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We will send regular newsletters to our members who have signed up for receiving it during the registration. In 'mymerhaba' newsletter, our editorial staff provides updates, with regard to any information related to places worth visiting, viewing, or otherwise worth knowing, for those who care to know more....

Sophie from Istanbul

 Untitled Document

Thanks to Sophie Wedin for sharing her experience in Turkey with us.

Tell us about yourself
Nearly 26 years old, curious, constantly fascinated, hyperactive, a bit difficult to categorise. Part British part Swedish with some French thrown in somewhere... Constant areas of fascination: psychology, advertising, biology, aesthetics, literature and linguistics, people, computers. Brief but passionate areas of fascination: everything.

What made you come to Turkey?
No idea. I suddenly found myself renewing my 3-month visa fine.

What do you do in your daily life?
Work. 24/7. Very rarely sleep. Walk everywhere. Explore the city. Surf a lot. Socialise with high society, low life, geeks, freaks, cab drivers and basically anyone I encounter.

Family?
Mainly in the UK.

Can you compare your first days here with today?
I'm still as enchanted and maddened and hopelessly in love as I was when I first "moved" here in July 2000. A lot more savvy. Much less likely to get driven unnecessarily convoluted spaghetti-like routes from A to B (instead of a straight, 300m line) when I take a cab. Know where to get anything at the required price and quality.

Has living in Turkey influenced your approach to life?
No; it just suits it.

Turkish language?
Fluent.

Let's talk about the region you are living in?
İstanbul... Perfect. It sums up Turkey in a nutshell: an indefinable, constantly dynamic, infinitely rich and varied mosaic... every conceivable culture, all kinds of people, any kind of venue, crowds or solitude, greenery or ultra-urban landscapes, Ottoman cuisine or Burger King, Jews or Buddhists, fools or sages, danger or safety, thunderous noise or utter silence... Istanbul has whatever you're looking for, offers you things you never even realised you were looking for, and lets you avoid the things you loathe while saturating yourself in what you love...

Have you traveled in Turkey? Tell us your discoveries
Spent a year in Antalya - don't recommend more than 2 weeks. Adapazarı was a little scary, even though I "covered" myself (western-style with a baseball cap and long-sleeved t-shirt) out of respect. I haven't seen enough of the Black Sea area but what I've seen is my conceptualisation of paradise. Bodrum was too full of Brits Behaving Badly - and chalked menus offering english breakfasts with HEINZ (underlined) baked beans.

What is your preferred characteristic trait of Turks?
Can't generalise. They're all utterly individual and unique. But the fact remains that if you knocked on someone's door in London and explained that you were sick, starving, thirsty, had nowhere to stay and were desperate for help, you would most likely get the door slammed in the face and the horrified recipient of your pleas would call 999. Here, whosever door it may be, you would at least get some water, soup and bread, if not somewhere to sleep for the night and the phone number of a friend/ relative who may be able to help. A small but for me infinitely significant difference.

What was the annoying one?
Again, no generalisations. I suppose the blatant attentions/ remarks of men is what has driven me insane more often than anything else. Oh and, "You guys don't..." or "How do you guys ...." etc. - lumping me in with millions of Brits/ Europeans / Americans / westerners who I've never met and never even remotely felt anything in common with etc.

Turkish Cuisine?
Aubergines... Garlic... Yoghurt.... Garlic... Soup... Garlic... Sigara boregi (has to be the single most exquisite pastry dish ever invented)... Garlic... Baklava... Garlic... Olive oil... Garlic... FISH!!! ... Garlic... The myriad vegetable dishes (stuffed and otherwise)... Garlic... And when I temporarily forget my vegetarianism, the unashamed carnivorous celebration of meat as meat.

But please. No kokoreç, kelle, paça, tuzlama, işkembe or any of those innocuous-looking dishes that suddenly reveal a floating vein, brain, or scrap of tripe. I have the same disgust for all dishes made from dissection leftovers, like black pudding and sausage skins and tripe soup and haggis and.... Yeurch... Next question please!

Any suggestion to new comers to Turkey?
Make contact with someone via the Internet or mutual friends before coming, who can take you under their wing and protect you from the innocent swindling of tradespeople as well as warn you of any other dangers ("Don't go into that bar unless you're a gay satanist with a few grams of cocaine to bribe the more violent clientele with") and show you hidden delights that no tourist guide would either know of or even consider showing you (like the tiny underground shrine in Moda).

