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Advantages and Disadvantages of Visiting Turkey At This Time

Advantages and Disadvantages of Visiting Turkey At This Time

Old Jun 8th, 2014, 02:23 PM
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Wow- thanks so much for all the information! I know in most cities the embassies are always in prime locations.

I had read elsewhere about traffic problems in Nisantasi so I'm glad to get your opinion.

St Regis is building a hotel in Nisantasi but it will probably be over our budget. And not sure if it would be worth the transportation hassle anyway.

One more question: why is the US State Dept warning about tuberculosis in Turkey? Is this a problem in Istanbul? We might prefer taxis over public transportation if there's a lot of drug resistant TB. I tried to google it but couldn't get much info (or didn't understand the statistics). Under health category is the statement "TB is a health concern in Turkey."

Thanks so much for your help!
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Old Jun 8th, 2014, 11:34 PM
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Calville, TB started appearing some ten years ago, among the undernourished and porer families. It is not so prevalent as to require a vaccination program by the health authorities and child doctors do not recommend it. there are few cases and I have never met or heard of anyone I know having contacted it.

It may be a little like mononucleosis (kissing disease) hitting the weak or overly protected upon close contact. I would not worry about it.
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Old Jun 9th, 2014, 05:31 AM
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OK thanks- I'm glad to hear it isn't a major problem and hopefully the government has an aggressive oversight program for anyone diagnosed with it to make sure they are taking their medicines and it doesn't progress to the multi- drug resistant variety.
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Old Jun 11th, 2014, 09:40 AM
  #244  
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Things are heating up in Iraq.

The Jihadists who were initially aided, armed, transported and trained by Turkey, United States and European Union to fight Assad in Syria, found a niche and a welcoming group of locals in Iraq which wanted a bigger portion of the pie from the Shi-ites.
They quickly grew in size and, I guess, in duplicity, to start attacking not only Assad but also, first the Syrian Kurds, and then other rebel factions in Syria and now finally, the Iraqi government forces, Iraqi Kurds, Iraqi Turkomans, with the aim of getting control of Iraqi oil.

Yesterday, they took over the Northern oil city of Mosul, and when Turkey, thinking ISIS is their friend, left its large diplomatic mission there rather than evacuating it immediately upon first sign of fighting, ISIS took over the consulate with its 49 people including children and wives. The local ISIS commander said that those taken are kept healthy and comfortable, although it is not clear whether they are hostages or prisoners. There are also 31 truck drivers who were taken by the Al Qaeda.

Turkey may respond by cutting arms and aid and send in forces to recapture the hostages.
This may mean new terrorism risks in Turkey by ISIS, the regional arm of Al Qaeda.

Turkish Wazeer of Foreign Relations called NATO for an extraordinary meeting and also asked for a meeting with Biden.

I am currently at Iznik but am following closely on all developments, on various Turkish and International TV channels and Twitter which gives me access to the press agencies and journalists in the field.
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Old Jun 11th, 2014, 12:46 PM
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Thank you, OC , for that important, albeit grim, report.
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Old Jun 12th, 2014, 06:15 AM
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Terrible news and especially terrible to think we helped fund them! I don't recall seeing capture of Turkish consular employees in US news reports yesterday- very interesting and awful.
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Old Jun 12th, 2014, 11:33 AM
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Thanks Marnie, calville and all others who read and felt for the hostages.

There are no definite news but rumor is that the drivers will be released soon as a result of completion of ransom negotiations. there are also fifty or more other drivers taking refuge at gas stations in areas controled or possibly to be controled by the ISIL (sorry ISIS was wrong abbreviation)

Discussions and negotiations are going on as I write for the Turkish diplomatic mission staff.

The result of this apparently not so unexpected move by ISIL seems to be strengthening of the Kurds in Northern Iraq, with a fait-a-complis Iraqi nation in the offing. It seems that the Kurdish fighters have taken over the strategic locations deserted by the Iraqi army and all the arms left behind, as the only viable force to withstand the ISIL advance. I doubt that they will give those oil rich areas like Kerkuk back to the Iraqi arabs if and when the ISIL danger is dealt with.

