This month, we’re bringing you an insider’s scoop of different cities from across the world. Because who better than the locals to direct us to those hidden, delightful and lesser-known experiences? Here’s to seeing the world like a local, starting with this excerpt from a conversation with our favourite Turkish local:
1) Hi there! Can you introduce yourself and tell us where you’re from?
Hello! I’m Nuray, a tour guide in Istanbul. I was born in Izmir, a city along the coast of Turkey. And I’ve been living in Istanbul since 1999.
2) You’ve known Turkey ever since you were born. From childhood till now, what changes have you noticed in your country over the years?
It’s hard to put in words the changes that I’ve noticed. Turkey is a developing country. And I feel every day has brought new changes to my city and country.
3) What do travellers new to Turkey miss out on the most?
Well, people new to Turkey make the mistake of going to very popular and expensive places to shop at (even malls)! What I would rather advice them to do is head to the local shops and bazaars- this is where you’ll truly find the hidden gems and get good stuff at incredible prices.
So during my tours, I always make it a point to take travellers to many shopping alternatives where locals shop. And one important thing to remember: wholesale shops are where the great prices lie in wait. Check out Istiklal Street. 🙂
4) One important tip to remember when in Turkey.
Now this one is for all the vegetarians out there. You need to prepare yourself for the fact that Turkey is a meat-loving nation and the best dishes usually come with meat as an ingredient
(That being said, you should also know that in Turkey, most dishes have a vegetarian base, with meat added later. Check out our latest blog on how to find the most delicious vegetarian food, as recommended by vegetarian travel bloggers)
5) What’s the one Turkish dish you love eating, that most tourists don’t get to try often?
It has to be Dolma – a delicious dish of stuffed vegetables wrapped in vine leaves. We Turks even have a seafood variant made with stuffed mussels, it’s very popular among the locals.
6) What do you like best about Indian travellers?
I like how Indian travellers are great money spenders – they take shopping very seriously and that’s lovely! Apart from that, Indians are fun to be with.
53-year-old and with a penchant for knowing almost everything you’d want to learn about Turkey, Nuray is the kind of local you’ll be glad to have by your side when you roam the streets of Istanbul. She loves Bollywood music, knows the meanest bargaining deals and will make sure that in the end, you’re an expert in everything Turkish – history, culture and whatnot.
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“Oh my God!! Nuray is what a soul. I guess I found turkey beautiful largely because of Nuray. I can go Turkey again with Byond to meet her 😊”, says Deepti who just returned from our Turkey trip in June. Here’s a video of her grooving to a catchy Turkish song: