Bizarre and Unusual Things We Learned Living in Turkey
This is our second year of living in Turkey, and although most of everyday life runs the same as that of our life in the United States, there are, however, a few things that we found interesting and worth sharing with you.
Need a Taxi?
Living in a small town in Texas, I never had to call for a taxi because I had my own car. But on occasions, while visiting large cities in the United States, I needed a taxi and I would simply stand on the side of the road, put one hand up in the air to hail a taxi.
However, in Antalya, taxis can be found at assigned “Taxi Point” throughout the city. To have a taxi come to you, all you need to do is find the “yellow” box which can be found mounted on a light pole or street sign, press the button and a taxi from the closest taxi point will show up in less than five minutes. Convenient and efficient!
Turks Don’t Que
Superstition: Blue Eye
No matter what country you live in you will find throughout history, man has made many forms of talismans designed to ward off bad luck or spirits. For example, a rabbit’s foot is common in Europe.
Throughout Turkey, you will find Nazar Boncuğu (Blue Eye to shield against evil spirits) hung at the entrance of a home or doorway as well as in the car hanging from the rearview mirror. Almost every Turkish person I know has one to carry around with them or display in their home.
When you go out shopping for bedding, you purchase according to the size of the mattress which in the United States have standard sizes such as Twin, Full, Queen, or King. You can buy each piece individually or as a set, depending on your preference.
Turkey bedding sizes are not standard! You have to know the true measurement of your mattress. Each piece of the bedding is sold separately and typically does not come all in the same color for all the pieces. For example, I found a fitted sheet (which is also not common here. They typically use a regular sheet and tuck it under the mattress) in a beige, the bedsheet in a different shade of beige, and the pillowcases in another shade of beige. This can be challenging at times!
Road Rules: What Road Rules?
My anxiety automatically rises as I enter the car to go somewhere in the city. Driving in Turkey is the most challenging experience I have ever dealt with while living here. Although drivers are required to take a grueling driving course (in the classroom and on the road) to be granted a driving license. But you really can’t tell by the way they drive because most drivers have zero respect for traffic laws and driving regulations.
First, when at a traffic light, you will find motorcycles weave through cars and go to the front to be able to be the first to take off when the light changes to “yellow”, not GREEN! If your car is not rolling forward when the light turns yellow, you will get honked at until you move. Sometimes drivers disregard the “red light” altogether and just drive through it. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen drivers go through red lights, especially motorcycles.
Second, most streets have lanes marked by white or yellow lines dividing the lanes. Turks like to drive on the line or slightly into the other lane so that they have the option to change lanes without signaling. They struggle to stay in the center of the lane and love to drive near other cars. You may see two lanes but three to four cars across the road!
Third, turning lanes are a joke! No matter what lane you are in, someone from a neighboring lane will turn in front of you. Typically, when a driver is in the left turn lane, this usually means the driver wants to turn left, but this isn’t so in Turkey, the driver in the left turning lane may go straight and don’t be surprised if a driver in the far-right lane decides to make a left turn… if honked at, he will simply honk back and yell.
I could go on and on about driving in Turkey. I get anxious and try to meditate before we go for a drive. I really prefer to walk!
While most Turkish hotels, museums, and restaurants have western-style toilets, you’ll encounter “squatty potties” or Turkish toilets on your travels. When you enter a restroom here, you will see a white ceramic square with a hole. On the wall, you will find a faucet with a very short hose used for the same purpose as a bidet to wash. That is why you will find the floor typically wet so make sure to roll up your pants.
At first, I dreaded seeing these types of toilets and would force myself to wait until I could find a commode-style toilet. I am a tall person and squatting while making sure I pay attention to my aim was a bit of a challenge. But I have come to terms with it and have mastered my skills at the “squatty potty.”
Also, it is important to carry toilet paper and change to pay for the use of a public toilet. I hate not having toilet paper!
If you really need to use the restroom and struggle to find one, look for a mosque, as they typically have toilets and are free of charge.
