Van cats; cats that love swimming and eating ice-cream

Van cats; cats that love swimming and eating ice-cream

Have you ever met a cat that loves swimming and enjoys eating ice-cream? No? So you haven’t met Van Cats yet. 

During our stay in Van area we visited the Van Cat House, which was founded by Yüzüncü Yıl Üniversitesi in 1992 to protect the special local cat species. Van cats are rather unique and one of their distinct features can be noticed at first sight. Their eyes have a different colour.

Odd cats

They are also famous for their love of water and enjoying ice-cream. The Van is a natural breed and has probably existed in Turkey for centuries.

Turkish Vans are said to be highly intelligent and can learn tricks and games, such as playing fetch.

Van cat museum

The museum is located in the university (Yüzüncü Yıl Üniversitesi), about 20 minute drive north from the centre of Van. Entrance to the Van Cat House is free and if you’re lucky you can even get to play with the cats.

Although at first I wasn’t sure I wanted to get all the way there to look at cats, I really enjoyed this visit and would recommend it to anyone visiting Van.

Izmir – authentic and charming Turkish city

Izmir – authentic and charming Turkish city

Izmir was a love at the first sight. This city captivated us with its authenticity, warmth and a charming bazaar.

From the very beginning the city of Izmir showed it’s good side to us. First we managed to find accommodation through CouchSurfing without a problem. When we entered the city and asked for direction, to our surprise instead of being told where to go, we were taken to the right address by a random guy.

Within first hour from the arrival our host without any visible worry gave us her keys to the apartment and went out to the event she had planned before.

On the second day we went to the centre and were very positively surprised by the warm atmosphere. Peaceful and spacious main square, just next to the sea, contrasted with narrow and crowded streets of local bazaar, where you can find almost everything, from the delicious and diverse food, through cheap fake clothing, to all kinds of spices and charming cafes.

On top of everything we had such luck that during our stay there was a festival of Balkan folk music and dancing right on the main square which we could enjoy for free.

We spent one weak in Izmir, but it seemed that we could have stayed longer. For us it’s a fantastic city that has a lot to offer. Maybe the fact that it’s not a typical tourist destination adds to its character and authenticity. We loved it.

Bad cop / good cop – our experience with Turkish police

Bad cop / good cop – our experience with Turkish police

(this post was first published in 2014 on our old website)

Sometimes when riding a motorcycle, it’s hard to stay within the speed limit, especially when you are freezing cold and crazy lorry drivers are chasing behind you.

The other thing is that policemen are clever and they wait to catch people speeding when it seems reasonable to go a bit faster, especially on a long straight stretch of double lane with few buildings around.

Today we got caught speeding TWICE!

The first time we were riding pretty much with the traffic. I rarely overtake if it’s not to move to a safer position, so when we got pulled over the first time, I was sure that it was only a routine control and was very surprised when we were told we were getting a whopping €150 speeding ticket. I tried to oppose the fine, especially the amount “suggested”, which seemed more suited for Norway than Turkey, but it was pointless as we could not communicate one word between us. Initially I refused to sign the ticket which really didn’t please the cop, but when I realised that I wouldn’t have to pay on the spot and that the address details I gave were not exactly accurate, I thought signing wouldn’t really matter.

A few hours later we were caught again. I was riding very carefully after the first speeding incident so I didn’t even know when I drove over the speed limit. Whether this was fair this time, I don’t know. My wife seems to think that it was. On this occasion the cops were very sympathetic to our smiles, pleading and gentle begging. In the end we didn’t pay anything and left with a bunch of apples and 4 new reflective stickers on our bike. They even suggested that we swap our visibility vests with theirs and I felt that if they could have they would have.

10 interesting things we discovered about Turkey

10 interesting things we discovered about Turkey

10 interesting things we discovered about Turkey

  1. People in Turkey smoke everywhere, but on TV showing cigarettes is not allowed, therefore in films showed in Turkey cigarettes are covered with a…. flower.
  2. In Turkey there’s an old habit of cooking halva soon after somebody’s death. Because of that if you say that you want to eat somebody’s halva, it means that you wish this person to die.
  3. Although Turks and Greeks are similar in many ways, in one way there are very different is the way they approach breakfast. As we were told and observed ourselves, a typical Greek breakfast is coffee and cigarette, but for Turkish it’s the most important meal in a day and they have to have big breakfast with loads of cheese.
  4. In many hotels there are praying mats provided to guests and in some cupboards you can find a sticker with an arrow pointing to Mecca.
  5. Tea is a national obsession. Everybody drinks tea, everywhere. Every gas station has to serve tea to their customers, free of charge.
  6. The price of cars seems very high, even for old ones, maybe about double of European prices.
  7. There are no small flats so even single people live in 2 or 3 bedroom apartments.
  8. Turkish people love Attaturk, an army general who became a national hero. His portraits are everywhere. Even on schools you can find him depicted in his “thinking pose” smoking a cigarette.
  9. Ladybird symbolises good luck.
  10. Stray dogs are not removed from streets and are often fed by people.

What do you think about those 10 interesting things about Turkey? Did you find them as interesting as we did? Let us know.