We have just completed a housesit for the second time in Turkey. The first one was last year for 3 months and the second was this year for a month and a half. Both times were to housesit for the same couple and their adorable animal family.
How did we find Turkey?
What did we learn from this experience?
Here’s a list of some things we learnt about everyday life, and, the culture of this mystical country:
- A smile is the best currency in the world.
- So much of Turkey is still “undiscovered”. Get out of the more touristy areas and stop for a while in the smaller towns and villages.
- The Turkish love sugar. The downside of that there is an extremely high diabetes rate there.
- Nothing it would seem gets finished in Turkey. Infrastructure is abysmal. Though many of the leading roads are excellent. Yes, Turkey is indeed a land of contradictions!
- A perfect accompaniment to watermelon is cheese and bread.
- A Turkish chicken desert – tavuk göğsü tatlısı which is a milk-based pudding made with chicken breasts.
- Cherries and Tulips were introduced to the world by Turkey.
- Pomegranates are everywhere around Dalyan, it was a thriving business until the market became saturated with no forward planning.
- Hazelnuts are a prominent export for the country,
- After London, Turkey has the second-oldest underground railway in the world is the Istanbul Tünel.
- Patience – The bank visit, get a numbered ticket, wait, then realise anyone who has an account there goes before you, an hour later, we have action!.
- Always check to make sure you are on the right side of the road! Picture this, I am cycling along, I look up and start muttering about crazy Turkish drivers and then it dawns on me, it’s not them but I that is the crazy Kiwi cyclist, who was on the wrong side of the road! They gracefully smiled at me as I sheepishly moved across to the other side!
- Crazy scooter drivers – no glasses no helmet, actually no protective gear at all.
- Health and Safety policies don’t seem to exist from what we have seen, in this small part of Turkey.
- Road rules are there to be broken [obviously not by us]. Two-way roads all of a sudden become 3-way roads. Why go to the left or right when the middle is so much more fun.
- Istanbul is the only city in the world built on two different continents
- That freedom of speech is not a given right.
- A VPN is a handy application to have as many websites are blocked for whatever reason. For example, Wikipedia and my access to some blogs that I follow.
- Turkey has a high rate of imprisonment of journalists or anyone that speaks out against the current policies.
- Majority of the Turkish population is Muslim, Turkey is not officially a Muslim country. It has formally been a secular nation since 1927.
- It’s a common practice to fire a gun into the air during a wedding celebration.
- The seeming absence of any awareness of what the usage of plastic is doing to their country let alone the bigger picture, of the world we live in.
- Drugs that are usually only available with a doctors prescription [comparison to NZ/AUS] are readily available at the local chemist. I thought the W.H.O. is trying to stop the overuse of this drug? A right or wrong practice, you decide.
- The neglect of animals, not just domestic, with the other side of the coin, being the caring people who look out for the street dogs and cats by having shelter, food in various spots around the towns and cities.
- We only experienced friendly and kind gestures from locals. Out walking we commented on a women’s garden, and she offered us some strawberries. We declined as we had already bought some. Kind and generous! They are also very patriotic, flags are displayed everywhere.
- Respect the culture, even though we don’t always agree with all their traditions. It’s not a place for your inner staunch feminist to appear. Like the saying goes “When in
RomeTurkey”! Leave the skimpy clothing for a more acceptable environment.
- Selling Turkish Rugs is a religion. One rug seller made a comparison between their rug selling to our rugby watching. Both of which are instilled into our cultures.
- Cay – a national tea is very popular. Especially by groups of men in cafes. What on earth do they talk about for hours on end?
- In Dalyan, it’s acceptable and common place to drive your Massey Fergusson tractor into town to do a spot of shopping.
- Santa Claus was born in Turkey.
- Turkey has some of the earliest advanced civilisations known to man.
- It has had equality for women going back many millennia. A fact I found astonishing!
- Turkey is a land of contradictions.
- Is agriculturally self-sufficient, meaning it doesn’t need to rely on other countries for food imports.
- Turks introduced coffee to Europe.
We have been very fortunate to have had a reasonable amount of time in Turkey to digest a slice of their culture. To see how everyday life is for many locals. It has been a privilege as well as an eye-opener.
Negatively and positively.
There is a sense that there is a profound ancient mystery that lies across the country like a blanket just begging to be explored.
Want to read more about our time in Turkey?