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The Six Things I Learned in Turkey

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This Christmas holiday, I had the privilege of seeing the great sites of Turkey. The culture was fascinating, the history was unfathomable, and the food was delectable. I'm now back from my trip, and I've acquired some eclectic wisdom I'd like to share.

Toilets

Like many European countries, there are many pay-toilets in Turkey; but unlike most countries, Turkish toilets can be either Western-style (sit-up) or Asian-style (a hole in the wall in the ground that you squat over). As I toured the country, I found that the most expensive restrooms aren't always the cleanest. I also learned the golden rule of travel: when you find a clean toilet, use it!

Money, Money, Money
We don't realize how fortunate we are until we see how high the cost-of-living is in foreign countries. Even after I took into account the difference in currency, I still couldn't get over the price of basic necessities such as food and water. Even famous Turkish figs cost more in Turkey than they do in Canada!

Islam
After seeing extremist Muslims on the news day after day, you start to wonder about the teachings of Islam. After touring a 99% Muslim country, and seeing the beautiful mosques, it is clear that Islam is a deeply misunderstood religion. As you delve deeper, the similarities between Islam and Christianity are immense, and the value-system is comparable to many world religions.

The Western Connection
Turkey is a country that truly blends the east and the west. Situated on two continents, many cultural influences are evident throughout different parts of the country. Although we think of it as Middle Eastern, Turkey's history is rooted in ancient Greco-Roman cities, including Epheseus and Troy. In Istanbul's Topkapi palace, extravagant French architecture is prominent throughout the grounds.

Pide
As a vegetarian and pizza-addict, I was eager to find a good Turkish staple. Pide 'fresh pita-bread baked with various topping such as meat, cheese, and vegetables 'made the cut. Known as Turkish pizza and available throughout Turkey, I ended up eating this delicious dish every other day!

A Country of Men
Whether big city or small village, finding a woman in Turkey is like playing 'Where is Waldo?' Restaurants, coffee shops, bazaars, and the streets are all filled with men, something I have never seen anywhere else. Although this was a new experience for me and many other foreigners, I learned the importance of understanding cultural differences and why they exist. Travel tip: Don't let the oddities of a new place stop you from experiencing its wonder.

Travelling to Turkey was an amazing experience that I would recommend to anyone. It enriched my world-view, my historical knowledge, and my taste-buds. Bon Voyage!



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Jennifer V. said...
Apr. 5, 2009 at 9:01 pm
Hey, fellow Canadian! If you get a chance, do you agree with my assesment of Canada in my travel
 
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