HISTORY OF TURKEY
Turkey’s rich history is shown in the abundance of ancient sites and stretches over many centuries. The site of what is claimed to be the world’s oldest known Neolithic community (dating back to 7500 BC) was found at Catal Hoyuk (near Konya). From early civilisation up until 1923 and the victory of the War of independence, Turkey has been invaded and conquered by many nationalities. Amongst these have been Hittites, Greeks, Romans and Persians, not to mention the French and British after World War I. Many famous figures have
emerged from the early period including Alexander the Great, Homer, St Nicholas and Suleyman the Magnificent, in fact many of the bible characters were said to have once set foot in areas of what we now know as Turkey. There have been many empires, but the greatest have been the Persian, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires.
Turkey’s regions have had more than their fair share of history. Situated in the heart of the Lycian region, easy access is afforded to many Classical, Byzantine, Roman and Lycian sites, almost all of which are set in beautiful natural surroundings. The most amazing of these sites is Ephesus, usually an overnight trip but there are also many smaller sites nearby.
|Knidos||Original home of the shrine of Apollo|
|Kaunos||A principal city and port of ancient Lycia|
|Xanthos||The ancient capital of Lycia|
|Letoon||Renowned for being visited by Leta while pregnant with Apollo|
|Patara||Birthplace of St Nicholas and the some time Lycian capital|
|Tios and Pinara||Examples of architectural ingenuity of the Lycian era|
|Antiphellos||Rock tombs and amphitheatre in nearby Ka|
|Telmessos||Rock tombs in Fethiye|
|Myra||Rock tombs and amphitheatre|
|Olympos||First appeared in 2nd Century when this Lycian city was minting its own coins|
|Arycanda||A stunningly located hilltop Lycian settlement|
|Termessos||Well preserved city first mentioned for the siege of Alexander the Great|
|Aspendos||The best preserved theatre — hosts a festival of performances during June and July|
Mustafa Kernel, more widely known as Ataturk (meaning Father of the Turks) is the founder of the modern Turkish state. Following the resistance of the allies at Gallipoli, Mustafa Kemal became legendary. In 1923 with his new surname of Ataturk he became the first President of the new republic. In the following years he introduced a series of revolutionary reforms. These included changing the national alphabet from Arabic to Turkish, giving women the right to vote (Turkey being only the second country in the world to do so), separating the church making Turkey a secular state, introducing surnames, abolishing the wearing of the Fez and introducing the western style headwear. It is said that Western style headwear was so scarce that travelling salesmen even managed to sell ladies hats to men! For all these reasons, Ataturk is remembered with profound respect and affection. His picture is displayed in most offices and banks and his statue is in many public places. His framework of the republic is often referred to when governments try to make unpopular reforms that go against the constitution.
The Tulip is the national flower of Turkey. Tulips were originally a wild flower of central Asia, and were first cultivated by the Turks around 1000 AD. By the 176 Century Tulips gained popularity as a trading product, especially in Holland. The interest for the flower, known in Turkish as `tale’ became huge and bulbs realised unbelievably high prices. The flower became an emblem during Ottoman times and can be seem frequently in Ottoman fabrics and designs. In fact the period between 1718-1730 is known as the Tulip Period.
Mosques: As a place of religious importance, dress rules must be respectfully adhered to by all those entering a mosque. Before entering a mosque, shoes must be removed. For women, bare arms and bare legs are no acceptable and heads must be covered and men should not wear shorts. Avoid visiting mosques at prayer time, on Fridays (Muslim Holy Day) and during religious festivals.
Beach: Topless sunbathing can offend the traditionally minded and to sunbathe naked is illegal.
Dress: Turkey is a fairly modern country and the wearing of shorts and T-shirts around towns and cities is acceptable. In more remote villages and places of worship, it is advisable to wear something a little more formal, such as a skirt or trousers with a blouse or T-shirt. It would be considered offensive to go shopping in a bikini or swimming trunks. If you are scantily clad you will attract the attention of the locals, both male and female!
Tipping: Whilst not compulsory, tipping is always appreciated. The norm is 10% in restaurants, E1 a day for room maids, a few pounds for a tour guide or driver who you feel did a good job.
