I am done with Turkey-social-research project for the month. If I have to distill my time in a few small bullet points. Here it is:
- Istanbul is beautiful, seriously;
- Erdogan is a polarizing figure;
- Watching Turkish soap opera’s is hilarious, specially if you don’t speak the language
- Unless mentioned by a Turk, DO NOT talk about Cyprus. Even if that’s the case, tread carefully;
- Food is ridiculously cheap in Turkey;
- Clothing is not;
- The nightlife is great;
- The architecture is amazing;
- Forget your credit cards. Cash is king;
- You don’t need to speak Turkish to survive. Most Turks can speak English, French or German. Some even can pull some Arabic out of the bag; and
- For citizens of most countries, a visa costs $20 and is obtained upon arrival in Turkey.
Turkey is probably the image of the ideal tourist destination. It is strikingly beautiful, the weather is great (the majority of the time, but it does get cold), and it is very cheap if you price your spending in USD. Compared to other European capitals, Turkey is a bargain. Last year I attempted to go to Italy. The visa process was hilariously complicated for, especially because I am an Egyptian; the fees were outrageous; and the flight tickets weren’t what you’d call budget-friendly. Turkey was a $300 dollar round-trip from Cairo. Think about that. My subsidized iPhone cost more than that.
Also, the hostel culture in Turkey is well-established at this point that it is actually quite inexpensive. Unlike most Western countries, hostels actually have a great atmosphere, and great pricing. The hostel I stayed in overlooked some seriously stunning architecture, the roommates were great. However, if your in it for the romantic, relaxed and luxurious vacationing, this place probably is not for you. It is for the backpacker.
And a backpacker I was.