every time I go somewhere, whether here in the States or abroad. In fact, I just went to Chicago from Cincinnati via a bus to visit my brother and sister-in-law and was just so excited to be going somewhere new to explore. It was great. We need to all remember that child within us!!!! (as this woman obviously has)

    1. Earl

      Hey Lynee – That’s the thing, it doesn’t have to be some long international trip to get us excited. If we have the right attitude, every trip, every time we go anywhere new or different should excite and fascinate us!

  16. mee

    I do still have this level of excitement everytime I travel, and hope so until I’m 70! 😉

    ps: just stumbled upon your site and it is a curious thing that we happen to have similar titles! (at least for me. Maybe you’ve met many other Wandering Someone 🙂

    1. Earl

      Hey Mee – There’s a few Wandering Someones out there in the world 🙂 And it’s great to hear from you and know that you’re another traveler who maintains this level of excitement!

  17. Steve C

    If you don’t have this lady’s bounce, who’s fault is it? Who’s in charge of you having a good time? Look in a mirror! Just in case you forget, there are mirrors all over the world.

    There are two things going on here, being a happy traveler and being “old”. Neither has anything to do with the other. No matter what age you are, if you don’t get your smile on before you leave home, you’ll be missing what life on the road is all about. Why would it be your goal in life to be a grump? Stay at home with such an attitude so you won’t be spreading it around to others.

    I’m now 63 and in a couple more years, (not soon enough), I’ll be filing my final flight plan to everywhere forever. I suspect my blog will sound something like her e-mail, as my style of travel is quite similar.

    Great post Earl! You always find a new way to convey the essence of successful world travel! We will have that beer together someday, somewhere.

    1. Earl

      Hey Steve – I know that beer will happen, believe me. And you’re right of course, this isn’t just an attitude towards travel, it is her attitude towards life and that makes the difference. I can only imagine that even when she’s at home, she is one fun and interesting woman to be around. Looking forward to the time when you start your blog!

  18. Will

    Awesome Earl. Thanks for sharing. I’m a photography buff so I really enjoy the pictures.

    This lady goes to show that you are never too old to explore the world and live with passion. Walking 10 miles a day??? And she needs IBU because the muscles ache! Wow! I agree with Asli – I hope I can be as excited and curious as this woman at 70!

    I will be excited when I start to travel! I decided I wanted to travel about 18 months ago and since then I have quit my job, sold most of my possessions, and started creating a blog (relating to my former occupation- almost done!).
    Hopefully, I will be hitting the road by the end of the year!

    1. Earl

      Hey Will – Seems like you are indeed as excited as she is about travel and I look forward to seeing your adventure begin soon!

  19. Ryan Taxis

    Thanks for sharing, that was fantastic. And we are literally losing it over here about her Turkish keyboard side-story sprinkled throughout. That is classic hahaha. So awesome.

    1. Earl

      Hey Ryan – That Turkish keyboard can be a bit tricky and is a pretty good reason for a traveler to bring their own laptop!

  20. Asli

    What a wonderful woman :)) traveling the world, I hope I can be an energizer bunny at 70 hehe! Thanks for sharing Earl, I really enjoyed reading it..well, being Turkish and actually living in Istanbul, it gives me a great pride! It’s an amazing city,with ups and downs of course,like anywhere else in the world, but like the lady said ‘There is something for everyone’ ;))
    How is everything in Romania by the way?

    1. Earl

      Hey Asli! Good to hear from you 🙂 And I think that more than most cities in the world, Istanbul really does have a way of appealing to all kinds of visitors. Whatever your interests are, you’ll find a way to have a wonderful time. And everything is going well in Romania…just got back from a short trip to Slovakia and enjoying the outdoor activities around Bucharest now that the weather has warmed up finally! I assume all is well with you down there in Istanbul?

  21. Andy

    Earl, thanks for posting this..very inspiring and just pure awesome! I love hearing about/reading about/encountering people like this. She really “gets it” as far as what travel is all about. I hope I have her energy when I turn 70!

  22. Andrew

    This is great! Hats off for not editting it at all. You can feel a zest for life bouncing off the page, and I feel her pain in dealing with a Turkish keyboard!

    For anyone else keen for some inspirational from a golden oldie, I’d highly recommend watching a doco called ‘Bill Cunningham – New York’, kind of off topic but shows a guy in his mid 70s with more spark than I’ve seen in people in their mid 20s.

    Did you recommend the Agora to her Earl?

    1. David

      Andy I still have to check that flick, but sadly Netflix hasnt worked for us much overseas…

      I hope my enthusiasm for life and travel is this apparent. For all my life!

    2. Earl

      Hey Andrew – I did recommend Agora and she loved it. And thanks for mentioning that documentary…I shall check it out myself!

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