When visiting a Turkish home: Always offer to remove your shoes, you will often be offered a pair of slippers to wear. if you are offered food you should ate at least a few mouthfuls. Rural Turks will usually eat with just a spoon, or spoon and fork. Often food will be served on a shared plate, that everyone eats from. Meals may be served on a low table with a cloth, or even newspaper covering it with everyone sat on the floor around. When you have finished put your cutlery at an angle to one another rather than side by side as we do in the west. In village areas meals with usually be predominantly vegetarian, with bread served ‘by the loaf’ as a staple part of the meal. You will find if you arrive with a gift this is often put to one side, this is done to save any embarrassment should the gift not be acceptable.
A few others: never blow your nose in public. If you use a toothpick you should cover your mouth with the other hand.
25 April – Anzac Day held in Gallipoli (Gellibolu)
2nd Sunday in May – Mother’s Day
19th May – Youth and Sports Day. Kas will have sporting activities with children taking part
June/July – Caretta Caretta held in Dalyan, recognising the Loggerhead Turtles
1 July (approx.) – Kabotac Festival. A celebration of the sea that usually lasts for three days with music, dancing and shows.
9th July-7th Aug – Ramazan Fasting
8-10 Aug – Seker Bayram. The Sugar festival after Ramazan (banks will be closed)
30 August – Victory Day. National Holiday, flowers presented to Ataturk statues.
October – Yacht regattas held in Marmaris and Bodrum
14-18th Oct – Kurban Bayram, festival of sacrific
29 October – Independence Day – festivals in most towns.
|7500 BC||Earliest known inhabitants|
|900-1300||Hittite Empire, wars with Egypt|
|1200-600||Phrygian and Mysian invasions followed by Hellenic civilisation|
|546||Cyrus of Persia invades Anatolia|
|334||Alexander the Great conquers all of Asia Minor|
|129||Rome establishes the province of Asia with Ephesus as capital|
|330 AD||Centre of Roman Empire moves from ‘The New Rome’ to Constantinople named in the Emperor’s honour|
|1000 onwards||Age of the Crusades, arrival of the Turks|
|1288||Rise of Ottoman power|
|1520-1526||Ottoman Empire includes North Africa and all of the Middle East|
|1571||Decline of the Ottoman Empire|
|1826||The Ottoman Empire is threatened by Russia|
|1914-1918||Turkey enters World War I on the side of Germany|
|1923||Treaty of Lausanne defines modern Turkey. Frontiers defined and population exchange begins between Greece and Turkey. Turkish republic established with Ataturk as President.|
|1925-1938||Ataturk’s programme of reforms to modernise Turkey|
|1938||Death of Ataturk from cirrhosis|
|1945||Turkey enters World War II on the side of the Allies (prior to this Turkey was neutral)|
|1946||Turkey becomes a charter member of United Nations. Adnan Menderes wins the general election for the Democratic Party. Military take over and Menderes is executed.|
|1970’s||Turkey out of control and close to anarchy. The army takes over once more.|
|1987||First free elections. Tansu Ciller elected first woman Prime Minister.|
|1999||Momentous and tragic earthquake strikes lzmit. Aid and assistance is provided from around the world.|
|2002||Recep Tayyip Erdogan appointed Prime Minister after landslide election victory for Justice and Development Party.|
|2007||Election in July resulted in a second term for the Justice and Development Party. Later that year Abdullah Gul was elected as the 11th president.|
|Present||Negotiations for full EU membership continues.|
MUST DO’S ON A TRIP TO TURKEY
- Visit a Hamam: The experience of a Turkish Bath is a must do for the start of your holiday. Lying in a warmed marble chamber you will be scrubbed with a ‘kese’ or coarse mitt and then massaged with soap bubbles. Afterwards you will be wrapped in a pestemal, a large cotton towel fringed at both ends. A truly relaxing experience and great preparation for a tan.
