Here are some facts about and impression of Kayseri so far:
1. Kayseri is one of the most conservative cities in Turkey. This means no beer with your kebab as alcohol is not served in restaurants, there are no pubs or bars except for the one in Hilton Hotel in the centre of the city. But fear not, we still can have a Friday night beer or a glass of wine with dinner – there’s a liquor store within walking distance.
2. It also means that pork or things like bacon and ham cannot be found anywhere in the city. Which is absolutely fine since there’s an abundance of cheap fresh vegetables, chicken, beef and of course, lamb (kuzu in Turkish)
3. Bread here is staple food, and it’s amazingly fresh and delicious. You can also buy sliced packaged bread which is what we usually get for sandwiches (and so that I don`t wolf down half a loaf of fresh bread in one go). One thing that is a bit icky is that when people buy fresh bread they sometimes touch or squeeze loaves to ascertain their freshness. With their bare hands. And the loaves are not in bags. They also do the same thing with rice (most supermarkets have loose rice, lentils and bulgur). Another thing I’ve seen in supermarkets are open jars of olives, pickles or jams with a tasting spoon. That’s right, spoon, singular. That you share with other people.
4. There are a lot of small cafes around where we live. Some don`t even have menu, because they only specialize in a few dishes – kebabs, lahmacun (a kind of Turkish pizza, only better – flat bread with minced meat and peppers and spices), pide (also a kind of pizza) etc. The other night we had a lovely dinner of lamb kebab at this tiny cafe. The shop owner asked us which languages we spoke, and since he spoke neither English or Russian, he though that German was the safest bet. Well, that was fun trying to understand what he was saying since we actually know more Turkish than German and can get around in shops and restaurants reasonably well. The kebab was still delicious though. The pieces were tiny and there were 6 skewers for each of us.
Also, most places have a takeaway delivery service, called “Alo Servis”. Very cute. Apparently, Burger King delivers here. Here is our local bread bakery/pide place.
5. There are not that many dogs here in Kayseri, in fact I`ve seen less than a dozen during out time here, but we`ve seen pet rabbits hanging out on a lawn in our area, and there are some in one of the universities here, Meliksah.
Here is the dog that lives in a local pet shop and then a puppy we came across while walking home from a shop. It takes a lot of willpower not to slip these puppies in my bag after I am done petting them! But we are here temporarily, and who knows what are next destination is, so it’s irresponsible to get a dog at this point. But boy, do I miss Sharon and having a dog. Every time I skype with my parents they let me see Sharon and I wish I could reach through the screen and kiss her wet nose.
8. There are not a lot of expats here in Kayseri, and most foreigners here are university/school teachers (usually of English as a Second Language). But the expat community is wonderful here. Last Friday I went along to a meeting of Kayseri Expat Group (which I found on Facebook). I met some really lovely people, among them Americans, Brits, Romanians and Bulgarians. In the group photo, the girl in a grey vest was just passing by with her boyfriend and then suddenly she ran up to us and got her boyfriend to take a photo of her with a group of foreigners. It seems that there are not that many foreigners here so we often get curious looks when we’re out and about, especially when they hear us speaking English
Thanks to Couchsurfing.org, I also made a new local friend Esra, who is a fellow ESOL teacher. She turned out to be a fabulous shopping guide and was very helpful with finding some information about the dreaded phone tax.