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Advantages and Disadvantages of Visiting Turkey At This Time

Advantages and Disadvantages of Visiting Turkey At This Time

Old Apr 25th, 2014, 08:16 PM
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That's bad!! Well-to-do + uninterested parents is even a worse combination.
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Old Apr 30th, 2014, 10:29 AM
  #182  
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Lastest on May 1. :

We have what amounts to Martial law in istanbul for the area between Tunel-Sisli- Nisantasi-Besiktas-Taksim as of 01 AM May 1.

there are 19,000 police stationed in taksim and at approachs to the square with 50 armoured water cannon vehicles.

there will be no tram or metrobus or metro to and from the city center until the Governor (of the occupational forces?) lifts the martial law. The ferry landings of Besiktas and Karakoy will also be out of service.

The main opposition party, The Turkish Medical Association, The Turkish Union of Chambers of Architects and Engineers, The Union of Turkish Bar Associations, Turkish Youth Council and a number of other NGOs will be trying to meet at Besiktas and march towards Taksim square.

The more radical labour unions will be meeting at Sisli and attempting to walk to Taksim through halaskargazi and Cumhuriyet streets.

A radical Islamic group against all corruption, police brutality and supporting freedom of opinion and belief will be marching from Sishane. near Tunel and hoping to reach Taksim that way.

It seems that istiklal street is being spared any confrontation, but one never knows.

Some volunteer health workers are already setting up emergency first aid stations and storing supplies just in case there is confrontation and police brutality.

There should be unbiased live coverage on CNNTurk, Ulusal Kanal and Halk TV. Almost all other TVs will be toeing the government line and should not be accepted as unbiased.

We will be stuck at home, very close to Taksim and hopefully I will be able to dissuade DW from rushing up to the square to protest.
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Old Apr 30th, 2014, 12:08 PM
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geez, keep us posted & stay safe.
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Old May 1st, 2014, 09:08 AM
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It is about 8PM on May 1. Traffic has started flowing at Besiktas and partially through levent, mecidiyekoy and Sisli.

Taksim is still barricaded by the police, but some of the 19,000 police are packing up to go back to the provinces they came from after taking some selfies against the empty taksim square background.

Istiklal seemed mostly deserted with all shops closed.

We stayed home, watching TV. DD had to go to work although it is officially a holiday. The Istanbul Governor read a lousy poem he or someone else had written for this day on TV. Opposition party MPs were beaten and dragged by the police when they tried to protect some of the young people the police attempted to protect, including one female MP with a robotic leg who has received freedom and courage awards in the past.
Many children and others who stayed home suffered from pepper gas which was extensively used in residential side streets by police chasing marchers they had disbanded by pressurised chemical water.

All this came just a few days after the German President criticized the authoritarianism of the turkish government and the distance put between the EU and Turkey in terms of human rights and freedoms, during a visit where he talked not only with the Turkish president andf PM but with the opposition and some NGOs and universities.
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Old May 2nd, 2014, 05:48 PM
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Dear OC,
I never read this thread before today, I knew nothing about you and suddenly I know a lot about you. I live in the US but grew up in South America, and somehow your recounts of what goes on in Turkey is so reminiscent of what I lived through in my country of birth!

I truly Thank You for posting as you do, informing people who have no inkling of what it's like to live in a society that is not middle America.

One question to you - my husband and I will be taking a cruise, ship is docking in Istanbul and Kusadasi in mid May. Kusadasi excursion is already determined (Ephesus, obviously, and Terrace Houses)
I know what I'd like to visit in Istanbul (Blue Mosque and Aya Sofya, but I'm afraid we will not have enough time in port to do both. I'd also like to visit Topkapi Palace, never mind that it would be impossible to do all 3 in barely 7 hours.
Sooooooo .... what should we do? Visit 1? (which?) visit 2? (which 2) I guess the only option is to return and give each place, and so many others, a proper visit.
But reality is ... we only have this trip for now.