- Visit a local market: There are markets in most towns and villages, usually one day a week. Traditional markets will have a wide selection of cheese, often wrapped in goat skins. Lots of seasonal fruit and bread. Herbs & spices. From small stalls of locals with the excess of their produces to sell to more sophisticated stallholders with a few captured phases of English learn for sitcoms! As well as day to day ironmongery & clothing the more touristy areas will have designer copies and much more
- A gulet trip on the beautiful waters of the Mediteranean: A day out at sea is a must do. The waters are beautiful and clear and extremely buoyant. Most boat trips include a delicious lunch and the sea air definitely enhances your appetite. If you are lucky you will be able to assist the captain fishing.Take your snorkel along for when you stop in one of the secluded bays.
- See one of the ancient Lycian or Carian sites: Whilst Ephesus is the largest and most renowned of Turkey’s ancient sites there are plenty smaller sites throughout the regions. Arykanda, Patara, Xanthos, Tlos, Kaunos are just a few to mention.
- Visit a traditional village: A short drive from the coast are villages with people living much the same way their ancestors did a hundred years ago. Living on small holdings with a few chicken and goats, tending the land. You will often see the flour mill where the wheat is ground for flour. There will definitely be some photo opportunities.
- Eat in a traditional lokanta: Every town has a simple kitchen serving ‘sulu yemek’ which literally translates as watery food. In reality this is so much more. You will go to the kitchen and look through the pots of tradition fare. This is the stuff Turkish mums cook every day. Beans in tomato sauce, aubergine mousakka, pilav rice, lentil soup; the restaurant won’t look the most inviting and don’t expect the best china but the food will by far make up for it.
- Drink Turkish Tea: The best place to do this is the Cay Bache or Tea Garden, most villages have one. Served in the tulip shaped tea glass you may find the regular tea too strong, you can also try apple tea, or for the more adventurous there is sage or rosehip. One glass is never enough, and don’t forget to challenge the locals to a game of Tavla or Backgammon, don’t expect to win though!
- For men, a trip to a Turkish barbers: This is not just a replacement for your electric shave. As well as a cut throat shave, hair wash and cut, the experience will most probably include having the hairs of your nose and ears singed with a shoulder and arm massage too. An amazing experience. It’s best to put aside at least 30 minutes for this. Time for the ladies to pop into the hairdressers for a manicure or eyebrow threading.
FOOD & DRINK
Sitting down to eat, you may be wished “Afiyet Olsun”. Literally translated, this means ‘may it contribute to your health’, which it no doubt will as Turkish cuisine is one of the best in the world. If it is the cook who wished you this you should reply with “elinize saglik” which means health to your hands.
Much is owed to the Ottomans with their empire spanning from the Arabian Peninsula to the Danube River. During their rule, ingredients and methods of cooking were imported from distant frontiers back to the heart of the Empire in Istanbul, where they were refined for the Sultan’s notoriously Epicurean tastes.
The other important factors in Turkish cooking are the products and ingredients used. Almost exclusively from the locality, the produce has a memorable, natural flavour, which you cannot fail to notice. Painstaking time and care goes into the preparation. For example, there are over forty ways to prepare an aubergine.
The more traditional style restaurants will have a cabinet displaying mezes and fresh meats and fish. You simply choose what you fancy and it is then prepared and brought to the table, together with bread which is a staple in any Turkish meal. Start with tasty hot and cold meze, fresh bread and salads, then indulge in deliciously flavoured recipes with Iamb, beef or chicken. Fish can be fabulous, but a little more expensive — it’s best to check the price before ordering. Vegetarians will find few limitations, as an abundance of vegetable dishes is widely available. Last, but definitely not least, are the enticing and very sweet desserts. Many (such as baklava) are drenched in honey or syrup and baked. Meals traditionally end with a selection of cut fruit and a thick syrupy Turkish coffee. If you are very lucky someone will offer to read your coffee cup. They claim to see pictures within the grains of coffee remaining. Believer or not it can be quite amusing.
In restaurants service is generally 10% of the meal cost. Some restaurants will include a service charge in the bill (added at the bottom). It is optional to add further if you wish.
Serefe ! — Cheers !
Raki, also known as ‘Asian Suyu’ or ‘Lion’s Milk’, is the national alcoholic drink of Turkey. It is a type of grape brandy with an aniseed flavour resembling that of Pernod or Ouzo. Diluted with water and served with an accompanying glass of water. Raki is a particularly good accompaniment to fish.
