7 Myths about Turkey that are not true

Since I have made two posts about common myths in Germany and China, it’s now time to continue this with Myths about Turkey.
Some of you might know that I am of turkish heritage. My parents were both born in Turkey, but moved to Germany to work. Of course, they have built their life here, so there was no reason for them to go back to Turkey. Me and my siblings, we were all born and grew up here in Germany. Still, we always had to be confronted with misconceptions people had about Turkey and turkish people, according to what they were hearing and reading in media, which mostly is not true. I have chosen the most common misconceptions about Turkey and turkish people and its culture to debunk it once and for all.

  1. Everyone wears a headscarve

    Bildergebnis für kopftuchträger in der türkei
    tagesanzeiger.ch

    The headscarve or the hijab are, of course, a part of the turkish culture. Some wear it, most people do not. Nowadays, many people get the feeling that more and more women are being forced to wear the hijab, because they wrongly assume that the turkish president is forcing women to cover up. This is not true at all! The only difference he has done for hijabi women is giving them more rights. Before he was president, girls and women wearing a hijab were by law excluded from education and work life. This was sexism at its best, and Erdogan has changed it. He had given girls wearing a hijab the right to educate themselves. It is also a fact that many girls were forced by their parents to cover up. Giving them the right of education has prevented them from being forced to get married at a young age, and given them the independence of getting a job and deciding whether to wear the hijab or not.
    So please, do not discriminate a turkish or another muslim woman who wears the hijab out of belief. This does not mean that they are uneducated. Most of the time, hijabi women are even more educated than non-hijabi women, since education was not always a privilege for them.

  2. Vegetarians and Vegans have to stay hungry

    Bildergebnis für vegan turkish food
    Source: ashwinbahulkar.wordpress.com

    To all my vegetarian and vegan friends who plan to travel to Turkey: Do not worry at all! The most amazing dishes in Turkey are actually the vegan ones! So get ready to indulge in some of the most amazing food your palate will ever taste!
    Of course, Turkey has a lot of meaty, milky dishes and they use a lot of dairy products to accompany their non-dairy dishes (Yoghurt is life!), but the turkish cuisine is richer than you think. There are as many veg dishes as there are meaty dishes. Some of them are the most exquisite dishes ever! Including filled wine leaves (with rice and herbs), lentil balls, various, meat-free aubergine dishes, filled bell peppers (also with rice, herbs and tomatoes), various other lentil dishes, dishes including beans of all sorts, chickpeas and peas, vegetarian dumplings and turkish pizza, and many many more that I don’t even know about.

  3. The president will arrest every tourist

    Bildergebnis für erdogan
    Source: freiewelt.net

    The turkish president has probably been one of the most spoken about politicians in the last year, especially with the coup d’etat last July, the political environment in Turkey has taken yet another course in history. This was a reason for the president to arrest a lot of people who had high positions in the sections of military, law, police, media etc. Especially the amount of journalists that are sitting in turkish prisons has made foreign tourists spectical about travelling to Turkey. Also in Germany, the media kept on telling german people not to travel to Turkey, which is utter bullshit! So let me tell you this: You do not have to be afraid of travelling around Turkey. As long as you have not published a criticizing article about Erdogan or his party, you can roam around the country as you please. No one will hurt or arrest you if you respect the law.

  4. Turkey has a problem with Kurds

    Bildergebnis für Kurds in turkey
    Source: vocativ.com

    This is a very sensitive topic, and I am a little bit worried about writing this. But I do know some things about this issue. There is quite a high percentage of Kurds in Turkey who speak the language and also identify themselves as turkish citizens. Then there is the PKK, the Kurdish worker party, at least that’s how they are officially named. However, this party has caused a lot of tumult in Turkey over the last few decades. They are more commonly known as a terrorist group by now, who are fighting against Turkey and for a free Kurdistan (which does not exist on the map). So they basically want to split the eastern part of Turkey and make it their own country. And the PKK wants to reach this with violence. There have been hundreds of thousands people killed over the last 2 or 3 decades and still there does not seem to be a solution to this problem. What makes it worse is that a lot of western media outlets display the PKK as a righteous party that is being oppressed by the turkish government. All I can tell you is not to believe everything you hear on media and inform yourselves about any topic. Here is a link to a great article about this topic and other myths in Turkey.

  5. It’s dangerous to go out at night

    Ähnliches Foto
    Source: famoushostels.com

    Many people who have never been to Turkey think that it is dangerous to go out at night in Turkey. They argue that the islamic mindset makes people very disapproving of clubs and parties. But this mindset might only be true in the eastern part of Turkey. In the major big cities and beach resort towns, nightlife is bustling and the streets usually start to fill up after 10pm. Public transport is efficient, taxis are cheap and locals are usually very nice and polite, so there is nothing to scared of. Still, in big cities like Istanbul, you should do your research about the neighbourhoods to avoid, because just like in any other major big city, there are shady, dangerous side streets as well. But as long as you do your research and take care, you do not have to worry.

  6. Turkish girls are not allowed to have a boyfriend

    Ähnliches Foto
    Source: pinterest.com

    This is a prejudice that I am confronted with quite often when I date. Guys usually assume that they can’t approach me because I am turkish. And if they found out about my turkish background later on, they will always ask the typical question: “Are you allowed to have a boyfriend?” This pisses me off extremely, and the reason why I have never had a serious relationship is not because of my parents, but because of the misconceptions of german/western guys.
    Especially nowadays, turkish people are more open to relationships which is also influenced a lot by turkish drama series where love is always the main topic (as you can see on the picture which is from a popular turkish TV show). PDA and sexual topics are still a taboo, but if you ever go to Turkey, you can see loads of young couples on dates.

