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Visiting Exciting Turkey in the Throes of Restoration

Visiting Exciting Turkey in the Throes of Restoration

Old Nov 13th, 2014, 04:15 AM
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Hi everyone,

I was in Ankara yesterday for funeral of a cousin. came back just a few hours ago. Saw the news last night but had no web access.

- Thanks to IMDonehere and Croesus for the approach and information.

Here are some bare facs:


- TGB declare themselves to be
- anti imperialist
- organized for independence from all international power structures.
- specifically against United States and European Union
- against drugs and alcohol
- against paid education at all levels
- against education in foreigh languages
- against internationa finance and business
- against being labelled as "Left" or "Right" wing

- for natinalism and national unity
- for democracy
- for free education
- for pluralism
- for science and research

All together, not much of a manifesto.
Has some major contradictions caused by ignorance, conditioning and nationalistic zeal.

This is rather typical of quite a few of the former leftists, now disillusioned with communism, not understanding modern socialism and/or the welfare state, not being able to come up with a workable explanation of the absurdity of the human condition for lack of knowledge of existentialism or Pataphysics, having no instruments to understand or evaluate local and international politics, diplomacy, economics and finance, and feeling inferior for not having a decent grasp of a useful foreign language which could allow them to surf the web and understand somethings better (sour grapes?)

- TGB web site and readers' comments :

TGB wrote about the US sailors which received a number of comments against the action, mostly saying,
- "what a coward's way, attacking two innocent kids with ten guys. So, did that make you feel big and powerful?"
- Did you forget that US is a friendly nation and a NATO partner?
- "Is this what Turkey needs when the government is already doing its best making international enemies?"

I am glad that these comments were posted on their web site as well and with no meaningful responses by approving commentators.

B. Views of United States :

- Please read the "Hood" article on WIKI that Croesus posted.
The United States did more to reach a high unpopularity from a decent popularity than any enemy of United States, Turkey or Nato could have provoked in Turkey by just one event.
This was on the media for months on end and we are still frequently reminded of the event.

After all the United States set up a precedence to ISIL in Iraq. The difference being, friendly US kidnapped 12 Turkish military personnel they new to be in a safe house and ISIL kidnapped 49 Consulate staff they new to be on sfe territory.

There was even a large minority opinion saying that the Turkish intelligence officers at Suleymaniyya should have fought the American kidnappers and died on the spot rather than surrendered. How the American military took this risk is still not clear to me.

I believe that the United States wished to teach Turkish Army a lesson for coming up against the use of Turkish soil by the aliies in the Iraq War and came up with this very stupid action which will probably take a long time to be forgotten by the Turkish people and the Turkish army.

For our purposes :

In view of the above and also all that I wrote before, there is no risk for the regular tourist, as long as you do not just walk down the gang plank of a United States warship in plain view of some radical elements and give them time to organize a harmless, almost prank-like protest. (the American kids were not hit or injured in but made to look bad with plastic bags over their heads and red paint)

It was a very unfortunate and stupid event event. It should not make anyone feel bad except when considering the predicament of the poor sailors. I strongly blame their officers for allowing them to blatantly step out alone without a Turkish guide or escort, especially in view of the former hood event.
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Old Nov 13th, 2014, 05:39 AM
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>>>the American kids were not hit <<<<

Pelting them with what appears to be rocks is not hitting? It's the attackers that look bad, not the Americans.
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Old Nov 13th, 2014, 05:57 AM
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Other Celebi
there are quite few mistakes
first of all Istanbul was not called Constantinapolis after 1453 when it was occupied by Fatih Sultan Mehmet
the name of the city after this was Konstantiniye officially and during Ottoman Empire ans Sunni Islam.
Rumeli was a name given to European part of Istanbul.
And Ottomans were Turks their origin coming from Eastern Asia .
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Old Nov 13th, 2014, 06:01 AM
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"as long as you do not just walk down the gang plank of a United States warship in plain view of some radical elements"
"blame their officers for allowing them to blatantly step out alone without a Turkish guide or escort"

If US armed service personnel not in uniform cannot "walk down the gang plank" without risk, why should I assume that an American tourist is any safer? (I had not planned on hiring a guide or escort.)
It's sad, but I guess I can live without seeing Istanbul.
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Old Nov 13th, 2014, 06:07 AM
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No one can assure another of their safety even in their home town. There have been so many incidents occurring before, during, and after our visits to various places including accidentally driving into a riot in Miami, that we should want to stay home. But we don't.