There are two types of lager widely available. Efes Pilsen is the local brand and is extremely palatable. Tuborg is a Danish beer produced under licence in Turkey. Both are served either on draught (figi bira) or in a bottle
W5e bira). There is now a dark beer and also a cider.
Turkish wine is very palatable although no competition for the Grand Crusl The quality of the top brands is increasing and prices are extremely reasonable — a great accompaniment to a relaxing dinner. Names to look out for include Cankaya, Yakut, Angora, Cankaya, Lal, Villa Doluca.
Imported spirits are available and while you may find them quite expensive, they are usually served in double measures. For an equally big measure, Turkish spirits — gin, vodka and brandy — are a little cheaper than their imported equivalent and when served with appropriate mixers, they are equally as enjoyable. There is also a wide range of Turkish-produced liqueurs such as almond, orange and coffee.
A wide variety of non-alcoholic drinks are available such as Coke, Fanta, mineral water, sour cherry (visne), apple tea, Turkish coffee, Nescafe and the traditional black tea called gay (chy). A more traditional drink is Ayran, made from chilled natural yoghurt with water and salt added — a good way to replace minerals lost during the heat of the day.
Kahve, or Turkish coffee, is definitely an acquired taste. There is no substitute for the flavour of this very strong drink, which is served with varying degrees of sweetness. Sugar is added at the time of preparation and you can order in one of three ways — Sade (without sugar), Orta (medium sugar) or ekerli (lots of sugar).
Tea (gay) is one of the most popular drinks in Turkey. Brewed until strong and bitter and then diluted with hot water, it is served black with plenty of sugar and sipped from small tulip-shaped glasses. The local gaybahcesi (tea garden) is a meeting place for friends and families to enjoy a leisurely ‘chat and gay’. During your time in Turkey you will definitely be offered tea at some stage, whether within someone’s home or even while browsing in shops and markets. If you prefer a different taste, there are various herbal and fruit flavoured teas
available, such as elma gay (apple tea) which is lighter and refreshingly sweet, or ada gay (sage tea)!
Specialities to look out for….
Gözleme: Pancakes usually filled with cheese and parsley, but also potato and meat. You will see the ladies rolling out the dough.
Simit: Round ring of bread dusted with sesame seeds.
Lahmacun: Thin pizza with chopped meat and vegetables.
Pide: Turkish style pizza.
Korkorec: Usually sold from vans on the side of the street. Lambs intestines grilled on a spit. Tastes much better than the description!
Ayran: Salty yoghurt drink, great to keep you hydrated when it’s hot.
İçli Köfte: Meatballs of stuffed into a bulgar shell.
Iskender Kebab: Doner Kebab on pitta bread with tomato and yogurt sauces, topped with clarified butter.
Tost: Toasted bread with cheese, Turkish sausage and tomato.
Sütlaç: Turkish rice pudding served chilled.
Künefe: Sweet cheese pastry made with shredded wheat.
The belief in the sinister powers of nazar, the evil eye, is one of the most widespread superstitions in the country. The blue bead, nazar bona*, will guard against the jealousy of the evil wherever it is adorned with its powers of sympathetic magic. For this reason, they will be seen providing protection everywhere — children and babies wear them, homes and new buildings often exhibit one and even domestic animals may have one!
Modern Turkey is a secular state with the majority of the population being Muslim.
The 600 years Islamic reigned Ottoman Empire collapsed in the 1920s and after the Independence War, led by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the principle of secularism was introduced to the Turkish people.
Turkey is the only country among the Islamic countries which has included secularism in its Constitution and practices it. With the abolition of the Caliphate and the Ministry of Shariah (Islamic Law) and Foundations on 3 March 1924 during the Republic period, significant steps were taken on the course to secularism by providing the unification of education and later the unification of the judiciary. These steps were followed by other steps such as the Hat Reform, closure of the Sects and Convents, changing the weekly holiday from Friday to Sunday and the adoption of the Latin alphabet and the Gregorian calendar.