  7. Marriages are arranged

    Ähnliches Foto
    In the past, the bride and groom saw each other for the first time when he lifted her veil at the wedding ceremony. Nowadays, arranged marriages are slowly disappearing, but it’s still happening, in cities, villages, towns and valleys, but in a more liberal way. Young people are usually being arranged at other people’s weddings where the cousin of the aunt of the mother knows some other far relative of a young, single woman and arranges them to meet and go on dates and so on. Still, a high percentage of young turks is meeting at school or at work, some even online or during parties. And as you could read unter the first point of this post, another big group of forced marriage is dwindling. Including child marriage, which is now against the law and can be punished with a prison penalty.

  8. Alcohol is prohibited

    Bildergebnis für raki sofrasi
    Source: youtube.com

    There are some new restrictions about buying and consuming alcohol in public, but Turkey is still a country that has its own national alcoholic beverage which is Raki. It is a spirit made out of Anis and grapes. It is one of the alcoholic beverages with the highest percentage of alcohol. That’s why it is typically mixed with water. People love to drink this while eating dish or a various selection of meze platters. If you ever happen to be in Turkey, do not miss out on this activity, ideally with some locals that you know and some live music.

  9. Turkish people are arabic

    Bildergebnis für arab turks
    Source: quora.com

    Many western people assume that turkish people are part of the arabic heritage which is not exactly true. Most arab countries like Egypt, UAE, Iran, Iraq etc are homogeneous which means that they didn’t have many influences from different cultures. Turkey, on the other hand is a country with a mixture of different ethnological backgrounds, from greeks, jews, arabs, mongols, uzbeks, various balkan countries, and even jews. Not all turks have dark hair and dark skin. There are many blond, blue-eyed turkish people living in Turkey, and the majority of turkish people are brunette with a wheat-coloured skin tone. The religion, and some dishes are the only things that arabs and turks have in common.

As you can see, this post has gotten rather long. Of course, the reason for this is that as a turkish person living in a western country, I haven been personally confronted with most of these misconceptions directly. Most of the time it is annoying, and I realize more and more how ignorant people are about foreign cultures. It also made me stronger and gave me a stronger identity of my turkish heritage that I am proud of.

What I can say to everyone reading this is: Do not believe in myths and misconceptions about any culture. Do your own research, read more articles, blog posts, talk to locals, and travel to these places, not as tourists but as adventurers. This is the best thing to prevent racism, intolerance and ignorance!

I hope you enjoyed this!

Thanks for reading! And see you next time!

Merveille.

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8 Signs that I’m turning chinese

During my time in China, I always heard my friends telling me that I was “so chinese“, because of the things I said or did. It’s funny though, because some of those things I have already been doing before I even came to China. They were the outcomes of how my parents educated me, my background of the turkish culture, and my physical circumstances.

But there are also some thoughts and actions that I adapted into my life after my time in China.

Here are 8 signs that I’m turning chinese:

  1. Whipping eggs with chopsticks

    Ähnliches Foto
    Source: twitter.com

     

    I definitely adapted to this behaviour after having lived in China. Before, I only saw my vietnamese friend doing this, but I never gave it a thought. When living in China, I always had eggs for breakfast, basically every day. We also didn’t have a whip, so I used the chopsticks just as my friends were doing it. And I have to say, it is way more effective.

  2. Not drinking ice cold drinks

    Bildergebnis für ice cold drinks
    Source: dish.allrecipes.com

    I already tried to avoid ice cold drinks even before I came to China, because I am a person who can get easily sick from ice cold drinks. Every time I complained about ice cold drinks in China, my western friends would look at me with big eyes and say: “Merve, you are so chinese.” :’D When I was in China, I realized how much they are afraid of cold things such as drinks and ice cream. Drinking hot water in summer is a very common thing there, and I actually like it and think that chinese people really know how to take care of their health. 

  3. Missing Squat Toilets

    Bildergebnis für squat toilets
    Source: dailymail.co.uk

    Now, you might think I am crazy to be misssing squat toilets, the nightmare of many laowais travelling and living in China and other Asian countries. But let me say one thing guys: Some of them might look and smell disgusting, but they are soooo much better for your health. It is so unhealthy to press your “number 2” out of your body by sitting upright, than for it just to come out naturally through squatting. It sounds funny to talk about these kind of things, but it’s important to be aware of your poo and the way it is pressed out :’D
    Please tell me in the comments about what you think about this. I’d be interested. #pootalk

  4. Being afraid of loosing face

    Bildergebnis für losing face
    Source: china-mike.com

    First of all, you have to know what it means in chinese culture. It is not just being embarrassed, but also trying to avoid the embarrasment of other people (colleagues, friends, family). So it is not only important to save your own face, but also the face of the other person. So if you have done a mistake at work, your boss would never dare telling you the mistakes in your face. That would be an embarrassment for you, as well as an uncomfortable situation for himself. Because of this losing face philosophy, there is a lot of misunderstanding in the working environment. Still, I like this concept, and I have always behaved like this actually. I always felt uncomfortable criticizing other people. I came to understand that I might be unable to fully criticize someone in a negative way. Also at work, when I see a colleague having a hard time with another colleague, I would always have the urge to help them or make them feel comfortable again. I am also someone who could never say directly what I don’t like about the other person (except when I am hungry :’D), not because I am afraid of that person fighting with me back or insulting me, no, but simply just because I would be ashamed of myself to embarass another person just like that, in this case, to make them loose face.
    This also is something that I haven’t just learned in China. This has a lot to do with my upbringing. It actually might not be a typical way of turkish upbringing, since many turkish people can be very direct and aggressive, but just the combined characterstics of my parents contributed to this behaviour of mine. Maybe my parents are secretly chinese (with my mom’s looks, it would even be possible :’D)
    Tell me what you think about this theory of losing face, and how you behave in cases like these.

