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Category: Travel

What’s Up With All The Cats In Istanbul?

Anybody who’s been, lives in, or will be visiting Istanbul, Turkey, is sure to know about its resident cats. They are everywhere in neighborhoods in various configurations – draped over car roofs napping, sleeping in small homes outside of apartments, or living in city’s most popular tourist site. (With a very popular Instagram account I might add.)

It’s estimated there are over 130,000 Felis catus in Istanbul but why? You can watch the introduction to Istanbul’s cats in the video here or read on.

Classy Cats

Cats in the busiest parts of Istanbul have an outdoor but relatively good life. Neighborhood cats are often fed by the humans living around them who leave food out in bowls. Local cats may even get there own little cat houses usually at the food of apartment entrances for shelter.

istanbul cat

In many ways, the cats seem to own the city. They meander in and out of shops, sleeping where they choose, even if its a busy escalator. Watch out hoomans! One particularly popular chubby feline even got a statue built in her honor after passing away in 2016.

Collective Pets

Most of the cats are friendly particularly in the parks where they’re fed by city workers. Don’t have a cat but wouldn’t mind hanging out and petting one – many of the cats will appreciate your extra attention. As Legal Nomads noticed on her visit,

The truth is, of course, that there are many cats Turkey and Istanbul was awash in cats also. Many were well-fed and clean, and  almost all were affectionate. To be sure, the cats slimmed down and dirtied-up when I walked outside the busier zones of the city into the immigrant areas – parts of Fatih, for example. In those laundry-strewn, narrow streets the cats were more feral, more hungry and certainly less curious. But one constant remained: there were cats everywhere.

I’ve focused a lot on the cats but there nearly as many stray dogs as well. They too are fed in parks with ear tags indicating they’ve had their shots and are spayed or neutered. For cats, a small cut in the ear means the same.

Paws To Agree On

Getting a majority of people or politicians to agree on many things in a city of 15 million isn’t easy except when it comes to Istanbul’s cats. A pretty adorable part of Istanbul for a long time, these street cats have done what many indoor cats do, simply endeared themselves to their human pets.

How To Travel To Every Country In The World

foxnomad podcast

It’s been a long standing goal of mine – and this blog – to travel to every country in the world. Although I still have a ways to go in my journey, Stefan Krasowski recently accomplished his objective in 2019, finishing with the last two countries on his list: Yemen and Syria.

On Episode 26 of the foXnoMad Podcast, Stefan and I discussed why he decided to visit every country in the world, some of the frequent flyer strategies he used to cut costs, and how he got into Syria overland. Some other highlights:

  • Common frequent flyer mile mistakes many travelers make potentially costing you free upgrades and flights. (Even if you don’t fly so… frequently!)
  • What does it feel like being foreign in China, where Stefan lived for 8 years.
  • Being very likely the first person granted a tourist visa for Syria in 2019.
  • How U.S. border officials reacted upon his return from Yemen and Syria.

Stefan also talks about his guide in Syria, a Palestinian refugee, and her struggles as a stateless person. It’s a touching story that’s a reminder of the power travel can have in connecting us all.

Thank you Stefan for being a guest on the podcast. You can join other travelers looking to visit every country on his Facebook group Every Passport Stamp, and find him on YouTube.

Is DJI’s Trade Up Program Worth It?

DJI, arguably the most popular producer of consumer drones has a buyback program called Trade Up, where you can send in an old drone for credit toward a new one. It sounds like an alluring option if you’re looking to upgrade your drone but as you can see in the video here, it’s probably not your best choice.

How Trade Up Works

The Trade Up program accepts more than just drones, DJI does take back a variety of smartphones and GoPros for example, but let’s focus on the drone buyback. Visiting this Trade Up program page, you enter the model of drone, serial number, general condition, and any accessories you’ll be giving back as well. The process take a few minutes; afterward you’ll get an estimated price for your old drone. In my case, I was shown $275.60 for a Mavic Pro 1.

Assuming you accept this initial estimate, you have 10 days to send your drone back to DJI for a final inspection. Unlike Apple’s iPhone Trade-In, DJI won’t send you a prepaid box. Although they do pay for shipping, you’ll have to box and pack your drone for DJI with your own materials.

Once DJI Gets Your Used Drone

After a DJI receives your used drone, they send an email to confirm which says it will take 3-5 business. They get back to you after an inspection and in my case, the original estimate was reduced to $41. Considering they were covering shipping at $36, I rejected the offer.

dji mavic drone

In case you accept an offer, they keep your drone and apply the final amount to your DJI account as store credit. Otherwise, as they did when I rejected the final offer, they’ll send your drone back typically after 10 business days.

Alternative Ways To Sell Your Old Drone

Given the pitiful $41 DJI was offering me, I decided to try my luck on eBay. Doing so after a week I sold my drone for $448. That’s nearly double the first estimate DJI gave me and 10 times what they would have actually credited me. Selling directly on a site like eBay will typically give you better rates than manufacturer buyback programs.

