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Visiting Exciting Turkey in the Throes of Restoration

Visiting Exciting Turkey in the Throes of Restoration

Old Jan 20th, 2015, 10:22 AM
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I have no idea how he found me and why he is following my tweets, such as:
//

Be careful..
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Old Feb 2nd, 2015, 04:54 AM
  #102  
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Thanks Ashwin,

Not a very bad Winter in Turkey. Good snow at ski resorts.
Some unfortunate flooding and very high winds in Western and Southwestern Turkey.

Istanbul weather clement.

No significant protests or nasty events in any touristic areas.
Southeastern Turkey should still be out of bounds except for the adventurous.

For Euro based travelers Turkey has become somewhat more expensive with the Turkish Lira gaining about 10-12% against the Euro.

the reverse is true for those who earn in USD. USD has gained against the Turkish Lira as everywhere else in the world.
The current local economic condition may actually result in further devaluation of the Turkish Lira.

Politically, the president is campaigning for the party he used to belong despite swearing to act impartially when he took over.
As foreseen there are issues between him and the prime minister who supposedly heads the party now.

The Alevis (the historic pagan-islam sect of Anatolia) are becoming more vocal and demanding more rights. The Kurds are still lying low but there is a strong violent undercurrent.

These lands have always been occupied by confrontational, insecure, paranoid and untrustworty tribes, sects, religions, nations, peoples whose values, attitudes and behaviour have changed little in thousands of years due to having been kept uneducated and ignorant by both political and religious authorities. They are easily swayed and usurped with fiery speeches and simple favours.

In terms of travelers, these people also have a high need to be liked and loved and will go out of their way to receive a smile, a word of thanks and some appreciation. Show interest in their jobs, families, country, football club, car but do not proselyte or argue and you will be their best friend.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2015, 01:51 PM
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good advice for travellers everywhere, OC - smile a lot, show genuine interest, and don't judge.
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Old Feb 18th, 2015, 12:22 PM
  #104  
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Big snow storm in Istanbul. Pristine snow on both streets we see from our apartment. No vehicles could make it down the hill or up it for the last 4 hours. Snow depth near Taksim square possibly about 10 inches and still coming down heavily.

Storm expected to leave on Friday, but a quick melt down can be miserable in this very hilly city with insufficient drainage.

Political chaos is intensifying. Both domestic and international.

Turkish president has been swinging wildly at all old friends including Obama, Kerry and any old American. There are reports of him suffering from anxiety and panic attacks, causing him to divert his plane to Houston a few days ago while flying back from Mexico City.

He is backing a new draft law giving extraordinary powers to the police, appointed local administrators and restricting powers of the judiciary, in relation to arrests, house searches, body search, etc. with no court order.

In the meantime our city's large numbers of visitors from the warmer countries of the Middle East are out enjoying the snow without a care for politics or anything else, feeling safe.
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Old Feb 18th, 2015, 01:32 PM
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Sorry to read about your problems, OC. This seems to be a period of great turmoil in your region - it is always worrying when supposed democrats start to draft punitive laws. Also, as I'm sure you are aware there is a chance that Greece at present will come out of the Euro - someone on the BBC this morning was strongly suggesting that they might.
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Old Feb 18th, 2015, 02:21 PM
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Just stay out of jail.
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Old Feb 18th, 2015, 03:00 PM
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Thanks Ann, IMDonehere,
Whenever I feel depressed about what's going on everywhere because of human stupidity, I try to feel better by telling myself that I am lucky to be able to observe this stupidity at such close range and be able to evaluate it and tweet and otherwise write about it.

I found out today that over 600 people applied as candidates for the short list of Parliamentary candidates from the main opposition party from my district alone. (each paying just over $2,000 for the privilege)

I stopped at the party district office found only the office and janitorial staff and told them that if they really wanted to oppose these dictatorial laws, their only option would be to withdraw from the parliament and possibly the coming (June 7) elections.

Then DW pulled me away and we went and had a great lunch at
Bursa Izgara on Istiklal Street, on your left somewhat before Galatasary Square. The lamb chops were good, the meatballs that she had were tasty but I stopped eating meatballs nowadays. The salad bar was decent and the grilled aubergine and the service excellent.
All this food plus some yoghurt and bottled water came to $30 including tip.
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Old Feb 18th, 2015, 03:05 PM
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"Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.....t"
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Old Feb 20th, 2015, 12:20 AM
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IST and SAW airports in Istanbul are now back to normal after the severe snow storm of Tuesday and Wednesday when hundreds of domestic and international flights were cancelled and many passengers had to spend upto 48 hours at hotels or in the airport.

