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Portuguese guy moves to Istanbul, learns turkish and lives the new culture.
Um português em Istanbul
Bir portekiz İstanbul'da

Location: Turkey


Alexandroupolis - Αλεξανδρούπολης

I'm in Greece! So here is how it works, you go to Turkey and they give you a 3 month tourist visa. If you want to stay more than 3 months you need to get out of the country and in again, so I decided to visit Alexandropolis for the weekend.
It's easy to see I'm in a different country. The first thing I noticed is that it's impossible for me to read one single thing, everywhere I just see the symbols I was using in college when studying Math and Physicks! I go like "Ok where is the street gama alfa tau epsylon niu?" Then everything looks more organized and clean, unlike Turkey, there are garbage boxes on the sidewalks. Women wear skirts and not one scarf in sight! People here look dressy, specially on saturday night, unlike Turkey I don't see lower class people, no beggers, garbage searchers, street children... But the biggest difference was presented when I crossed the street, the car stopped and let me pass! This is something that never happens in Turkey, not even on the zebras.
Alexandropolis reminds me a lot Ancona, the Italian city where I studied for 6 months. It's a nice little town by the sea, there are a lot of motor-bikes, a lot of teenagers with Vespas. It's hard to believe that I'm just 50 Km from Turkey because I find so litle in common. I had a talk with a man from Alexandroupolis who told me his father story, in 1920 his father was living in a small city that now belongs to Turkey, he had a good house and properties there, when the turkish troops came he had to run away and he lost all this. His father is now dead and this man is about 60 years old, all his life he never went to Turkey and he has no plans to do it.
When I want to speak with anyone here I go like "Speak english? Français? Italiano? Turkçe?" Usually they speak at least one of these languages :) Many of them seem to understand Turkish and some speak it, but it seems that they don't want to talk it. The greek man next to me on the bus spoke greek, good turkish and basic english, all the time he was trying to speak english even though I could understand him better in turkish.
Ah, and I have to talk about the commerce timetables here, can you believe that the tourism agency is closed from 14:30 to 18:00?! And many other places have the same time table: 9:00-14:30 and 18:00-20:30! 3,5h for lunch, hmm it's not bad!
It's a nice place and everyone is quite friendly, but I feel good about going back to Turkey tomorrow! Don't tell the greeks about this!


Daha Türkçe biliyorum!!

I finished the second level at the turkish language school!
We learned new grammar, so now I know how to say:
  • Everyday I wash my teeth before I lie down in bed.
  • If you eat a lot of food with sugar you get fat.
  • I can't live without eating.

And now you ask "Why would you need to know how to say that?", and I answer "Ödev için".

I start the 3rd level next week. I'm learning all the theory with no problems and I can use it well when writing or reading, but I feel I'm getting behind on the conversation. I need to practice more and more the talking.



Last saturday me and 3 friends went for a 1 day trip to Edirne. It's a small town (well every town is small when you come from Istanbul) with some beautifull mosques. I was impressed by the Selimiye mosque, it's beautifull and grandious! One of the attractions in Edirne is the oil wrestling, where men try to bring their greasy oponent to the floor! Unfortunately these games only takes place in June...
After walking for the whole afternoon we stopped on the local baker shop just in time to see everyone coming to buy the traditional Ramazan bread, they bring their ingredients like cheese, sausages, olives to the baker shop and in 5 minutes the baker cooks the bread mixed with the ingredients. We just bought a simple bread.
One interesting thing happened on the way back to Istanbul. A police operation stop stopped the bus on the highway, the bus waiter went out to ask what they wanted and came back to get a couple of water bottles to them, after this we cantinued trip! I guess they were thirsty!



The ramazan has started. Many people in Turkey follow this 1 month muslim celebration where you are supposed to: Not eat, not drink, not smoke during sun time and restrain from many other things through the whole Ramazan period - like drinking. During the whole day people are fasting and around 18:30 when the mosque calls for the last prayer of the day, they get their food and drinking. A lot more people than I thought follow the fasting, in Istiklal Caddesi (Main torist street) in a tea house I saw this kid, around 19 years old with a school bag praying and then eating his meal with a very hungry face!
Around 2:00AM the Davulci (man of the drum) starts walking around streets banging on his big drum to wake people up, people get up and eat something since when they get up for work sun is already up.
For me it's incredible, I feel hungry at lunch time and I think I need some food as soon as possible and I imagine how it is for this guy or that woman that don't eat all day! But it seems that smokers have the hardest time, they don't smoke all day! Around 2:00AM it's easy to find people on the house windows smoking cigarets after cigarets!


Eurasia Marathon

Today, I participated on the Istanbul Marathon that starts in Asia and finishes in Europe! In reality I just walked the 8 Km, since the prize for the 42 Km run was only 20.000$...
It was very good to cross the bridge over the Bosphorus! Weather was perfect, not too hot, but sunny and clear (unlike last wednesday when it was raining so much that I thought Istanbul was going to sink under the bosphurus!). Today, from the bridge we could see all the Yalı (Palaces by the Bosphurus) and all the big and small boats that crowd the sea!
It reminded me the Lisbon Marathon, crossing the Ponte 25 de Abril, actually the bridge is very similar (San Francisco style) and the views over the rivers are similar, the differences being that everything is more crowded here, a lot more people run on this Marathon and a lot more buildings exist in Istanbul!
After the 3 hours walk, I received a medal and a brand new t-shirt to add to my marathon t-shirt collection!


Biraz türkçe biliyorum!

I finished the first level of the turkish course with top grade!
The exam had the following parts:
  • Reading a text and answering questions
  • Listening to a text and answering questions
  • Grammar test
  • Composition
  • Conversation

I'm very happy with the school (DİLMER), they have a fast rythm 5 days/week course, and our teacher was very good in presenting the course and keeping everyone up to date! I made good friends during this month of course, coming from Germany, USA and France.

My turkish is still very basic: some vocabulaire, present, past and future tenses. On daily life I can express myself much better and I start to understand what they tell me. I still can't read the newspaper, and I get maybe 10% of what they say in television :(

Tomorrow I start the second level. The school has 6 levels, so only 5 to go!



I'm really well impressed with Akbil. This is a small gadget people use to pay transports in Istanbul. With Metro, buses, trams and boats you just push akbil to the machine and get in. It works as an electronic pocket money, you charge it on machines around the city with the card or paper money, and the credit is stored inside it, somehow.
It reminds me PMB, this portuguese electronic pocket money card that appeared about 10 years ago and disappeared some time after. I was reading about this (read "Potenciais perdedores com o PMB") project failure and it seems the problem was not security as I thought.
Anyway, this system really works in Istanbul making transport payment a lot faster!