Istanbul vs. Ankara

Jun 30th, 2007, 07:18 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 66
Thanks so much for everyone's helpful opinions! It seems Istanbul it is. As of right now, I am the only student from my university planning to attend the University of Bosphorous. While I'm certain I'll make friends once I've arrived, I'm wondering if anyone would advise I not travel alone for the first few weeks? I've had girlfriends say being accompanied by a male friend made a huge difference in travel and going out to nightclubs. How conservative is the city? Thanks again!
classiqueP29 is offline  
Jun 30th, 2007, 09:28 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,626
My experience in Istanbul was different than yours will be because I was travelling for business (and I'm about 20 years older). However, for what it's worth, I'd say that Istanbul is a mixture of trendy/modern and conservative: it depends on where you are and with whom you are dealing. You will see a lot of young men and women dressed up (the women in miniskirts, tank tops and vertiginously high heels - I don't know how they manage it in hilly Istanbul) and going out to cafes and clubs, in areas like Taxim Square and Beoglu. Very urbane, very trendy, very modern, very secular. Some of them will probably speak fairly good English. But you will also see headscarved older and younger women, and you will encounter more traditional or conservative people of all ages on public transportation and in some areas of the city.

Istanbul is a very large city with a reputation for over-the-top nightlife. I don't think you'd have a problem exploring the city on your own in daylight, taking public transportation, going shopping and going to cafes and restaurants into the mid-evening (eg 10 pm or so). However, I would recommend against going to nightclubs without a Istanbul-wise, Turkish-speaking female or male friend for the first few weeks.

And I'm sure you'll make friends very quickly, especially among Turkish students. The Turkish people I've met in the past few years have been among the most hospitable, friendly and generous people I have ever met. They seem to really take to heart the task of making sure you have a good time in their country.

A couple of books I'd recommend: Travellers' Tales: Turkey and Tales from the Expat Harem. The latter book focuses on the experience of non-Turkish women (different ages) in Turkey and is particularly interesting.

You might also find it interesting to start reading the Turkish Daily News (in English) online over the next few months, so that you find out what is going on in the country (politically, culturally, etc).
Kate_W is offline  
Jun 30th, 2007, 09:56 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 961
You will have a wonderful experience. OUr daughter taught elem. school at the Am. Air Base in Ankara for 2 yrs. and loved it. Easy to get around===taxi's VERY inexpensive, fact everything is fairly inexpensive. Easy to get to other sights in Turkey etc, and so many friendly people.
HAving said this, I would choose Istanbul...You have received some wonderful ideas and input. Traffic, yes, big/ bussling city, yes...but historically and beautywise Istanbul has it over Ankara. The Univ. sounds nice and in a good location. amandakay on this thread has some good ideas and you might want to correspond with her...having given her email address.
TUrkey has SUCH friendly, HELPFUL, warm people...and I know you will love it. You will enjoy the vibrant 'atmosphere" in Istanbul~
mari5 is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2007, 09:09 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 66
Thanks so much again! I'll be sure to take a look at those books Kate W and do as you suggested mari5! I think one of the programs I'm looking at has week long trips in Alanya, Ankarra and some time spent in Syria in addition to Istanbul so I'll be able to get a wider scope culturally!

Any rules on eye contact over there?
classiqueP29 is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2007, 10:38 AM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 3
Hello. I would love to know more about Istanbul. I will be in the city for one week (August 13-20) before I head over to Bangkok, Thailand. I am curious about a lot of things:

1) Where can I see live Turkish performance art---whether plays, musicals, experimental theatre, etc? I do not need the show to be in English, I just want to get a glimpse at Turkish Fine Arts.

2) What cuisine should I most definitely try? And where? I do not like to visit like a tourist, I try to live as a local. Any restaurant suggestions would be great.

3) Could you point me in the direction of the lesbian scene in Istanbul? Is there one? Are there any clubs or bars?

4) Where are the best rural parts of Istanbul---the countryside where locals reside? I would like to visit and see more than just city life.

5) Best Turkish hamam?

6) Where does the younger crowd (21-25) hang out? Do you recommend going to Bodrum or Prince's Islands? Tell me what you know. I am 21 years old and a student.

I would appreciate any and all bits of wisdom about Istanbul. I look forward to going and hearing from you.
heartrightoutq is offline  

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