To be a Muslim is to submit the heart to God and observe the five pillars of Islam. The holy book of Islam is the Koran. You will hear the muezzins call ‘ezan’ five times a day from the minarets. Pray can be taken anywhere, although many will go to the mosque, and follows a set ritual including cleansing of hands, feet, neck and face in running water before the commencement of prayer. Outside the mosques you will see the water fountains where people wash before prayer.
Ramazan falls on the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, the time of year when the angel Gabriel appeared to Mohammed. During the month there is strict fasting between sunrise and sunset. Nothing is to pass the lips —food, water and cigarettes. This is to make the person fasting understand the feelings of those who are without food. After sunset the fasting is broken with a meal called Iftar. Those exempt from fasting include travellers, pregnant women, children, the sick and infirm, At the end of Ramazan there is a three day `Sugar Festival’ called Seker Bayram. This is a time when families and friends get together.
In one form or another, Turkish is spoken by around 150 million people, in an area stretching from Belgrade to Xinjiang in China. The closest European languages are Finnish and Hungarian.
One of the group of Turkic languages, it was heavily influenced by Persian and Arabic during the Ottoman period and later restricted in Ataturk s Great Language Reform of the 1930s. It was under his directi the Arabic alphabet was changed to Roman and many Persian and Arabic words were replaced by new Turkish ones. The result is a simplified and logical language with phonetical pronunciation.
There are 29 letters in the Turkish alphabet. The letters Q, W and X are omitted. There are two versions of S,
C, U, 0, I and G and three different variations of A. You will notice the difference as some of the letters are plain and some have `umlauts’ (two dots) above the letter. The different letters have different sounds and each syllable is pronounced with equal stress.
Initially the language may seem complex and very different. But, if you master a few essentials and a smattering of words, your efforts will be appreciated. It is well worth the time and trouble to bring pleasure and certainly a few smiles to friendly Turkish faces. So practice some phrases and you’re bound to impressl
Most important is the everyday word `Teşekkür ederim’, pronounced ‘tesh e kur e derim’ — thank you! Useful phrases
|Thank you||Teşekkür ederim||Tesh e kur e derim|
|Good Morning||Gunaydın||Goo nay din|
|Good Evening||lyi akşamlar||Ee ak sham lar|
|Good Night||lyi geceler||Ee gej ee ler|
|Hello how are you?||Merhaba, nasılsınız||Nasuhl-suhnuhz|
|I’m fine thank you||lyiyim teşekkür ederim||Eeim Teshekkewr|
|One beer, please||Bir bira Lütfen|
|How much is it?||Kaç para? Or Ne Kadar?||Kach parha|
|The bill, please||Hesap Lütfen||Hesap Lootfen|
Turkey’s size, combined with the variety of terrain, allows it to be one of the few countries in the world to be self-sufficient in food. Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy. Forty per cent of the land is under cultivation, with crops grown for export as well as for domestic use. Cotton and livestock are the primary exports, contributing more to the economy than tourism. As one travels around, one cannot fail to notice t e abundance of sheep — a sign of Turkey’s position as the biggest producer of wool in Europe.
Government controlled organisations (known as State Economic Enterprises) control some of the major industries such as electricity, petroleum, salt and tobacco production. The government also plays a part in the coal and steel industries, textiles, transportation, broadcasting and also the marketing of agricultural products. Manufactured goods are becoming an increasingly important part of the export economy. Car manufacture, electrical appliances, consumer goods and engineering projects all contribute to Turkey’s rising export rate.
SHOPPING AND MARKETS
Shopping is one of the great pleasures of being in Turkey. From the little corner shop bakkal to the colourful street markets and bazaars there will be plenty to tempt you.
Main shopping hours are from 09:00 — 23:00. The Turks pride themselves on their hospitality, so do not be surprised if you are invited in out of the sun and offered a refreshing drink while the shop-keeper shows off his display. This is all part of what makes shopping in Turkey fun and you should not feel obliged to buy.
The weekly street markets are full of life and colour with the local people bringing their produce to sell. You will see an abundance of seasonal fruit and vegetables, olives, cheese, honey, herbs and spices.
Turkey grows its own cotton and the markets are excellent for cotton products. Items such as bed linen and towels are exported to chain stores in the U.K., so these are a particularly good buy at the fraction of the price you would pay at home. Retail Therapy
Bakkal: Corner Shop — sells most items and even if you cannot see what you want, do ask, as it is probably there somewhere.
