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Turkey Lifestyle

In Turkey you relax and enjoy your holiday without having to spend a fortune

Life in Turkey is a rich variety of cultures and traditions, some dating back centuries and others of more recent heritage. The visitor to Turkey will find a great deal that is exotic, and also much that is reassuringly familiar. The following pages should offer you an insight into the intriguing blend of East and West that makes up the Turkish lifestyle.

Turkish Bath HAMAM

In compliance with the cleanliness rules which are dictated by the Koran, the famous Turkish baths - "hamam" can be found everywhere in Turkey.

The Turkish baths are visited in particular by the local inhabitants before the Friday Prayers. The baths are in a way a continuation of the Roman baths. Many of them have been built more than hundreds years ago, so a visit to a hamam can also be an architectural experience. The larger baths have sections for men and women. Alternatively, some periods are reserved for men and others for women. However, the changing rooms where you change from clothes into swimwear, are always sectioned. You leave your clothes in a locker and start with a shower. Then you proceed into the sauna, where you can stay for as long as you wish. Subsequently, you can cool off in a basin with tempered water.

When you rise from the basin, you will be wrapped in a big towel - "pestemal" - after which you will visit the hot section. In the middle of this section there is a large marble bed, "gobek tasi", which is being heated from below. Here you will lie until all muscles have been heated through and the pores of the skin has opened. After this, a bath attendant will start scrubbing your body all over. As a start, you will be covered in soap. This process is being carried out with a rough hemp glove, but is not unpleasant. The striking result is a very large amount of skin cells, which leave the body. Finally the visit is ended with a light massage, where all known and hitherto unknown muscles of your body are activated.

Coffee House

Coffee-houses ("kahve") are very specific to Turkish people. Even the smallest village has at least one "kahve." In old times men used to smoke hubble-bubble pipes ("nargile") while talking about the matters of the day. You can still smoke "nargile," but only in some of the coffee-houses. If you have a chance to see a "kahve," do not hesitate to spend some time in that lovely, authentic place.

Turkish tea, çay
Turkish tea, called çay is a tradional beverage in Turkey.
The tea is an important part of the Turkish culture. Offering tea to guests is part of Turkish hospitality, tea is most often consumed in households, shops and mostly kıraathane, which is social congregation of Turkish men. Despite its popularity, tea became the widely consumed beverage of choice in Turkey only in the 20th century. It was initially encouraged as an alternative to coffee, which had become expensive and at times unavailable in the aftermath of WWI. Upon the loss of southeastern territories after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, coffee became an expensive import. At the urging of the founder of the republic, Atatürk, Turkish people turned more to tea as it was easily sustainable by domestic sources. Turkish tea is traditionally offered in small tulip-shaped glasses which are usually held by the rim, in order to save the drinker's fingertips from being burned, as the tea is served boiling hot.

Evil Eye Nazar

This is a typical item, a specialty of this region you should take home as a souvenir. It's called the Boncuk, the Little Magic Stone that protects one from the *Evil Eye* (pronounced "bon-dschuk"). You will see this blue glass piece everywhere here in this area. But what is behind this superstition?

n a shortened version we will try to explain. Once upon a time (yes, it starts like in a fairy tale) there was a rock by the sea that, even with the force of a hundred men and a lot of dynamite, couldn't be moved or cracked. There was also a man in this town by the sea, who was known to carry the evil eye (Nazar). After much effort and endeavor, the town people brought the man to the rock, and the man, upon looking at the rock said, "My! What a big rock this is." The instant he said this, there was a rip and roar and crack and instantly the immense and impossible rock was found to be cracked in two.

The force of the evil eye (or Nazar) is a widely accepted and feared random element in Turkish daily life. The word *Nazar* denotes seeing or looking and is often used in literally translated phrases such as "Nazar touched her," in reference to a young woman, for example, who mysteriously goes blind.

Another typical scenario. A woman gives birth to a healthy child with pink cheeks, all the neighbors come and see the baby. They shower the baby with compliments, commentating especially on how healthy and chubby the baby is. After getting so much attention weeks later the baby is found dead in his crib. No explanation can be found for the death. It is ascribed to Nazar. Compliments made to a specific body part can result in Nazar. That's why nearly every Turkish mother fixes with a safety pin a small Boncuk on the child's clothes. Once a Boncuk is found cracked, it means it has done his job and immediately a new one has to replace it.