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Istanbul OK for a woman travelling alone?

Istanbul OK for a woman travelling alone?

Jul 31st, 2001, 11:19 AM
  #21  
xxx
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I was in Turkey alone for one month I traveled around the country. I was 28 years old this was 1992. I got my butt grabbed 5 times in one day in Istanbul. I wore loose fitted clothes that were careful to cover even my elbows, full length trousers . I loved turkey. And you learn to knock the men over when they do this. My lonely planet guide told me to do this. Once I did the guys became incredibly embarrassed as other locals waged there fingers at them with "for Shame" looks in their eyes. I know it sounds horrible and I was a big time feminist at the time. But the difference is in Paris people think it is a joke when a women is grabbed. In Turkey at a hotel in the eastern region I once had 5 men chase after a young guy who grabbed me. I did not say go get him they saw what happen and tore after the guy. I love turkey for other reasons. But I always tell people you are well protected if you are a women traveling alone. I got on buses, I was always seated next to a woman I did not even have to ask.
 
Jul 31st, 2001, 11:35 AM
  #22  
Karen
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I can't believe people are telling you that you need guides. I stayed in youth hostels and would never think of a guide. This is your world Jane you would have more problems in NYC traveling alone for the first time than you would in Istanbul. I go every couple of years to shop. Why do people think Istanbul is not safe it is a Moslem country. Rape is an offense against god and considered much more harsh than in western countries. Don't get other posts. Yes the men are simple but I have never had a problem putting them in their place. I don’t get the post of the women that got comfortable with men staring at her. I would have said something they embarrass pretty easy. I do think you are respecting the tradition of the culture if you dress modestly. I remember seeing a German women with out a bra and short shorts. I just don’t think this respected the choices of the people that lived there. On the other hand I think it is good for us all to see different ways of living.
 
Jul 31st, 2001, 02:46 PM
  #23  
Felicia
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Re: knocking men over who touch you, I agree with this, although I think knocking them over is going a little far. Can't you just make it clear by making eye contact and telling them NO? If that doesn't work and they persist physically, yeah, knock 'em down. I've never had a problem with this anywhere except Italy. When I verbalized my displeasure at them (we're not talking flirting, we're talking aggressive behavior) or when my friends did, they got more aggressive & rude and angry in return. I hope it's not that way in Turkey! Anyway, in Spain I had a lot of men & women staring at my rather well-endowed chest (not bragging - the rest of me is too endowed!) and I didn't care after awhile. Compared to the other people there, I probably looked unusual. I just stared at their crotch or breast in return, then I realized they were just looking, that's all.
I don't care if people look, but I don't want them to physically grab or get scary about it. Felicia
 
Jul 31st, 2001, 03:23 PM
  #24  
Surlok
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Felicia,

I understand and agree that this reaction was very appropriate because it's your own self, you were being genuine, but I wouldn't say that the original poster has the same type of personality that you have.

Jane, are you there?

I would say, from my experience, that muslims, or men from the eastern countries in general, get shocked when a woman yells on them. So, Jane, if someone grabs your butt, or bothers you, just be loud and straightforward. It doesn't matter whether they understand you or not_ is mostly the way you "sound" that counts, not "what" you say. This shall work, too, with the very aggressive sales men.

And, if you can afford it, hire a guide. There're some places that don't really require a guide, but in my view, Istanbul is one of that places where all the info that they can provide do make a lot of difference.

Surlok
 
Aug 1st, 2001, 05:12 AM
  #25  
Karen
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To Felicia: You get your but grabbed slowly by some creepy jerk once and see how you react. I was shocked the first time and truly felt molested. I was coming from NYC and you would not dare get aggressive back with someone here. I was just shocked and quiet.

I mentioned the experience with a man that I met and he led me to the lonely planet passage (if memory serves it was lonely Planet). The next guy that touched me was sent sailing to the ground. I could not believe that I was knocking them over. The men in Turkey are not like the men in Italy, very timid. I don't think I knocked them over every time (sound like cows I know). It is almost like their mother was hitting them. What I really enjoyed was the way the surrounding crowd embarrassed these guys even further. Here I had sent them sailing to the ground and they were receiving further admonishments from there countrymen.

Then later on my travels somewhere in the south I met a woman who was on regular business in turkey. She was in her fifties. She told me this just happens in this part of the world. There is too much here to appreciate to let something like that get in your way. This woman was sophisticated and conservative in my mind at the time. After that I know it sounds weird but the butt grabbing didn’t matter. It was largely young men who would grab and run it was almost comical. I still don't know why it happen so much to me. I have other friends that go to Turkey every year and it does not happen to the extent it happened to me. But I would never fear rape in that country.