Fırın: Bakery for fresh bread direct from the stone oven.
Pastane: Patisserie — not just baklava, but savoury pasties and biscuits. Get there early in the morning for freshly cooked breakfast goods.
Kasap: Butcher, of course no porkl Meat is reasonably priced and generally of good quality. ‘Pirzola’, the local lamb chops, are well worth a try.
Balıkçı: Fishmonger — usually stocks some frozen items, particularly squid and octopus, as well as the catch of the day.
Manav: Greengrocer — sells seasonal fruit and vegetables by the kilo.
Ezcane: Chemist — stocks everything and dispenses it without a prescription.
Camaşırhane: Laundry — if you do need to do a wash during your holiday then this is the place to take your clothes. Some also offer ‘kuru temizieme’ or a dry cleaning service — check on the turnaround time of service before leaving your items.
Kuaför: Hairdresser — if you feel like being pampered, call in at the hairdressing salon. You can also have manicures, pedicures and they specialise eyebrow threading.
Berber: Barber – because it’s not only ladies who like to be pampered, even if you don’t need a haircut, be sure to visit for a shave and allow plenty of time for tea drinking and massage!
What to Buy
Kilims and Carpets
A good quality Turkish carpet is perhaps the ultimate souvenir. if you intend to buy one, here are a few hints:
- Stick to reputable carpet dealers and ask questions about the history of the carpet if it is being sold as ‘hand-made”. Machine carpets will always be cheaper, and you may prefer their prices.
- Check that the fabric is not synthetic, put a match to the fringe; real silk and wool do not burn easily, whereas synthetic materials glow and may give off a chemical smell.
- Check the closeness of the weave by looking at the back of the carpet. The closer the weave and smaller the knot, the higher the price. Wet a handkerchief and rub it over to check colourfastness and look carefully for repairs.
- In a reputable shop you will be issued with a certificate of authenticity.
Gold is either 14 or 22 carat and is generally significantly cheaper than in the UK. It is sold by weight with a little added for craftsmanship. If you are looking for silver, the best quality is marked between 800 – 925K — the latter being sterling silver.
Amber and turquoise, the most common, are sold by weight. Amber should be bought with care as imitations are abound – fake amber can be identified with a naked flame since it melts; but ask the permission of the proprietor before testing it!
Handbags, purses, shoes and jackets are of good quality and the designs are distinctive. Always remember you get what you pay for. There are different types of leather to choose from and a good quality jacket is always made from one skin and not patched. This is also true for linings. In good leather shops, if you have the time, you can have made to measure.
Copyright laws tend to be ignored in Turkey and you will see many ‘designer’ labels. If you are tempted to purchase, be aware that the price reflects the quality and that they may lose colour or shrink when washed. Taking counterfeit and pirated goods such as watches, handbags and CDs is prohibited and these goods may be confiscated by H.M. Customs and Excise staff.
Olive Oil and Bay Leaf Soap
It may not come gilt-wrapped or beautifully scented, but nevertheless is wonderful for the skin and hair and always makes a good gift.
Turkish delight (Lokum)
This comes in a multitude of flavours, including rose, pistachio, hazelnut and orange. At its freshest it should be soft and succulent. Sample all the flavours before making up your selection box. Some shops will stock Pismaniye a white cotton candy with a biscuit flavour, definitely worth a try.
The world’s finest and largest beds of meerschaum (lute tasi) are found in Turkey. The exportation of block meerschaum is prohibited and any carved piece will have been carved in Turkey. The pipes are carved into Sultans, fanciful figures, animals and wizened, old men’s heads from the delicate soft white stone.
A popular item to take home, are the boxes of apple tea to recapture the flavour of your holiday.
