We've decided to add this new section for every country we visit. In every country, we've noticed some recurring, consistent themes which help give each place a unique national flavor. We thought we would share these "Country Impressions" with you all to give you a better idea of what our day-to-day life is like in each place we visit. Also, at the bottom of this page you'll find some examples of "What Things Cost". This is for you other travelers out there interested in what travel costs are like here.
Impressions of Turkey
- You can't beat Turkish hospitality. The Turks are the nicest, friendliest, most hospitable people around. We've been to a lot of countries, and Turkey has by far been the friendliest.
- The Turkish bus system kicks ass!. As we mentioned before, you can't beat bus transport here unless you're trying to get from one end of the country to the other quickly, in which case a plane is still best. But in general, the buses are very clean, modern, comfortable, efficient and incredibly cheap.
- Five weeks isn't enough! We thought we could see most of the country with the five and a half weeks we gave ourselves here. WRONG. The country is really big, and there are so many places we wanted to linger in, that we never made it all the way east as we had hoped. Our recommendation to other travelers: pick a region, and stay there. You'll stress yourself out trying to do everything in a few short weeks.
- The Turks love Americans. In general, foreigners, as "special guests" in this country known for its hospitality, are treated very well here. But the Turks seem to really like us North Americans. Many of them seem to think U.S. represents the best of what a nation can be, for better or worse. So, it was almost without exception that when we told people where we were from, their faces would light up and they would express their warmest welcome. A nice change from many places in Europe where people take the "Oh God, More Ugly Americans" stance toward U.S. visitors...
- Come to Turkey, but avoid July and August! We really hit the country at its busiest time. It's a very popular destination for Europeans and Turks on their own summer holidays. This makes for overpacked beaches, higher prices, and and ugly tourists interested more in partying and beaching it than learning about and appreciating the Turkish culture. It's also very hot in mid-summer. When we return one day, it will be in May or late September, when the crowds are gone, the weather is fine, and the coastal resorts are cheaper.
- Turkey needs an environmental education. Garbage on the beach. Illegal dynamite fishing. Cigarette butts everywhere. It's obvious that many people here don't understand the impact of their actions on the environment. Sometimes the results are sadly obvious, as we found out when we dived and snorkled in the Mediterranean. But many of the less-touristed places are still pristine and in good shape.
- Turkey is incredibly cheap. We put together what we thought was going to be a reasonably tight budget for the country, but it turns out our average daily costs were far below our estimates. For some examples, see the "What Things Cost" section below. Turkey is Europe's bargain destination!
- Sipping tea is a national pasttime. The Turks love their tea. Everywhere you go in the country, men and women alike can be seen sitting in cafes, shops and restaurants sipping tea out of little tulip-shaped glasses. Turkish tea is of very high quality. Surprisingly, coffee is not very popular except among tourists.
- They grow a lot of food here. In fact, Turkey is one of the few countries in the world that is a net exporter of food, producing more than it consumes. It's hard to travel here without noticing the large number of farms and orchards. Especially wheat, peaches, apricots, figs, and grapes.
- ...and Turkish food is healthy and very tasty. After the monotony of Greek food, we were very happy to find a surprising variety of food in Turkey. It's also (usually) light and very healthy, with lots of fruits and vegetables. And, oh, those Turkish sweets! Nothing beats fresh Turkish delight (a chewy confection which comes in many flavors) and baklava for desert.
- Shopping opportunities abound! Aside from the usual carpets, there are a lot of other high-quality items we found ourselves wanting to go home with: Iznik tiles, porcelain ware, antique lamps and elaborate tea sets. Unfortunately, we couldn't carry much with us so we had to abstain. Maybe next time!
- "Turkey is a man running west on a train heading east." This Turkish proverb is a very fitting description for the modern Turkish nation. Generally very western in its outlook, there is still a strong influence in the country from its eastern past. An Islamic fundamentalist undercurrent lurks in a minority of the population, and the Kurdish separatist movement continues in the poor southeastern section of the country.
What Things Cost
(All prices are converted to U.S. Dollars)Spring Water (1.5l bottle)...................$0.40 Orange Juice, fresh squeezed (glass).........$1.00 Coffee or tea (glass)........................$0.50-0.80 Beer (bottle, from store)....................$0.80 Breakfast at local restaurant/cafe...........$2-3 (usually included w/room) Lunch at snack stand.........................$2-4 Lunch at local restaurant....................$3-6 Dinner at local restaurant (3-course)........$5-8 Dinner at upscale restaurant (3-course)......$8-20 Room in a nicer pension (double w/bath)......$12-20 Room in a 2 or 3-star hotel (double w/bath)..$20-35 Room in upscale/boutique hotel (dbl w/bath)..$45-80 and up Taxi ride around town........................$2-5 Bus ticket, 200km-long trip..................$6 Internet useage, 1 hour......................$0.80-1.60 (cheap, but slow) Museum entry fee (per person)................$2-6
Back to Turkey pg 11 On to Egypt!
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