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otherchelebi Aug 19th, 2018 10:22 AM

Turkey for the Experience
Before start getting into the crux of the matter, I will give a different typoe of waning:

A warning to tourists wanting to use ATMs in Turkey to withdraw cash Euros. Today a prominent bank ATM wanted to charge me 6% for a couple of hundred Euros. If you have not started your visit, you will do well to bring enough cash in USD, Pounds or Euro for incidentals.

This is one of my recent tweets. I will probably quote other tweets here on later posts.

Here you will find

- Mysterious Istanbul
- Turkey for the adventurous
- Turkey for the discoverer of lesser known antiquity.

- Safety
- allergies
- clothing
- weather
- edible wild plants
- driving

and answers to your questions.

This week we have a nine day holiday which started yesterday Saturday, August 18, including a religious holiday and two weekends.
All resorts, beaches, B&Bs, hotels, motels are 100% full in all favorite spots like Bodrum, Marmaris, Fethiye, Antalya, Alanya, Kas, Kalkan, Dalaman, Cesme, Ayvalik, Alacati, Gumuldur, Anamur, Mersin, Capadocia and similar areas. The Eastern black sea is probably not full because that region is suffering from the effects of horrendous rain, flooding, land slides and inaccessible areas.

Also, the Southeast and the East are still under my travel advisory.

If you are an American government employee of any type on vacation, pick somewhere other than Turkey.

Do not criticize Turkey or Turkish government any where public, on social media and to the friendly receptionist of your hotel or the nice driver who shuttles you to your hotel.

You may freely criticize Mr. Donald Trump and almost all European leaders.

Do not show your wonder on how cheap things appear to be to you in Foreign Exchange.

Tip the standard 10-15 % and not more at restaurants.
Leave a 5 or 10 Lira note on your unmade bed for the maid every day.
Round up or add a few Lira to the taxi meter amount.

10 or 15 Lira per suitcase to the bell hop or porter,
5 Lira to doorman who call you a cab.

Soon the fish season will start with bonito. Good time to have the smaller ones grilled. Eat with red onions usually supplied on your plate along with stems of arugula.

Start taking antihistamines like claritine a few days before you arrive against any allergies, sun, insect bites. (or at least vitamin B6 pills..

Buy some better quality white cheese to eat with your simit (bagel like sesame rings) If you also buy a few tomatoes you can have a feast on a park bench or the balcony of yor hotel room.

Turkish beer is decent lager, Efes is the most popular. You can also find Miller and Corona or heineken easily.

All decent wine will need a corkscrew. To be on the safe side, buy, Doluca DLC or Kav, Kavaklidere Selection, Urla, Corvus, Sarafin, Gulor, Sevilen wines not cheaper than 40 TL at shops and about 2.5 to 4 times that at restaurants.

My favorite Turkish grapes are Kalecik Karasi and Okuzgozu for red wines. Go for the single grape bottles..

StCirq Aug 19th, 2018 11:26 AM

OC, my dear, my DH and I spent this hot, lazy day in the Pťrigord running through a list of places we might want to visit in December, when the grim weather tends to set in here and days are short and nights are black. Our list included Greece, Turkey, Malta, Sardegna, Sicily, Corsica, Portugal, and Morocco.

After endless (oh, how I tire of this research sometimes, even though with the internet it's "easy"), we settled on Morocco. My first choice was Turkey, but even I, the infamously intrepid traveler, didn't see much there to lure me in this climate. A blonde American and a Jew? Maybe not so welcome. Perhaps I'm not assessing the situation realistically. I know it would be a very cheap vacation, but that's not our only criterion for a pleasant stay away from home.

I honestly don't think I have ever evaluated vacation venues in terms of what I and my partner look like, what languages we speak, etc.

Maybe I am way off base. But we are going to Morocco.

otherchelebi Aug 19th, 2018 01:05 PM

StCirq, Being blond is very common in Turkey. Eser is also almost blond although currently dyed a lighter shade. DD in Chicago is blond and blue eyed.

There are still quite a few jews living comfortably in Turkey, most in istanbul, a close friend currently at Cesme resort in their Summer home with her husband of interesting origin, possibly with ancestors who followed Sabatai Sevi.

Actually being blond will make you much more noticeable in Morocco.

My warning to US government employees was because of possible harassment by the Turkish government security forces in response to the Donald's threats to Turkish politicians and their bodyguards.

The people on the street will be more than friendly and definitely not as obnoxious as some of the salesmen who will accost you in Morocco. If you stay in the affluent residential district of Nisantasi, the women you see on the street will be as chic as Parisians or even more fashion conscious.
Do not forget that Istanbul is a European city not at all any different from Athens, except in size (over fifteen million)

Having said all that, December is not a good time to visit Istanbul. The days are short, the weather is usually wet and cold, The only advantages are that there will not be many Arabic tourists, it will be easier to see the major museums and other sites and the bars and restaurants will be lively and fun.