Turkish Tea (Turk Çayı) Recipe
To make Turkish tea you should use Caydanlik which is a small tea pot-brewer (demlik) on top of a kettle. Pour three cups of cold water into the larger kettle then put four teaspoons of Turkish tea leaves into the teapot and place it on the kettle. Bring the water in the kettle to boil over medium heat. Pour half of the boiling water from the kettle over the leaves into the brewer. Let it brew for about 5 minutes. Then pour the brewed tea into tea glasses using a small tea strainer. Fill in half of the tea glasses with the brewed tea and the rest with the hot water. Serve Turkish tea with sugar cubes
Spices and Foodstuffs
Sumak: A purple leaf ground to make a hot spice especially good for sprinkling on barbecued meats.
Saffron: The stamen of a particular type of North Anatolian crocus.
Salep: Powdered wild orchid root, only found in Turkey. It makes a warming winter drink when heated with milk and sugar which is said to guard against colds and act as an aphrodisiac.
Tahin: Sesame paste and can be used in baking or as a substitute for peanut butter. In the Turkish tradition mix it with Pekmez.
Pekmez: Grape or carob molasses — it’s equally delicious on its own, with yoghurt or as a topping for ice cream and puddings. It can also be used in baking.
There is plenty to choose from; embroidered Turkish slippers and fezes, sponges, nuts, onyx, ceramic plates, enameled tiles and beaten copperware. A set of backgammon is an attractive souvenir of Turkish popular culture.
Bargaining ‘Pazarille is an accepted form of doing business for large purchases and is, except in Western style shops, entirely expected. “Tell me what you will pay”, shopkeepers urge. Bargaining is a game, however, and merchants will be extremely displeased if you waste their efforts haggling over an item of small price, or one that you have no intention of buying. It is a good idea not to disclose immediately the item you are interested in, but to finally inquire about it when the merchant is giving up hope of making a sale. The days of offering a fraction of the quoted price are gone and can cause offence.
Instead, get to know the market, spend time asking prices for similar items elsewhere. This is not at all unpleasant as you will often be invited to have tea or a cold drink while you talk over the goods and prices. As a bargaining guideline, offer a price of about two-thirds of what the dealer asks, or what you think the item is worth, and go on from there. Remember though that you cannot drop your price to lower than your first offer. If you plan to buy a number of items, get your best price for just one first, and then ask if there might possibly be a discount for buying in quantity.
The object of bargaining is to produce satisfaction, to allow two people to come to an agreement that both will be happy with. You will find, in some areas that it encourages some merchants to be so persistent that they make nuisances of themselves, usually a firm “no thank you” suffices.
A promise to consider, and perhaps return later on, is something no honest merchant could object to. Never, ever, buy something that you don’t want, or for a price you are not happy with.
Bargaining can be a pleasant experience if you know what you want, what you care to spend and go about it in a cool and courteous manner. Use Turkey as a chance to match wits with the experts; it will be good practice for the next time you buy a car!
Taxis are generally reasonable priced and overcharging is not the problem it used to be. However, to avoid any difficulties, always make sure that the taximeter is turned on and running at the daytime rate, when will be displayed. Between midnight and 6:00am an extra 50% is levied and the meter will display `gece’.
Dolmuş are shared taxis or minibuses, but have a route sign, usually in the front windscreen. Dolmuş run on fixed routes, usually between popular destinations and are most frequent during rush hours. You can board and alight at any point along the way; paying the driver via passengers seated at the front of the vehicle. There are fixed fares depending on the route you have travelled.
To stop a dolmuş, simply hold out your hand as you would to stop a taxi, and jump on. When you reach your destination shout out inecek – ‘get out’.
The currency in Turkey is the Turkish Lira. Until 2005 inflation was very high and the exchange rate went up as much to 3,000,000 TL = El. At this time the currency was devalued and 1,000,000 TL became 1 YTL (New Turkish Lira). The old coins and notes are no longer in use. On 1 January 2009 the name of the currency changed again back to the Turkish Lira. New notes were also produced with the old YTL notes being phased out during the year. If you do have old YTL notes these can be exchanged at branches of the Akbank.
Turkish Bath (Hammam)
The Hammam was much more than just a place where believers could fulfill the Islamic precept of cleanliness. it was intimately bound with everyday life, a place where people of every rank — rich and poor, young and old, could come freely to mingle, socialize and gossip. Women used to proceed from the Harem to the Hammam with great ceremony, and were even accompanied by servants. The young girls used this opportunity to show off their embroidered towels and clogs while older women would choose potential wives for their sons. Men as well as women made use of the Hammam, although of course at separate hours. Men would talk mostly business and politics. Often feasts of meze and fruits would be eaten in the Hammam, particularly preceding a wedding.