I was there in 92 and I hitch hiked in the northeast mountain region. I was picked up only by families and in one Mercedes Benz. I do remember one truck.
I know this may make me sound wild but I am not. I don’t think most of my friends would even characterize me as adventurous. You would know this about me if you met me. It is just a safer place. I would not dream of hitch hiking in the US or most of Europe. I suppose my hitch hiking days are over everywhere, so perhaps not such a good example. I just can't express to you enough how safe turkey is. No fear, no travel guides unless you want more historical info you can find on your own. You will love Turkey. Don’t skip the souq (sp). And if you want an amazing treat hop a bus or plane and go to Cappadocio not something you will soon forget.

Jane not sure if you are American I think we fear the Turkish more than in Europe. I remember hearing rediculous stories about being kidnapped if you were white and female. It's safe enjoy.
 
Aug 1st, 2001, 04:10 PM
  #26  
Felicia
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Felicia here....I don't know what I wrote incorrectly, but let me state for the record, I HAVE had my butt grabbed. You are right, it's very violating and frustrating. I thought I said this occurred while in Italy, not just with me but other females I was with. The most frustrating occasion was not when my butt was grabbed, but once, on a very crowded bus, a man stood facing one of my female friends... with his hand in the form of a fist....picture this now...and one side of the fist was touching his chest and the other side was touching hers. And the bus is jostling all around, so he's basically getting a free feel. We were standing that close in that bus. Who stands like that, for crying out loud? When she managed to turn around, he began girating his front against her, but of course, it wasn't HIM, no it was the bus' movements.
I had similar things happen while in Italy. I hope it's not like that in Turkey, and am glad to read that the Turkish men will back down if they are called on it. The Italian men got more aggressive.
I also said that I wondered if knocking them down was necessary. It wasn't a judgement call, but simply my wanting to know. If yelling at them did the trick, why was it necessary to knock them down? I was too timid in Italy to knock anyone down because when I did voice my opinion loudly, as I said, they got mad and sometimes vicious. It was horrible. You are right, you do feel violated and it's frustating. I don't put up with that now, and if I had it to do over again, I'd have knocked the crap out of them, after yelling or making strong eye contact with a defiant "NO".
Felicia
 
Aug 2nd, 2001, 05:05 AM
  #27  
Karen
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Your right Felicia it is horribly violating. It is not necessary knocking them down every time but gosh darn good fun. I don't think in a country where women are oppressed under the guise of protection, physical advances deserves a stern look and a harsh word. It is not like I was picking on these guys in my opinion they chose the wrong woman. I enjoyed humiliating them back and creating a spectacle. A look just would not have accomplished that. But to all of you who do not want to go that far, I totally understand. Your memory's just won't be as fun as mine. So sorry to hear about your terrible time in Italy F. We do stand that close on buses and subways in NYC. What I have always heard amongst friends that yelling out what is happening to you is the way to end a situation like that. I did hear a story just contrary to this though so I suppose everyone must choose what response is appropriate for their situation. I was jumped once in NYC and the only thing that saved me was screaming “oh my god” in a hysterical but defining tone. I have lived here for 15 years and I was working in a very poor neighborhood in Brooklyn. Just don’t want people to think this is anyway common. I had the worst time in Italy also. But I love that country like no other. I also think now that I am older and I no longer have a back pack on my shoulder I get less grief. I was just in Milan in the fall, I stayed at a four star hotel, cabed around town and men were all gentleman. I had one evening incident with a group of guys. It is scary when a group targets you. I saw them starring at me (I have long red hair clearly not Italian) then walking towards me from a distance I yelled "Don't even think about it". One of the guys continued towards me but his friends pulled him back.

For the most part I found the Italians wonderfully friendly. I think it is surprising how friendly they are even in large cities. I do feel safe in Milan but I learn things on each trip. I hailed a cab in the evening on last trip. The driver who was a student in engineering told me you don't do that here. You can not trust every cab driver. You need to arrange with your concierge before you leave hotel. So one lesson be aware not frightened just aware. Turkey is not Italy. The world is yours Jane just understand a bit of the norms, be alert and you will be fine. I hope we have not scared you.
 
