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In Turkey, the boldest kind of modernism lives in harmony with medieval oriental values. The Turks live their daily lives to the rhythm of the prayers called out from the minarets.
When prayers begin at midday, the bazaars in small town are suddenly empty as everyone goes to the mosque: serving God comes before anything else.
In general, Turks care little about money, and they try to think about life in a way which allows them to get the most out of it while putting out as little effort as possible.
It is a poor country, and life there is difficult. Families are the pillars of Turkish society.
Children look up to their parents with deference. Parents cherish their children more than anything on earth. At home, the mother is all powerful in her apartment or "harem".
According to the old Ottoman custom of using only first names, you would be called "John Bey" (Mr. John) or Mary Hanim (Mrs. Mary).
Furthermore, Turkish first names are quite poetic: Moon Princess, or Dew drop, for girls, and Light, Hope or Silver Prince for boys. Hospitality is a very honored tradition in Turkey. Rural families will generously offer room and board to wandering tourists.
One of the most amusing things to do in Turkey is to barter (pazarlik) in the markets, to get the best deals.
If you make an offer and the merchant accepts it, it's probably because what you are buying is not the highest quality. Leave the store or stall to see what the merchant's intentions really are.
A beautiful, high-quality rug, or a gorgeous piece of pottery may be worth the price, and you won't even have to barter.
Of course, ultimately, the choice is yours, but don't hesitate to do some comparison shopping in different stores and pay in cold, hard cash.
Turkish baths or "hammam" are veritable institutions, and sometimes they are still as lavish as they were in days gone by, with their marble and ceramic tile interiors.
There is a hammam in every neighborhood, and their steamrooms, which are lit with the sunlight coming through the little holes in the cupola, are appreciated by everyone. The massage that follows your steambath will make you feel incredibly relaxed.
On Sundays, both the rich and the poor take the dolmus (minibus) to go into the country, to the sea or to the mountains.
In Turkey, one lets oneself be cradled by the ephemeral joys of daily life, music, painting, and poetry.
Many Turks speak many European languages flawlessly. In rural villages, people live as their ancestors lived, and do just fine without modern conveniences.
Today, countless travel agencies offer cruises, guided tours, and suggestions for your visits to the major tourist sites in Turkey. But don't be afraid to tread off the beaten path.
Wherever you go, someone will be there to guide you toward the 1001 treasures of Anatolia and Thrace.
Selection of activities for your visit in Turkey
- Eat Like a Local: Istanbul Food and Culture Tour with Dinner at Local Family Home
- Dolmabahçe Palace & 2 Continents Tour
- Istanbul Photography Walking Tour
- Small-Group Old & New Istanbul Walking Tour by Urban Adventures
- Private Minivan: Istanbul Port
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