Shoes Off at the Door
When you visit someone’s home in Turkey, you will be asked to take your shoes off before entering. That is why when you pass by someone’s apartment you may see a line of shoes outside the door. As you enter the home you will be offered a pair of slippers, or you could simply bring your own.
Make sure you wear hole-free clean socks, or you might become a little embarrassed!
Love for Animals
Turkish Love for Animals Video
Paying it Forward
It became common in recent years in Western countries for people to pay it forward by buying an extra cup of coffee at the counter. In Turkey, this seemingly modern idea of “paying it forward” goes back centuries called askida ekmek.
Askida ekmek, means “bread on a hanger,” rooted in Islam which is the dominant religion in Turkey. When you visit the bakery, you will purchase two loaves of bread. You will take one of the loaves and place it in a bag, hang it on a fence for those that are in need of food. Some go to the bakery and pay for two loaves but only take home one. The bakery then can offer a free loaf of bread for those hungry that may ask for food.
In Islam, there are the five pillars of faith for followers to lead a good and moral life. Their glad-tiding requirements can be met by giving money or provisions. The importance of giving bread (ekmek) in Turkey derives from their Islamic belief that bread sustains life, and the protection of life is sacred. Bread is essential to every meal in Turkey.
In most malls in Turkey, you will find a movie theater. I saw promotions of American movies being available for viewing and so I was eager to check it out.
Movies in Turkey cost $2.50 per person. When you go to purchase your ticket, you must select your seats as though you were going to a major theater concert. Typical concessions offering popcorn, candy, and soft drinks are available. A drink and a large bucket of popcorn will cost $3.50!
Interestingly, an intermission midway through the movie is common, to allow for a visit to the restroom and/or concessions, or just sit and relax… I thought that was a nice and clever idea.
Moving Household Goods
When moving into a new home you may think that isn’t a big deal, just hire a moving service or load up your car and move. But when you live in Turkey that isn’t quite that easy! Elevators are small and are not designed to handle large items.
Instead, a lift truck is used that has a long-extended arm with a good size platform to move large items…. A difficult task made easy!
Because we only live on the 5th/top floor of our building, most movers chose to strap furniture to their back and carry it up the stairs. When we had furniture delivered to our apartment, I was shocked to see these men carrying the furniture by way of the stairwell. Wow! Very impressive.
Underground Garbage Stations
You might ask what is this exactly? In the United States, garbage trucks pick up trash from each individual home. However, in Turkey, they have underground trash depositories which can be found on almost every block. To dispose of the trash from your home, you must deposit it into one of these bins by pressing on a foot lever to open the bin to toss your trash into it. Once a week, a garbage truck will attach an air hose to the side of the depository to lift the bins and then roll out each bin to be emptied.
Underground Garbage Station Video
The PTT is an abbreviation for Posta ve Telgraf Teşkilatı, which is the national postal and telegraph service in Turkey. Throughout the city are many PTT offices and stand-alone kiosks. In addition to handling postal service, they also provide a wide range of other services such as bank transfer, bill payment, insurance, and currency exchange. When mailing a package through PTT you can easily track your parcel.
In Turkey, you will find ATMs near bank branches, airports, and near major attractions. It is very common to find ATMs from all the different banking institutions aligned next to each other. We found this an interesting concept!
Fake Police Cars
Traveling throughout Turkey we started to notice these fake police cars along the highway. Although the traffic police in Turkey do very little in managing traffic, I discovered these were designed to discourage motorists from speeding.
These large cut-out Turkish police cars are placed on the side of the road reminding drivers to be aware of their speed. From a distance, it looks like a real police car. However, locals who travel these roads often, no longer really pay attention and so the fake police cars have become ineffective.
As 2021 comes to a close, I am looking forward to 2022. I am truly blessed for the family and friends we have been able to visit throughout our journey.
We welcome all of you to Antalya.
Life was meant for great adventures, begin exploring as soon as you can!
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