  5. Taking photos of everything

    Bildergebnis für asians taking photos
    Source: complex.com

    This has also been one of my most favourite past times even before living in China. I actually felt like fitting in when I saw all the other chinese people around me taking pictures of their food and stuff :’D I truly felt like I belonged.

  6. Speaking loudly

    Again, I have always been a very loud person when it came to speaking and laughing, and just making noises in general. So when I started living in China, I didn’t stand out anymore :’D Everyone else was just as loud as me. 

  7. Thank you, please

    I might appear as rude when I don’t always say ‘thank you’ and ‘please’ to everyone. My friends noticed that all the time at the dining table for example and pointed it out. I told them that I didn’t realize I kept on forgetting it. When I explained that in turkish culture, you don’t really use these phrases when talking to your close family and friends, our chinese friend agreed and told us that it’s similar in chinese cuture as well. They sound too formal to use with your friends and family. Still, I am always reminding myself at least to say thank you more often to my colleagues.

  8. Slurping hot drinks

    Bildergebnis für slurping hot tea
    Source: teabeyond.blogspot.com

    Chinese people make a lot of noises when eating and drinking. I know a lot of people who get annoyed by that. I am luckily not bothered so much, since I have to commit to doing one of these noises as well, which is slurping hot drinks or soup. For me, this had nothing to do with a cultural background. It’s just that my mouth is very sensitive to any temperature, so when I am drinking something hot, I have to slurp it to prevent my tongue from getting burned. I guess chinese people do it for the same reason. Or maybe for the reason that japanese people slurp their ramen: because they say it tastes better :D

That’s it! I’m on the right way to become chinese. I think if I should return to live in China again one day, I will probably even adapt more manners.

What about you guys, is there anything mentioned above that can be applied to your behaviour as well? Let me know below!

Stay tuned and thanks for reading!

Merveille

ABC – Travel List: I – Indonesia, Istanbul, Ibiza Biodiversity and Culture

The letter I was probably the easiest to do so far, with so many places that are very very high on my travel list. Let’s begin!

I

1. Country: Indonesia

Bildergebnis für Indonesia
Source: go-today.com

Indonesia is second place on my travel list right now, right after Japan. There are so many beautiful places to see on this island country, that consist of seventeen thousand islands in total. So, you can imagine the range of beauty here.

Here are all the places I wanna see in Indonesia:

Ubud

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Source: all-that-is-interesting.com

Ubud is famous for its lush rice terraces surround every hotel, restaurant, cafe or any other location you go to.

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Source: thepuristvillas.com

Bali

Bildergebnis für Bali villas
Source: baliluxuryvillas.com

In Bali, you can do anything you want: Living in beautiful villas, hang out on paradise-like beaches, eat healthy and delicious food, visit rice terraces, pet adorable, wild animals, and more.

Bildergebnis für bali strand
Source: ferndurst.de

Seminyak

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Source: theseminyak.com

Seminyak also belongs to Bali, as well as Ubud, and is famous for hip and beautiful locations. It might be the more upper-class part of Bali as I heard, so if you wanna have a fancy vacation, you should book a hotel here.

Gili Islands

Ähnliches Foto
Source: thenationalstudent.com

This swing in Gili Trawangan has become extremely famous on social media platforms now, and I think many people come to Gili mainly to see this speciality. But the Gili Islands have way more to offer than just this swing.

Bildergebnis für gili trawangan
Source: indonesiad.com
Bildergebnis für gili islands snorkeling
Source: tommyschultz.com
Bildergebnis für gili air
Source: off-the-path.com

Snorkelling and Scuba Diving are popular activities in Indonesia, especially in Gili Air, and are definitely on my Bucket list.

Java

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Source: kawah-putih.com

In Java, you can visit rice terraces, beaches, as well as its famous volcanoes and the craters, just like this one, the kawah putih (white crater) which is actually a crater lake and it just looks mesmerizing.

Bildergebnis für sumatra sehenswürdigkeiten
Source: fliegen-sparen.de

One more famous sight is the temple Borobudur which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Sumatra

Bildergebnis für sumatra beach
Source: travee.co

There are actually some pretty amazing beaches in Sumatra which should not be missed when in Indonesia.

Lombok

Bildergebnis für pink beach lombok
Source: pinterest.com

You have probably seen this pink beach somewhere on instagram, and now I can tell you that it’s located in Lombok. The colour looks so strong and deep, almost like a Lush bath bomb.

By the way, you can reach all three Gili Islands by boat from Lombok, so it’s definitely worth a visit.

I will stop here with all the painfully beautiful beaches, or I will just book my next vacation to Indonesia :’D

Anyway, it’s definitely a great way for me to keep track of all the places I want to see in one place, and I can always come back to this post when I seriously plan to travel to a specific country on my travel list. I actually wanted to include some pictures of Indonesian food, since I have only heard good things about it, but I won’t do it now, or else the post will be too long.