Turkey quickly jumped to one of our favorite trips. This one incident would not frighten us.
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Old Nov 13th, 2014, 08:04 AM
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Everyone is of'course free to read what i have written or not to read it all and continue on with their own prejudices, making decision on what is right and what is wrong, to travel or not to travel to Istanbul and/or Turkey. Massacres of high school kids in the United States by their schoolmates or neo-nazi activities in Germany do not stop me from visiting those countries. I see nothing to personally offend me when individuals or groups or even government officials say or do what I consider to be wrong things and would hate them to change my travel plans, unless I see a real increase in physical and/or financial risk.

I shall continue giving information on events and circumstances as well as any forecasts with the feeling of responsibility I would have for a family member, projected to the potential visitors to Turkey.

Please consider the more than a thousand cruise ship tourists (many of whom American) landing in istanbul not far from where the warship was moored. I have never heard of any of these tourists being hurt or threatened by anyone, even radical groups at any time in istanbul or Turkey.
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Old Nov 13th, 2014, 12:47 PM
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There are no massacres of high school students in the US. If you lived here, you would know that.

I am sick of reading your constant Turkey promotion on fodors, otherchelebi. It is clear that you want promote Turkish tourism. It is also obvious that Turkey has serious problems that will affect tourism. It had problems when I was there and saw the anti-Jewish graffiti. When I put up that statement, you attacked me.

Each one of us sees what we want to see and will make our travel decisions based on what we read. The entire Middle East is unstable right now and I would not plan a trip to any of the countries there.
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Old Nov 13th, 2014, 01:46 PM
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Why wouldn't someone in Turkey promote Turkey tourism?
Infact I find otherchelebi's advice on safety very reasonable.
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Old Nov 13th, 2014, 01:47 PM
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There are no massacres of high school students in the US. If you lived here, you would know that.>>

if you are criticising OC for using the term High School instead of College, Lauren, isn't that a difference simply of nomenclature? The Sandy Hook massacre was of elementary school children [ie younger than High School if I understand the US school system correctly]

and what about Columbine? wasn't that a High School?

I don't know about not going to the Middle East [actually Turkey or part of it at least is in Europe] but I'm not sure that I'd want to enrol a child of mine in any US educational establishment.
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Old Nov 13th, 2014, 02:31 PM
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OC has been so generous in his time spent offering his views. i find his perspective to be reasonable and balanced. others may see things differently. let's not turn his extremely helpful threads into a fodor's food fight. if you don't want to hear his views, simply ignore his posts.
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Old Nov 13th, 2014, 03:11 PM
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I don't know where you live lauren, but I live fairly close to Columbine High School, so I don't understand why you are criticizing his comment, because unfortunately it is correct. I don't want to make a list but it isn't the only tragedy we've experienced in the Denver area. If someone asked if it was safe to visit, I'd say yes.

I am in the planning stage for a trip to Turkey. Did this incident concern me? Absolutely, but I'm still willing to look at the whole picture. If it becomes a weekly occurrence then my plans will probably change. I appreciate his views which I find interesting and helpful.
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Old Nov 14th, 2014, 03:37 AM
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I find OC's comments very well balanced and informative. The whole "hood" incident had not reached my little home until I read about it in OC's feedback and I now understand just why the Turkish government has struggled to let the US use their airbases to bomb ISIS. "what goes aroound comes around"

"You may not like to hear that things are not how you want them to be that should not stop your ears working"

I have only been to Turkey a couple of times while Mrs Bilbo seems to go pretty often (especially to Roman and pre-Roman remain cities) while BOL used to manage BP there. Despite the stresses between the secular and the non-secular I find the place my second favorite generally muslim state after Morocco but before Tunisia now that Syria and Libya have been laid waste.

