Turkey Stories and Tips

The customs of Turkey

Turkey surprised me in that it is a country of great contrast, especially as it comes to culture and the people. While it is a highly Europeanized society, with its democratic bent and its acceptance of women in the workforce, it is also highly traditional. Turk etiquette demands politeness, and it often takes us quite a few minutes to tear ourselves from a shop after buying something, what with thanking the owner, and sometimes his whole family. Turk etiquette also frowns on kissing and hugging a person of the opposite sex, pointing a finger directly at someone else… Mosque etiquette is the most stringent, with women required to cover their head, arms, legs past the knees, and shoulders. But being a very hospitable people, the Turks are prepared for the visitors of the West. Outside most mosque, people are ready to hand you wraps for your head, your legs, and anywhere else that needed covering. However, beware that if a stickler for propriety is standing guard, you may not get in. So just dress properly: you not only save yourself the trouble, but can demonstrate your respect for the society you are visiting. Don't abuse their hospitality. (On the Mediterranean coast, German tourists went topless, which, I believed, was an insult to the host country). After all, it is for their distinct culture and people that you are visiting Turkey in the first place.

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