Plus, I wanted to add that the people of Indonesia are known to be one of the friendliest and laid back ones. I myself have met two people from Indonesa, a good friend of mine from uni and my current co-worker, and they are all such kind, fun and down-to-earth people.

2. City: Istanbul

“If the earth were a single state, Istanbul would be its capital” – Napoleon Bonaparte

Ähnliches Foto
Source: haberler.com

Istanbul is probably the only famous city in Turkey that I haven’t visited yet, and it makes me so angry and frustrated. All my turkish friends tell me that I can’t be a true turk if I haven’t visited this city, and they might be right. From all the cities on my travel list, Istanbul is very high on my list. Here are some reasons why.

Bosphorus Bridge

Bildergebnis für istanbul sehenswürdigkeiten
Source: istanbul-tourist-information.com

This is the living proof for the connection between two continents, and you should definitely have glimpse at it from a far, or even take a bus ride across it. Also a must-do, is a boat ride along the bosphorus to admire all the residences located at the shore of the sea.

Bildergebnis für Bogaz turu
Source: istanbuldagez.com

Sultan Ahmed Mosque/Blue Mosque

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Source: franks-travelbox.com

This mosque has established itself to the most popular landmark of Istanbul, and has a very significant importance in Ottoman history.

Bildergebnis für sultan ahmed moschee
Source: fotocommunity.de

The inside of this mosque is a dream for any architecture-enthusiast, with its huge dome and the blue stained glasses from the rooftiles. It looks magical, and I can only imagine what a goose-bumpy experience it would be to be inside this mosque.

Ayasofya/Hagia Sophia

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Source: ensonhaber.com

The former greek, byzantine church that was famous for the old city of Constantinople, has been turned into a mosque when Constantinople has been renamed Istanbul. It’s been turned into a mosque, but now serves as a museum.

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Source: ensonhaber.com

Topkapi Saray/Topkapi Palace

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Source: worldwanderista.com

Probably the most famous palace in Turkey, has been the main residence of the sultans of the ottoman empire. It doesn’t have a breathtaking view from the outside, but looks incredible beautiful on the inside. Definitely worth a visit if you wanna see something less touristy in Istanbul.

Cisterna Basilica

Bildergebnis für cisterna basilica
Source: wikipedia.org

This place looks like something out of a greek mythology. It is said to be a sunken palace, and actually has some elements of greek mythology hidden inside, like the head of Medusa. A very impressive sight, and should definitely be on your Istanbul list.

Galata Tower

Bildergebnis für galataturm
Source: istanbul-tourist-information.com

If you have ever wondered what this tower here is, that is seen on basically every Istanbul picture, it’s easy to answer: It’s the Galata Tower. It is said to be used as a lighthouse which would make sense since it is high up on a hill and oversees the harbour.

Maiden Tower

Bildergebnis für maiden tower istanbul
Source: wikipedia.org

Another famous tower, or rather a lighthouse, in Istanbul is the maiden tower which is located on a small island in the middle of the sea. It has always reminded me of the tower of Rapunzel, and since then, I have always wished of visiting that place.

The Grand Bazaar

Bildergebnis für Istanbul Grand Bazaar
Source: lonelyplanet.com

Your trip to Istanbul would be inclomplete without going shopping at the Grand Bazaar. Trust me, you haven’t been to turkey, if you haven’t really visited an authentic bazaar.

Eminönu

Bildergebnis für eminönü balik ekmek
Source: istanbuldelisi.net

This is the place to be if you want to have a snack – THE snack! Balik ekmek, a.k.a. fish sandwich. It is the must eat thing in Istanbul, even before kebab. And you have to eat it here at Eminönu, where they catch the fish fresh out the sea, grill it, and serv it to you in an instant. And then, with the view across the Bosphorus, you can enjoy your little delicious snack and dream of the next time you visit Istanbul.

If you want to know more about turkish food, check out this informative post on Buzzfeed to have a little introduction to turkish cuisine.

It’s finally not only the sights that make many people lose their hearts in Istanbul, but the overall atmosphere and the feeling that you get in this city that is on two continents, is surrounded by two different seas, and has been influenced by european, asian, and arabic history over the past 2000 years.

3. UNESCO World Heritage Sight: Ibiza Biodiversity and Culture

Bildergebnis für Ibiza Biodiversity and Culture
Source: whc-unesco.org

Ibiza is not only famous for its parties, but also for its natural diversity which is obviously amazing. Look at these colours on this photo which doesn’t seem to be photoshopped.

Bildergebnis für Ibiza Biodiversity and Culture
Source: 4gress.com

Still, I wouldn’t refuse to go club-hopping when in Ibiza.

Bildergebnis für Ibiza party
Source: myibiza.tv

I can imagine that Ibiza is probably one of the best party locations in the world, keeping it class, but still fun as hell.

Bildergebnis für Ibiza party
Source: ibiza-spotlight.de

Alright, I know this post has become quite long, so I had to keep Ibiza short, but what more is there to see except the ocean and parties (both very amazing of course). This was one of my favourite, but also the most detailed post in this challenge. I already can’t wait to visit all these places soon.

What do you think about these places? Are they on your Travel List as well? If not tell me your future destinations in the name of the letter I.

Thanks for reading and travelling with me!

Merveille.

