This Happened: Turkey Underbelly

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Atakule View

Um. So, my best travel stories tend to involve slightly sketchy circumstances, and this one is no exception. Perhaps it's the sketchiness that makes it interesting. Sketch = experience?

I had been in Ankara, Turkey for a week as part of a four-month study abroad experience and was going out on the town with a Frenchman, a Danish guy, and a German (this sounds like the start of a bad joke...). We started at a dive bar and stayed until they closed. Then a slightly trendier bar, entirely decorated in shades of orange, and closed there, too. I recall my companions teasing me that they were going to sell me to a taxi driver for three camels to carry them to the next watering hole. 'Not the most culturally appropriate statement, but when inhibitions are lowered, well, it could have been a lot worse.

2:00am in the capital of Turkey is not the most happenin' time. In fact, everything was closed except for one last bastion of neon lights, which the crew promptly entered. We sat down in one of the high-walled, red pleather booths. At 20, I was not much of a drinker, and this night was no exception. While the guys each ordered a beer, I went for a çay (Turkish tea). We refused the mezze dishes offered to us and watched as a blond-haired woman sung on a low stage in front of us. Smoke hovered in the basement we were seated in, and we finished our drinks.

We get the bill, and for three beers and a tea, it's $53 USD. $15 USD per beer. The guys, at this point way past the legal limit, argued with the waiter, asked men in neighboring booths if this was typical (yes, it was). I convinced them to pay the bill, and we were out the door and in a taxi quickly.

A week later, my German friend pointed out that the expensive, smoky restaurant was actually some sort of illegal brothel (prostitution is legal, when regulated, in Turkey). I guess that would explain the waiter asking my companions if they had girlfriends (amongst other obvious indicators). Sometimes my naïvete takes me to strange places.

$7 USD is hopefully the most I will ever be overcharged for a cup of tea.

View from the Ankara Castle

10 comments:

Sarah O. said...

LOL! That is a great story, and definitely one you'll be sharing for years to come.

The Many Colours of Happiness said...

Wow, that is crazy!! I love that you guys didn't notice :p
Your trip sounds so cool!

Googlover/keishua said...

that is funny! I don't even think they charge that much at Starbucks for a tea.

Diane Fit to the Finish said...

What an interesting experience that must have been! I've not ever traveled outside the US as an adult, but would love to!

LORENA : TRAVEL DESIGNERY said...

That's crazy!..good storytelling, lol..(following now, i hope you can follow back also if you like my page!.. Thank youuu!)

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Dancing Branflake said...

Wow! That is crazy!

Halley said...

That is hilarious! Although the bill is not.

Your travel stories are fantastic!

Thanks for dropping by Life of Something New!

Autumn said...

Haha, oh wow, just wow. Women in America are treated pretty well, huh?

Krysten @ After 'I Do' said...

Great story!

iris said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone! It was sort of a surreal experience for me, because I had never expected my life to take me to this place.

Autumn- I think it's important to remember that there are illegal brothels in the 'States, too. That is, with respect to brothels/prostitution, American women are probably treated similarly, if not worse (since we don't have the protections of it being legalized/audited).

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