There is still quite a bit of snow on side streets but the warming weather (about 41-48F) and drizzling rain are working fast to make it disappear.

It will be rather messy walking around most parts of the city for a few days, so make sure you have the correct boots and pants.

No further snow forecast for the next 10 days with temperatures climbing up to and over 50F.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2015, 05:58 AM
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There are some rather complex int'l issues regarding Turkey that I will not comment upon :

- Turkey promised China that it will continue with process of purchasing $3 Billion missile system despite US and Nato displeasure.

- Turkey made a foray of about 30 kilometers into Syria with sizable motorized force, with air support, to remove 38 soldiers keeping guard over the Suleiman Shah Tomb and Mausoleum in an area infested with ISIL forces. A new location only 200 meters into Syria across from the Turkish border is now being prepared for the new location of the mausoleum.

Turkey says this was its own idea.
Int'l sources say US told Turkey this should be done to prevent Turkey from using the situation as an excuse for confrontation with Assad. Local Kurdish entity YPG says they prepared a safe corridor for Turkish forces to go through with the operation. Turkey says they made no deals with anyone.

Government puts it as a great operational victory. The opposition declares it as the biggest defeat Turkey has ever suffered or admitted.

While all this was happening Eser and I walked down Istiklal to reminisce about this visit some years ago :

http://otherchelebistravels.blogspot.com/?spref=tw
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Old Feb 23rd, 2015, 08:32 AM
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OC - Turkey is in the news here in the UK at the moment as it was the first destination of 3 girls from East London who are thought to have flown there en route to joining ISIS in Syria. The news said that they may have been delayed by the awful weather in Istanbul but there has been no news of them since they were seen at LGW and presumably got off the plane in Turkey.

should you happen upon them, could you tell them to come home please? Being brides of ISIS fighters probably isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Seriously, they are thought to have been radicalised over the internet at home; their school is busy telling us how strict they are about internet access and their parents are being held up as models of the community which I have no reason to doubt.

thank you for posting [again] the extract from you blog - I remember the picture of [the rear of] Eser and those goats! not to mention all those tomatoes.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2015, 09:12 AM
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Ann, I believe there are thousands of cops all over Turkey who will arrest them to deport the girls to UK all over Turkey. But there may even be some other fellows in Turkey who are thinking that they can offer some good Islamic fundamentalist teaching to young girls and that it would be a waste to let them be fodder to ISIL.
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Old Mar 11th, 2015, 01:13 PM
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Hi OC, I like that you are posting such a mixed bag, not all bad or good.

I've been trying to decide for the last week about joining a small group tour to Gobekli Tepe at end of May, would be staying in Sanliurfa area for 4 nights.

Part of me says, go now, there's not been real troubles there yet as far as my research shows, it might get worse and be a long time before it is better.

Part of me says, you don't want to count on that and get caught up in the bad thing that first happens...

I've talked myself in and out of signing up several times a day. When I try to talk to anyone I know - if they say "Turkey's safe" I say "but I'd be going so close to the border", if they say "It's too close to the border" I say "but there hasn't really been trouble except at the border".

Any more fuel for my self-arguments, that might push me to a final choice?
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Old Mar 11th, 2015, 09:06 PM
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I just noticed how much the Lira has deprecated, have prices for eating out, traveling(bus or air) changed significantly ( also considering inflation), since I'm guessing accommodation prices wouldn't have changed much.
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Old Mar 12th, 2015, 12:43 AM
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Hi Abgoing,

As far as I can foretell, end of May will be a very safe period from the Kurdish perspective. This is just a few weeks before the national elections when all the parties including the Kurdish HDP have serious campaign promises regarding peace, law and order.

the only risk could be ISIS activity but the closeness of the border is rather insignificnt in that respect because they may be more interested in causing problems in the big cities rather than in a basically Islamically managed municipality of Urfa, where you would be hard pressed to find a restaurant offering beer or wine.

The route to Gobeklitepe is only 12 kilometers and has no hazards.
Other possible trips to places like Halfeti/Rum Kale will also be fine.

Your tour operator and their local counterparts will know where and how and what much better at that time than I can ever tell and I would trust them.

You are right that you may not find a better or safer time in the future to visit this exceptional area.