Top 5 Things to do in Cesme, Turkey

1. Visit Ilica Beach:

At least that’s the beach we went to. It is a public beach famous for its turquoise to light-blue water and a long beach you can take a long walk at. The Sheraton Hotel is located on that beach as well. Convince yourselves:

2. Stroll through the soap-smelling streets of Alacati:

The streets of Alacati are famous throughout Turkey. It is considered as a little version of Mykonos. It is guaranteed that you will fall in love with that place. Every corner offers a perfect photographic background. The cobble-stone streets mix perfectly together with the aegean beach flair. After a long stroll and some photo-sessions, the best way to relax is to sip some coffee at a corner cafe, feast on some turkish sweets or some western cupcakes. Be warned though, the prices are a bit higher than at usual restaurants in Turkey. But totally worth it. Also, don’t forget to visit the windmills.

 

3. Visit the Marina at the City Centre of Cesme: 

Here, you can find all the touristy shops ligned after each other when walking down to the Marina and the Yacht Club. I bough a beautiful white-purple shell and some ice cream on the way to the Marina. When you arrive there, you will be overwhelmed by the amount of the yachts parked there. You can sit in a cafe or a restaurant with a view to the sea, or you can hike up the Cesme Castle and get a great view over the bay.

4. Have a turkish breakfast with organic foods:

The hotel we stayed at offered a organic breakfast every morning which was so yummy, I am dreaming about it now. They had different kinds of bread to offer, hard boiled egg, tea, different kinds of cheese, tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, cream, honey, olives and different kinds of jam which were so delicious and exciting to taste. The most delicious jam I had was lemon jam, something I had never eaten before. I am generally more the nutella kind of person, but this lemon jam would definitely make it on my breakfast table. They also had rose jam that I enjoyed a lot.

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5. Relax at the Ayayorgi Beach: 

This is actually not a public beach, so you have to pay for it, but it was out of season, so we had free entry, but still we had to eat or drink something in return. The prices were quite high of course, but we enjoyed the day and the beach was as calm as a lake.

 

I hope I could give you a little insight into life at Cesme. It still has many other things to offer that I didn’t have time for like the Boylik Beach, Altinkum Beach, the Surfer’s Bay (since it is considered as Turkey’s Surfer’s Paradise due to its winds), and the possibility to hop on a ship towards the greek island of Chios.

Final rating:

Sightseeing: 1/5

Food: 4/5
Shopping: 3/5
Nightlife: 4/5
Transportation: 3/5

4 years of blogging

It is almost like a coincidence that “Phantastic Beasts and where to find them” is being released on my blogging anniversary. Plus, it is really scary that from all of the days, it is today that I had the feeling of updating my blog, almost as though I knew it. Of course I don’t remember which day I exactly started blogging, it is quite a while ago. I can only remember that it was around the time of the chocolate festival in my old university town (Which is end of November). It was a nice surprise to see the notification and that’s why I decided on a Travel Q&A.

I wouldn’t consider myself as a travel pro, but I did gain some experience in that field, and it has turned into a new hobby and interest, so strongly, I would like to do it as a job.

So here I collected some Questions from Q&A Tags I found on the internet and will answer them:

10 Questions to ask a traveller

1. What was your favourite city? – This is such a hard question. There were so many beautiful cities I have seen just this year. I really have to say that Cappadocia has left a special mark on my heart that I can never erase. I can’t compare that city with another one. Then again, Shanghai is another city that never gets boring and is definitely one of my favourite cities I have visited.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES2. What was your favourite country? – There are only 3 countries that I have seen many cities from and they are Germany, Turkey and China. From those 3 countries I’ve gotta say that Turkey is my favourite because it has everything from beach sites to megacities. It is also the home of my heart.
img_20160912_2017343. What was your longest flight? – 12 hours, from Frankfurt to Hong Kong with Lufthansa.

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4. What was the scariest moment? – It was just recently when we were in Paris. We were still in the gardens of Versaille after it went dark and we wanted to leave but the main entrance had already closed earlier on. So we had to leave from the back exit, and it was completely dark and there was no one except for a couple with a young child. They helped us get out and even took us to the train station with their car. But at the beginning, it was really scary.

5. When was the most heart-warming moment you had with locals? – Definitely that one time in Jiuzhaigou village in Sichuan Province in China. It was in February during Chinese New Year Festival when my friend Ana and me went on a holiday to Sichuan. When we arrived at the village, we got lost and couldn’t find out hotel and there were barely any people who could speak english. We then entered another random hotel and found a family living upstairs and having dinner. Their 2 younger nieces helped us and their aunt pushed two bowls of rice and veggies into our hands and told us to sit down and eat. We didn’t know them, they didn’t know us, but they were smiling at us, sharing their food with us. I had tears in my eyes during that incident and I will never ever in my entire life forget the kind face of that woman.

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6. Did you find any sights or activities a bit off the beaten track? Beyond the tourist traps? – Yes, last year in March when we went to Barcelona, I found out about a labyrinth garden, a little outside of the city centre, close to the university faculties. We went there, and we even got a free entry. The park was stunning and there were almost no tourists and very few visitors anyway. A lot better than the Parc Güell.

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7. What was your favourite meal? – I am a huge fan of the chinese cuisine by now and I am still dreaming of the food I ate there. One of the dishes was Peking Duck of course, but the most unforgettable meal I had was after our 3-hour-trek up and down a part of the Great Wall. We had an organized lunch after that and it was the yummiest meal I can remember, because I had never been so exhausted before in my life.

8. What was the strangest thing you ate? – Definitely, Stinky Tofu in Shanghai. It smells like boiled shit, tastes like nothing but the consistency is like you just bit into a raw egg. The after-taste is exactly like the boiling-poo smell though. I needed gum after that.