Come in late March, April or May and I and Eser will make sure you have a great vacation. One week for Istanbul, a few days for Capadocia, a few for Ephesus and area and a couple for Iznik,
Here's an Iznik presentation Eser and I put on youtube ::

otherchelebi Aug 23rd, 2018 03:31 AM


Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 23
otherchelebi, Thank you for your interesting posts here. A question for you: I want to visit a Turkish friend in Datca in late September this year. I will be flying through IST and then Bodrum and plan to take the ferry then to Datca. As an American woman (blonde) do you think I might encounter any political risks/problems on my trip? Would it be wise to avoid stayinig a couple of days in Istanbul enroute? Do you still advise getting a visa online? Thanks for your thoughts!

Aug 23rd, 2018, 12:34 AM
Original Poster

Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 4,442
Hi,cduke, I will respond on this thread but we should continue our posting on my new annual thread :

Turkey for the Experience

I sincerely doubt you would encounter any problems. Many of my Turkish family members are blond. This year at least four million blond Europeans and Americans have visited Turkey so far.

If you are not a member of the Trump administration, you should have no worries. Otherwise your arrival may be noted at arrival and you may not be allowed in the country or be hassled.

Definitely get your visa on-line. It will save you time and money.

Stay as long as you wish in istanbul. I will recommend either the historic peninsula (i.e. Sultanahmet area) or the more upscale and fun Nisantasi district.
Taksim, Beyoglu, Istiklal districts are now the domain of tourists from the Middle East and the shops and services catering to them and staffed accordingly with Arabic speakers, possibly immigrants.

A third option is staying on the Bosphorus which may give you the opportunity to commute to historic sights and other interesting areas and back by ferries.

Just make sure that the Bodrum-Datca ferryboat operates on the dates you plan to take it. One of my trip reports mention us hope;essly waiting for it at Bodrum to find out that it was not operating out of season.

Croesus Aug 24th, 2018 02:30 AM

I've booked my flight into Antalya. The plan is to visit Phrygia again and then some of the lesser known sites on the Aegean coast - Magnesia, Metropolis, Notion, Claros, Teos, Erythrae, etc. And also stay in Izmir to visit the agora and archaeological museum and Yesilova Tumulus.

otherchelebi Aug 24th, 2018 03:26 AM

Croesus, nice to have you back.

You will probably find that little has been done at Magnesia and Erithrea since you were there last.

Izmir Agora was in the news very recently and it looked interesting with the original canal still crrying water.

Teos is OK but again not enough unearthed. Sivrihisar is the first designated Slow City and apparently has an enlightened mayor.
Many years ago, we found that too many apartment buildings and cheaper villas were encroaching on the grounds of Teos.

Will have to check Metropolis and Notion.

Please tell us of your findings and impressions during and after your trip, with photos on and off ypir bike.

cduke Aug 24th, 2018 02:59 PM

otherchelebi, thank you!!

Another question: I want to return from Datca via Dalaman airport to IST on a Wed in late Sep. I've read that I can take a taxi from Datca to DLM for around $50 and 2+ hours (better flight timing for me than taking the ferry back thru BJV). Is it relatively easy to find a taxi in Datca for this trip; can I book ahead a taxi anywhere in Datca for an early morning trip, or online while there? Is there a better alternative to get to DLM easily/quickly from Datca?

p.s. I've booked a couple of nights in IST, in the old city, based on your advice. I'm really looking forward to it. Thanks for your advice!! :)

otherchelebi Aug 25th, 2018 12:44 AM

cduke, I am glad to be of help.

I am sure it will be easy to find a taxi in datca for Dalaman airport, but it is highly likely that the cost will be quite a bit higher than the figure you mention. That amount may barely cover fuel costs considering that the taxi will have to return empty doing two hundred miles or 330 kilometres in the process.

You are right that it will be faster and easier to fly back from Dalaman.

One suggestion is that you take a regular bus or minibus to Dalaman town or even to Marmaris and then a taxi from there. The price you have may be the shuttle price and in that case you may be able to get something cheaper. It will be best to ask yor friend to arrange a shuttlel if you do not want to bother with taking multiple means.

Leave about three hours for your transfer by bus and somewhat less by airport shuttle.

Bon voyage.

Croesus Aug 25th, 2018 02:38 AM

Originally Posted by cduke (Post 16783704)
Is it relatively easy to find a taxi in Datca for this trip

I see a transfer from Datca to Dalaman airport is 400TL = $67

If you're backpacker class you can probably do it for about $5 - the Havas bus from Marmaris to the airport is only 20TL - Dalaman
And buses at least every hour from Datca to Marmaris.

I see this Datca taxi stand has a price list. Although you can't quite read it on street view -

cduke Aug 25th, 2018 04:04 PM

otherchelebi & Croesus, thank you both! Now I need to figure out how to pronounce hello, goodbye, please, thank you and toilet. in!

otherchelebi Aug 27th, 2018 01:52 AM

There is a terrific opportunity for lovers of antiquity and opera/dance, The Aspendos annual festival will feature not only operas but also dance and ballet this year, including the Russian Bolshoi Ballet at the antique theatre
in Antalya province, starting on September 4 and ending September 18.
If you are in the area, I strongly recommend that you ask your hotel or resort to get you tickets and arrange transportation.
We have watched two performances there and were totally awed by the atmosphere. It was as emotional as attending the Judy Collins concert at Red Rocks so many years ago, in Colorado..

