Ankara streets are laid out like a [INSERT TEXT HERE].
No, that wasn’t a mistake. The street map is so crazy, I couldn’t think of anything to write! So feel free to comment with your suggestions!
It’s amazing to me sometimes that anyone finds anything. And yet, we do!
This is my version of how a Turk gets directions:
Driver: How do I get to point x?
1: blows Driver off with one short sentence.
D: Pretends he understands and drives for 2 minutes. Sees another person. Asks for directions.
2: Gives really lengthy directions, doesn’t mention any street names.
D: Pretends to understand. Drives away.
This goes on for some time until the driver miraculously stumbles into the correct neighborhood. He goes to a taxi stand and asks again.
Taxi: You just passed it.
I really don’t know how Turks do it! But I just love to see it done!
Now here’s how we foreigners do it:
1- We ask beforehand, what’s the address?
2- We plug it into our GPS.
3- We get nothing, so we pull up Google Maps online.
4- We get nothing. So we reach out to other expats. We get tons of answers, many that may as well be in another language.
5 – Finally, we decide to go to some other place we already know instead.
I truly admire the Turks ability to get around this city. Honestly, I’m not afraid to get out there, and get lost, either. I do rely on my GPS quite a bit. When I bought maps for Turkey, three years ago, they only covered about 60% of the roads. But that’s not so bad especially in the big cities.
There are a few problems for us foreigners when it comes to Turkish addresses. First, there’s not really a standard method of writing an address here. It’s pretty willy-nilly, sometimes getting names of apartment buildings, sometimes neighborhoods, etc.
But even more so, many streets in neighborhoods are numbered. Numbered with 4 digits!! And they often have an old number and a new number. So your Turkish friend may give you the old street number, because that’s what everyone does, when in fact your navigation device is using the new number. Or vice versa.
Americans are not much better in this area. We say things like “turn left where the old Mobil Station used to be.” Hmmmm. If it’s not there anymore, how would I know where to turn?
Another issue is we often will see two street names listed together as an address. We have no idea what that means. So we assume the first street is the address. Wrong! The first street is the cross street (or the main road nearby). The second street listing is actually the address.
And here’s my biggest problem. Friends and family who speak a little English will always give you the Turkish street name followed by the English word “Street”. That just doesn’t work if I want to look up the directions. Think about it, in English we have street, avenue, boulevard, pike, alley, highway, route . . . and more. Turkish is no different. So if you tell me it’s 1521 Street, I’m going to type in 1521 Sokak. I may or may not end up at the right place. It’s possible that I end up many miles away because I actually needed 1521 Cad. (This is a true story although the number is not accurate.)
One is a little luckier in an area like GOP if you are looking for Uğur Mumcu. The Sokak lays right behind the Cad. But don’t try telling your cab driver you want Uğur Mumcu Sokak. He will surely think you have no idea what you want and take you to the Cad. instead. It happens to me every week!
Finally, if using a GPS, BEWARE! When they tell you that you still need to obey traffic rules, you do! It may seem like the Turkish traffic police never pull anyone over. But if there are three of them, and they are already out of the car, and they aren’t on a tea break, and you make an illegal turn on Ataturk Bulvari, they will pull you over! And don’t think those dreamy light blue eyes are going to get you out of a ticket either! Believe me, it’s been tested! (Perhaps they will in a less populated area though).