To compete, companies usually make their programs quick, convenient, or reliable enough to warrant the lower rates. DJI’s Trade Up program isn’t any of those things enough to make it the best option for selling back your old drone. (Their repair service though is another story.) Sure, you can check to see their estimate online but it’s a good idea to try other sites as well. It’s very likely you’ll get a lot more back (and not just in store credit) if you skip Trade Up altogether.

What It’s Like Visiting A Gun Show In America

There are over 60 gun shows in the United States over a given weekend and I attended one that takes place right outside of Washington D.C. The Nation’s Gun Show is a large expo where people can purchase firearms but there’s a lot more than just weapons which keeps bringing people back.

You can see my experience in the video above or read on.

Pandemic Interest

Gun sales have surged since the coronavirus pandemic and every state can regulate gun shows based on their individual mandates. In Virginia, where The Nation’s Gun Show takes place, masks were mandatory indoors and most in line outside were wearing them. Signs reminding people to social distance were conspicuous as were those saying “Enter At Your Own Risk” due to Covid-19.

the nation's gun show

The large halls inside the Dulles Expo Center gave people plenty of space when walking around – the show was busy but not crowded – but most of the congregating was around the gun vendor tables. In particular, around the semi-automatic gun vendor tables.

Looking Around

None of the guns were loaded – vendors or otherwise; there were signs stating not to bring loaded firearms inside – but a few visitors wearing bulletproof vests with rifles strapped to their backs. A bit unnerving at first if you’re not used to being around so many guns but after a short while that feeling wears off. Vendors (notably younger ones) taking apart guns for assembly demonstrations, answering questions about ranges, use, gun quarks… all of what you might expect at a gun show.

the nation's gun show

Surrounding that though were booths explaining the gun laws in various states, as well the regulations for Washington D.C. Cards were handed out in line explaining the gun laws in Virginia, where you can carry a gun, open-carry, concealed, what those terms mean.

Gun Culture

Looking back at you around the gun show are soldiers from the paintings of Civil War battles, America’s Founding Fathers with quotes about freedom and liberty underneath their portraits. As you move around the show floor with the crackle of tasers being demonstrated in the background, vendors come up and ask if you’re registered to vote.

The Republican banners around the voter registration booths, not to mention plentiful Donald Trump banners around, make it obvious who most of the vendors are supporting in any given election. After registering to vote, you can vote for whoever you want in an election, but the idea is to get as many people voting as possible. At The Nation’s Gun Show though, the biggest barrier to voting in the U.S. – registration – is made easy and extremely likely to mean a vote for a Republican candidate.

Revisiting The Show

The Nation’s Gun Show is a large 3 day event but it’s not all gun sales keeping it from recurring once a month on average. There’s a lot more than weapons on a sale here, it’s a community not too unlike other forms of fandom. Guns might get you through the door the first time but everything surrounding them back over and over again.

When Will Travel Return To Normal After Covid?

foxnomad podcast nora dunn

With tourism projected to drop by up to 80% in 2020 due to coronavirus, many people in the industry are wondering if and how things might bounce back. The disruptions to travel have also made it difficult for those living abroad, working location independent, or digital nomads in general plan for the future.

To discuss where travel might go and when you might get to go… you know, to all those fun places you’re dreaming of, I spoke with Nora Dunn on a recent episode of the foXnoMad Podcast. Nora traveled full-time for over a decade and her insights were both interesting and optimistic – and who couldn’t use a little more optimism these days? It’s a conversation you’ll enjoy – listen above and subscribe to the foXnoMad Podcast here.

Turkish Vegan Recipe: How To Cook Mercimek Koftesi (Lentil Balls)

There are a lot of traditional Turkish dishes that are vegetarian or vegan in their original form. A popular local dish I‘ve mentioned before is mercimek (mer-ji-mek) koftesi (kouf-te-si), which are spicy lentil balls with onions and a few other ingredients. Last time I had my mom join a live chat here on the site to show you tips on preparing lentil balls.

For this recipe, I figured it even better to make a video with my mom showing you how to make mercimek koftesi so you can cook them for yourself, friends, or family any time you like. You can see the entire process in the video here.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Adjust as needed, just make sure to keep the ratios in proportion.

  • 4 cups red lentils
  • 2 cups thin bulgur rice
  • 8 cups water
  • 3 onions
  • 3 bundles spring onions
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons mint
  • 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons red pepper paste (spicy)

Total Cooking Time

With preparation, about 3 hours.

Any Questions?

Overall these lentil balls are a good side dish you can make to go along with any meal. They’re completely vegan in their original recipe so if you’re traveling in Turkey, it’s a good best if you come across mercimek koftesi there will be no animal products in it.

Let us know if you have any questions in the comments below and if you’d like to see more recipes on YouTube!

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About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutHi, I'm Anil. foXnoMad is where I combine travel and tech to help you travel smarter. I'm on a journey to every country in the world and you're invited to join the adventure! Read More

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