Istanbul is Turkey‘s most populous city as well as its cultural and financial hub. Located on both sides of the Bosphorus, the narrow strait between the Black Sea and the Marmara Sea, Istanbul bridges Asia and Europe both physically and culturally.
Don’t order filter coffee in local cafes – Try Turkish coffee and read your fortune afterwards. Turkish coffee is prepared with roasted and finely ground coffee beans boiled in a pot called cezve. Sugar is added while cooking. It is served in small cups; the grounds settle at the bottom of the cup, leaving dangerously strong but really tasty coffee on top. After drinking, sometimes people do some fortune telling out of their coffee cups. They swing their coffee in circles, put the cup upside down and let it cool down. As the grounds at the bottom of the cup drop, they create forms and shapes.
Don’t go to an expensive spa: Go to an authentic Turkish hammam instead. There’s a pretty incredible ambience created by the steam, with light filtering through the ceiling holes illuminating oriental architecture. You’ll have a way more memorable bathing experience than you could have at fancy, expensive spa. Çemberlitaş, Galatasaray, Kılıç Ali Paşa, Haseki Hürrem Sultan in Istanbul are some of the best hammams in the world.
Don’t shop at malls: Visit local and historical bazaars. Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is the most well-known. But Kemeraltı in Izmir and local bazaars in the neighborhood of Ulus in Ankara can show you more authentic aspects of the bazaar culture, without all the crowds of tourists.
Don’t worry about gaining weight: Make sure that you completely pig out on Turkish cuisine. From the west coast to the eastern inland, north to south, Turkey offers enticing local cuisine, and every province has its own special delicacies. The main dishes and pastries of Turkish cuisine are a fusion of food cultures that have been accumulating over hundreds of years, so we take eating seriously here. Turkish delight, anyone?
Don’t wear your headphones : Discover all sorts of Turkish music, which, like food, changes dramatically from region to region. From Turkish classical music to folk music, Arabesk to modern, Istanbul is the city where one gets the taste of it all in live form. Get out of the city to listen to the traditional music from the Black Sea and to hear Turkish ballads.
Don’t just stay in hotels: Try a homestay. It’s the best way to engage with rich local culture and to experience Turkish hospitality. There is also the opportunity to stay in ecological/permacultural farms and to give a bit of your time for volunteer work. Bugday Association has been conducting a project called TaTuTa, which organizes ecological farm stays in Turkey for tourists.
Don’t, if you are a male, talk or sit next to a single, young Turkish woman. She might feel threatened.
Don’t offer people food, drink or even a smoke during the day. The month of Ramadan is the Islamic month of fasting, when devoted Muslims refrain from eating and drinking from dawn until dusk. Show some courtesy while eating in public during the day.
Author: Aleksandra Krstevska