Tag Archives: istanbul

15 Great Expat Blogs About Turkey

Here are 15 great blogs to check out if you are curious about living in Turkey, want to try out more Mediterranean Cooking, or are just searching for some travel inspiration:

  1. Turkey’s For Life: Julie and Barry, two UK citizens, share advice, recipes, and plenty of personal adventures on this extensive blog.
  2. Ozlem’s Turkish Table: Photos, easy-to-follow recipes and interesting tales woven together by an award-winning chef who also happens to offer online cooking lessons.
  3. Turkey from the Inside: Pat, a UK-origined former Thomas Cook travel specialist, travel book author and writer for Today’s Zaman takes readers on a whirlwind tour through the culture and history of many different Turkish regions
  4. Back to Bodum: An Aussie expat and her Turkish husband re-adjust to life in the Turkish countryside
  5. Pul Biber – With Everything (Red Pepper with Everything) Two retired UK expats living in Selçuk adjust from their fast-paced London life to soaking up the small town sights, smells and occasional serenity
  6. Adventures in Ankara: A Pennsylvania native and lawyer by profession shares her adventures and observations after moving to Ankara with her Turkish husband. Plenty of travel tips, trip reviews, and a culinary corner as well.
  7. A Seasonal Cook in Turkey: A 30+ year expat resident of Istanbul share’s the years’ best fare with recipes fit for every season.
  8. Slowly By Slowly: “Roadtripping through one Turkish-American marriage with a troupe of backseat-driving Karagöz puppets”
  9. Almost Turkish Recipes: Simple and tasty meals you can make in your own kitchen, regardless of whether you have access to Turkey’s extensive outdoor bazaars.
  10. From the Seven Hills of Istanbul: A Wisconsin native who has lived almost continuously in Turkey since completing her MA in Turkish Studies in 2009 now shares restaurant reviews and travel tips covering Bursa and Istanbul.
  11. Binur’s Turkish Cookbook: Recipes, tantalizing photos.  What more could you want in a simple food blog?
  12. The Turkish Life: A SF native residing in Istanbul and writing about food, running, photography and the environment
  13. Far From the Sticks: An East Coaster residing in Ankara with her Turkish husband shares stories, photos and culinary adventures.
  14. Adana Adventures: Part travel /living guide, part blog written by an American expat living in Adana with his Turkish wife.
  15. Inside Out Istanbul: Lisa Morrow, author of  Inside Out In Istanbul: Making Sense of the City and Exploring Turkish Landscapes: Crossing Inner Boundaries shares book reviews, life tales, and plenty of photos.

+ 1 Best of Bursa: An expat family shares their favorite experiences in a city they’ve come to call home.

Looking for More Reading: the Daily Sabah has also collected an “Ultimate list of expat blogs on Turkey” to be found here.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Community, Exploring, Family, Recipes, Retiring Abroad, Turkish Cuisine, Turkish Culture

Turkey’s City Street Food

If you’ve been around the beach, you know the basics (or can find them here: Turkey’s Best Beach Food): gözleme, ayran, stuffed mussles, melon ice cream bowls, steamed corn, fresh fish.  But what can you eat when you hit Turkey’s urban streets?  Here are some of the must-try simple street snacks (or full meals) you’ll find in almost every urban center:

19555587985_89648f59d8_zBreakfast:

Head to the nearest wheeled glass cart labeled “halk ekmek” (“people’s bread”) or the small shop by the bus stop and grab a few simit for a simple start to the day. At first glance a simit may look a bit like a bagel covered in sesame seeds.  Cracked open it can be eaten with soft spread cheese.

3077558355_04f058d2be_mTired of simit?  Ask for a poğaça instead.  At 2/1 lira they’re still quite cheap, and come with a variety of savory stuffings  like olive (zeytin), cheese (peynir), or spicy sausage (sucuk).

salepFinish off your breakfast with a glass of strong Turkish tea or salepa traditional drink made with powdered orchid root and flavoured with cinnamon.




Lunch/Quick Dinner/Midnight Snacks

Turkey’s most popular savory street food is the doner kebab (here known as durum) with long strips of lamp of chicken rolled in flatbread with tomatoes, shredded lettuce, and the occasional french fry (curious about what defines a kebab? read our post here). But if you only know the doner… you’ve barely dabbled in Turkish street tastes!

