10 Things I’ve Learned About Turkey After Living There for 2 Years
Hello, everyone! My friends call me Oli and I lived in Turkey for a little less than 2 years. It is an absolutely different world full of authentic and amazing things that you won’t be able to find in other countries. It is a country of relaxed lifestyles, stunning nature, and hospitable people who normally don’t speak English or other languages. Some people might prefer to live there, some people might not, but I can assure you that Turkey should be on your list of must visit countries.
Especially for Bright Side I compiled 10 facts that will stay in my memory forever.
1. Turkish resorts
Crowded popular beaches? Definitely not. Turkey has lots of amazing places that will stay in your heart forever. One of these places is Cappadocia. It’s a very special and unique world full of amazing views and history. It’s just not possible to find anything similar in other countries. In Cappadocia you can live in a cave hotel and take a hot air balloon trip. It is one of the most romantic places in the world. If you don’t know where to take your girlfriend, amaze her with this place instead of a typical beach resort.
Turkish people are super lucky with their territory and although it is a very touristy country, you can still find relatively calm places where locals normally prefer to go. For example Kaş, which has also a bit of a Greek feel.
There are too many places to explore in Turkey and some are much more relaxed and amazing than your typical tourist areas.
2. Turkish breakfast
Are you thinking a cup of coffee and some eggs or a croissant? No way. Turkish breakfast is totally different than other breakfasts. More small plates the better. You can find numerous of jams, olives, cheese, meat, honey, different kinds of fresh bread, all types of eggs, and of course vegetables and fruits. It’s not even possible to finish everything that you see on the table, but there’s no need. You can say: “I am done,” and nobody will be offended. And the rest of the food goes back to the fridge until the next morning.
It’s also very traditional to meet with friends and relatives for breakfast especially during the weekend. Sometimes you can see 20 people in a restaurant who met to have a nice breakfast together and overeat while talking. One of the important things is to be talkative and not keep any secrets, otherwise people might decide that you are boring and unfriendly.
3. Turkish simit
Turkish bakeries are very traditional as are the majority of things in Turkey.
Speaking of traditional, let’s talk about simit. Simit is a circular bread encrusted with sesame seeds or, less commonly, poppy or sunflower seeds and is as legendary in Turkey as the croissant is in France. Early in the morning in many districts there is a guy passing each house with a truck full of baked goods, waking up people yelling: “Simiiiiiit!” And if you want it, just open a window and yell back to the seller — then everyone in your neighborhood will know that you are going to eat simit. It’s very cute, but at first can seem weird to those from other cultures.
4. Turkish shopping
Yes there are many of nice malls in Turkey, but the most interesting shopping is in the chaotic bazaars. 2 rules: bargaining and the more bags the better. When you go to the bazaar, you literally get lost in a variety of things. Each seller tries to feed you for free with a nice fresh tomato, olives, or nuts. You will never come back from a bazaar hungry. It is normal to try something before buying it. And of course, if you don’t bargain, the whole point of this shopping experience is lost. You should at least ask for something extra in your bag if a seller doesn’t want to drop the price.
Sometimes you come to these bazaars to find authentic Turkish stuff at super cheap prices. If you are bored, you can start a competition with your friend of who can buy more stuff with only $10.
Turkish bazaars are a special world. You could spend the whole day, like in a museum, just looking at colorful lamps, carpets, and t-shirts. You need to be very strong to resist buying things that you don’t actually need.
5. Transportation in Istanbul
There are all kinds of public transportation in Istanbul, but my favorite one is the ferry. Can you imagine getting up in the morning and not commuting to your office by metro, but by ferry? It turns into a really relaxing trip with a cup of Turkish tea or coffee.
Istanbul is situated on 2 continents and sometimes people have to travel a long way from Asia to Europe or vice versa. So it’s no surprise that so many people pick to go by ferry. 30 minutes and you are on a different side of Istanbul. Warm wind blows on your face, street musicians play music, and seagulls fly after your ferry. Who wouldn’t want to take this luxurious public transport for just one dollar?
6. Turkish pets
Turkish people are pet lovers. I practically never met anyone who didn’t have a pet. They take animals everywhere, even to their offices. But a big downfall of having a pet is that vet clinics are very expensive. Sometimes the cost of a small operation on your animal can be the same as the cost for a man getting a similar procedure.
Turkish people also have a special attitude toward cats.
Many Turkish people will tell you a lot about this popular tradition and the story about the prophet Muhammad, who was going to attend evening prayer and cut off the bottom of his robe so as not to disturb the cat sleeping on it.
Turkish cats are definitely the happiest and most relaxed cats in the world.
7. Taxis in Istanbul
This is my favorite topic. If you are in Istanbul and you need to order a cab, it’s better download a modern app which allows you to pay with a credit card and control your trip. Street taxis can get very extreme and expensive.
I probably had this problem with taxi drivers 100 times in 2 years. They use every chance they have to earn money by cheating you, especially if you are a foreigner. Some of them will pretend that they don’t speak English and you can point your finger at your Google map infinitely, but they will still pick the longest way.
It’s also very common for you to catch a street taxi and have it not bring you to the point that you asked and paid for. Drivers just leave you on a middle of your way, explaining that there’s a traffic jam, but still demand to be paid and force you to walk 2-3 kilometers to get to your actual destination. And no, they don’t use navigation systems.
So if you want to save your time and nerves, download a taxi app and enjoy your trip.
8. Turkish tea
Tea is so popular here. You might literally end up drinking it 20 times a day. If you are in Turkey it’s a crime not to drink tea with their tiny, cute cups over the course of the day and after each meal. While I was living in Turkey I never saw someone in a restaurant order a big cup of tea (except myself and foreigners). It is also uncommon to drink tea with mint. So if you want to get assimilated with the Turkish environment as much as you can, don’t ask your waiter to bring you Earl Grey.
9. Turkish street food
Turkish street food is a special topic which you could talk about for ages. But my advice is to try the mussels. It’s not possible to stop eating them and they are definitely much healthier than any hot dog. No need to search for them because you can find mussels on every corner. Turkish people like to cook mussels a bit spicy and with lots of lemon juice.
It can be a nice solution for people who are on a diet but still want to spoil themselves with something tasty and traditional.
10. Turkey and driving
If you have a drivers license in Turkey, you may need to enter into regular therapy sessions. Some streets are extremely narrow and some Turkish drivers are very hot-tempered. Even the calmest person can become a monster while driving. This is exacerbated by the fact that there are almost always huge traffic jams, especially in Istanbul.
Sometimes you might observe very intense situations, like how 2 drivers try to compete with each other and at the end it finishes with a big argument.
Are you still thinking about visiting Turkey? Stop thinking and spend at least a week there to see all these “facts” with your own eyes.