Translated by: Balázs Németh
Turkey is not equal to cheap trousers, gold jewels and big Bazaars. It is a little European but more Asian feeling and it can’t describe just one short sentence. The country is full of attractions, cultural heritages and has a huge cultural shock which can’t available in other part of Europe, but everything depends on the point of view of a person. We had to get used to a lot of things because there are a lot of differences against Hungary. But this is the reason why we travel to other countries isn’t it? We want to experience such things what we can’t find at home. So let us see how we see the country of half-moon with Istanbul.
In Turkey the first settlement which was inhabited called Edirne. We had been shocked immediately from big noise, bustling and millions of people on the streets. As we experienced , they spent much time outside on the streets with drinking tea, talking to each other and walking than inside between the rooms in Hungary. It was a good point immediately. At home, people they watch TV against walking in a park with neighbors and relatives, friends. Turkey is much social country as we are. Something may depend on money, this social life of course not. There were Muslim ladies wearing chador or kerchief on their face as well. In Turkey they have an ability to wear or not to wear these items against other Muslim countries like Iran. Except, when they must wear it, because of very religious fathers. Although, after this urge they may also refuse to cover their face, if they are so brave. In this case the biggest thing what ladies get is a wigging not a rebuke by a morality police. We don’t know the impression of other people, but all of the mosque was different and impressed us from time to time. May Muslims have the same feeling about our temples? A person who invite others for prayer, called Muezzin. We were also interested in their song every time.
Turkey has a lot of opportunities regardless of the season of the year when we visit. It has four seas and several peaks above 4000 and one above 5000 meters. The Van-lake is as big as 2 of our states together. Hills are green with bare rocks, snowy peaks and azure-blue palm trees. Turkey is cleaner than Serbia and Bulgaria, not much but it is cleaner. There is a lot of trash nearby the main roads everywhere we cycled. It might be caused by truck drivers. We also saw a lot of pet glasses filled with something yellow liquid. It is disgusting. It is characteristic on the country side, that basically more generations live in the same house, many times more than 10 people. They build up flat-roof houses from adobe and brick in the villages. There are water heaters/solar collectors on the roofs on many houses. The infrastructure is not complete, but electricity is everywhere where we were. It is not just a gossip, just some places had flush toilet. If you can’t imagine this, we describe. It is a square shaped porcelain cup is dig in the ground and you have to squat above it. It is luckiness if you have napkins or toilette paper, because it was missed from many rest rooms. Bidet is everywhere or there is a jug with water or tap. In the countryside at the poor families there is not table, bed and chair. They sleep on the ground on wide feather beds like a cover. We had left Istanbul for 40 days, when I wrote the Hungarian version of this article. I slept for 3 times and Eni slept 5 times in bed for this 40 days. To be honest we do not miss the beds and our waists are also okay. The also solve the eating on the beds and on the ground. Everywhere we were after Istanbul, the family ate on the ground. They have a kerchief or a waxed canvas and they eat on it. We could have seen sofa at the richer families but the pillow is also a must for the meals. As we saw they don’t have an unused furniture without a reason, like table with statues and so an. They furniture style called “simplicity”. Sometimes it means nothing. The Turkish flag is everywhere in the houses. Do you know the meaning of the white moon and star on red base in the flag? We also did not know it before. It is the view of the moon and the starts reflected from the lake which was painted red from the blood in a war. It is a little bit cruel but beautiful.
I read somewhere that Turkey developed more during the Ataturk and 50 years after Ataturk, then 500 years before. This way was not stopped. It is the 17th richest city of the world. It is the mixture of past and future. We also saw several hundred year old streets and modern office buildings or housing estates. This city is huge. There are more people live here than in Hungary and it is 11times bigger than Budapest, the capital of Hungary. If was hard to believe. About the buildings… mosques are awesome. Istanbul is one of the most beautiful cities what I have seen. If you would like to discover it, take at least 2 weeks for visiting. The transport is catastrophic. The drivers of transporter and taxi drivers do not respect nobody and nothing. The prices of the goods are variable. the region of visited places are the most expensive, but if you walk away some streets you can get everything 40-50 with percent discount. We say and try to keep this rule as “we go, where the locals eat and shopping. They don’t pay more for a food than its real value”
If you plan to go to Turkey by car, you have to pull up your socks. The big cities are the worse of course and the factor, that everybody is a beast on the road without forbearance. The kindest male also becomes a silly driver if he gets a car. In our literature, they would hit our mothers if they step off in front of the car. The problem is not really the chaos, but rather the complete deficit of civility on the roads. The chaos is much bigger in Iran. They do not let others come before them and push them to the edge of the road. The missed horn is as frequent as a leap year. We were almost hit by a car several times. It was not our fault. They have just come from the opposite way of one direction road. Eni has written in her article about Istanbul that they are standing on the horns all the time. It was so tiring if you hear the coming cars from your back and you do not know when they start to push the horn. There was all type of cars from old buses to newest cars. The most frequent cars are the Otocar minibuses with chrome color. The sentence that Allah is watching you („Allah Koruson”) was found able on each car. We guessed that they are not really afraid of that Allah watches them based on their driving moods. The basic types of passenger cars are Fiat, Renault and Peugeot. There is a type of old Fiat what you can not find in Hungary, but here they over lock this type as well. The motorcycles are so frequent. Usually they have 125ccm-150ccm Honda motorcycles and they rush on the roads 2-3 of them on 1 engine. They have slippers without helmet of course. The ages are variable. The youngest guy was about 13 year old. The quality of the roads is mostly good with big sidewalks like a bike lane. You should take care about dogs and sheepdogs. The sheepdogs are less friendly. The public transport and buses are okay with good prices. Railway is cheaper but slower. Airport is findable everywhere and because of the size of the country it is worth to travel by plane for big distances. The public transport is excellent in Istanbul and the “Istanbul card” for public transport is cool. We suggest is for visitors.