I also recommend the following show for excitement and rhythm : The Fire if Anatolia, at the same location.

otherchelebi Aug 28th, 2018 07:03 AM

Another little known ancient city in Western Anatolia, Aigai, shares the same name with one in Northern Greece.
Excavations started in 2004 and so far only 1% of the city has been excavated.

I expect that future excavations will unearth more than other ancient city excavations because the high altitude site has not been populated since it was abandoned 1800 years ago.

It is less than a hundred kilometres to the North of Izmir.

The remains of the city are located near the modern village of Yuntdağı KŲseler in Manisa Province. The archaeological site is situated at a rather high altitude almost on top of Mount GŁn, part of the mountain chain of Yunt.

I have not checked the access to the site but it may require a 4WD or AWD or at least a high ground clearance vehicle, especially during rainy periods.

I will investigate more and maybe attempt a visit this Fall or coming Spring.

TDudette Aug 28th, 2018 07:34 AM

Thank you, otherchelebi for all the information and the haunting Nicea film. It is too bad the politicals mess it up for the rest of us, eh?

Croesus Sep 7th, 2018 02:12 PM

Re: Aigai - there used to be a Turkish Culture Ministry website that had the number of visitors to all the supervised ancient sites and I noticed that Aigai had the fewest in around 2005 with 16 visitors.
What amazed me was that there was someone there to count them.

I quite enjoy visiting the ancient sites where there is no-one else there - it loosens one's imagination - but sometimes it would be nice to have met the archaeologists:
Cadir Hoyuk when the University of Chicago excavators were absent.
Their website -

gilly65 Sep 9th, 2018 09:14 AM

I recommend visit Pamukale. But not in summer, because there is no trees and that's why very hot. And do not be lazy to go up to the amphitheater

MidnightRose Oct 21st, 2018 11:11 AM

Hello everyone,

I have been enjoying and reading these threads on and off since OC started them a few years ago. As others have said, thank you OC for your seemingly tireless efforts to keep us all informed, educated and also entertained.

On to my layover question. I arrive in IST at 13:00 this coming Tuesday, and depart again at 07:30 the next morning. Iím looking for a place for an early dinner that evening, the catch of course is I donít know exactly where Iíll be staying. Last time Turkish put me at a Doubletree, but Iím not sure which area. It wasnít anywhere particularly interesting. I have visited Istanbul several times in the past on various stopovers, often extending my stays by a few days, and so have had the pleasure of sampling a number of OCís culinary recommendations. My last dining experience was maybe 1.5 years ago, and we had a lovely meal at Divan Bebek which I would happily visit again. I suppose Iím looking for a few ideas around the city, so once I get my bearings I donít have to spend hours in traffic to find a nice dinner.

Rather a long winded request but so it goes. I suppose I should mention Iím looking for Turkish/fusion and my favorite things to eat are lamb, fish and mezze. Also Iím female mid-30ís.

StCirq Oct 21st, 2018 12:34 PM

OC, I have earmarked March or April or May for a visit to Turkey with you. I'm trying to dispel the stories on the news and just treat this as a travel adventure, and trust me, it's not easy, but I am not a wuss and know I will be enthralled to be in Turkey again (the last time for me was 1973). I was only there for 3 days, but every one of them is seared in my memory as very special. I can still recall the smells of the food, the warmth of the people, the vibrancy of the markets...
Good to know I won't have to worry about my blonde-ness:)

otherchelebi Oct 21st, 2018 02:09 PM

MidnightRose, thanks for the follow

- The only place I know at Sultanahmet is "Sarnic"

- "Hamdi" at Eminonu is always decent with a great view from top floor location.

- If you are interested in fish, take a ferry to Uskudar from Eminonu or Besiktas and a taxi to Kuzguncuk (20 + 8 minutes) and eat at Ismet Baba restaurant (cash only)
- A very simple and inexpensive place is Savoy Balik at Cihangir. You should try the pastries at Savoy pastry shop after you eat the fish.

- The restaurant on roof of Novotel Between Karakoy and Tophane, "Murver" has good view, good cocktails and the best fusion we know of. Strongly recommended,

- "Ciya" at Karakoy, after a 20 min. ferry ride from Eminonu, Karakoy or Besiktas and and a ten minute walk has Sotheastern regional dishes and their Kebab restaurant next to it is also good.

- Borsa restaurant, Harbiye, near Taksim, close to Hilton Istanbul has good location, meticulous service and traditional Turkish dishes.

Enjoy your stay.

otherchelebi Oct 21st, 2018 02:17 PM

St Cirq, Great news.

March may be a little too early.
April has the tulips and the flowering Judas trees.
May will be good for excursions outside Istanbul, less precipitation.

Each month has its benefits.

I will make sure to keep you informed of any safety issues.
Currently everyone has been cowed into submission and the great leader is making amends with US and EU.

yestravel Oct 21st, 2018 02:27 PM

Hi! OC -- interesting to read your perspective. Hope you and Eser are managing well.

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