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9. What was the funniest/strangest/most insightful thing a local said? – In Paris, a lot of  french locals flirted with us and on our first day, when we walked back from the Eiffel Tower, two guys walked past us and one of them turned around and said to my sister and me: “you are the most beautiful girls I saw” in that cute french accent :’D

10. Where would you revisit? Would you ever move to any of those cities? – Hong Kong and Paris. I’d love to live in Paris I have to admit. It is a very beautiful city that I had not expected to be that nice. I can truly understand all the hype. And the people are just so nice there. I will write a blog post about that trip soon :)

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I hope you enjoyed the post about my travel experiences so far. There were still some cities that I didn’t include, but it doesn’t mean I didn’t like them.

I hope to be continueing blogging the next few years (or even forever), especially about more awesome places I will visit in the future :)

What about you guys? How would you have answered these questions?

Thanks for reading and travelling with me.

Keep on getting lost!

Magic of Cappadocia – Day 3

Friday, September 16th, 2016:

That day, we wanted to take the green tour, which included the underground city of Derinkuyu as one of the must-sees on my Cappadocia list, Ihlara Valley, and the small pigeon valley which was also on my to-see list.

Although we didn’t fly that day, our morning started pretty early anyway, at around 6.30, so that we could watch the hot air balloons from our hotel’s rooftop this time. It is a different feeling to watch it from the ground than from the air. It’s when you get one of those feelings of realizing how surprisingly small you are, and how simple things can make you feel the happiest.

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Some of these photos were taken with my phone, but they still turned out to be amazing. I just was left in awe the second day in a row. Seeing and hearing the sounds of the balloon fire from your bed in the early morning is one of the best things to wake up to. It was weird seeing the workers at the hotel unimpressed :’D

Anyway, after waving the last balloon goodbye (I mean it literally: few balloons came so close we could see the people in there), we went downstairs to have breakfast.

Again, we were picked up in front of our hotel at around 8 am, so we still had plenty of time to get ready.

Our trip to the underwater city began and on the bus ride there I met a girl from China, Flora. We started chatting the whole bus ride through and became quite good friends on that trip. Our guide was very nice as well and he knew so many things about Cappadocia, the Byzantine and Ottoman history, it was quite impressive. These things are really nice about a booked tour.

When we arrived at the underground city, our tour guide first told us that people with sicknesses like Asthma or a bad circulation system should think about going in twice. I got nervous since I do have Asthma, but I really wanted to see the underground city. I did have my asthma spray with me and I could easily get outside if I felt sick after the first part of our tour. I took some photos during our visit there but it was hard to take photos in the dark, especially when you are feeling so out of breath after walking up and down the tiny, steep stairs.

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And for your information, the air in the underground was not bad at all, quite the opposite. It was pretty good. It had a very good air circulation system that the christian refugees back in the days invented.

The visit in the underground city didn’t last too long. It was a good amount of time in my opinion. We saw everything and walked a lot. It was definitely worth coming here.

Once again we found ourselves on the bus, on the way to Ihlara Valley. I haven’t heard of this place before coming to Cappadocia, but since it was part of the green tour, I just gave it a try, and it was pretty worth it. More beautiful than the Open Air Museum of Göreme. This place had everything, from a small flowing river to the typical fairy chimneys surround the valley, it was like a fantasy world that someone like Peter Jackson could have created. We started with a lunch break before entering the valley and the food was quite delicious.

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The valley was the biggest we had visited in Cappadocia, and it probably is one of the biggest ones there.

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As you can see, the weather was changing quite a lot, so I was taking off and on several clothes :’D We were lagging behind from taking too many photos, but we soon found the others and after walking a few more minutes we took a tea break in the cutest place ever:

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I could have stayed here for the rest of the day, but unfortunately, our break was very short and we had to get going soon again.

Our next stop was the Selimiye Monastery, an open air cave monastery which was on the way to pigeon valley. We stopped there for like an hour and had free time to climb around, take photos and explore the cave house dwellings. This place had the most interesting house dwellings I have seen on that trip. Here are some pictures:

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Climbing here was not as easy as I first imagined, but it was a lot of fun. After this station, we still had the pigeon valley on our route, and that place was also a highlight. It was as small as love valley, but in my opinion so much more beautiful.

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There was also a small box with seeds that you could feed to the pigeons for a little price of 1 Lira. Of course I did that :’D

The pigeons here seem to look healthier than the ones I am used to in Germany. I like how tourism makes the pigeons be healthy and well-fed.

Anyway, the sun was about to set, so we took a last group picture and went back to the minibus. Unfortunately, I don’t have the group picture, but here are some nice snapshots of the sunset.

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The last hours of our trip also meant saying goodbye to my dear friend. I wouldn’t see her again the next day because we were leaving the next day.

Back at the hotel we rested a bit and soon went out to eat at topdeck restaurant that we booked a table at, by the recommendation of our hotel’s receptionist. When we entered the small but cozy and good-smelling restaurant, we immediately got a homy-feeling. And after seeing the traditional interior design with the ground-tables and cushions, I fell in love with the place, no question.

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The menu didn’t have many dishes on it, but that was a good sign for being a qualitative restaurant that only specializes on certain dishes and cooks everything from fresh ingredients. The food might not look like anything special, but it really tasted amazing, like something my mom could have cooked.

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We had a cozy, great last meal that evening and when we finished, we slowly walked back to our hostel, stopping at some shops on the way, before saying goodbye to this beautiful place.

At the hostel, we had a small late night chat with the hostel owners. All of them were young men and so nice and hospitable. They kept on offering us sunflower seeds and sweet pastry. That’s something you will notice about turkey: the hospitability of hotel and restaurant employees.

