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Visiting Turkey for Fun and Adventure, Oasis or Chaos

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This thread follows on the last two one year threads, describing the political, social, economic, meteorological and psychological environment in Turkey and posting frequently to report changing terms and conditions as they reflect on the safety, purse and comfort of the traveler to Turkey.

I also respond to questions, occasionally give tid bits of information which do not warrant a thread of their own, dig out some of my older posts when the need arises and give links to interesting relevant sites or some personal ones.

I change my profile picture every few months also, thus allowing the reader to keep up with my aging process. The previous one was with my new and first grandchild. This one is with my wife at her most recent birthday.

Here's her blog with photographs from some of our Turkish trips as well as those taken from our balcony.

my blogs are also listed on her profile

The most recent blog entry is the "blue moon" which rose in all its glory last night:

To start the new edition, here are the current conditions in Turkey :

Political :

- It is a mess with no party winning a majority in last June 7 elections, The incumbent managing to stay in power until a coalition is former (seems impossible), a minority government is formed (also seems impossible) or new elections are held (highest possibility)

- In the meantime the government has taken advantage of its almost illegal power to conduct war against Kurdish Terrorist/guerilla fighters with whom they were negotiating peace and democracy until just a few months ago. The president and the PM believe that this will bring them more votes and a good majority in the coming early elections.

However, their bombing of PKK bases within Norther Iraq and even a few within Turkish borders (over 500 sorties in the last week) has brought reprisals against the Turkish armed and security forces as well as large possibly defense related construction and shows of foce on some Sotheastern region highways, making those areas of the country risky if not downright dangerour for visitors.

- This situation is likely to continue till December 2015 and may last longer depending on date and outcome of elections.


- Turkey has a majority of
Sunni moslems, 55-60 million
Alevis 15-20 million
Shiite & other Moslem sects 1-3 million
Christians (Greek, Armenian, Russian, Syrian Orthodox and others) 500,000
Jews 100,000- 150,000
Yazidis, Zoroastrians and other 50,000-100,000

Yet, of the majority of Sunni Moslems, less than 30% regularly pray at mosque or at home. This is not a very religious society, although the men and their imposed traditions have forced many women to cover their heads, arms and legs as a habit rather than as a requirement of their belief.

- There are a large number of NGOs on all types of issues including gay, LGBT and women's rights.
- There are are a huge number of Islamic charities and foundations but also a few but very significant secular educational foundations.
- It is a male dominated society but Istanbul especially has a large number of high level women professionals, CEOs and Board Members. The Parliament has less than 20% women deputies.
- Education system is poor with non-achievers teaching a rote learning based curriculum to 5-18 year olds. Public universities are controled almost fully by the Islamist government with only a few exceptions like the Bosphorus University in Istanbul, Hacettepe and Middle Eastern technical University in Ankara. There are also some decent private universities.
- Although there is a great deal of censorship on TV, some channels manage to get away with some anti-government talk shows and others with films and Series involving more violence and sex than the government would accept.
- There are approximately 100 TV channels fully supporting the government, a similar number of radios and three quarters of the national press. However the objective or opposition media have more viewers and readers.


- The Islamist government actually performed quite well for 13 years in power mostly because of the support of Saudi Arabia and some of the Gulf countries which not only sent them aid but also invested heavily in Turkey.

- However, this process keeping the Turkish Lira overvalued, resulted in decrease in domestic production and exports and a large increase in imports. Another result of this situation was higher unemployment and higher urbanization with the accompanied "frustration of rising expectations."

- Currently, the Turkish Lira having lost value, the visitor to Turkey from the United States and even from Europe will find Turkish trip a very good value even in the more expensive cities of Istanbul, Bodrum and Antalya.


- Turks are known to be a friendly and hospitable people throughout history and visitors who report on Fodors and Trip Advisor have verified this.

- The problems with the educational system, the family environment and the thousands of years of authoritarian rule in these lands have made the locals not aggressively but slyly paranoid of their neigbours, relatives, business partnes and even spouses and children.
Fortunately, this does not apply to foreign visitors where they follow the maxim, "innocent until proven guilty."

- Turks are very communicative, like to socialize and chat and can divulge rather personal information. Do not be upset because you do not have to reciprocate. Especially less educated Turkish women would love to share with foreign women.

I will write short general introductions on the geography, geology, climate, history, archeology, nature, scenery, transportation and cuisine of the country in forthcoming posts.

Today :

It is hot everywhere. Istanbul is about 90 F and humid. I am staying home and wandering if it would actually be less costly to go shopping in a mall rather than use up such expensive electricity cooling myself at home. Eser is visiting grandson just in from Cesme/Izmir trip.

Nothing very different on the TV regarding the Southeast, Syria Iraq, PKK, ISIS.

TL lost against USD and Euro again yesterday. now at 2,756 to $1 and 3.04 to E1.

Israeli and Russian tourists to Turkey down about 20% from last year, tourists from Arab countries up.

A reasonable dinner with some raki or a glass or two of wine can still be bought for %30-40 but not at any Bosphorus seaside or popular locations. I enjoy a very very cold Efes beer but only within the first three minutes of its arrival to the table, but tend to forget about it afterwards.

Turkish Kalecik Karasi grapes make quite smooth wines, merlots are also smooth and a bit more fruity. Okuzgozu is a bit more fruity and goes well with meats. Bogazkere grapes make tanini wine but keep well.

Kavaklidere, Doluca, Buzbag are old wine brands, but there are many new ones which have good vintages and types with Sarafin the best and Corbus or Corvus Bozcaada island following.

The Angora and Yakut I used to like, I do not find as good anymore. Kavaklider Selection, Doluca, Antik,Kav and DLC are still decent for cheap to medium priced wines.

I get carried away.

I will be around until September 8, then disappear for a week and be back again,

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