Aug 2nd, 2001, 05:29 AM
  #28  
lisa
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jane-
i'm glad you've gotten a lot of feedback. i happened to see this post on turkey and had to respond. i have lived in europe (florence, paris) in the late '80s and was fortunate to travel to many destinations. as well, my husband and i traveled for 2 wks in turkey by car last september (returning 1 oct 01). a trip in october to istanbul will be lovely, though perhaps a bit rainy (we found that in late september). no matter - the city is lovely in any weather i think!
concerning the turkish men being aggressive - i agree with one message that this is primarily the salesmen. i got a lot of 'hey, lady' even with my husband and 2 turkish friends alongside.
basically, just laugh it off, ignore it, or learn a snide turkish phrase, like 'aman sen de,' which means get out of here , stop it or leave me alone (similar to 'vai via' in italian - and yes, that was the country where i got the worst of the disgusting groping). i never ever had such a problem in turkey and felt very safe there. (of course, i was never in a bus, though i did take a short subway shuttle ride.)
we were not able to get into empress zoe hotel but stayed in a nice place around the corner from it, (i'm sorry i don't have the name now, but the bathroom was brand-new). it had a fantastic view of the blue mosque and a great rooftop terrace! the service was impeccable and a great little courtyard where delicious breakfast was served.
concerning nitelife, you should definitely head across the river from the sultanhamet district, to taksim district. this is the hip part of town with a huge strolling nitelife!
and if you like mosaics, you probably want to check out the arasta and mosaic museum in sultanhamet district.
this is a fantastic city, and as long as you keep your confidence and assertiveness up, i think you alone or with a female friend should be fine. most turks are very kind, although in istanbul (such a huge city), there are obviously rude people, but you'd find that in ny or la also. good luck! lisa
 
Aug 3rd, 2001, 06:06 PM
  #29  
Felicia
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Lisa:
Was the name of the hotel Seven Hills? It sounds just like the one you described. I'm staying there in Sept. Hope it's as nice as I have heard. It's new, so there haven't been many comments about it.
Felicia
 
Aug 26th, 2001, 09:37 AM
  #30  
Susan
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I've been here, as a single woman, and have had no problems. Be careful - it's a big city, but if you can handle yourself in other cities, don't worry about this one. Sure men hit on you, but so what? Annoying at timers... Say "ayip" to get rid of them (shame)
 
Aug 28th, 2001, 01:14 PM
  #31  
sophıa
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Dear Jane.
October should be nıce and fresh ın Istambul: I am here now and ıt has been a bıt hot. I am travellıng alone and had a great tıme. Stay away from carpet salespeople and you wıll be fıne. For a great safe hotel to stay at ın Sultanahmet the great hıstorıcal center, try the Nena hotel. I have stayed here twıce ın a row, and they have a great staff and securıty too. Check out theır sıte at www.nenahotel.com
sophıa
 
Sep 10th, 2001, 12:57 AM
  #32  
Susan
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Wow, I'm reading a lot of crap here. I guess I would ask what kind of traveler you are. I've been living in Istanbul for the past month, and backpacked through Europe the preceeding three months. Yes, it is unsettling the way the men talk to you. but I like it better than in Greece how they just STARED. A few words help - 'Yok' means no, and 'Ayip' means Shame . I have used them both. But I havent really felt unsafe - I live in the 'bad side' of town, and walk the 15 minutes or so from work to home every night - often well after midnight.

As far as 3 star hotels, no offence to the other poster, but really!!! I guess getting used to the hostels all over europe was a good preparation, but I am in a cheap hotel - maybe considered a 1 or 2 star, and its fine. Really.

As for the night stuff - it is mostly tourist crap. there are osme good and more authentic shows and whatnot, but theyll be hard to find. One thing to do definºtely!!!! is to see teh whirling dervishes. I know people who are allowed to take a very limited number of 'guests' to teh actual religious ceremony on Monday nights. I went, and am so glad I had that chance. If you are interested in that ,
this is the site

www.lesartsturcs.com

I know the whirling dervishes are in there somewhere.

Oh, and these guys do other tours that are good - small and local-led. okay, thats all! Have a blast! Just be wise and don't go lookºng for trouble and you'll be fine
 
Sep 10th, 2001, 04:01 AM
  #33  
shelly
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We just returned 5 days ago from Istanbul. The people are genuine and kind including the men. When you shopthey seem a little aggressive but it is just their way - they are not threatening. We hired a guide and I can't say enough good things about him. His e-mail is [email protected] and his name is Mehmet OZBALCI. He was very knowledgeable, kind, and spoke flawless english. He was a pleasure to spend time with. Have a great trip.
 