I think we couldn’t have had a better last day at Göreme, especially after the highlight of the balloon flight the day before.

I hope you enjoyed accompanying me on my travel rants from Cappadocia.

For the next post you can expect a holiday guide for Cesme, surfer’s paradise of the aegean sea.

Final rating:

Sightseeing: 5/5

Food: 4/5
Shopping: 3/5
Nightlife: 2/5
Transportation: 3/5

Magic of Cappadocia: Day 2

Thursday, September 15th, 2016:

4.30 am – That’s how early the day started for me. I had to get up in the early and cool hours of the morning to get ready for my balloon flight. I should be picked up at 5 am in front of the hotel and then they brought us to the balloon base where the payment would take place and a breakfast was served. The breakfast room slowly filled up with many people from all over the world.

The breakfast was light with some sweet pastry and fruits, and coffee and juice for drinks. I finished quickly and couldn’t wait to finally go.

At around 6 we were supposed to get into the mini busses. After an approximately 10 minutes ride, we arrived at the place where all the balloons were blown up with fire. It looked magnificent with the bright warmth of the fire against the dark dawn of the morning.

For your information, I booked my flight via Butterfly Balloons. It is not as expensive as Voyager or Royal, but it offers everything that the other companies do as well. It was 100€ as opposed to 180€ or more from other companies. I booked the one for 16 people. There are 4 squares in one basket and there are 4 people in each square. It gets a bit stuffy, but it is fun getting to know all the people after landing.

We took flight before dawn, at abou 6.20 am. the flight lasts for one hour. Watching the sunset from atop the balloon was one of the most unbelievable things I have seen and done, especially against a moon-like fairytale landscape like the one in Cappadocia makes you immediately feel like living on a different planet.

I also took some photos, although they can never do justice to the real picture you get.

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The sunrise

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After landing, we had a champagne celebration with strawberries and some little cakes. We also got our flight certificates with our names on it :) That was a very nice gesture. I don’t regret any cent I spent for that flight, and I can really recommend anyone to take a balloon flight anywhere, especially in a place like Cappadocia.

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Selfie with the pilot and the table with the refreshments

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Group picture with our certificates

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We were allowed to walk on the balloon after landing :D

After chatting with the other people and our pilot who was very nice and had a fun sense of humour, we were dropped off in front of our hostels again. It was only about 8 am. I had my second breakfast at the hotel and relaxed a bit before going for the next sight.

We wanted to go to the Göreme Open Air National Park. It is a good place to start when you want to admire the different stone formations and also wanna go inside some of the ancient caves that christians used to live in. It can be very interesting at the beginning, but I wouldn’t recommend you to stay there for hours. Göreme has many other sights to offer.

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I was feeling very dizzy that morning, and needed another coffee and cake break at the exit of the park. Being sleepless is not a good condition if you wanna explore a place like Cappadocia.

Anyway, after the national park visit we wanted to see some valleys (love valley, red valley, fairy chimneys,…). They are all a part of the red tour as it was explained to us by our hotel receptionist. We asked a taxi driver how to get to the red valley, and he said that it was quite far away, a few kilometres and that we couldn’t walk there. So he offered us a deal: We should pay 50 lira (like 20 €) and he would drive us to all the stations of the red tour. We agreed and he drove us around. It was cheaper than a tour and we had more freedom to stay as long as we wanted, but of course, the background info was missing a bit, although the driver did know quite a few things. However, it was an advantage that we were turkish people. It would at least be 3 times more expensive if you were a foreigner.

Here are some pictures of the 3 stops we visited:

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I would recommend the fairy chimney park that you can see on the last 3 pictures. You can walk around those huge stone formations and climb inside some of those.

After our tour, the driver also took us to a ceramic shop and then to a carpet shop. The latter one is way too expensive so we only had a short look. At the ceramic shop you can also find some cheaper pieces, as well as some expensive stuff. Everything is handmade and so beautifully delicate. Here are some snapshots:

When we returned to the hotel, the weather started to get a bit gloomy. Actually, we weren’t finished yet, we still wanted to see Uchisar Castle but we had to take a bus there, and by the time we arrived there, it had started to rain. It was also a bit cold, so it was quite gloomy, and the pictures didn’t turn out very well:

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Looks like a face :’D

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On top of the Castle, we could have a view over the vast little town of Uchisar.

Uchisar Castle was not as interesting as I had imagined. There are some small rooms you can see, but other than those few ones, it is only going up to the roof.

After exiting the castle, we found some street vendors, selling dried fruits and nuts. we bought a few bags and left to take the bus back to our hotel.

We rested a little bit in our room before heading out for dinner. We found a restaurant that also sold Pide and sat down there. Actually, the taxi driver recommend this and we wanted to try it out. They also had the beef pottery here, but since I had that the other day, I opted for my other favourite dish: Pide

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After the meal, we were too tired to even go to another place to have dessert or a coffee. We slowly walked back and fell asleep immediately.

The next day should be our final full day in this beautiful place. It is gonna be full of activities though, so don’t worry :)

Thanks for exploring with me.

Travel well!

Magic of Cappadocia, Day 1

Finally, I am able to write this post. I wasn’t able to after my vacation, since I didn’t have enough storage, but now that I have decided to upgrade, I can be as diligent as a bee again.

Let’s start with my short journeys throughout Turkey, first with one of the most magical cities I have ever seen.

