Today I’d like to talk you through my experiences of a very short long-weekend visit in Turkey. If you’d like to learn about the highlights of my short trip to the Turkish coast – read on!
My stay was mostly catching up with friends and relaxing, going to the beach with a bit of sightseeing in Side, Alanya and Antalya. It’s not a travel blog, so I’ll leave travel recommendations to more capable colleagues and share my experiences and reflections from this short trip.
Want to be a Disney Princess? Go to Antalya coast!
The first thing that struck me while driving along the Antalya coast was the amount of hotels – it’s just impossible! I don’t think I’ve ever seen that many squeezed into such a small space. All of them in different styles – castles, sailing boats, palaces – any shape you can possibly imagine! Impressive! Most of them are for all-inclusive guests and offer great service from the local staff. My friend kindly agreed to share her pictures with me so I can show you what amazing things they do with the food they serve:
And now look at the benefits of staying at a bartender’s house:
You’ve got to try this in Turkey
Kebap of course. Or Kebab. Whatever, you know what I mean. It’s really really good and tastes much better than the one I know from Poland. Maybe it’s because it has some real meat in it? 🙂 Worth trying just to have your own opinion about it.
I really liked pide as well. It’s a dish very similar to pizza, but with a slightly different feel. A dough base usually with some meat and veg filling, baked in an oven. Cheap and really good for a quick dinner.
Gözleme is another winner. So simple yet so tasty. It’s a bit like a pancake, but much thinner, I guess it’s also a dough base (oh they love bread there!) and can again be filled with whatever you want basically – meat, potato, vegetables, herbs… The one I ate and which tasted amazing was the one with fresh parsley and vegetables.
Olives is another one on the list. Unfortunately I haven’t yet got to like them (a matter of time!), but if you are a fan, I’ve been told you will love the Turkish ones. They looked really good I must say so I’d give it a try.
From sweets, you need to try the local baklava. Sooo sweet but sooo good! Don’t take more than one piece cause you might get a hyperglycaemia. Unless you take it with the famous Turkish tea…
Yes, the tea. The tea habit is a thing that I didn’t know about the culture here as well. They drink lots of tea, I’d even maybe risk saying that similar amounts to the British. The surprising part however is that they drink it regardless of the weather. Whether it’s cold (I get that.) or hot (I totally don’t get that!) they do drink tea. Apparently it’s better for hydration than cold water. As much as I wanted to try everything I could while being there, drinking hot tea was something that I couldn’t get to doing in 35 degrees Celsius. Maybe some other time!
And last but not least – the Turkish coffee. Mmm…Yummy! Black and strong as hell but maaan it’s tasty! I probably wouldn’t be able to drink it without any sugar, cause it really is strong. I learned that the brewing process is quite daunting and time-consuming, so my excitation about trying to make one at home very quickly turned onto the track of ‘try as much of it while you’re here, because you won’t be able to prepare it yourself’.
Just one sec!
You know the people who say ‘I’m on my way, be there in five!’, but are just barely starting to put on their make-up? Well, it’s like that in Turkey the whole time. Of course not with every single person, but that’s the tendency that you might observe. Let me give you a couple of examples.
We were walking down the harbour in Alanya where there were a lot of ships offering cruises by the coast. Most of the owners who were inviting us to take part were saying that they’re leaving in 5 minutes, so we’d better decide fast. We were actually considering going for a short cruise like that – they were supposed to last an hour and we had that time to spare. The problem was, we saw all the offers, managed to walk back and forth a couple of times and not a single ship has gone for the cruise yet. They were still ‘leaving in 5 minutes, so you’d better hurry!’. Can you now imagine a stereotypical German who had the whole day thoroughly planned, including the hour-long cruise that was supposed to start at 5pm sharp, but will be starting in ‘just 5 minutes’, every five minutes? Poor him! Partly because of the business which is only profitable when they have a full ship of people, and partly because of the time flexibility they are used to, they are allowed to work like this. Such delays would definitely not happen here in the UK.
Another example which I haven’t experienced myself, but heard stories about is the buses that go along the coast in between the major cities. They don’t leave for the final destination until they are completely full. You therefore stop by each of the hotels, one by one, gathering people who want to go there too. The trip might take 30 minutes if you’re lucky and the bus fills quickly, but it can also take 1,5 hours on a less busy day. But who cares – why rush? 😉
I must say that the general approach of ‘we’ve got time’, slow pace and chill-out is something I enjoyed very much while being there. Possibly because of living in London and therefore feeling an enormous difference in the amount of people surrounding me here and there.
70$ please. Ah, you’re from here? 70TL then, sorry.
The thing that pissed me off a little bit was the cunningness that I experienced. I was lucky to be moving around with locals, so it wasn’t in fact that bad, but I don’t like the idea itself. What idea? Well, all the prices for tourists are given in Euro or Dollars. Fine, that’s useful. The annoying thing starts when the locals can pay 70 Turkish Lira instead of 70 Dollars. Quite a difference huh? Why bother exchanging the values when you can simply leave the same price and change the currency name? 🙂 This happens with tourist attraction tickets, restaurant prices, clothes – could be pretty much everywhere, so being a tourist in Turkey might get expensive! You are not always able to negotiate these prices unfortunately, depends on your skills I suppose!
What I can suggest is to at least go to the restaurants with menus (not all of them have these). At least you have a menu price (still more expensive though) to refer to when being given a receipt. Or ask for both an English and Turkish menu and use Google’s help to translate the plate names. Otherwise they could give you any price they want. And you will have to pay.
Yes, boss! Yes, my friend!
The last thing that was very explicit for me was how much hierarchy and relationships are valued in Turkey. Relationships as you saw from the previous paragraph don’t necessarily need to be with friends and family. They can be with anyone you meet in a shop, in a restaurant, on the street and can be based on ‘us and them’ relationship. If you’re one of us, you can count on a discount.
It goes beyond simple down-to-earth examples like the one above. Turkish people value their family bonds and friendships very much, they are ready to sacrifice for the people who are close to them. If you have a shift work, it’s obvious that when a friend asks you to take their shift, for any reason, you will agree to help them. It’s obvious that when a family member asks you for a financial support, you will give it to them if you’re able to. It’s obvious that when there is a family celebration you won’t miss it unless you have a greatly valid reason.
At the same time, the structure at work is very hierarchical in comparison to the UK. It’s quite close to the one I know from Poland, so it was not a big dissonance for me. If the boss calls you – you pick up. If he wants something from you – you do it. That’s usually the way it works. You can’t really stand up to the boss or bluntly disagree. Unless you already managed to build a closer relationship with them, which then might enable you to negotiate certain issues.
As much as I didn’t go to Turkey to explore the business culture there, some of the things listed above were very explicit and visible during my time there. It’s worth reading more about it if you plan to work in Turkey, to get a better idea of what to prepare for.
Thank you Ania, Hakan and Yasin for hosting me for these beautiful three days! I’m really grateful! Hope to see you soon in London as well 🙂