I spent the first two weeks of August doing a number of things in Turkey: lying on a boat tracing the southern part of the country with all the beaches, exploring the sleepy/ ancient town of Olympos and fighting the hustle of Istanbul. I had no real expectations of Turkey apart from 35’C – daily, apple tea, expensive alcohol and Turkish delights. To say I learnt a few things might not be so surprising, but here is a quick list of the stuff I think even the most knowledgeable of us wouldn’t know.
SPEAKING GERMAN GETS YOU ALMOST AS FAR AS ENGLISH
This was a real highlight for me, being a translator – NO SHIT. If you know me, you will be aware I don’t like speaking German, it makes me uncomfortable/ self conscious/ anxious – not in Turkey ! When English wasn’t the second language of the people, the default was German – and I could keep up. It was a small win for Lucy vs. Germany.
TURKISH PEOPLE ARE NICE, LIKE UNUSUALLY SO
I don’t know whether it’s because I’ve lived in Germany too long and all you Deutschers are so indifferent on a purely superficial level but – shit ! The good people of Turkey are like little gems that you just want to pop in your pocket and keep around for always. If I’m honest, after 10 days of this intense niceness, I was ready to get back to my temporary motherland and be treated with little to no interest.
QUEUEING IS NO JOKE
IF it’s one thing that happens in Istanbul it’s queueing. I don’t know that I have ever experienced anything like it, ever. If you are headed to the great city where east meets west – figure out what you want to see, go early. Ain’t nobody got time for a 2hour queue when most of the site only require 20-30m of your time. OR hope it rains – it seems that tourist melt with water.
THE NEW MOSQUE IS FROM THE 1600’s
This is a really big WTF moment for an Australian. Yeah, Europe is old – want a medal you smug arseholes? But the fact that the NEW Mosque is from the 17th Century is a new version of old. I got shoes the other day, in July 2014 – that’s (sort of) new. For a country to be able to consider the 17th Century NEW is a pretty big high-fünf to their historical efforts/ achievements. .
TAXI DRIVERS CAN’T READ MAPS
Really. It could be the mixture of I don’t speak Turkish and perhaps they were suggesting other information such as “This isn’t far, you should walk you fat cow” or “Actually this train will take you right there, and it only costs you 2,60 Turkish Lira” regardless – if you show a Turkish taxi driver a cross street without giving them the mailing address, they will pretty much point blank refuse to take you and appear as though what you are asking them to do is some sort of black magic. Always write down the street address – ALWAYS.