Sep 10th, 2001, 04:25 AM
  #34  
Ginny
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I traveled all over Turkey for one month in 1993. I would not have done the same in the U.S. at the time. I feel that if anything the Turks go out of their way to protect women. Think what you want of the cultural attitudes towards women in that country, I agree but they do understand how vulnerable women can be. I was never seated next to a man on any bus I took. I remember being in bus stations in the middle of the night never even had a scare. There is a butt grabbing problem but if you make a scene the perpetrator is very embarrassed and insulted by everyone around. I can't tell you that this would happen in you got your butt grabbed in NYC. Once in Eastern turkey 6 guys ran after a guy who grabbed me, never ever would happened in the NYC. And I have been in Paris where the French thought this kind of behavior was funny.
 
Sep 10th, 2001, 04:29 AM
  #35  
Harris
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You do not need a guide or Chaperone unless you don't care to read before your trip. Istanbul is very accessible to everyone.
 
Oct 9th, 2001, 05:06 AM
  #36  
Cindy
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Jane, I am female, former military (six years), and have been around more than my share of "agressive men." I have traveled to many countries and large cities on my own, even at night and enjoyed the heck out of it. Istanbul was the exception. Even when I adhered to the more conservative local custom of covering myself, to include my head, this only cut the approaches down by half. I carry myself very confidently and usually am not approached in any manner impolitely (no matter the region). However, Turkish culture is different. The men, even small boys, do not feel they are being impolite, it is their right to treat a woman however they want. I wasn't even just the attention because I am female, it was the attention when I purposely looked like a tourist, the atention when I didn't, when I ate, when I went to a museum.... I tried different tactics, twice with turkish guides (one hit on me, the other witnessed other men trying to hit on me), the afore mentioned covering etc.. I got constantly asked to dinner etc. then they would act offended if I said no. If you even say a polite hello back to a salesmen he thinks it is time to pounce, if you ignore him he will rant at you for not paying him any mind. The one night that I hung out with two other travellers (male persuasion) is the only time I was treated well. I should let you know that part of the problem is that there are a lot of "russian prostitutes" there. They are actually Ukranian for the most part and are not really prevalent in all the areas of Istanbul. But, I am light haired and light eyed with a decent figure (didn't wear any hooker heals etc. ever!) and was mistaken many times for a Russian prostitute. I was even stopped one evening by the police who demanded to see my passport. The passport was in the hotel safe after they used it to check me in. The officer that originally approached me did not want to hear that and his buddy let the questioning go on for about 15 minutes before he stepped up and asked the same quetions to which I gave the same reply...in the hotel. Then I answered why it was in the hotel. Then he asked where I was from? I said I am an American Citizen, and he said I could go on my way. I can only assume that they to thought I might be a Russian hooker. The trip was not a total loss but I will not go there again without companions, the amount of men who tried even to kiss me (i could feel one's breath on my face as I strode by)was just not worth the hassle. Like I said, I have traveled many places by myself and I actually intimidate some aggressive men but a vacation should be relaxing, not an exercise in how you project yourself.
 
Oct 9th, 2001, 07:00 AM
  #37  
Carla
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I would not travel to the middle east at this time.
That being said, I travelled to Turkey with my family in the early '90s. My father is middle eastern and speaks fluent Turkish and, more importantly, understands the culture and mentality. Before going, understand that Turkish men cannot conceive of the idea of women travelling alone. They feel that these must be women of loose morals and will treat you as such. Make no mistake about it! It is dangerous to be female and without a male companion in any middle eastern or muslim country. The anecdotal accounts of others good or bad are not important. While rape is a grave offense in these countries, it is only a grave offense against their own women. Western women are respected as much as prostitutes by the average Turkish man.(I am not including the well-educated or Westernized Turks). They get their ideas from Hollywood movies and their own prejudices. Once you understand this, you can make an educated decision.
 
Feb 19th, 2002, 01:41 AM
  #38  
ht
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top
 
Feb 25th, 2002, 06:55 AM
  #39  
julie
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I just got back from Istanbul. I went with two girlfriends. We did not get grabbed or in anyway agressively harrassed by the men there. Alot stared and alot tried to start conversations but they were all very very polite. We had an absolutely wonderful time. I can't wait to go back. Using the word "shame" seemed to deter those that were uncomfortably close or intrusive.
 
Mar 18th, 2002, 05:08 PM
  #40  
Krista
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Felicia,

I'm glad to hear you're staying at the Seven Hills Hotel. The owner is the brother of my Turkish friend. I saw a few of the rooms on my last trip there-they are really beautiful. The front desk staff was really friendly-I could tell that the girl showing me the rooms was very proud of the hotel. (and she really liked practicing her English!)

Have a great time!
 

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