People and language
They are very friendly. Hungarians are liked in Turkey, something like sibling nation for them. We guess that they have different information about the 150 year of Turkish domination in Hungary. They may think that they had been invited in to Hungary to govern a country a little bit. But is does not make sense after 500 years. If someone doesn’t like them do not go there. Our country founder (Attila) thousand year ago was known as a Turkish man. We did not want to correct them. It did not happen that we asked something and they refused to do it because “just not”. If they had water we got some, if there was space for our tent we were allowed to set up. Lot of times we did not ask it was just happened that they bring some tea for us or we gained an accommodation. They love guests. We should learn it from them. Turkish language did not seem to be hard for us. They have many loanwords from Hungary. We learned the basics fast. Some samples for the words:
kücsük –kicsi (small)
kapö –kapu (gate)
sapka- sapka (cap)
sál- sál (scarf)
They do not really speak English and it won’t be better, because of the education. It is not must to learn foreign language. The government doesn’t think that it is an important issue against the common pray. We do not want to talk about politics, just write what we have heard. During conversation we recognized, that the high educated part of the people do not like the government, because they try to mix religion and politics together. This is the equipment to persuade religious people. The Prime Minister (Erduan) is not the most economical person. The new 1000 room palace with 2000 policeman guardians shows it. They feel that the country is not opened to the world. Atarürk tried to catch up other developed countries between 1923 and 1938. He cancelled the patrician casts and separated politics from religion. He is still popular. We saw his portrait hanging on the walls in many houses. Our experience is that there is a big stress in the country.
Prices and shopping
Turkey is not a cheap country. We have the same prices as home. May be the transportation is the only euro saving activity. we tries to solve our shopping where we saw the prices. We had an intuition many times they we are tried to be tricked. It was just a fear I guess, but Turkish people are famous for their “business skills”. Petrol is so expensive 460-500Huf (1,5-1,6 euro)
Food and tastes
If someone wants to lose weight, we do not suggest doing in Turkey, because he/she can’t stop eating delicious foods and sweets. We start the list with sweets. Baklava. We know some people who say it is too sweet. We don’t think it so. It is just perfect in our point of view. The chocolate is not the strongest part of Turkey but biscuits are the kings of the foods. We have tried 15-20 varieties of tastes and all of the flavors were perfect. These are findable in every shop in the range of 65-110gramm. The prices are between 0.75 and 1 lira. 1 lira is 110Huf or 0.33Euro. We ate 1 package every day during our trip. We can buy Ayran, which is a cold, acidulated drink like a yogurt. Coffee is not popular. Everybody drinks tea and drink 3in1 instant coffee. Tea stands in the middle point in the culture of Turkey. It is also a big part or ritual of social life. We found tearoom everywhere and when we go to somebody he will reserve a tea for us at first. One cup of tea is about 1-2 lire (0.3-0.6Euro), but we were also invited for a tea many times as kindness. Alcohol is not everywhere and if you find it is expensive. A beer costs 1.6Euro. They eat a lot of vegetables and bread for each meal. Some of the foods are served separated for the dishes and some of them are common. Some types of foods are köfte, bulgur, kebab, bread without leaven, yogurt and sheep cheese without a full list.
Turkey is a good start, if we want to get used to Asia. It is fully recommended if you go on bicycle to the other continent. It is easy available and it has enough difference against Europe, if you do not think about a holiday on the beach. Turkish people are very kind (basically on foot not by car) and they like Hungarians as well. Our name in their language shows it well, because we are only called similar in Hungary (Magyar) as in Turkey (Madzsar) and Iran in the world.
If you visit Turkey, don’t miss them: Istanbul (from start to end), Baklava, Ayran, one village on country side, get an invitation for a tea, Cappadocia, Antalya.