Day 15 – Istanbul and Observations

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Our last breakfast in Turkey. Turkish breakfast (kavaltı) is very different from the US. Normal selections include cucumbers, tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, white cheese (not meltable), yellow cheese (meltable), bread, butter, jam, honey, olives, salami, and tea (çay). It really is my favorite!

 

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At the Ataturk airport we saw these cigarettes in the duty free area. If you look closely, you can make out the packaging which has “smoking kills” and “smokers die younger” printed on it.

 

Turkey observations:

1. Cars don’t stop for pedestrians (vehicles have the right of way). If you go when there isn’t a walk sign, you will likely be hit and injured.

2. You can’t drink tap water. Everyone buys bottled water much like the rest of the world outside of North America and Europe.

3. Tea (çay) is an any time of the day drink, while coffee (specifically turkish coffee (türk kahvesi)) is an afternoon drink.

4. Public transport (metro, tramway, train, funicular, ferry, dolmuş) are very readily available and easy to use. One combo transportation card works on all of these except the dolmuş (meaning stuffed bus, like stuffed grape leaves-dolma).

5. Turkish cuisine is based around meat. Common meats are chicken, beef and lamb. Muslims don’t eat pork, so it’s very hard to find pork products in Turkey. Döner is one of the most common street foods, which is bread (pita, wrap, or hoagie) stuffed with shaved meat from a large roasting vertical spit, salad, french fries, mayo, and ketchup.

6. According to Selen, splitting a bill is called the German way (Aleman way) in Turkey, instead of the Dutch way (going Dutch).

7. Istanbul is truly the city that never sleeps. We stayed near Taksim square where Istiklal street is located. Our first night we were up until 3am meeting friends and getting them to their hostel. The street was just as packed as at 10pm when we arrived. The next morning at 8am, it was still full of people and the shops were open. Other areas of the city are quieter, but the main districts definitely have the never sleeping vibe.

8. Chelsea loved the fresh juice stands on every street. Vendors will make fresh squeezed orange, pomegranate, carrot, grapefruit, and apple juice for under $2. Most carts have orange (portakal) juice for 1 lira (about 50 cents).

9. Though every restaurant has an abundance of waiters, it is not necessary to tip in Turkey. The wait staff do not depend on tips to supplement their salary.

10. Though about 97% of the Turkish population is Muslim, very few women wear the headscarf (hijab). Selen told me that about 70% of the population is devout and only a portion of that 70% chooses to dress very conservatively. The headscarf and conservative dress are completely by choice. Turkey is also the only secular Muslim country.

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