Any suggestion to people planning to visit your region?
As above. Plus, carry around a calculator to work out how much you're spending. Don't eat anything with "meat" in it (be it horse, rat or human) from street vendors unless recommended by a trusted friend. Don't be alarmed by the traffic - there's method in its madness. Equally, don't drive in Istanbul unless you have reflexes finely-honed by years of arcade games, and nerves of reinforced steel. Don't be afraid to try out your phrase-book Turkish - they're generally immensely flattered. Stock up on olives, olive oil, spices and Turkish Delight (everyone will expect a box of the latter on your return). Don't be tempted to buy a carpet unless you have a REALLY trusted guide and expert with you. Avoid shopping in touristic places like the Grand Bazaar or Spice Market; locals never do. Similarly, avoid any place that assures you jubilantly that "we accept euro!" Shopping warnings aside, just immerse yourself in the place and feel free to wander. You'll find the spirit of Istanbul not in glass-encased historical jewels in various admittedly magnificent palaces.... But in the cry of the gull, the chaos of the traffic, and the sun setting over the Bosphorous accompanied by the weird cacophony of several out-of-sync calls to prayer




Lisa from Kadıköy
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Aisha from Istanbul
Amanda from Bursa
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Anke from Kemerburgaz
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Ashley from Kadıköy
Borahan from Taksim
Bruno from Datça
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Carmel from Bursa
Carole from Kalkan
Caroline from Kuzguncuk
Claire from Izmir
Claudia from Fenerbahce
Cornelia from Florya
Cumali from Adana
Cyrus from Istanbul
Dace from Ankara
David from Van
Dmitri from Beşiktaş
Filiz from Beyoğlu
Fred from Adana
Frederic from Ankara
Hana from Istanbul
Harry from Antalya
Iben from Alanya
Ingrid from Tesvikiye
Isa from Istanbul
Jan from Kuşadası
Jane from Manavgat
Janine from Izmir
Jennifer from Istanbul
Jennifer from Sultanahmet
John from the Bosphorus
Kathy from Izmit
Kayla from Bostancı
Kenya from Beyoğlu
Leela from Nisantasi
Lisa from Sydney
Marc from Kosuyolu
Maria from Moda
Maya from Izmir
Michelle from Göztepe
Molly from Galata
Nilgün from Suadiye
Omar from Ankara
Omar from Umraniye
Paolo from Beşiktaş
Pat from Göreme
Pat from Yaniklar
Patricia from Kartal
Patrick from Bodrum
Paul from Antalya
Pennie from Çengelköy
René from Izmit
Robbi from Dalyan
Rosalind from Alanya
Russ from Gebze
Ruth from Cappadocia
Sarah from Gundogan
Sarah from Sarıyer
Sarah from Sisli
Sophie from Istanbul
Susanne from Fethiye
Steve from Tarabya
Tara from Cengelköy
Trevor from Side
Winter from Australia
Birsen's Horizons
Fred's Trip Logs
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The archives of The Guide
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Latest comments about this article

 By ozguralp  24.7.2007

that is quite funny. [email protected] , i would like to know u if u dont mind.

 By usenerta  30.4.2007

hi İf you get bored and want to look around just connect [email protected]

 By persian.j.a.p.  22.12.2006

U r exposing my life by your words. Only thing different is the citizenship and ethiniticity. I am a persian american living here for over a year. I love it. I am thrown into this Turkish society hoopla. It gives me a major headache, but I must say I am addicted to it. Would love to know more about you if you are still around. [email protected]

 By Apple  14.11.2006

I like your experiences. I find it truthful and original. I hope your tell more. If you like, I would like to chat with to learn more about Turkey at [email protected]

 By blackoff  30.12.2005

soph i miss you !

 By yerdenyere  20.2.2005

sophie, among all of the descriptions and advice-mongering on mymerhaba, i found yours to be truest to my own experience, especially the bits about lapsed vegetarianism, coke-dealing gay satanism and ephemeral passions for most anything. while i´m not quite new here--arrived a week and a half ago, but have stayed for several stints of a few months--i´m still in need of recommendations for good vegetarian spots other than zencefil (haven´t yet lapsed), and pleasant, low-key, out of the way spots for a drink (not so much istiklal satanists but...). if you have any thoughts, [email protected] cheers, jeremy

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