February 22, 2012 by

“Men of Istanbul love black women”: my thoughts on random men I met

19 comments

Categories: Asia, Europe, Travel Advice, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

This entry is part 5 of 9 in the series The Istanbul, Turkey Experience

(disclaimer: I am only referring to men I met in the touristy areas. I met some wonderful Turkish men outside of the touristy areas that I will not include in this post:)

Before I went to Istanbul many people warned me that Turkish men love black women. Be careful they said. It was confirmed. Many men came up to me specifically to let me know that they loved African women. lol I’ve had really interesting experiences in Italy and Istanbul was no different. I think that in any country, men like new, unique, exotic looks. Yes it can be a great confidence builder when random men propose to you in the streets in front of alot of people! (happened to me last year in Venice,Italy) But, I also believe that at the core of men, they are all looking for the same thing, cross culturally.. It’s their different approaches that makes travelling solo as a woman so fascinating and sometimes challenging.

EVERYONE KEPT ASKING ME WHY I DIDN’T HAVE A TURKISH BOYFRIEND YET… DAY 1 and 2. I was trying really really hard NOT to come back to the U.S with a Turkish boyfriend!

I think as a seasoned traveler I come with a wealth of common sense and experiences that I picked up along the way. In Istanbul I could definitely see how a young inexperienced naive girl could get into a lot of trouble. When I was alone in the touristy areas I ran into all sorts of charming, passionate, witty, Turkish seducers. These were beautiful men! They don’t just come up to you and ask you for their number. I had men coming up to me, reciting poetry, making me laugh, telling me how painfully beautiful I was, bowing to me, yearning for me, just doing the most romantic things you read of in books and say.. “That doesn’t happen in Chicago”. The passion was overwhelming. Half of them swear they fell in love at first sight. I had one guy who was so insistent and said such beautiful things to me and made such a show in the street that people stopped to look. At the end after my insistence that I had to go he invited me to his restaurant and said ” Be careful out there, there are a lot of bad men out there who will try to talk to you….just be very very careful…until you see me again”. I started cracking up as I walked away. He was so truthful:) Its all part of the fun, just be careful.

Otherwise, I also met many very respectful men. Who were very very sweet. Gentlemanly.. I had people pay for my lunch, free dinners at restaurants, give me extra Turkish delights, buy me coffee, open my doors, hail me taxi’s, let me skip lines,give me their wifi codes!!, give me directions by taking me.. I had one guy that I met on the ferry, basically carry all my luggage and help me find my friends house and it was 30 minutes out of his way… Just really, really nice men. I learned a lot from these men. They may have approached me because of an initial attraction, but when we would speak, they realized that I was a lot deeper than my looks. I was always able to receive and share valuable information. Countless deep conversations about their lives, philosophy, money, religion, politics. I learned so much about Muslim religion! Very valuable conversations for me.

Words of Advice:
First it starts with the stare… be ready for the stares. When I was in Vienna I let the stares get to me but now I’m used to them. People stare and men stare especially hard. In Istanbul there is no difference. I got onto the ferry and I really am not joking when I say that every person I could see on that ferry was staring at me, for the whole 15 minute ride…It sounds egotistical I know but trust me…People stare that openly when you happen to be the only black person in a 10 maybe 50 mile radius.

American ways/British ways : I think as Americans/British:we are too polite. I always have to remind myself of this when I am in a new city, but old habits die hard. For those that know me, I paid a lot of money for my smile and I smile a lot. Unfortunately in some countries smiling is an invitation even as you say no. By the end of my first night alone I had reminders on why I shouldn’t smile too much, but sometimes growl in tourist sections. Men were following me…trying to sell me something or take me to their stores…no matter how much I said no. I realized I was being way too polite. When men would approach me to get my number or tell me I was beautiful…same principle. When you smile and say no I don’t want your number you might be sending mixed messages.

Well that’s it for now….share with me what you think!!!? Comment below.

Also when you have a chance, check out a fellow American blogger living in Istanbul: http://siyahinturkey.blogspot.com/2013/03/a-few-things-i-learned-since-being-in.html
Series Navigation<< Travel to Istanbul: Restaurants in Istanbul Turkey<< Travel to Istanbul: Mistaken for BeyonceCall to Prayer in Istanbul Turkey >>

As a child of immigrant parents always dreaming of their homeland and a young American child living in England; I always knew the world was much bigger than my sphere. I've always been determined to explore it and learn more about the cultures, languages, customs, mindsets, and mode of operation for this global world. How do people around the world love, care, and treat each other? I travel to live as a local and immerse myself as much as possible. As my travels increase I peel back the layers of societies, cultures and myself. Follow my journey as I travel this entire world for the rest of my life. Sometimes alone, sometimes with friends, maybe one day with a family, but I will continue. Vivian is an avid "professional" traveler and not only contributes to www.lonelytripping.com but will also be releasing a series of e-books for solo-travelers.

