Expert Shares Tips on Traveling to Turkey

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Well, I’m headed to Turkey next week (YAHOO!) with some of the White House Travel Bloggers, courtesy of Turkish Airlines (thank you!). Expect to see a wave of Turkish travel goodness come your way in the next few months! Follow our hashtags: #WHTravelBloggers, ‪#‎widenyourworld, and‬ ‪#‎lovefromturkey. To kick off, I thought I’d interview an expert on Turkish Travel – Natalie Sayin, who runs Turkish Travel Blog. This is my favourite site on travel to Turkey, and the one I went to first (and got lost in for hours, swoon) when I learned we were headed there. I asked Natalie for a few tips for traveling to Turkey - here's what she had to say...

 

I love Istanbul! From Expert Shares Tips on Traveling to Turkey

Istanbul

 

What inspired you to go to Turkey  -and create your Turkish travel site?

In 2001, I booked a last minute holiday deal to Marmaris on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. Everything just felt right and more importantly, I felt that I was where I was meant to be in life so I went back to the UK, gave up my job and returned in 2002, to work for a holiday company. 

In 2010, I set up my blog, originally as a hobby because by this time, I had gained a vast amount of travel and cultural experiences. Around the same time, I also branched out into freelance travel writing and together, the blog and my other work have fused together to now become my career. 

 

Drive from Altinkum to Akkoy, Turkey. From Expert Shares Tips on Traveling to Turkey

Drive from Altinkum to Akkoy

 

What should people do to prepare to visit Turkey?

Check out the weather according to the time of year you plan to visit and most importantly, where you want to go. For example, I went to the Black sea region in June and had to wear jumpers because it was freezing while on the Aegean coast, people were sunbathing on the beaches. This shows the diversity. 

Also don’t forget to get your visa before you leave your home country. Turkey is no longer issuing them at the arrival airports. 

 

Things I love about Istanbul. From Expert Shares Tips on Traveling to Turkey

Hagia Sophia

 

What are your best Istanbul travel tips?

When you arrive in the city, remember you are standing in the former capitals of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires. This instantly makes you feel in awe. A day spent exploring the historical sites of the Sultanahmet area is a must, because the old city is a UNESCO World heritage site. 

Don’t forget the Taksim and Beyoglu areas for shopping and nightlife. A cruise of the Bosphorus and a tour of the Dolmabahce palace are also strongly recommended. The Dolmabahce Palace was the last home of the Ottoman sultans and also the place, where the founder of modern day Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, passed away. The luxurious décor and design is out of this world!

They are suggestions of things to do, but while walking about, keep an eye out for the shoe shine scam. Also, always check the bill in restaurants. On the odd occasions, dishes have been added to my bill that I never ate!

 

Shops in the Grand Bazaar. From Expert Shares Tips on Traveling to Turkey

Shops in the Grand Bazaar 

 

What might surprise people about Turkey?

How friendly the Turks are. First-time visitors are not prepared for it because the Turks can easily strike up conversations with strangers and sometimes even invite them into their houses. Once the shock factor wears off, people like it and now Turks have a worldwide reputation for their hospitality. 

 

Food shop, Turkey. From Expert Shares Tips on Traveling to Turkey
 

 

What are some must-try foods?

Gozleme that is a pancake like dish filled with items such as spinach, cheese, or potatoes. Kumpir is simply the humble jacket potato but the choice of toppings is immense. In Istanbul, the district of Ortakoy is widely known for them. 

Making gozleme. From Expert Shares Tips on Traveling to Turkey

 

Baklava might not suit some people because it is extremely sweet but the mixture of filo pastry, sweet syrup, and nuts is famous all over Turkey. In Istanbul, also try the Balik ekmek (fish sandwiches) that are sold by the floating boats next to Galata Bridge.

Balik ekmek. From Expert Shares Tips on Traveling to Turkey
 

piles of bread in Turkey. From Expert Shares Tips on Traveling to Turkey

 

What cultural aspects of Turkey should visitors be aware of?

Turks are quite relaxed with foreigners so there is no need to worry about making a social faux paus. The main aspect is that some women can appear standoffish but this is simply because interactions with men are limited. 

For example, on the big buses, they will never seat a strange man next to a single woman. Also a man will not touch a woman that is attached or give her the customary greeting of kisses on both cheeks unless he knows her well. 

For this reason as well, women should cover their cleavage and wear long shorts or skirt, unless they want to be the centre of attention and collect a group of wannabe admirers!

 

Cruising the Bosphorus. From Expert Shares Tips on Traveling to Turkey

 

Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

Use the same safety tips that you would do in your own home, and just arrive with an open mind. I guarantee that if you do that, your time in Turkey will become one of your most treasured travel memories. 

 

At Fethiye. From Expert Shares Tips on Traveling to Turkey
Fethiye

 

Kusadasi fish market. From Expert Shares Tips on Traveling to Turkey
Kusadasi Fish Market

 

 

 

All photos courtesy and copyright Natalie Sayin, Turkish Travel Blog, used with permission.

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