7793420340_cf56c7e319_zOnly got 10 minutes for lunch? One of Turkey’s most popular “fast foods” is lahmacun, a flatbread topped and backed with minced meat and a garlic-tomato paste, almost always paired with a cool glass of ayran (salty yogurt).  Almost any neighborhood will have a lunch joint with 2 lahmacun + ayran lunch specials for about 5 lira.  Don’t forget a squeeze of lemon!

tantuni

If you’re seriously on the run, grab a tantuni or “Turkish burrito”.  Tantuni are wraps composed of ground meat cooked on a wide metal plate with spices and oil then rolled up with slices of onion, tomato, cilantro and lettuce.  Take it with a hot green pepper if you can handle extra-spicy.

Hit by 3 am hunger pains? Head for a kokoreç stand.  While chopped sheep intestines might not sound appealing during the day, this savory, spicy and complex flavoured sandwich is sure to satisfy your midnight cravings.

19271026726_4d83c7aa55_zLooking for something a little more sophisticated?  Pideoften nicknamed “the Turkish pizza” is a boat-shaped oven-baked bread topped with everything from spinach and feta to chicken and tomatoes to ground beef and cheese. Expect fresh bread hot out of the oven, with the juices from the toppings just starting to sink into the dough. Ask for a side of tomatoes and sliced cucumbers with a sprinkling of lemon.

13692321384_ef09d9baf1_z

Vegetarian? No worries. bulgar-based Çiğ köfte is savory, sometimes spicey, and always delicious, whether eaten alone or in a wrap. Each region has it’s own recipe for Çiğ köfte though, as a rule, the ingredients include and bulgur, chopped cilantro, onion, tomato paste, spices, crushed garlic and salt.  Again, everything is better with a slice of lemon!

Snacks

2037583738_eb5fcd9dfb_zIn winter warm your hands and your soul with a cup full of hot roasted chestnuts (kestane) and served in a paper cone for 2-5 lira per portion.

Don’t forget that Turkey has great regional varieties in cuisine – while in Kayseri you’ll have to try the kayseri mantisi; in Bursa, iskender kebab, and in testi kebab in Cappadocia.

Hungry for more? We know you are… Check out these pages extensively covering Istanbul’s street food scene, and share with us you favorite street foods from around the country.

World’s Best Street Food: Istanbul Edition

Beyond the Doner: Real Turkish Food

IstanbulEats.com

Culinary Back Streets: Istanbul’s Best Street Foods

1 Comment

Filed under Exploring, Turkish Cuisine

A Colorful Kaleidoscope of Films Featuring Istanbul

A fascinating collage of conflicting, overlapping, colorful interpretations of culture in former Constantinople, films that display the director’s own perceptions as much as the city itself.  Which of these films have you seen? What impression did they leave of the city? And how did the expectations and impressions imprinted by the film match with your own experiences?

Originally posted here in The Guardian

10 of the best films set in Istanbul

From Turkish versions of Tarzan and Dracula to wintry weepies, via (whisper it) Midnight Express, Fiachra Gibbons picks out the best films shot in Istanbul As featured in our Istanbul city guide
Russia With Love composite image

From Russia with Love, Terence Young, 1963

“They dance for him, they yearn for him, they die for him …” From Russia with Love is not only arguably the best of the Bond films, it set the template for all that followed, right down to the corny one-liners. This is Tatiana, the Russian double-agent love interest succumbing to Sean Connery’s charms: “The mechanism is… Oh James… Will you make love to me all the time in England?” “Day and night, darling… Go on about the mechanism…” The film was shot when the city’s population was less than two million (it has mushroomed to more than 13 million today), and it’s a magic carpet ride back to a time when Istanbul teemed withhamals, huge American cars and natty post-war Renaults. Incidentally, the colourful Gypsy neighbourhood in the film, Sulukule, has just been razed, victim of the city’s latest round of wrong-headed gentrification.
Beyazit, Sulukule, Yerebatan Sarayi (Basilica cistern)

Tarzan in Istanbul/Dracula in Istanbul/Kilink in Istanbul, various directors, 1952-67

Tarzan in Istanbul? Oh yes, and it gets even stranger. In their superhuman efforts to keep the public entertained, the moguls who worked in “Turkey’s Hollywood”, on Yeşilçam Street in Beyoğlu, produced hundreds of sometimes inspired and sometimes appalling “tribute” films. These are three of the best. Tarzan in Istanbul is actually very good, and Kilink, a suavely evil skeleton with an eye for the ladies (a rip-off of an Italian comic book character), deserves his own Hollywood franchise. My favourite is his titanic struggle with Super-Adam, whom you might recognise as Superman. Drakula, too, has a great local twist, the vampire dispatched with a copy of the Koran rather than a cross. The fact Dracula was based on Vlad Tepes, who liked nothing better than impaling Turks, added still more spice. And they didn’t stop there. There is Turkish Star Wars (which took action hero camp to new heights of absurdity), Turkish Star Trek, Turkish Rocky, and, of course, Turkish Rambo.
Yeşilçam Sokak, Beyoğlu