Thank you so much for your insights. Stay safe.
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Old May 2nd, 2014, 05:59 PM
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screen_name,
If you have 7 hrs in Istanbul you definitely have time for 2 of the 3. Do the 7 hrs include the time from and back to the ship?
Click on my name, you'll find a trip report with pictures, so maybe it will give you an idea of which 2 to pick. Topkapi takes about 4 hrs, Aya Sofya 1-2, and the Blue Mosque less than an hr (but it closes for prayer, so you might need to wait to get in). They are close to each other...so if you rush them, you might be able to fit all 3. Not my personal choice, but I understand you want to get the most out of this trip.
HOpefully you will love Istanbul and come back in the future (I know we will). Have a great trip.
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Old May 2nd, 2014, 07:01 PM
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Thanks so much xyz
Yes, 7 hrs include time from and back to ship.
We are expected to dock at 8 am and sail out at 7 pm, so I figured 10 am to 5 pm in Istanbul ... 7 hrs give or take.

I'm so looking forward to this port, I can;t tell you. I'm not sure we will have another chance to ever see Turkey and its magnificence ... DH is 75 yrs old .... and I'm no spring chicken either
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Old May 3rd, 2014, 05:16 AM
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I don't think you have time for all 3 then...but you might try just the harem at Topkapi, not the whole thing and Aya Sofya (I suggest this over the Blue Mosque). Or the 2 mosques and maybe Basilica Cistern which is close by. You'll have to play it by ear, just go prepared with some google maps to know where things are. You'll love it, no matter what you pick.
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Old May 3rd, 2014, 05:46 AM
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Your biggest issue will be lines if you don't have a museum pass. When the cruises dock thousands of people descend upon Sultanhamet. It gets very crowded and most major sites have long lines. I agree with xyz's suggestions of what to see. Also buy a museum pass to skip the lines.
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Old May 3rd, 2014, 03:38 PM
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Thank you both (xyz and yestravel)
Aya Sophya and only parts of Topkapi. Got it.

I'll check whether this combination is one of the shore excursions offered by the ship. I assume (but will make certain once we board) passes are provided - they MUST know about long lines! Then again, ... if DH and I go at it alone, we would need passes ahead of time.
Thanks again,
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Old May 14th, 2014, 06:29 AM
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It is now about 20 hours since the disaster at Soma, Manisa coal mine disaster. The head count is about 300 but the total number of workers about 500-2000 meters underground is estimated at 780. Unfortunately there seems to be no hope for any of them coming out live.

The PM went to the site to give a speech, protected by 3,500 police in addition to his hundreds of personal bodyguards.

He gave examples from UK, USA and China and mining disasters of the 18th Century !!!!!! and said, "accidents like these are usual for this profession. In 1907, 370 died in a mining accident in America despite all its developed technology." A very apt example for the stupid and ignorant.

The major opposition had made a motion to establish a parliamentary commisiion to investigate safety and security at Soma mines only a month ago. This motion was disregarded and overruled by government votes. The PM also lied saying that the motion did not mention Soma. I just retweeted in Turkish a copy of the motion which is basically about Soma and mentions the Soma coal mines four times.

Protests have started in Izmir at least four spots in Ankara (at Middle East Technical University first) in Istanbul, at Galatasaray and the location of the offices of the mining company. There will be work stoppage by the public sector worker labour unions tomorrow, and other syndicates and unions may join.

Turkey is one of the countries leading in work related accidents resulting in deaths and major injuries.

The government spokesman had commented "it was a pleasant death" for those who died at the last mining accident in Zonguldak.

Tonight, there will be a nationwide protest, by turning off all electricity for lighting, heating, A/C, TV, computers, etc. in homes. It will be interesting to see how many will have heard the call and/or followed the act since we have a very wide view of a reasonably large part of the city from our balcony.

Eser wants to march up to Taksim again. Says it will be good exercise for me. -


It is too early to tell how these events will affect travelers to istanbul, but my advice is not to stay near Taksim, at Istiklal and Tarlabasi areas. I was going to make this recommendation after May 25th but decided to post the warning early, just in case.

As usual, Nisantasi, Sultanahmet, IST airport area and the Bosphorus should be free of any problems. Transportation to and from SAW may suffer due to increased traffic bottlenecks if there are protests.

