Traveling outside of Istanbul has shown me a completely different side of Turkey. We are staying in the small town of Selcuk which is just outside of the ancient city of Ephasus and only a few km from the coast. Here, the lifestyle is much more relaxed. There are only a few mosques and ruins mixed in with the city. The Turks spend afternoons sitting in cafes playing games, smoking and sipping on Turkish tea. 

Many of the eateries here have a name something like “(enter Turkish name) Restaurant and Cafe.” I spent several days thinking how redundant and funny it sounded to say, “restaurant cafe.” Clearly, there was no one fluent enough in English to inform these people that the second label was not necessary. 

Finally, after noticing certain “cafe only” places I learned the secret. The place where the Turks spend their afternoons drinking tea and playing cards are cafes…or drinks only! And restaurants serve food. I found this really interesting and such a precise use of two English words that had evolved to be almost synonymous. Kudos to the Turkeys!

With that being said, I have become very fond of the cafes and think the US needs to implement something similar (that’s not Starbucks). The cafes here are outside in large spaces such as parks in the city center or along the sea shore. No wi fi, no laptop plugs, but good camaraderie and small glasses of cai.

In addition to my cafe vs. Restaurant enlightenment, I have learned a few more interesting knowledge tidbits that I feel should be bestowed upon you.

1. No one wears deodorant…I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, maybe the stores don’t carry it (I haven’t checked yet)
2. There are stray cats everywhere. They are actually kind of cute and cleaner than stray dogs.
3. Some toilets are a mere hole in the ground…eew!
4. Overall, the country seems to be pretty safe and well developed. People don’t heckle you on the street or in the market (which is a major plus after living in Mexico) and the Turks can be very nice and hospitable if you just ask for help.

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