Housesitting, Housesitting in Turkey

35 THINGS about the TURKISH Culture

We have just completed a housesit for the second time in Turkey.  The first one was last year for 3 months and the second was this year for a month and a half.  Both times were to housesit for the same couple and their adorable animal family.

How did we find Turkey?

What did we learn from this experience?

Here’s a list of some things we learnt about everyday life, and, the culture of this mystical country:

  1.   A smile is the best currency in the world.
  2. So much of Turkey is still “undiscovered”.  Get out of the more touristy areas and stop for a while in the smaller towns and villages.
  3. Turkish love sugar.  The downside of that there is an extremely high diabetes rate there.
  4. Nothing it would seem gets finished in Turkey.  Infrastructure is abysmal.  Though many of the leading roads are excellent.  Yes, Turkey is indeed a land of contradictions!
  5. A perfect accompaniment to watermelon is cheese and bread.
  6. A Turkish chicken desert – tavuk göğsü tatlısı which is a milk-based pudding made with chicken breasts.
  7. Cherries and Tulips were introduced to the world by Turkey.
  8. Pomegranates are everywhere around Dalyan, it was a thriving business until the market became saturated with no forward planning.
  9. Hazelnuts are a prominent export for the country,
  10. After London, Turkey has the second-oldest underground railway in the world is the Istanbul Tünel.
  11. Patience –  The bank visit, get a numbered ticket, wait, then realise anyone who has an account there goes before you, an hour later, we have action!.
  12. Always check to make sure you are on the right side of the road!  Picture this, I am cycling along, I look up and start muttering about crazy Turkish drivers and then it dawns on me, it’s not them but I that is the crazy Kiwi cyclist, who was on the wrong side of the road!  They gracefully smiled at me as I sheepishly moved across to the other side!
  13. Crazy scooter drivers – no glasses no helmet, actually no protective gear at all.
  14. Health and Safety policies don’t seem to exist from what we have seen, in this small part of Turkey.
  15. Road rules are there to be broken [obviously not by us].  Two-way roads all of a sudden become 3-way roads.  Why go to the left or right when the middle is so much more fun.
  16. Istanbul is the only city in the world built on two different continents
  17. That freedom of speech is not a given right
  18. A VPN is a handy application to have as many websites are blocked for whatever reason.  For example, Wikipedia and my access to some blogs that I follow.
  19. Turkey has a high rate of imprisonment of journalists or anyone that speaks out against the current policies.
  20. Majority of the Turkish population is Muslim, Turkey is not officially a Muslim country. It has formally been a secular nation since 1927.
  21. It’s a common practice to fire a gun into the air during a wedding celebration.
  22. The seeming absence of any awareness of what the usage of plastic is doing to their country let alone the bigger picture, of the world we live in.
  23. Drugs that are usually only available with a doctors prescription [comparison to NZ/AUS] are readily available at the local chemist.  I thought the W.H.O. is trying to stop the overuse of this drug?    A right or wrong practice, you decide.
  24. The neglect of animals, not just domestic, with the other side of the coin, being the caring people who look out for the street dogs and cats by having shelter, food in various spots around the towns and cities.
  25. We only experienced friendly and kind gestures from locals.  Out walking we commented on a women’s garden, and she offered us some strawberries.  We declined as we had already bought some.  Kind and generous!  They are also very patriotic, flags are displayed everywhere.  
  26. Respect the culture, even though we don’t always agree with all their traditions. It’s not a place for your inner staunch feminist to appear.  Like the saying goes “When in Rome Turkey”!  Leave the skimpy clothing for a more acceptable environment.
  27. Selling Turkish Rugs is a religion. One rug seller made a comparison between their rug selling to our rugby watching. Both of which are instilled into our cultures.
  28. Cay – a national tea is very popular.  Especially by groups of men in cafes.  What on earth do they talk about for hours on end?
  29. In Dalyan, it’s acceptable and commonplace to drive your Massey Fergusson tractor into town to do a spot of shopping.
  30. Santa Claus was born in Turkey.
  31. Turkey has some of the earliest advanced civilisations known to man.
  32. It has had equality for women going back many millennia.  A fact I found astonishing!
  33. Turkey is a land of contradictions.
  34. Is agriculturally self-sufficient, meaning it doesn’t need to rely on other countries for food imports.
  35. Turks introduced coffee to Europe.

