Over the past months I have been privileged to meet many people–other travelers, locals who have opened up their cultures and homes to us, and more. Mehmet is one such person. He drove us through the crazy streets of Ankara, taught us about Şalgam, and we now call him a friend.

Mehmet and I sat down today during his visit to Istanbul and talked a bit about why he loves this city, how he’d like to travel through Europe and more.

Bumbling Chats: Meet Mehmet
Mehmet pours raki, the national drink of Turkey.

What is your name? Mehmet.

How old are you? I am 22. 

Where are you from? I was born in Ankara but my family came from Kars, in eastern Turkey. I live in Ankara.

What do you like to do in your city? Now I am just a student in Ankara. I live with  my family. I am waiting to finish my university, and for now I am not sure when I will finish university or where I will go after. Probably I will come to Istanbul because my work is public relations and advertising. Advertising is best in Istanbul. 

Without school, I go to the bar with my friends and drink raki, a Turkish drink like ouzo. It’s famous. I also go to the cinema with my friends, I am interested in movies.

What is a place you think people should visit in Ankara?

Old Ankara Castle is very old and historical. 

On the way to Ankara Castle.

 I like going to the lakeside at Eymir Lake. It is a little far from the city center, but it’s beautiful trees and a quiet place. You can drink something and you can eat good fish. 

You also have lived in Istanbul. What did you like about it? 

Many things. Istanbul is very historical and people usually say it is a magical city. You have many choices for your free time. Whatever you like to do you can find it. If you want to drink or walk near the seaside or you can drink tea and have delicious food. You can go to swim at Heybeli Island and you can ride a bike. And in  Cihangir there is a tea house that has very delicious tea–it’s in a very small square under the mosque. I like Yeşilköy because it is very quiet and nice, and a clean beach. It looks nice. And there are cafes. There are cheap and delicious balik ekmek there. Also, I like to walk in the historical places on the seasides, like from Tophane to Eminönü, and the Galata Bridge. 

Mehmet and the walking tree.

Why do you think people should come to Turkey?

People should see Turkey because there are many different cultures in Turkey, like Kurdish, Turkish and other people. You can see four seasons in the year for the weather, it’s easy for people to live in Turkey, it is not a very expensive country. There are good historical and natural things–beach, mountains, winter sports. You have many choices in the year. Every season, you can find something to do. You should eat the food. The foods are very different because there is not just one culture. Many different people–Christians, Muslims, and different nationalities–and they have different foods, too. 

Mehmet was a great tour guide! He took us to Ataturk’s mausoleum, Anitkabir.

 What is your favorite Turkish food? 

Ah. I couldn’t be sure. I like kebabs. My favorite is iskender and some other kebabs. I like some vegetable foods: kuru fasulye ve pilav. 

Where do you want to travel and why?

I want to travel in European countries, maybe by motorcycle or a second idea is by car. I will start in one and pass through all the countries. I want to travel by motorcycle or by car so I can see the countries instead of flying over them. It is difficult usually for all people, but I want to go to America. I want to live in New York for a short time but I know from my friends Sara & Boris New York is very expensive and many people say this. The apartments and the other things. And maybe I want to visit my friends Boris & Sara in Arizona.

Mehmet taught us how to drink Turkish coffee and eat Sütlaç (one of my absolute favorite Turkish desserts)!