I found out recently that one of my best friends will be visiting Turkey with her family as part of a Mediterranean cruise in September (inshallah!). This made me think about when I first went to Turkey and visited places like Istanbul and Ephesus, places that she will also see! I have so many good memories of my tourist experience- but I also recall some things that I wish I did differently…and things I wouldn’t have known to do if I wasn’t with the locals! This brings me to this turkish lesson, which is more of a guide, actually…
A guide for tourists in Turkey!
While every person should make their own, individual experience when they go to Turkey- I have compiled a list of things to do in order to make the most of a limited amount of time in some of the most intriguing cities in the world!
Before beginning the guide, let me be clear… Turkey is not full of jerks, nor is it particularly dangerous compared to other countries. The thing is, every big/touristy city attracts hustlers and low lives. Furthermore, you don’t have to warn people about how awesome something is, but rather you warn them about the dangers. So, please, don’t get the wrong idea…
Many of these suggestions can apply to Paris, Rome, New York, Berlin… anywhere really!
But on a blog about Turkey… you get Turkey 😉
Must do’s/ don’ts
when in Turkey, you must…
1. Keep your wallet secure: pick pockets love a busy city- and that is exactly where you’ll be! Men, keep your wallets out of your back pocket. Ladies, carry a purse with zippers, and even better, one with a cross-body strap. Frequently check to make sure all of your items are secure!
2. Carry water: Keep a full bottle of water with you at all times, especially in the summer! You don’t want to be caught in a bind, dehydrating and forced to pay for overpriced beverages.
3. Wear comfortable shoes: Whenever you are a tourist- there will be tons of walking. Turkey is no different. In order to trek the many streets in these old cities, you should wear comfortable walking shoes.
4. Carry an umbrella: You never know when the weather will turn sour, even though rain is not a huge issue in Turkey. You would be remiss to miss out on many sites because of a sudden rain shower.
5. Photos Photos Photos: Make sure your camera is charged and you have an extra SD card, because you will definitely be taking MANY pictures!
6. Keep currency in small bills: Most likely you will be purchasing many things on your trip! Most of your buys will be reasonably priced- make it easier for the vendors and yourself by keeping your cash in increments of 5 or 10 lira. That gives you the added bonus of not broadcasting a large bill in public…which may encourage unscrupulous vendors to overcharge.
7. Don’t always trust a stranger: While Turkey is full of incredibly hospitable and kind people, some take advantage of the naivete of foreigners. When in doubt, stick to your instincts. Don’t follow a stranger into a secluded location, don’t give money to someone who claims to be a tour guide without any identification, don’t ask for directions from individuals, and don’t give your camera to someone to take your picture for you- if they are not clearly staff. When in need, approach families.
when in Turkey, I suggest…
1. Dress modestly: Not only to avoid a hassle, but also to broaden your opportunities! Active mosques such as the Blue Mosque in Istanbul have a dress code for men and women- so be prepared to throw on a jacket or twist a scarf around your head to see the insides of some amazing architecture!
2. Enjoy the food carts: In my opinion, some of the best foods come from a cart! The street vendors always have something delicious to serve you- and for a better price than the restaurants. While you can enjoy any dish served in the restaurants throughout Turkey, eating from a cart may reduce your waiting time and the price of your meal!
3. Check the merchandise: Before buying from a vendor, be sure to carefully check the quality of your purchase. Don’t get caught with a ripped seam in that cute top, or a chip in that tea cup!
4. Prepare an itinerary: While I am typically a “fly by the seat of your pants” or “play it by ear” type of girl, I missed out on many sites because I didn’t plan ahead. Make a list of the things you absolutely have to see- and keep distance in mind! This will help you get the most out of your time, while reducing the amount of wandering you will do.
This lesson comes with a homework assignment. If you have any questions about touring in Turkey, send me a list and I will answer them on Thursday in a separate post! My aforementioned friend already turned in hers- so there will definitely be something to read. Any redundant questions will be answered once. See you then!