On the other hand ISIL may be moving to better control Northern Syria, replacing the Syrian Kurds there and becoming Turkey's next southern neighbour.

ISIL is the Jihadist or terrorist arm of Sunni Islam and may not be committed to the same aims as Al Qaeda.

We know that many of the officers, soldiers and followers of Saddam have joined ISIL. ISIL works more like IKhwan, or the Moslem Brotherhood, using PR and infiltration among the public, hence becoming a bigger threat than Al Qaeda.
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Old Jun 12th, 2014, 11:40 AM
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I hope a sociopath like Erdogan does not think this happened because Turkey is more important than it is.
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Old Jun 12th, 2014, 12:05 PM
  #249  
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IMDonehere, Erdogan only believes in his own importance.

Unfortunately his hate statements and speeches against the other sects and religions in Turkey seems to be preparing this country as a friendly hatching ground for jihadist Sunnis interested in setting up the next Khalifate. He does not believe in the idea of a Nation. he believes in empires, but cannot understand that that is only a fairy tale and not even wishfull thinking.
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Old Jun 12th, 2014, 12:40 PM
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Stay safe. It looks like things could get rough but in a different way.
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Old Jun 19th, 2014, 02:59 AM
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Some interesting developments in and around Turkey:

Travelers advisory continues for Southeastern and Eastern Turkey, not only due to ISIS activity in Iraq somehow expanding over the Turkish border but the peace process between the Turkish government and the Turkish/Kurdish Terrorist(?) guerilla(?) PKK fighters having stalled for a while.

There are also enmities and issues between Syrian Kurds, Northern Iraqi Kurdish government of Barzani and the PKK, all of which are also fighting or against ISIS, but traying to garner advantage of the weakness of the Iraqi government and the problems in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, to gain more power and carve out some extra land for new future countries.

EU and US seem to be watching. Turkey appears very ineffectual in interfering or even in saving over 100 hostage Turks including 49 taken from the Turkish Consulate in Mosul. Turkey has even declared a ban on all media and internet coverage on the subject of these hostages, possibly to hide the government's weakness in view of the August 2014 Presidential elections, in which the current PM is expected to be the governments and his own choice for candidate.

On the other hand, locally,

1. The two major opposition parties came out with a surprise presidential candidate which put gags on all ruling party spokesmen including the PM. He is a secular islamist (!) former general secretary of the Islamic Conference, a Phd in chemical engineering from UK, a historian, a scientist, a women's rights activist, outspokenly accepting coed housing and premarital joint habitation as matters of personal choice.
Believes any Syrian solution must involve Assad. Did not disapprove Sissi in Egypt. A Turk who was born in Egypt and lived there in his youth but has strong roots in Central Turkey and has only Turkish nationality. Was the translator of the poetry of the most famous Turkish poet, Nazim Hikmet, a well known and imprisoned socialist, from Turkish to Arabic. With an excellent track record of international activity in the West and in the Middle East. A good organizer and manager.

Yet, he was originally backed by the current Turkish PM for his candidacy to the general secretary position of the Islamic Conference.

He has been out of favor since he has gone against the PM's views and actions regarding Syria and Egypt.

2. The Constitutional Court ruled mistrial of hundreds of Turkish armed forces officers and personnel, including almost all admirals and large numbers of top ranking air force and navy officers. They have already been in jail since 2007-2008 and the trials and appeals had concluded recently with most receiving 16 years to life, based on popularly accepted to be drummed up charges, planted CDs which were prepared after the fact, and not given enough time for defense.

3. The two major figures of the 1980 military coup, now in their 90's and possibly senile, have lost their trial and may be given life (?) sentences which will probably not be applied due to their age and health.

4. The police chief who was known as an unpitying torturer by leftists illegal groups in the 1980s and 1990s, and had written a book on the infiltration of the Turkish police by the Fetullah Gulen organization (FG who lives in Pennsylvania and runs over a 1000 schools including about 100 in US) and who was sued as being a member of one of these illegal leftist organizations, aginst all common and uncommen sense, has also on an appeal at the Constitutional Court for mistrial and will be tried again.