19 Responses to “Men of Istanbul love black women”: my thoughts on random men I met

  1. Pingback: Istanbul, Turkey. Why you will love this city! - LonelyTripping

  2. Golda Kraus

    That is so funny and so completely true as I was in Istanbul July 11-21, 2012. Men were comimg up to me telling me how beautiful I was. The staring was startling at first!! The people are amazing and I really enjoyed myself. I became so accustomed to men drooling over me that when I arrived in US and departed the plane and noone was drooling;I said to myself you’re back in Kansas. Hahaha

      • Dani

        True that. I’m a traditional Brazilian, brown. In my country nobody cares about my type of beauty, they like the blondes. Wherever else , they love my brown beauty. I say ‘ whatever rocks their boat’ … Lol

  3. Bshani

    You are hilarious and at the same time inspiring for solo travelers. Been living in the east for the past couple years and thinking about trying Istanbul!

      • Constanza Yael

        I loved reading our story about Istanbul as I plan to go there very soon. Thank you for sharing they may be staring but I met a very sweet honest man online that I will be visiting.

        • Vivian Nwakah Post author

          Be really careful….visit and understand where you are before you meet up with a stranger. Make sure this person is verified and trustworthy and never put yourself in a position where you are out of control when you meet someone from the Internet! Istanbul is great but…just like other developing cities it’s not so safe everywhere and every person. I would meet in a public place like a restaurant or coffee shop in the touristy area of town first! There was a woman who died from New York recently so I want to make sure you think really carefully about your choice first!

  4. Olamide

    I’m in turkey at the moment with my parents and i must admit the stares get on my damn nerves, but they are really sweet people, random people come up to me to take pictures with their children! Children for christ sake, not only the men, the children are very sweet and ADORABLE!!!

    • Vivian Nwakah Post author

      Haha yes the staring can be very odd, I just realize it doesn’t typically come from a negative place:) Otherwise I hope you have an amazing time in Turkey, I loved the culture, the people,the food, the beauty!

  5. Krys

    Me & my friend definitely experienced this and LOVED IT! Came back to the states like What the heck?!?! Ugh….definitely going back!!

  6. ross

    I wish I’d read this post before coming to istanbul. It would have prepared me for all the attention. I’m still out here and have become accustomed to it. I’m on my way to Greece in 2 days. I wonder if it would be the same.

  7. Anne Chia

    Wish I had read your post before my trip. Just left Turkey yesterday,I was in Istanbul with my sister for a week,and your experience was the exact same one we had. “Hi Chocolate girls”, “You are so beautiful” “Let me buy you lunch”, and it went on and on. People were grabbing us and making us take photos with them and their families (although I think those people may have been from Iraq and Saudi Arabia),there’s fascination with black skin across the middle-east and the North as well. It was flattering and irritating at the same time. Did you notice how nobody seemed to care in certain areas of the city? I went to Khadikoy,and Istanbul Forum,and it wasn’t as forward as the treatment in Sultanahmet and Taksim. Such a beautiful country though.

  8. Esther

    Hi !!!!! :)
    I live in Kurdistan which is in Iraq but considered to be another country because the kurdish don’t want to mix with the Arabic . I get stares A LOT. I feel really uncomfortable. Well I’ve been living here for 2 years now anyway so I guess I’m a bit used to it.. But I’m going to Turkey for a WHOLE MONTH I’m August with my best friend and when I found out about the same staring problem again, I felt kind of upset. Especially its going to be for 4 weeks. Any tips and advice ?

  9. Dani

    I’m in San Francisco now. I got in a cab today and the driver was a very nice turkish man. It was a 30 min drive and I was amazed for how polite and fun the driver was; but I had absolutely no sexual interest on him. I was polite and smiley. I think I sent the wrong message to him by mistake. When I arrived at my destination, De Young Museum, the cab driver insisted to buy me a coffee. He wanted me to go to the coffee house at the museum with him, and insisted with a fusion of politeness and desperation. I told ‘ No thank you’ about 10 times, but he wouldn’t accept. I finally left him and walked away. I felt bad by doing this to such a nice person, but I felt uncomfortable with his exaggeration.

  10. Alexandra

    You’ve correct about the stares, but it is all harmless. I’m a seasoned traveller to Turkey due to my husband being Turkish.

  11. Wallis

    I’m black here in America I don’t want a foreign man I just want to fall in love!!! I’m happy that you’ve had the experience and have found someone. Now just pray for me…..

  12. sharr630

    I’m actually in Istanbul now and have been for 2 months. Yeah, the men seem to have a fetish for black women but like you said, people often what is rare or unique in their own culture. However, I see plenty of black people around (I live in Kurtulus), mostly Africans but also the occasional American/Canadian. I see enough black people that I am never self-conscious about being a brown person, which is a great feeling.

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