In Turkey, Caucasians are a minority. While Turks have a well-deserved reputation for hospitality and openness Lo strangers, travelers of African, Asian, or Latin American descent, especially those traveling alone and/or in non-touristy areas, may have an experience different from that of their Caucasian counterparts. Turks often have no qualms about staring at the unfamiliar, be it beautiful, intriguing, or repulsive. If you’re in less-traveled towns and cities, be ready for a few terrified children, puzzled old women, or snickering teenagers. Probably the worst you can expect is a derisive over-the-shoulder remark. You may be faced with a few amusing or even offensive questions, but keep in mind that it’s mostly from plain curiosity, without malice or contempt.
A few caveats: dark-skinned travelers should know that, thanks to the power of Hollywood, a distorted cultural representation awaits them, associated with violence and crime. People of East Asian descent are automatically assumed to be Japanese. This may lead to extra deference from people in the tourist industry, as the Japanese have a reputation for lavish spending. Travelers to Northern Cyprus may notice quite a few South Asians and Africans on city streets due to the island’s ties to the British Empire. Most speak fluent Turkish, so travelers of similar appearance may find themselves expected to do the same.
TRAVELING WITH CHILDREN
Turks and Cypriots adore children. Expect a stream of compliments, advice, candy, and discounts on transportation throughout Turkey and Cyprus. Children under two generally fly for 10% of the adult airfare on international flights (this does not necessarily include a seat). International fares are usually discounted 25% for children between the ages of two and 11. Family vacations will be most enjoyable if you slow your pace and plan ahead. Be sure that children carry some sort of identification in case of an emergency or if they get lost. Consider using a papoose-style device to carry your baby on walking trips. Baby foods are usually only available in pharmacies.
Vegetarians should have no problem finding suitable cuisine in Turkey. Vegetarian dishes in Turkey and Cyprus include succulent fruits, colorful salads, tasty breads, fasulye (beans), and börek, (cheese-filled pastry). Vegetarian meze (appetizers) are plentiful. In summer, fresh vegetables, fruits, and interesting cheeses abound in the outdoor markets. In well-traveled areas of Turkey, Turks understand the concept of vegetarianism; simply explain, “Vejetariyamm” (“I am a vegetarian.”) In other areas ask, “Etsiz yemek var mi?” (“Do you have food without, meat?”) Travelers who keep kosher will be hard-pressed to find a kosher restaurant. If you arc strict in your observance, consider preparing your own food on the road.