4. The Turkish Lira is around 2.10 to a USD and 2.88 to a Euro. this is about average for traveling budgets. But i would not exchange any money before arriving in turkey, because there is always a possibility of some devaluation due to lower trade with Iraq (Turkey's second largest trading partner after Germany)and the Turkish central bank lowering interest rates.

5. This Summer is expected to be extremely hot in Turkey, according to meteorological forecasts.
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Old Jun 19th, 2014, 04:38 AM
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The opposition candidate sounds like he would bring a breath of fresh air.
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Old Jun 20th, 2014, 06:25 AM
  #253  
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You may be amused (but probably appalled) of a discussion I had with a couple from Miami on the ferry to Santorini last week. We were travel talking & I mentioned our Turkish adventure. He was surprised that we went because he had heard that it was unsafe. It seems that an armed forces buddy of his had spent time at a base in Turkey. According to the buddy, it was dangerous off base & people were routinely killed in violence or by passing cars & every morning the police drove around picking up all of the bodies. I told him that this was laughable & a complete falsehood & that we never felt unsafe. And that we found the Turkish people to be the friendliest people we have ever encountered - including our travels in the US . . .

Ian
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Old Jun 20th, 2014, 08:04 AM
  #254  
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Ian, The only real American base is in Southeastern Turkey. It is a large airbase with drones and fighters as well as major communications and missile software and hardware. So, it is easy to see why these rumors are circulated in the base to keep the personnel inside as much and as long as possible during their stints. Not only would loose American soldiers be targets of terrorists outside the base but they could also be befriended by intelligence gathering agents of friendly as well as hostile countries.

What I wrote above would not apply to tourists or local or foreign travelers but possibly could to those identified as United States soldiers just as in the Cold War days, especially with the Al-Qaeda offshoot Al Nusra and ISIS militants, trained by Turkish and American agencies to fight Assad until recently, having learned the lay of the land.

There is an old Turkish saying, "Feed the crow so that he will peck your eye out" Most people and even governments never learn. "Benefit" is or can be just a perception rather than a fact and hence relative. So when you think that you still provide enough benefits to keep someone under your control, he will be undermining the soil you stand on.
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Old Jun 21st, 2014, 03:23 AM
  #255  
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Just received an ad from the top Turkish cultural/historic/archeological tour operator:

https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?ta...6bd557270b9531

It is in Turkish, but i am almost sure they offer tours in english as well.

We have a friend who works as a guide for them, usually taking Turkish tourists for opera to Milano, Strauss to Vienna, theatre to new York, and to Butan, India and Nepal for whatever. The owner faruk pekin is a man dedicated to archeology and old civilizations, a graduate of my school, Robert Collegem author of books and articles and with frequent appearances on national TV.

What interested me in the ad is that, he and one of his guides are proposing a 17 day tour in and around Capadoccia!!

I posted it here not because I believe any follower of this thread can reserve 17 days to Capadoccia but that they can get some interesting ideas and possibly reminisce if they can find out what this tour includes.
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Old Jun 25th, 2014, 03:00 AM
  #256  
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Weather getting quite hot.

izmir area reaching 41 C tomorrow, June 27
antalya, 39 C
istanbul 34 C

warning to fasting Moslem friends, visitors to large archeological sites except to places like Termessos and Sagalassos North of Antalya or spelunkers.

Most Istanbul taxis do not have A/C,

Forget about dressing modestly, wear shorts (male+female) and strap or halter tops in any and all touristic and modern areas of Istanbul and Turkey (except if and when visiting currently in use mosques, churches and/or synagogues.)

Do not take long hikes or treks except in canyons where you follow streams. (i.e. Fethiye Saklikent)

carry hats and water. make sure you are not dehydrated.