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Turkish Culture

Time and Money Saving Travel Tips: Turkish Museum Passes

Summer 2013 3376Traveling to Turkey? What are you most excited to see? The underground cities and cave carved churches at Cappadocia? The intricate and immense ceilings of the Blue Mosque? The once grandesque Temple of Apollo? The library or the Church of the Virgin Mary at Ephesus, reached by a two-thousand year old stone street? Hittite relics at the Museum of Anatolian Civilization? Lycian ruins at Olympos where beach-goers in bikinis mingle with relics of lost cities?

With hundreds of historical sites to see museum entrance costs can certainly add up, and the summer lines at Hagia Sophia can deter even the most intrepid of travelers.

But, no worries! In 2008 the Turkish government launched the Müzekart For 40 lira anyone with Turkish citizenship or a Turkish residence permit can have unlimited free access to museums and archaeological sites run by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism over a period of one year. This is a great deal for students, retirees with residence permits, and other expats.  Unfortunately, if you are not a Turkish citizen, or do not have a valid residence permit, you are not eligible to purchase the card.

MuzekartPlus

However, if you are planning to visit the sites in Istanbul or Cappadocia, the government offers two regional museum passes.

In Istanbul you can purchase a Museum Pass Istanbul for 85 lira (3 days) or 115 lira (5 days).  The card is good for entrance to: Hagia Sophia Museum, Topkapı Palace Museum and Harem Apartments, İstanbul Archaeological Museums, İstanbul Mosaic Museum, Museum of Turkish and İslamic Arts, Museum for the History of Science and Technology in Islam, Chora Museum, Galata Mevlevi House Museum, Yıldız Palace, Rumeli Hisar Museum, and the Fethiye Museum. You can also use it to get discounts at a number of shops and entertainmnet venues.  The pass can be purchased at any of the sites, or at certain hotels (listed on the website).  The pass provides only single entrance (meaning you’ll have to pay full admission price if you make a second trip to the same museum), and slower sight-savoring travelers may find that it doesn’t pay for itself.  If you don’t plan on seeing all  the Istanbul sites, then the card’s main advantage is that it saves you from the lines, which can be quite long in peak season.

There is also a 45 lira Museum Pass Cappadocia.  This pass is valid for three days (72 hours from the time of first use) and covers seven spots in the Cappadocia region: Ihlara Valley, Derinkuyu Underground City, Goreme Open Air Museum, Goreme Karanlık Church, Kaymaklı Underground City, Özkonak Underground City, Nevşehir Museum, Cavusin Archaeological Site, Hacibektas Museum, and Zelve-Pasabaglari.

All passes (and individual tickets) are available for purchase on this government site.  Just make sure to print out your tickets for individual sites before heading to the museum!

Individual tickets cost from 5 lira (Olympos, Temple of Apollo) to 30 lira (Ephesus).  You can view a list of all museums here.

Other time-saving tips: Go early! Especially along the coast passengers from docking cruise ships create heavy museum traffic between 10 am and 3 pm.  Hit the museums when they open to avoid lines, or after 3pm to have a quieter and less crowded experience.

Leave a comment

Filed under Ancient Ruins, City Sights, Day Trips, Exploring, Holidays

A Veteran’s Take on Retirement in Turkey

Below is a selection from very thorough and measured assessment of retiring in Turkey written by Colin Guest, a British man who has lived in the country for over two decades.  You can read the full (rather lengthy) in Retirement and Good Living.  Even though this is a fairly recent review, several Turkish laws that he mentioned have since changed – make sure to check the most recent health insurance, residence permit and property purchasing laws before making any plans!

The article is quite extensive, so here’s the summary of his thoughts:

In general, I think Turkey is a good place to retire. What with beautiful weather, and living costs being quite reasonable, one can enjoy a relaxing and healthy lifestyle here. Also, Turkish people are well known for being very hospitable and friendly. If you happen to have a problem, there is usually someone who will help you out. It is also quite safe to walk around here. As for crime, apart from once catching someone trying to pick my pocket, I have never had any problems whilst living here.