An attendant leads you into the Sogukluk (cold room) where you adjust to the heat. Next, wearing only a Peştemal (a large striped or checked towel fringed at both ends and wrapped around the chest), and clanking on the marble floor in your nalins (clogs), you pass through a wooden door and reach the core Sıcaklık or Hararet (hot room). Then your attendant will pour hot water on you and then begin to scrub every square inch of your body. Basically, every millimeter of dead and dirty skin is scrubbed off, even the skin between your fingers and toes.
Afterwards you are lathered with liquid soap and shampoo and given the full body massage. The men and women working in the Turkish Hammams are known to give extremely invigorating massages. If you are up for it, let them work away your stress and weariness. The massage will start at your neck and work every muscle down the entire length of your spine to your feet. This is especially wonderful and guaranteed to make you feel relaxed. You will roll over, and the attendant will wash you from head to toe again as if you are a small child. One last shower and then it is time to leave the steam room.
Then you are given fresh towels and again brought to Sogukluk (the cool room) to rest, dry off, drink tea, coffee or refreshments and socialise with other ‘Hammamers’. Often an oil massage is offered at this stage. It is best to experience the Hammam at the start of your holiday as it is good preparation for a good tan. This is an experience not to be missed.
The lush green countryside, fertile plains and rolling hills are perfect for long walks. There are a series of well-known trails which go together to form the Lycian Way, stretching over 500kms from Fethiye to Antalya. The Lycian way has been carefully researched and is signposted and ‘way-marked’ with red-white paint flashes every 100m or so, taking you through the surrounding mountains and forests, full of the aromas of wild herbs and spices.
There is also the St Paul’s Trail which starts at Perge, 10kms east of Antalya & the Caria Trail due to open Autumn 2013 in the Mugla province. In other areas the locals will be able to point out routes for rambles. These can often be unofficial so best to take precautions and go with care.
On all walks please ensure you have plenty of water, good footwear, sun screen and a mobile telephone in case it takes longer than you think. It is also advisable to let someone know where you are going before you leave, in case you are late returning.
The area boasts a diverse array of wildlife — being home to storks, eagles, tortoises and snakes, to name just a few. Majestic birds of prey gliding on the thermals are a common sight. There is also an abundance of flora and fauna, particularly in the spring months.
Hunting has reduced wild life however there are numerous wild boars in forested areas. There are also badgers, hares, and more than 100 species of deer. Drivers will often have to slow down for tortoises, as well as street cats and dogs, not to mention herds of goats and sheep. Insects, butterflies, dragonflies and moths will be seen feeding off of the plants and flowers.
The Mediterranean region has the majority of the country’s citrus trees, although strangely no lime trees. You will also see plenty of cultivated foods such as tomatoes, chickpeas, sesame, peanuts, almonds, figs, apricots and much more. Tobacco and cotton are also grown in the region. Many herbs can be found growing wild and in villages you may find a small production of essential oils from the local herbs.
In the countryside you will see lines of blue boxes which are the bee hives. There are an average of five beehives to every square kilometre in Turkey. With a production of 70,000 tons, Turkey is the second biggest honey producer in the world after China. Closer investigation of the hives will show a plaque on the hives as these are part of a cooperative. The hives are taken up to cooler areas in the summer, returning to the coastal areas at the end of summer. There are various types of honey; using pollen from thyme (kekek), flowers (gigek), sesame (susam), pine (cam) are very common in the coastal areas. You will often see these jars of amber nectar for sale on the side on the side of the road. In September & October when the bees return to the coast it is wise to steer clear of the hives and for those allergic to the stings always carry the necessary medication. Generally the bees are not aggressive but after a long journey the bees will be stressed and looking for the nearest water supply, this will only be for a few days but they may be seen to swarm any water supplies nearby.
Did you know?
Turkey bridges two continents-Asia and Europe.
We have taken many words from Turkish including kiosk, chock-a-block, yoghurt.