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Istanbul Turkey safe budget hotels

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We are two couples in early 60's traveling to Istanbul Turkey for the first time in May 2013. We are on a budget but safety is our number one concern. We are not familiar with this part of the world. How safe is travel in Istanbul and in rural areas of Turkey. We have nine nights and would like to see some small typical villages. We like independent travel and would like suggestions on day trips using public transportation. Thanks.

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