5 Lifestyle Practices from Turkey - Design Pulp
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5 Lifestyle Practices from Turkey

5 Lifestyle Practices from Turkey

By: Stephanie Andrews

We just returned from a 2 week vacation to Turkey.  My husband, Ed and I, went with our closest friends-Gail and Nick.  We toured Istanbul, Cappadocia, Izmir and Bodrum with little side trips to Ephesus and Pamukkale.

This pic is so cool of Pamukkale, Turkey

Although I could tell you about the amazing things that we did and saw, I’d like to point out 5 differences between Turkey and the U.S. that I found most interesting. Each place that we go to has a unique culture.  Usually, we are not in one country for more than 2-3 weeks, so I try to  immerse myself as much as possible to understand their perspective and glean lessons for a more meaningful life. This usually entails fumbling through google translate, using universal gesture language, and speaking with natives that know some English.  I spoke with cab drivers, servers, tour guides, shop proprietors and a hotel owner, as well as having some deep conversations and meals with Turkish friends over the years.

A delicious Turkish breakfast near the ancient city of Ephesus!

#1 Fresh Food on Small Plates .

Almost every morning we would have some version of Turkish Breakfast.  This meal would include a crazy amount of adorable bowls and plates full of delicious fresh, homemade food (that is not typical breakfast food).  These breakfasts would include cucumbers, olives, pickled peppers and onions, yogurt everything, stuffed grape leaves, eggplant, nuts, cheeses, homemade breads and usually fried eggs.  This same technique of a plethora of small plates was also for dinner, adding in even more options including fresh vegetables, salad, seafood, and kebabs.  Sure, you could eat too much, but in general eating this way was fresh, super healthy and full of variety! It was amazing to enjoy so many flavors in one sitting, without having to order entire meals of it. I know this is a common practice in many parts of the world but let me just say- the Turks do it the best!

Dancing Through the pain!

#2 Hill Climbing is a Lifestyle.

When towns are nestled into steep hills along the ocean, my workout routine was established!  We walked up and down, and back up again multiple times a day!  Whether exploring ancient ruins from the Greeks and Roman to finding a new restaurant, to shopping the bazaars, we walked and climbed 15-20k steps each day. The people were used to walking up these hills and had no problem pushing through and reminded me that the obstacles to walking to and from are just that- obstacles.

#3 Cats and Dogs Living Among Us.

This was the most wonderful thing to get accustomed to-so many cats and dogs wandering up, saying hello, or simply lying there for us to admire.  It’s a different world when the collective consciousness of society chooses to care for the local cats and dogs.  We saw multiple cats in every restaurant and shop.  Lying on merchandise or waiting to say hi to us-it was delightful!  We spoke with our guide and she said that in general, the dogs and cats are neutered and then fed and made comfortable by local people, but that they are not typically “owned” by anyone. This concept was completely new to me and I think it seems healthy for the animals and the citizens. I am sure that this way of living with animals has it’s own challenges, but perhaps the benefits outweigh them.


Our Air BNB In Istanbul.

#4 Layers Upon Layers.

Turkey is so old-just dig anywhere and you are likely to find an ancient relic! The Romans built upon the Greeks and the Ottomans built upon the Romans.  Layers upon layers, seeming only to be excavated since the 1970’s and they will probably continue excavation for centuries to come.  Housing also has this layered effect.  Built into caves and the hillsides, the construction was never entirely new, just built upon the last. Our Air BNB in Istanbul is a beautiful example of these layers.  This 4 story dwelling was straight up (again climbing-see #2). We accessed different floors via a slightly dangerous yet beautiful wood spiral staircase. The color palette kept one main wall in peeling paint and chose coordinating colors like pinks, lavenders and goldenrods for the other walls.  There was really no obvious rhyme or reason for the specific walls other than the peeling paint wall that dictated the palette.  This was such an organic way to consider colors (and layers) that I would like to try this approach in my own home that is merely a century old.

A restaurant tour in Bodrum shares food and good energy!

#5 Passionate Honesty and Hospitality.

In my many conversations with people that we met, there were some common threads.  First-they were open and friendly to us, encouraging us to try something  new, educating us and inviting us into their world, if only for a short time.  The other thing that I felt, more than they obviously said, was that there was a sense of being prepared for the next big disaster possibility.  More than one person said that Turkey is bordered by volatility in Syria, Iran and Russia.  Many said that they were a blockade to protect Europe from terrorism and other invaders.  In addition to a huge number of Syrian refugees, Covid, political turmoil, recent earthquakes and a crippling inflation rate, the Turks seem to be prepared for the next shoe to drop.  They were not afraid to talk about these difficulties and were seemingly resigned to accept that something else would be in the mix soon.  This wariness was open and honest, although sad and disturbing, it felt somewhat good to talk about it, even without a resolution.  In this honesty, I found a trust that someone was not just saying things to make you feel good, and that is refreshing.

Such an amazing adventure!

I highly recommend a Turkish adventure.  I know that this place will stay with me and create even more layers in my understanding.  If you are planning a trip there,  I would also  be happy to share my thoughts with you.  Feel free to email me at stephanie@balancedesignatlanta.com.  I appreciate your time in reading this blog and keeping in touch!

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