I gave a similar type of response to another poster recently and you may wish to check that if you have not done so. I also recommend Ashwinb's trip report and mine on Gobeklitepe (an extended version of my report is on my blog www.otherchelebistravels.blogger.com)

Ashwinb,
The Lira depreciated against the USD, all other FX indexed to the USD and FS but appreciated against the Euro. So any prices or fares indexed to USD has gone up proportionately but those indexed to Euro has not. If any price was indexed to a basket of currencies or to the local inflation rate, they have also increased.

Food prices have increased 10% or more. Prices in good restaurants are up by 20% or so. Transportation has not increased due to low petrol prices. Accommodation listed in euros is cheaper in TL and other currencies (Euro was about 2.95TL last year but is about 2.8TL currently)
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Old Mar 14th, 2015, 03:03 PM
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Thank you all for sharing your experiences and suggestions. My wife has been on this site numerous times and we've found it quite informative. I'm seeking input as to safety issues when traveling to the Western half of the country. We've told numerous people about our plans to visit Turkey in the fall and each time the comment was met with "oh, you shouldn't go there", "too dangerous", "no security", "what about ISIS", etc. Would you please provide me with current state of affairs, your understanding, facts vs. fiction??
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Old Mar 14th, 2015, 03:47 PM
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It will be the 100th anniversary of,

1. The Dardannelles battles of WWI where the Ottomans fought against the Anzac troops of the British and the French, and
2. The great Armenian population expulsion or genocide in the Ottoman Empire during the part of the war with Russia and Armenia on the Eastern borders of the empire.

in less than two weeks.

This Turkish government, now in power for about 12 years decided for some reason of their own that the same week of the year also should be celebrated as the "Holy Birthday Week" of the prophet Mohammed, some five or so years ago.

There is also a national children's holiday on April 23, celebrated since the late 1920s, to increase the confusion.

I was in a boy scout troop marching on a miserable rainy April 23rd when I was 8 in my new uniform at Taksim Square in Istanbul with dreams of one day playing the drums when the rain hit hard, we broke ranks and were told to get home. I caught a cold and that was the end of my scouting and marching career as well as the great uniform which was probably given away because I could never find it again.


Mondelboy,

If you look through not only this thread but also the various trip reports of previous American visitors and their responses to similar questions, you will rediscover that it appears to be quite safe to visit Western Turkey and also Cappadocia. I will add the Black Sea Coast to that as well.

Checking on ISIS declarations and threats, it seems that their leniency towards Turkey seems to be continuing. They are threatening mostly USA, France and to a lesser extent other coalition partners.
Under the circumstances, Paris or new York may pose higher safety risks than Istanbul.

In terms of historic or natural sights, they have never been considered as worthy of sufficient PR to be used as targets anywhere, as far as I can remember.

However, for your peace of minf, I suggest that,

1. You buy returnable flight tickets
2. Make hotel reservations you can cancel with no penalty,
3. Stop listening to hearsay from people who have not traveled to these parts in recent years.
4. Check the English press and Foreign Policy Review headlines, on Twitter or elsewhere, frequently.
5. Check this thread and others here on Fodors.
6. Start making plans by buying one of the recommended books.
7. Be assured that the excitement you build up will not turn into disappointment when you arrive in turkey and during your trip.
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Old Mar 15th, 2015, 01:47 AM
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Excellent advice, OC, and not just for visiting Turkey.

Did you know that April 23rd [amongst other things, like Shakespeare's birthday] is celebrated in England as St. George's day? how he came to be patron saint of England is a bit of a mystery, not least because he never came here. He has become the patron saint of many places and many things, including scouting, [which explains your miserable experience] leprosy and syphilis.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_George

It is said that his legend came back to the UK with the returning crusaders, and of course Shakespeare has Henry V invoking him at Agincourt, but whether that is or could be historically accurate is beyond my knowledge of the era.
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Old Mar 15th, 2015, 03:15 AM
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BTW, a turkish flag was spotted at one of the Cricket World Cup matches in Australia the other day. no-one seemed sure if cricket is played in Turkey, so I thought that if anyone knew it would be you.

[BTW, within the nations which are members of the ICC, are Argentina, Botswana, Italy, Israel, Japan and Vanuatu, and Afghanistan of course so Turkey isn't such a stretch of the imagination].
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Old Mar 15th, 2015, 03:50 AM
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Ann, don't fall for those Aussie bye ways.

The only people who play cricket, softball or baseball in Turkey are probably foreign embassy and consular staff and possibly some students of foreign schools in addition to the personnel of United states and NATO bases.

I have never known a Turk to even watch cricket on TV, although there once was a friend who watched snooker.

However, if I were younger I would defintely consider starting up a Croquet Association, a game definitely more fun to watch and with a foreseeable end in sight.
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