Retirement in Turkey

Saturday, September 20th, 2014 Colin Guest

Retire in TurkeyAs a retired Englishman, one who has lived in Turkey for over 25 years, I have no hesitation in recommending it as a place to retire. Down on the Mediterranean Coast, where I lived until getting remarried in 2012, there is an average of 300+ days of sunshine a year. This compared to living in the UK where sunshine is at a premium, is reason alone to retire here. However, I must point out that normally, during July and August, the temperatures can be very high. At these times, it is advisable to think about taking a holiday to somewhere cooler.

As for buying or renting property here, costs I think are quite reasonable compared to some other countries. As an example, one can rent a good-sized 3-bedroom apartment in the city of Antalya for around £280 ($456) per month. Smaller apartments are of course much cheaper. These prices, however, can vary considerably; depending on which area you choose to live. In Istanbul for instance, housing costs are far higher than in other areas of Turkey. Buying property here is very easy. Although you do not require using an Avukat (lawyer) to buy a property, I highly recommend you use one. Just think for a minute, would you buy a property in England (or the US) without using a solicitor. The answer is a definite NO! Therefore, before buying a property, use an Avukat. If possible, use one who is recommended by someone you know who purchased a property.

One thing to be aware of about buying property here is the inheritance law. This unlike in the UK is somewhat different. In the event of your death, if you have children, they are automatically entitled to a share of any property that is in your name….Retire in Turkey

Medical care here in Turkey is very good. In fact, patients come to Turkey to have operations, unlike in the UK; there are no waiting lists here. Also, costs for operations are quite reasonable compared to the UK. I have had two operations here, and was well satisfied with both the operations and aftercare received. There are many first class hospitals in Turkey, fitted with the latest technology and staffed by English speaking doctors. SGK….  is a Turkish health organization, which you can join as long as you do not receive a pension from England. The monthly costs for this is around 285 TL (£81, $132). As a member of SGK you are entitled to receive free health care in Government hospitals, as well as obtaining prescription medicines at greatly reduced costs…

Transport here is both cheap and efficient, with most buses air-conditioned. As an example of costs, a ticket from the city of Antalya to Kemer, a distance of approximately 50km, is around £2 ($3.25). Apart from buses, Antalya has a metro system, which is inexpensive to use. In Istanbul, one has a wide range of available transportation. There are buses, metro lines and ferries. You can also use a Dolmus, which are basically mini buses that carry around 10 persons. These are both a cheap and efficient way of getting around to various places. All taxis here are fitted with meters….

There are many new shopping centers throughout the country. You can now buy most things except pork, which is only available in a few places. When shopping outside of the major shopping centers, you can try to barter down the cost. In many places this is expected, especially in tourist areas and open markets. Some of the best buys in Turkey include gold & silver jewelry, which is of excellent quality and design. Leather is also of high quality and of the latest fashion. Turkish carpets are known worldwide for being of high quality. However, when buying one, you should always barter down the cost.

There are many water sports available if you decide to live on the Mediterranean or Aegean Coast. There are also many excellent marinas, both in the large cities and hidden away in numerous well sheltered bays. For the golfer, there are over 12 top quality golf courses in Belek designed by a world known professional golfers. This is approximately a 30 minutes’ drive East down the coast from Antalya International airport. There is also a course in Bodrum, with three courses in Istanbul. Films are available in English, in most cinemas throughout Turkey. By using a satellite TV system, you are able to view English films and several International News channels.

Retire in TurkeyIf you are over 65, and want to get married to a Turkish person, the process is quite involved and requires various forms and signatures.

A word of warning. If you are thinking of working here, you must have a work permit. If you are caught working without one, you will be deported. Also, never go into business without first consulting an Avukat (lawyer). I myself have not had a problem re this, although my late wife and some friends lost money by not consulting an Avukat, before parting with their money.

In general, I think Turkey is a good place to retire. What with beautiful weather, and living costs being quite reasonable, one can enjoy a relaxing and healthy lifestyle here. Also, Turkish people are well known for being very hospitable and friendly. If you happen to have a problem, there is usually someone who will help you out. It is also quite safe to walk around here. As for crime, apart from once catching someone trying to pick my pocket, I have never had any problems whilst living here.

You can read more about the author on Author’s Den and buy Colin’s full e-book here

1 Comment

Filed under Finance, Health Insurance, Legal Affairs, Practicalities, Purchasing Property, Retiring Abroad, Shopping, Transportation, Turkish Riviera