Let me write some more about my observations. English continued to be a major problem. So few speakers knew any. There were pretty decent numbers of tourists from the west, but almost all on big bus guided tours. Even the receptionists at the "fancy" places didn't speak English in most hotels, and were never what I would call fluent. The hotels in Van and Kars were all dumps as well. Real dumps. Amazingly some of them were booked solid! We never found an open/existant tourist information office the whole time, except in Kayseri, and that was a very weak one with no maps or useful information.
Kars had some old architecture very similiar to Gyumri (not surprising considering the proximity and that it was not a part of Turkey until the 20s). The new stuff was ugly, as in most of the area we covered. Even the Soviets did better some of the time. Main streets and such are usually nice in Armenia.
In Diyabekir, probably the nicest town in many ways, a lot of the buildings were completely covered in the tiny tiles, usually with a nice big pattern in the middle - like from a rug. Van and Kars had a couple like it, but in Diyabekir it was really nice and extensively used.
Some towns, but primarily Aintab (Gaziantep) had incredibly high security. Every decent hotel and decent mall/shop. This surprised me since it is not the center of Kurdish activity. It was when you got to Diyarbekir that you start to see the military checkpoints where they stop "suspicious" cars. This grows to a crescendo from Van to Kars. There are bases EVERYWHERE with tons of soldiers, and one base in Bayazit had to have had about 50 tanks in plain view.
The villagers were everywhere, still wearing MC Hammer pants, even in the cities. Men and women alike. A lot more women cover their heads, even in Istanbul than I had imagined. In the villagers they have really never seen foreigners and mob you. Children pressing their faces up against the windows, etc. People constantly want tips/money. I hope Armenia never becomes like that. It is so nice to know that people are doing something out of genuine hospitality. Mosques are at virtually every corner. The beautiful Arakelots Cathedral was turned into a mosque. They blast prayers very loudly every so many hours, which is especially painful in the middle of the night.
Quite a trip...