I find the Turkish people incredibly welcoming and friendly and would suggest that not visiting such a wonderful country is kinda crazy.
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Old Nov 14th, 2014, 05:22 AM
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Whatever word dance Kahn wants to play, it matters little.


OC is proud and knowledgeable of Turkey. Ask Kahn how many travel boards she has been thrown off.
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Old Nov 14th, 2014, 07:54 AM
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Lauren, I was in Denver during the Columbine H.S. Massacre and live near another mass shooting site. I meet Europeans who are afraid to travel to the US because of our gun culture and constant shootings of innocents. I understand that you don't like Turkey but please don't cover up facts about events in the US.
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Old Nov 14th, 2014, 08:10 AM
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Thank y'all for the above statements.

A bit more of sharing :

- My objective in starting these threads and participating in others is to share my experience and hopefully objective views, to make travel safer, more interesting and more enjoyable to those with whom i can empathize and who read what I write with an open mind.

- I cannot empathize with ignorant fundamentalists of any religion, racists, xenophobes, ultra-nationalists, male chauvinists, mysogynists, homophobes and narrow minded ideologues who will not allow anyone else to live a different life and enjoy it.

- I have discussed religion with Anglicans, Protestants, Jews, Catholics and Moslems with strong faith.

- I have discussed socialism, communism, capitalism, imperialism, democracy with officials of different types of governments at various levels and at academic meetings.

- I have spoken and mediated at international conferences on risk management, finance and catastrophes. I have even spoken at churches.

- I have attended services at churches of different sects and denominations, mosques and synagogues as well as Buddhist and Shinto temples.

- I am against the death penalty, violence of all kinds, war and the maxim `eye for an eye`

- I do not believe in sin and hell and heaven either. You are a "good" person because you're good and not because you are afraid you'll be punished for your sins in the after-life.

- I write mostly about Turkey because I know Turkey the most. I also know quite a bit about the United States, having lived in Denver for 6 years (60's and 70's) and having visited New York, Washington DC, Blacksburg and Chicago quite frequently, especially since 1996. there are only eight States I have not at least driven in or landed as a stop. Here's a United States Trip Report from two years ago :


Back to the climate:

-weather still very warm but possible rain coming next four days.
- some ski resorts will probably start operating in a week or two.
- no mention of any violence in Southeastern Turkey, but that is not for encouraging you to visit the area.
- Food prices are going up. Fuel is not down despite the cheap international petrol prices.
- Turkish Lira is not depreciating more and the local stock market gaining again despite the nasty outlook and circumstances.
- Banks lending at just above 20% and borrowing from public at just above 10% in Turkish currency. USD interest rates are 1.25% for smaller sums.
- Local flights and some return flights originating in Istanbul are very reasonably priced these days. (we are paying $190/person for return tickets to Leipzig, Germany) The same price was valid for Portugal also.
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Old Nov 14th, 2014, 09:12 AM
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When I read what otherchelabi said about mass murders of high school students, I interpreted that as government mass murders of high school students. The US does have a huge problem with too many guns leading to depressed white males with easy access to automatic weapons taking it out at school--and it is appalling that our government's solution just isn't there. Not only do we have to ban handguns. We have to confiscate many that are out there. The open carry people absolutely terrify me.

Having said that, in Turkey, it is the government that clamps down on demonstrations and then has no hesitation about brutalizing those who have the temerity to show up.

As I see what is going on in Turkey, I find that pretty terrifying too. Clamping down on minority groups is the reason those same groups demand their own countries. In the US everyone moves around and lives all over and eventually integrates with the majority culture. In Turkey, the Kurds, for example, live in their own area. The reason for all the agitation for their own government/country is that they aren't treated fairly by anyone (we see this with the Israeli Arabs as well and I hold no torch for Bibi Netanyahu). If ethnic groups are treated fairly, they end up being good citizens.