I very strongly recommend anyone renting a car in Istanbul to drive anywhere points South to leave Istanbul by one of the five car ferries :

- Yenikapi to Yalova purchase tickets 24-72 hrs prior
- Yenikapi to Bursa (Mudanya) "
- Yenikapi to Bandirma "

- Pendik to Yalova purchase tickets by phone or online 2-24 hrs. prior
- Eskihisar (Darica) to Topcular (13 kilometers from Yalova)
No advance purchase needed. Runs continuously.
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Old May 14th, 2014, 06:36 AM
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Reason for last recommendation regarding ferry is that there is major road work between Gebze and Korfez 0n TEM motorway from Istanbul, which is expected to last until some time in August.

All traffic is diverted to E5 which cannot handle it, resulting in huge lines.

DW will be flying to Chicago to care for DW who will have to go through a surgery on June 2, coming bak after about two weeks.

We plan to go together again about early August and stay almost 40 days. The first time we will see and enjoy our condo which was rented since we bought it just over a year ago.
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Old May 14th, 2014, 07:41 AM
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Latest, on the spot TV coverage shows growing crowds chanting for resignation of the PM and his government.

The government response is to bring water cannons and police to close off access to taksim on Istiklal Street and any access to gezi park.

Police have attcked students at Middle east techmical university with water, pepper gas and plastic bullets.

Not as big as last June's protests, but growing.
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Old May 14th, 2014, 07:57 AM
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Thank you for the updates O - we arrive to IST on 5/16 and are staying in Sultanahmet area. We had planned to explore the Taksim area on Sunday, the 18th - I know you can't say for sure, but would you expect protests and such to go on thruout the weekend. Maybe we need to think our daily plans.

Thanks for the great advice you gave on dining habits on my post the other day!
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Old May 14th, 2014, 08:06 AM
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And strikes by unions and public service workers? will this affect the airport? tram? sights like Topkapi Palace? I'm still excited to be heading to Istanbul but am a bit nervous about disruptions. It does sound like the PM needs a new speech writer and major lessons in empathy!
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Old May 14th, 2014, 08:41 AM
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Latest, on the spot TV coverage shows growing crowds chanting for resignation of the PM and his government.

The government response is to bring water cannons and police to close off access to taksim on Istiklal Street and any access to gezi park.

Police have attcked students at Middle east techmical university and at central Ankara with water, pepper gas and plastic bullets.

Not as big as last June's protests, but growing.
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Old May 14th, 2014, 08:48 AM
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Otherchelebi, your help on this forum is very much appreciated.
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Old May 14th, 2014, 09:00 AM
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Thank you for the updates. Very sorry to learn of the scope of this national tragedy.
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Old May 14th, 2014, 09:03 AM
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Sorry about duplicate post.

It is a pleasure to give advice on dining hours. re habits, just do not change the fork to your right hand for moving the food to your mouth after cutting it or gathering it, like quite a few Americans (including my SIL who continues old habits when i am not watching) That will attract some glances at decent eateries and surreptitious snickers at upscale ones.

suec1, public transportation is mostly municipal and the buses are partially private enterprise.

i have not heard of any strike by municipal worker unions. the main Union calling for the strike is related to the central govenment in Ankara.

You should not have any problems getting to your hotel or anyplace at or around Sultanahmet.

The 15 th may be an exciting or interesting day. Check CNNTurkey and HalkTV news (in Turkish but you may get some translation at your hotel)

Sundays are almost always laid back and the time for people from outskirts of istanbul to come to taksim and istiklal area for sightseeing. It may be crowded but definitely free of protests unless somehow the government is seen as being at fault regarding the accident and protests and police intervention grow out of proportion. However, you will know beforehand since something like that will be a continuation of saturday's events rather than something starting on Sunday.

I believe you will be fine, as I keep watching the TV coverages.
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Old May 14th, 2014, 09:10 AM
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ealier post about Eser going to Chicago was to take care of DD, Ceylan, whose picture is now available on my profile (possibly from ten years ago, but what is ten years between friends or between father and daughter.) Our father daughter relations with both DDs have always been like Castle and Alexis from the series.
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