Before we traveled to Turkey, we had a lot of ideas around how things would be in country. While most of them were based on Raga’s experience 8 years back, some were formed due to some real incidences that we heard on news channels and social media. While on one hand, we were asking ourselves – Is Turkey Safe? Will Turkey ever be safe? On the other hand, we for sure knew that vegetarian food was going to be a struggle, and weren’t sure how conservative people would actually be. In reality, Turkey turned out to be something that we never expected it to be. Just like we felt in Italy, a week is too short to form opinions, but please do read more about our 8 first (second in Raga’s case) impressions of Turkey below –
First things first – Is Turkey Safe?
When we were planning a trip to Turkey, many of our friends and family raised safety concerns. In 2016 and early 2017, there were a number of attacks in Turkey and since then Turkey has seen a huge dip in tourism.. This year Turkish government took a lot of effort like advertisements, inviting travel bloggers etc to spread the message of Turkey being a safe country! That gave us a lot a courage to travel to Turkey in December 2017. We even asked a few friends who were from the country before planning our trip and they mentioned the same thing. As long as we stick to Istanbul, Cappadocia and not go towards the eastern side (Syrian border) things would be just fine. We faced absolutely no issues and during our trip we felt that Turkey was as safe as any other country!
Will my travel to Turkey be expensive?
Before we travelled, we were under the impression that Turkey would be really cheap. Well, it’s not extremely cheap like counties in Asia but the cost of living and prices in general are relatively cheaper than Ireland. For example: a regular pasta would cost around 30 lira which is 7.5 euros, a local beer would cost around 3 euros, museum tickets would be around 5 to 10 euros per person etc. We are not big into souvenir shopping, but regular meal prices felt reasonable. Moreover, our accommodation really felt affordable as we paid on an average 50 euros per night for a really good hotel. This is considering the fact that we travelled to Turkey during off-season, so prices (especially accommodation) would anyway be a bit on lower side.
Will I find vegetarian food in Turkey?
Vegetarian food wasn’t a big struggle as we thought it would be. Turkey is mainly a kebab eating country but vegetarian options are available. You will find loads of dry fruits, oranges and Turkish delights to snack on. Street food like chestnut and roasted corn are also available. Istanbul being a big city, you can easily find some vegetarian restaurants. We even found an Indian restaurant, even though the food wasn’t great. In Cappadocia (Goreme), vegetarian options are plenty and we enjoyed dinning on some local specialties. I think it is safe to say that we were in food heaven in Cappadocia and not once had a crappy meal. Oh by the way, Falafel and Hummus is not Turkish food, though you will find decent hummus in every restaurant.
Are Turkish people friendly?
At first encounter, people seem to be warm and friendly. In Cappadocia, we really felt welcomed. Here we saw the hospitality side of Turkey. Shopkeepers offered us tea with no pressure of buying, restaurant owners were honest and kind, hotel staff were extremely polite. In Istanbul, our hotel manager gave us his Istanbul pass so that we could use the public transportation. The restaurant owner in Cappadocia gave us back our 50 euros which we had paid by mistake instead of 50 liras. People in Turkey have left a really good impression on us!
How conservative are people in Turkey?
Even though Turkey is majorly a muslim country, we found people to be very open minded and nowhere near being conservative. Of course, if you are a girl and if you are entering a mosque, you need to cover yourself from head to toe. Apart from that, we found people to be very modern and fashionable. Culturally as well people seemed to be open. This could be due to the fact a lot of Greeks lived in Turkey before the population exchange of 1923. It involved approximately 2 million people out of which around 1.5 million were Greeks and they were forced to leave Turkey and move back to their own country.
Is Turkish transportation system good?
Istanbul seems to be well connected. There are busses, trams, metro and cabs. Frequency is good as well and definitely better than what we have here in Dublin . Of course they can get over crowded inside and you will be pushed a couple of times. In Cappadocia, there are taxis and plenty of tours available. We never faced any problem!
Do people really Queue in Turkey?
When it comes to crowded locations in Istanbul, everyone seems to be in rush. While people do follow a queuing system, they are always looking for opportunities to break them. You need to move fast, else they will smartly overtake you. People also stand uncomfortably close to you, when it comes to lining up. Being an Indian can be an advantage here, as we exactly know how to behave in such situations!
What is the effect of Social Media on Turkey?
Turkey is big on Social Media and everyone seems to be on Instagram. Just to get the perspectives right, even the Instagram account of the carpet shop in Cappadocia has a couple of thousand followers. The tour guides, hotel staff, hotels easily have thousands of Instagram followers. Being touristy, a lot of hotels and shops in Istanbul & Cappadocia, collaborate with and are open to collaboration with Social Media influencers. They even do paid collaboration to promote their business. I can safely say and assume that Cappadocia has become more popular in the last year because of Instagram and Instagram influencers!
So to summarise.. Is Turkey Safe? Yes. Are Turkish people conservative? No. Do you get vegetarian food in Turkey? Yes.
Are these pointers enough for you to plan a trip to this amazing country? Do let us know if you have any questions in the comments section below.
Also, read about 15 amazing things to do in Istanbul.