Insofar as the great debate about Turkey being European or Asian--it is both. The Asian part is, as I see it in the Middle East. The whole area is unstable due to the lines drawn by the British--which were very arbitrary and had nothing to do with where the ethnic groups really are--and people now wanting to sort themselves out differently. That is a problem the people in the affected area will have to solve for themselves.

Erodogan seems to want to reconstitute the Ottoman Empire--at least in part. That isn't going to happen, but his promoting a more conservative form of Islam in Turkey is not helpful. As I see it, he is more afraid of the Kurds than ISIS. ISIS will end up promoting attacks within Turkey. I find it very sad that Turkey is coming apart. Ataturk must be rolling in his grave.

All people contemplating a trip to Turkey need to make their own decsions. I have been their twice and have no desire to return until Erodogan is out of power. By that time, I probably will be too old to go. I am greatful for the two trips I have had, but there is still much I would like to see in Turkey, but I just did not feel as welcome the last time I was there. The antisemetic graffiti was the last straw.
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Old Nov 14th, 2014, 09:22 AM
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Over the years/decades that I've been visiting Turkey I've quite enjoyed discussing all of the above with Turks.

One shouldn't do it with waiters - one guy was horrified when I told him that I was an atheist, he had a bit of a rant at me but it didn't come to violence. With them, after the original "where are you from?", I always ask where they're from, and it's always pleasant to discover that I've visited their home town - there was a barely literate waiter in Ölüdeniz once who was over the moon that I'd visited Alacahöyük. And a youngster in a restaurant in Side this year was surprised that I'd heard of Siirt (although I've never been there) and I instantly gained respect by mentioning Öcalan, he even tried to teach me a bit of Kurdish.

But the best folk are the educated ones, someone like OC (who I haven't met in person yet). One guy who runs a hotel in Ölüdeniz admitted that he'd spent almost 10 years in university education evading national service - a mine of information. These are the type of people you can ask anything of without fear of offence.

There are ignorant people everywhere. Fortunately in Turkey there's a nice old-fashioned etiquette of politeness and a certain tolerance of foreign fools which makes a nice buffer against any misunderstandings.

The more I learn about the history and religion and politics of Turkey, the more I realise how tame and bland the west can be. There's a fire in the Turks that I can't help admiring even though it can be a little scary sometimes, but I do enjoy adventuring out of my comfort zone.

Looking forward to meeting you some day, OC. I want you fill me in on the Bozkurtlar, etc (and maybe a bit of philosophy - will there be an Assos symposium next year?).
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Old Nov 15th, 2014, 11:57 PM
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Croesus, I hope you make it this way again sometime soon and that we can meet.
We seem to share a variation of the same travel bug, although I have had a fear of motorcycles since my trip from Grenoble to Le Havre on a BMW 500 in 1967.

Our president's new spiel is now about America being first discovered by Moslems hundreds of years before either Christopher Columbus or maybe even the Vikings. Since he declared about eight years ago that he does not have time to read anything and that his ides summarize books and the media to him, he will probably never realize what a fool he was made by his speech writers. Fortunately, I refuse to feel any compassion for him and others like him.

We shall visit Alexandroupoli in Greece, just over the Turkish border, next week and then leave for 5 days in East Germany and Prague. I may not be able to post much those days unless something rather important comes up.
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Old Nov 16th, 2014, 01:56 AM
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OC - I hope you have a terrific trip behind the old "Iron Curtain".

I will be most interested in reading your take on it on your return.
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Old Nov 18th, 2014, 04:36 PM
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Thinking of a early December holiday in Istanbul for 4-5 days. Considering staying at the CVK Bosphorus or House Nisantasi. Possibly hire a guide for a city tour. Any recent thoughts or warnings before we decide to come?
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