ISTANBUL - Turkish Daily News
The sudden hike in temperature in the past few weeks is a not-so-subtle reminder that summer in Turkey is right around the corner.
After all, June is the month that has historically seen average temperatures rise all over the country, from Istanbul to Ankara and beyond. Summer is the favorite season of most Turks, as well as the millions of travelers who flock to Turkey to enjoy the benefits of cool seas and warm beaches. For those of us without yazliks (summer houses) or available long holidays, however, summer presents an interesting challenge, especially when stuck in the city. Istanbul, in particular, can be excruciating in the summer, as the humidity, as well as the temperature, rises.
One of the first and most pleasant solutions for beating the heat is to simply go up. Istanbul has countless rooftop terrace bars and restaurants, most of which have shade, cool breezes, and cold drinks. Throw in a Bosporus view and most people would have a hard time finding a more enjoyable way to pass their time in Istanbul, much less than in any other city in the world. There's really nothing like discovering a new terrace with beautiful views of both the Asian and European sides of the city. Terraces and balconies become luxuries in the summertime, as we enjoy looking out at the city while enjoying the cool winds coming from the Marmara Sea. Although Istanbul sprawls out in every direction, from above it seems majestic; the frenetic pace of life on the street below is easily forgotten.
Of course, if you can't go up, you can always go indoors. Most of the larger malls and shopping centers have air conditioning, which is a welcome relief on scorching hot days. The only problem for me is that as an American, I am used to the subzero, Antarctic-like air conditioning that exists in the majority of malls in the United States. In California for example, during the summer the temperature difference between indoors and outdoors feels like the difference between summer and winter. Outside, the sun beats down and sweat beads up on foreheads easily. Passing through the doors of a mall makes you wish you had somehow carried your winter coat with you. The sweat on your brow vaporizes almost instantly as you walk into the wall of freezing air waiting just beyond the front doors. It's refreshing, yet somewhat shocking.
The same cannot be said in Turkey. Due to several factors, such as the high price of electricity and cultural dislike of cold air blowing directly onto oneself, air conditioning is usually not on a subzero setting. Instead, it's on a comfortable, cool level that suits most people. According to a study done by REHVA (Federation of European Heating, Ventilating and Air-conditioning Associations), people are generally most comfortable, awake, and productive when the indoor temperature is a moderate 22 degrees Celsius. In the workplace, their study reported that for every 1degree Celsius change from 22 degrees Celsius, either a reduction or increase, suggested a reduction of work performance by about 1 percent.
Perhaps shopping centers keep the temperature around 22 degrees, but I've always felt as though they keep it slightly higher. Of course, I can't be sure about it, I only know that it takes about 10 minutes to cool down upon entering a Turkish mall versus 2.5 seconds in the United States. Despite this difference in temperatures, any place with air conditioning is a good place to be on a hot and humid day!
Whether you're somewhere indoors or outdoors, you still have to get there somehow. If you have a car, it's simple, although you do have to deal with traffic, parking, and the ever-climbing price of gasoline. Those of us who use public transportation in Istanbul have other battles to fight during the summer: how to stay cool on a bus full of half-melted commuters packed inside like sardines; how not to sweat profusely during the ride, albeit brief, on the metro, and which brand of deodorant is actually going to stand up to the task of keeping its promises during the Turkish summer. The simplest solution I've found is to find someone, usually a man perched on a corner, selling knick knacks and little paper fans. A small paper fan is possibly the best YTL 2 purchase I've ever made! Admittedly, for men it's probably not the most masculine solution, but you could always fold up a magazine or newspaper for the same effect.
Summer in Turkey is amazing. It's hot, it's humid, but in order to get through June through September, it's necessary to prepare for the hot weather. Whether you're on holiday or a resident of Turkey, it's important to find those terraces where you want to spend your weekends and make plans to enjoy the sun. Personally, I'll be looking forward to exploring more of Istanbul and finding some new terraces with Bosporus views to enjoy a cold drink. There's really nothing like it anywhere else in the world.