We have been very fortunate to have had a reasonable amount of time in Turkey to digest a slice of their culture.  To see how everyday life is for many locals.  It has been a privilege as well as an eye-opener.

Negatively and positively.

There is a sense that there is a profound ancient mystery that lies across the country like a blanket just begging to be explored.


Want to read more about our time in Turkey?

Neighbourhood Walks – Iztuzu Beach & more

The Ghost Village of Kayakoy

Easter in a Muslim Country

Postcards from Istanbul

The Morning Market [Pazar]

Neighbourhood walks – Dalyan

“Those lazy, hazy, and crazy days of summer” – Turkish style


49 thoughts on “35 THINGS about the TURKISH Culture”

  1. This was a great read Suz, I especially like the fact that they drive their Massey Ferguson’s into town, my husband would love to drive his old grey fergie into town 😊 I learnt heaps from reading your post. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Molly to be honest I would not like to comment whether or not Turkey has a drug problem as I don’t have the facts to back it up. What we did find is the easy access to drugs for many people and we personally were able to buy antibiotics [for a infected tooth] over the counter without a doctors prescription. We were told that locals can buy psych drugs over the counter which was rather disturbing to hear. Crazy drivers are all over the world, though in some countries they are more visible 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You’ve seen such a different side of the country to those that only visit as part of a package holiday and spend all their time at a resort – which I confess was largely what I did on my one visit to Turkey back in 2012 for my parent’s ruby wedding anniversary. I struggled with the heat and humidity (travelling in July, what were my parents thinking?) and also found the sellers in our local town to be very aggressive, forcibly pulling me into shops, which made me feel very uncomfortable. It was almost like tourists were second-class citizens, and I’m sure this is not the case when you get to really settle and explore the culture. My dad and Mr Fletche enjoyed their Turkish barber experience very much though!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Em, sorry to hear that you experienced the desperate sellers, and they are still very much alive over there. I just gave them a ” don’t mess with me” sort of look 🙂 Though to be honest it never really worked. Unfortunately the tourist season is really the only time many people make money and that has to last them all year. We have never been to a resort and never likely too. Many tourists and even expats think sunning themselves by the pool is the thing to do. Each to their own and we are all different, which is a good thing 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. A country of contradictions. I can see that. And a big and diverse one as well. While Islam is the country’s biggest religion, Turkey has been known to embrace modernization and a more western approach since Ataturk.

    Pretty awful about all the plastic and the animal neglect. We’ve noticed this in many less developed countries. When it comes to no protection when driving scooters, however, that isn’t much different here in the US. In many states, helmets are not a requirement on motorcycles. Here in New Mexico (and New Hampshire and Florida), I’ve seen plenty a rider without a helmet or protective clothing! Crazy!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. With Turkey’s new leader the future is very unpredictable and unfortunately modernisation is not on the cards from what I can gather. He wants to go back to the pre Ataturk times.


        1. You are so right Liesbet, I do think it’s also a large percentage of the population in the said countries, not just the politicians.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Turkey is an interesting place to visit, away from the really touristy areas. We enjoyed doing the road trip along the coast and inland. Capturing a couple on a tractor is not an easy task especially when I spent most of the time watching instead of clicking 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love this list Suzanne as it gives an insight of daily life in Turkey. Some of those items bought a smile to the face. I love too how travelling even today, you can still experience culture not sanitised by marketing.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks and I agree with you if it is a wonderful experience. Great to experience as a visitor.


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