Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Konya - The Bikble Belt of Turkey

Traveled through Konya briefly last week when I was on the road, and as soon as I bussed into town my bike radar perked up and took notice of all the sweet bikes being put to use. 
One of the most common styles is the dutch style bike with all sorts of kickstands, racks, baskets, and other doodads (double top tubes included!)

As my post title tried to emphasize, Konya is a major city in Turkey's equivalent of the Bible Belt. A much higher percentage of practicing and somewhat more conservative Muslims relative to Istanbul's mix of non-practicing, somewhat-practicing, and very-practicing Muslims.

Not to be impolite, but for example: in Konya it is much harder to find someone who knows where the nearest corner-store is that sells beer or rakı. Rakı, pronounced [raˈkɯ] is Turkey's wonderfully flavorful version of ouzo or pastis. Add ice and up to half water, and the clear licorice flavored alcohol turns a milk white and maintains a pleasantly strong flavor. 

On a related note, I had some friends walk around to try to have a night on the town (beer included), and they found several bars full of Turkish men hanging out drinking and having popcorn. Upon sitting down the group was served four ice cold mugs of apple juice. It wasn't exactly what they had in mind, but they politely had some apple juice and and popcorn before continuing their search.
I just enjoyed the image of a bunch of Turkish dudes having a great time, hanging out, and getting rowdy without the necessity of beer. You can't keep people from wanting to hang out with friends and have a good time.

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