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How Not to Look Like A Tourist in Istanbul in 12 Ways!

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How Not to Look Like A Tourist in Istanbul in 12 Ways!

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We as Turkish people have a worldwide phenomenal fame in hospitality. Sure we are friendly and hospital because of our customs. So if you are coming from any part of Europe or US many customs and attitudes can be seen to you as more intimate and too personal. But don’t mind and enjoy the warm hospitality of Turkish people.

If you are reading this before your visit or at your hotel’s lobby, you may think that we exaggerate. But keep in mind that most of the hotels are experienced and acting with the general European standards so you won’t get the taste of streets and locals in your hotel.

Let’s say you are ready to get into a restaurant or a shop. You are at the entrance and you see someone coming next to you. The first thing you need to say is “Hello”. If you want to make it in Turkish you can say “Merhaba” or “Aleyqumselam”.

Besides a “How do you do?” conversation we directly get into the subject.
If you are at a restaurant directly broach the subject and talk about how many will you be and you’ll be directed to a table. If you are in a shop tell the thing you look for. And be ready for the conversation back then.

As Turkish people we love talking, more personal things even its business. Don’t be shocked if the salesperson asks you about your family or the waiter to smile or get in touch with your child. It’s common that we tend to show much gestures.

Leaving the place…
As we are a gesture community, a handshake could be seen formal but yet it’s safe and acceptable. We tend to kiss from both cheeks rather than hugging. So if someone attempts you to kiss, don’t get shock. That’s the way we show love and hospitality.

When entering a shop or restaurant if it’s a local place, we generally enter and leave the place by saying “Have a nice working day” means “Hayırlı E-shler” in Turkish.

Getting Into Mosques…
Your tour guide or any official may kindly warn you about the customs of getting into sacred places. But we can make it easy for you. Before visiting any sacred place, if you are a woman keep a headscarf in your bag. And be ready, no matter if you are a woman or a man you’ll leave the shoes at the entrance. Carry a small bag with you to put your shoes in during your mosque visit. We don’t suggest to leave the shoes at the entrance. Even Istanbul is a safe city, snatchers are everywhere. You may not able to find your shoes after your visit.

It’s transportation time…
Tidy lines? No, don’t expect it to much. If you insist to wait on a line, you can wait forever so settle yourself to the public. It’ll take some time for us to get use to be tidy, keep in mind this advice till that time.

Heyyy someone is shouting! Are there something wrong?
Of course not. In everyplace, even in public transportation or any public place don’t get excited with the loud voices. We talk loudly and mostly yell to a thousand kilometres range if we saw a friendly face. So count that you are used to it.

Is he making fun of me?
No, we as Turkish people laugh much and loudly. They will make fun of course during sales or at a restaurant experience. Try to enjoy the jokes. That’s how we communicate. We love to laugh and enjoy the dialogues with word games.

Taste The Most!
As Turks we generally don’t eat at fancy restaurants all the time. Because we know that the most delicious foods are at daily fresh baked restaurants called “esnaf lokantası – artisan restaurant”. You may ask that how can we find them. It’s easy, they are always crowded and displays the meals on bench. Get in and enjoy the greatest Turkish and Ottoman tastes. 

Is this Gre…?
Please, don’t complete your question at any traditional Turkish restaurant. You may want to ask if it is Greek or not we understand. That is very naïve question, you want to learn just the history  but we can answer from here, don’t ask at a restaurant. No, no one will hurt you but this is the most delicate topic for culinary staff. So if you ask, you may exposed to a long and long and long brief about the history of the tastes. Let’s make it clear, baklava, doner, yogurt, dolma, white cheese, musakka, pide, rakı and other so called Greek tastes belongs to us and leave the discussion away and enjoy the taste.

Sir / Madam how about a glass of …
Mostly after a meal or during sales people will want to order a glass of tea or a cup of Turkish coffee and they will be pretty yack. That’s not because they try to kill you, it’s a way to show that we are hospital enough. No matter you eat, drink or buy anything this ritual will happen to you anytime you get into a long conversation. But keep in mind that never accept this offer from a total  stranger on street. You can trust restaurants and shops.

P.S: This can be offered after you pay the bill, don’t try to insist for to pay the tea, if it’s not mentioned. Drinking tea or coffee is like drinking water for us, ok it could be more than water.

How much should I tip? 
It’s pleasurable if you tip the 10% of the bill. We love tip! Not just because we care about money that much. It’s because not tipping could cause the waiter or the official to think that they are not really helped or served. The places you can be tip are; restaurants, cafes, hotels. Tip is not expected at transportation or any other official areas.

What should I wear?
If you have never visited Istanbul before, we want to highlight that we are not wearing headscarves and djellabas. There are no customs about clothes or any laws that strict.

Just keep in mind that; if you are going to visit Old City area attractions, it’s not adviced to wear too short and open things. Not because you are in danger or it’s forbidden, but because of your purpose of visit. It’s not appropriate to wear short and open things during mosque visits and Old City area is mostly consisting these kind of attractions.

But if you are going to visit museums, shopping malls, or modern districts, you can wear whatever you want according to the season.

Isn’t it enough with all the attractions?
When in Istanbul or in Turkey, we know as being the oldest settlement area we offer many and many attractions. And that can cause you to get too much information about anything else.

If you ask what you Istanbullians do? No matter if its winter or summer we take a walk at Bosphorus or at woods in the city. Then  take a rest at one of the cafes on Bosphorus shore or at Nişantaşı, Etiler or Taksim. If we are not satisfied with the rest we find ourselves at spa centers. 

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