Visting Turkey Right Now

Feedback from travelers recently returned from Turkey: what's good, what's bad, what they found

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Tavsan
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Re: Visting Turkey Right Now

Post by Tavsan » Tue Mar 11, 2014 9:40 am

I am sorry I haven't checked in for a while. We are half-way through our year here in Turkey and we have discovered so many great places being on the long clock for visiting here. Yesterday we hosted some friends around in the rain as they are in town for only a few days. We managed to squeeze in 8 solid hours of seeing various places. One surprise was that you can now visit Aya İrini Kilisesi (hope I didn't mess that up too much). Since I have been coming to Turkey I have wondered about the inside of that structure and I had heard various things over the years about visiting it: You needed special permission from someone at Aya Sofya; It was only open for special private tours of 10 or more people arranged in advanced; It was closed; and It was closed; and it's a museum yes but it's closed on Mondays like most museums; and most recently~"Yes, the doors are open but you can't come in." Finally, yesterday I spied the doors open and a ticket booth. They must have grown tired of all that special permission they were having to grant to get everyone in who wanted to get in. We were there with maybe two or three other people. What an amazing place! It was one of the happiest moments in all my travels to Turkey and a great triumph. Persistence does indeed pay off. Given its history it something to be seen and with an entrance fee of around $10 USD why not check it out. I was thrilled just to be there.

Our blitz included: The Arasta Bazaar, Blue Mosque (minutes before they needed to clear from prayer (hey we got 10 or 15 minutes but it counts); Hippodrome, golden mile marker, Chalcedony shopping; the oooooo ahhhh house walk behind Aya Sofya; Topkapi, Aya İrini Kilisesi, Underground Cistern, Spice Bazaar and then boat hopped to Asia (Uskudar) and then back to Europe (Besiktas) not to mention a great lunch and a coffee break.

Tavsan


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Re: Visting Turkey Right Now

Post by turkeytom » Tue Mar 11, 2014 4:52 pm

Glad you got to see Aya İrini. Of course it's best with a world-renowned chamber music group playing in it (during the Istanbul Music Festival), but even without that, it's beautiful.

When I first saw it (1968), it was filled with cannons, suits of armor, etc.—it was the Military Museum, historically appropriate because the First Court of Topkapi Palace, in which it sits, was where the Janissaries gathered.

I'm flying to Istanbul next week, and looking forward to it dört gözle ("with four eyes," —eagerly!)

Tom Brosnahan

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Re: Visting Turkey Right Now

Post by Tavsan » Fri Jan 15, 2016 1:00 am

In spite of recent events, I still love traveling to Turkey and likely always will. I want to personally thank Tom for his piece on the this site addressing the Sultanahmet terrorist attack. We just returned from a little over two weeks in Turkey. We were there for Christmas and New Year's. We had a couple of days in Istanbul and the rest was spent in Ankara on family business.

I am writing this rather brief post out of my love for Turkey and for Istanbul in the aftermath of the most recent act of terrorism in Istanbul. Everyone must make their own decisions about travel, destination, safety, etc. I lived in Istanbul for a year and have visited Turkey I don't know how many times but I will not let the recent bombing in Sultanahmet somehow tarnish my love of Istanbul or Turkey. I have tentative plans for May 2016 to head back that way. Anyone assumes a risk in traveling internationally or even within one's own country. It is up to you to make up your mind. This most recent trip I encountered heightened security and it actually helped me feel incredibly safe rather than feeling anxious and worried. I want everyone to feel safe so I completely understand someone waiting a while to visit so that their comfort level improves. In the long run, let's not let the bad guys win this one and let's achieve this however we can. Safe travels everyone and thanks again Tom for letting my ramblings have a place to land.

Tavsan

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Re: Visting Turkey Right Now

Post by turkeytom » Fri Jan 15, 2016 3:14 pm

Thanks, Tavşan. I agree completely. I''m returning to Turkey in March, not to prove a point or because I'm courageous, but because I believe that the danger from terrorism, although real, is statistically insignificant.

My new mantra: "Statistically, the most dangerous part of a trip is the drive to the airport."

Tom Brosnahan


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