It may be a good time to visit Eastern black Sea coast, and inland along the Georgian border.

use sunscreen.

take antihistamine tablets against sun allergies.
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Old Jun 25th, 2014, 10:19 AM
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Just some remarks :

The beggar gangs of istanbul, usually from Roman (non-racist name for gypsy) districts and glue sniffing youth , now have very strong and much less (so far) organized competition from some of the 60,000-200,000 illegal Syrian refugees in istanbul few of whom can find jobs.

Total number of refugees in Turkey is way over a million now, thanks to Turkish, EU and United States policies for fomenting the Syrian civil war and inviting terrorists like ISIS and Al-Nusra into the region.

So, most of the beggars you will see are likely to be Syrians who are desperate and not necessarily in the business as professionals. Although I cannot encourage you to give them money, you may, like me, buy them a simit or a sandwich or some fruit if you can, just to feel that lightness in your heart.

Many of these families are partially supported by Turkish neighbors who are almot as poor themselves, and they all eat less than the stray cats in the more affluent parts of Istanbul such as Besiktas and Nisantasi which always have water and catfood placed out for them.
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Old Jul 7th, 2014, 09:42 AM
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Not much news for travelers except:

- Turkish Airlines was forced to reduce fares for local flights by the related Ministry, and if you get your tickets early enough you will get some excellent deals. I should remind you that the THY site will give you full price including all taxes and charges, but most other ticketing sites will give you the basic fare an then add the taxes and charges surprising you with their magnitude.

- IST istanbul Airport reached an alltime high re flights landed with about 1,400/day in june. This probably means longer lines at passport control and luggage claim at arrival and security checks at departure. Consider longer transfer time to be sure.

- The hot days are some days not so hot yet, but metereological forecasts still warn us. And there is a shortage of water at many locations including Istanbul.

- No terrorist activity except for a few isolated small incidents near the Syrian and iraqi borders.

- Istanbul is gearing up for the August 10 Presidential election.

- We visited an Ikea store close to rather conservative districts yesterday Afternoon and found the restaurant and the hot dog and ice cream stands full of patrons gorging themselves, including quite a few women wearing the conservative head gear. So, apparently, fundamental Islam has a long way to go before it reaches Istanbul.


Politically,

- Most opposition parties agreed on an interesting candidate for the presidential election; one who does not meet the requirements of any of the parties. This is a good sign that consensus can be reached in what everyone thought was another fragmented Middle Eastern Country.

The candidate is a secular conservative who was the successful general secretary of the Islamic Conference for eight years without angering any of the member states. A Ph.D. in Chemical engineering and also with books on islamic literature, science, and art.

Since the Presidency does not carry too much weight in national politics, most, except for a small proportion of the radical left and some liberals are supporting him against the current Prime Minister who declares that he will force constitutional changes to increase the powers of the President so that he can control everything.

- One other note, we were stopped on a busy road, newxt to Dolmabahce Palace by cops who asked for DL and Car papers, just glanced at them but carried phone conversation for 5-8 minutes before returning them and telling them we can go. This is typical harassment used against what they call "White Turks" meaning those who look cared for, dress well and look proper and modern, or against youg people who look like those university students who usually oppose the PM and his government. (If not I, DW falls in the second category, she thinks. - )

personal note :

still waiting for low low milage frequent flyer business seats to become available, with now 8 months on the waiting list, to get us to Chicago by beginning of August an to return mid september.
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Old Jul 7th, 2014, 09:55 AM
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I am currently in Istanbul on my 58th home exchange since 1990. It is my second time in Istanbul. Insofar as tourists are concerned, there are no problems. If you are a tourist, in my view, you should stay out of the country's politics and let the people who live in the country settle them; they are really none of your business as a tourist. So, unless you want to get yourself inappropriately involved demonstrating about something, you should have no problems.

For the record, I am in Beygolu just down from Taksim Square where the musical instrument shops are.

On this trip side trips are planned to Gallipoli and Ephesus. I plan to eat some good food.
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Old Jul 7th, 2014, 10:51 AM
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Hi OC! Good luck getting those seats. I have found that they tend to open up at the last minute at least on UA.
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