Wednesday, September 14th 2016:

We started our  morning and at noon, we headed to the airport in Izmir to catch our Pegasus flight to Kayseri. It was the first time I was in a plane that was flown by a female pilot, and it was one of the smoothest flights yet. Then again, the airport of Kayseri is tiny. It’s even smaller than some bus stations I have seen in China. One positive side about this was that you could quickly exit the “building” and look for some buses to Göreme. We were lucky to find one, although we haven’t booked any. They had some free space and took us with them.

The name of our Hotel was Local Cave House Hotel, and it was a wonderful place. Convince yourselves:

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Our hammam bathroom

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The view of our hotel’s rooftop

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The little diwan corner

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My first thought was that it looked like a moonscape with a pool at the bottom. The receptionists were all very friendly as well and provided us with all the information we needed about things to see and do. The breakfast in the morning was very delicious and everything from the cheese to the bread tasted like freshly made.

As you can see on the picture, the first thing I wanted to try was to swim in the swimming pool and also to take many pictures :D

After taking a shower, we actually wanted to look for food, but we were led along the beautiful streets to the sunset point, a place even above the rooftops of our hotel where you could watch the sun rise and set everyday. So we first decided to walk up there since it was early evening and just before sunset. On our way there, we took a lot of pictures, of course.

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Another Cave Hotel

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Enjoying the sunset

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We found a dog <3

At the top, we remained for quite a long time before we were starving and headed downwards, on our way to find food.

And we were successful pretty fast. While we were trying to find our way back to the centre of Göreme, we came past a picturesque and lit up restaurant. It looked like they’d serve yummy food, so we immediately had a seat.

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We ordered different menus, and I took the one with the lentil soup as an entree, pottery beef as a main, and rose pastry as dessert. My parents had a sort of pumpkin dessert which I tried and it was delicious. Here is some eyecandy:

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Lentils soup
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Pottery Kebab

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Pastry that looks like roses
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The pumpkin dessert

After our fulfilling dinner, we strolled through the streets a little bit and came across some interesting stands:

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The first chinese restaurant I have ever seen in Turkey :’D

We decided not to stay up too long, since I had to wake up early next morning, at around 4am to get ready for the balloon flight.

So you guys can look forward for the second Part of our trip which was probably one of the highlights of my life :’D

Travel Blog Posts Plans

So, I am finally back from vacation (since the beginning of this month actually, but I had some things to do), and I have a lot of posts planned already. Can’t wait to write about everything I did and saw. If you were following my instagram, you have already seen a lot of the pictures. But I promise proper posts with information :)

So here are my blog plans for the following days and weeks:

  1. My Cappadocia Trip in 3 Parts
  2. My short vacation on the beach in Cesme
  3. My trip to Ephesus
  4. Top Things to do in Izmir

I am especially looking forward for number 1 since it has easily become one of the most beautiful and magical places I have ever been to.

I’ll keep you updated!

Thanks for reading!

Travel Anticipation: Cappadocia, Turkey

Today is the day I am flying to Turkey for a 3-week vacation. And next week Wednesday, on the 14th, I am finally gonna visit the famous fairy chimneys of Cappadocia.

Source: nationalparksofturkey.com

We are gonna stay 3 nights there in probably one of the most amazing hotels, called local cave house hotel:

Source: booking.com

Here is what I want to see and do in this beautiful place:

1 Hot Air Balloon Ride:

Source: toursforturkey.com

This is something, I have always dreamed of. It looks and sounds so adventurous, at the same time it looks beautiful in the sky and I can imagine to have one of the best views you can get when you think of a hot air balloon ride.

The rides are pretty expensive, I have to warn you, but it takes 1 hour, includes a pick-up service, breakfast, sparkling wine celebration and you even get a certificate.

2 Underground City Kaymakli/Derinkuyu:

These underground cities were built during the time of the Crusaders, where Christians were looking for a hiding place and built these cities in the underground. I wanna know more about them, hopefully when I get there next week. And this is how they look like:

Kaymakli; Source: voyelletour.com

 

Derinkuyu; Source: Alasayvan.net

3 Üchisar Castle:

From this ancient stone castle, you can have a perfect view over Cappadocia.

Source: staticpanoramio.com

4 Sunset at Rose Valley:

This valley is famous for its red colour and is a nice place to explore.

Source: travelturkey.com

5. Have a panorama view at Pigeon Valley:

Here, you can’t pass by vehicles, so you have to walk and explore everything on foot. There is apparently a panorama view and many typical trees with the evil eye beade decoration. And, of course, many cute pigeons.

Source: travelshus.com

6. Open Air Museum and National Park:

I will think about these when I am there and maybe ask the hotel reception about these two sights.

National park, Source: holidaycheck
Source: twoandahalfbackpacks.wordpress.com

7. Visit a pottery and a carpet shop:

Even if I won’t buy anything, which I probably won’t because the carpets are especially huge and expensive, I would just like to see all the different varieties of carpets they offer. The potter shops, on the other hand, might be more affordable and I would maybe think about buying one.

Source: themostalive.com
Source: ardunward.com
Source: 123rf.com
turkishtravelblog.com

8 Watch the whirling dervishes:

In the evening, there are some organized turkish nights, especially for tourists that come from Japan, China or Korea who are interested in this foreign culture. Still, although I am turkish myself, I have never seen the swirling dervishes before, and I would like to experience this magical moment.

Source: youtube.com

I think these are the main things I wanna do in this beautiful place. I am sure it is gonna be different from my prior trips to Turkey. I am already so excited to go back to my second home country and do all these things I have always wanted to.