How to celebrate being a country, Turkish style.

Yesterday was Cumhuriyet Bayramı in Turkey, another of the slew of special celebrations this country seems to have every other week. This time it was for the 90th birthday celebrations of the Republic of Turkey, and boy do they know how to throw a party. We got the day off school, so we decided to get all patriotic and make the most of a beautiful Autumn day.

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Battling hangovers a bunch of us got up early to watch the biggest of the celebrations, the parade in the historical district of Fatih. One of the things you quickly notice about Turkey is how much they love their flag. At any given time you can see at least 100 draped on the side of every building, car, lamppost and public space in the city. And then there’s the giant posters of Ataturk that cover entire office blocks. It puts Australia’s love affair with the Southern Cross to shame. Even the kids get in on the action:

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It was all a very impressive display and that was before the tanks rolled on through. Kind of scary, but Turkey has NATO’s second largest army (after the US) so they need to show off somehow, and I guess the soldiers wanted a day off from protecting everyone from the Syrian border.

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But my favourite part (asides from the policemen on tandem bicycles who were HILARIOUS) was the vintage car display:

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In the evening the entire population of the city made their way down to the Bosphorus to watch the annual fireworks display. We had a prime viewing spot in Beşiktaş along with twenty thousand of our closest friends.

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Turns out that the only thing Turkish people like more than flags are FIREWORKS. Everyone had the pitch perfect Ooohs and Ahhhs going like no other audience I’ve ever seen and when there were fireworks in the shape of the Turkish flag the crowd went wild. And took lots and lots of photos.

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The whole thing was a tonne of fun and even though you can’t really be patriotic towards a country you’ve only spent two months in, I’m still pretty darn happy to be here.

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