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 » Fri Aug 30, 2013 10:30 pm

Thank you we'll be here all year! We are on a year's assignment to Turkey living in Istanbul. We have been here about a month spending some time near Side, a brief stay in Ankara, and finally arriving back in Istanbul. This is a great tourist season we are finding. Since we have seen a lot of the regularly visited tourists sites this time we have attempted to find some rather interesting places that many people just do not get around to seeing while here. We are also exploring off the beaten pathways for good eats. So far so good. Great experiences so far? We actually visited Minaturk and found it quite enjoyable. It is the place with scale models of some of the greatest architectural or historical buildings/places recreated in one setting. You know I was expecting to be really disappointed and once there I loved it. Yesterday we took a hop on/hop off cruise of the Bosphorus for a whopping $6 per person. Ridiculously affordable and an excellent cruise clocking in at just 90 minutes. There are so many things on our agenda but we are enjoying wandering around bazaars other than the Grand Bazaar. Besiktas has a great area that is a neighborhood bazaar, less touristy and more a functional Turkish neighborhood shopping area. Great food here by the way. I have also been pleasantly surprised by the Ferikoy Organic Food Market held on Saturdays and the Antique Bazaar/Flea Market held on Sundays at the same venue. Easy to get to via the bus or a cab. By Bus you can get there from Besiktas by taking the Sisli bus and getting off right in the same area as the Ramada Hotel and following the same directions listed for taking the cab once you exit the bus. By Cab: Simply take the cab to the Ramada Hotel in Sisli and take a walk on Ergenekon Caddesi until it T's and then turn right. It is a bit of a walk but easy to navigate. Walk about a block or two and the market area is off to your left. Some of the best gozeleme in Turkey is the organic gozeleme sold there on Saturdays. There have even been reports of celebrity shoppers there from time to time. Tonight Bengu is playing on the plaza near the Deniz museum so the whole neighborhood is rockin'. Hope to provide more great finds as they emerge. One of my favorite food ventures thus far involved a doner pide for lunch which was essentially doner meat on a huge bun-like piece of bread with lettuce, tomatoes, and french fries. Set me back a whopping $1.50. Worst of all . . . addictive.

Tavsan


Tavsan
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Re: Visting Turkey Right Now

Post by Tavsan » Tue Sep 10, 2013 10:14 pm

Some of the best days for visiting Turkey are in September and October. Already here we are seeing the temps starting to drop a little. Last night on the Bosphorus was actually a bit chilly. The number of tourists slow and crowds diminish as fall officially arrives. This summer has been a banner year for produce. I have had some of the best fresh fruit here this summer. I highly recommend the pears and especially the peaches from Bursa. :) Still a lot of fun to be had this fall!

Tavsan

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Re: Visiting Eyüp Sultan Mosque and Pierre Loti Cafe

Post by Tavsan » Fri Oct 18, 2013 7:38 am

Recently, we took a trip from Beşiktaş to Haliç via the ferry system. Besiktas to Uskudar for a transfer, then back onto the Bosphorus and into the Golden Horn. The ride on the ferry boats was not all that slow and the views were amazing. The ferry system is quite affordable here and efficient. This was well worth the journey and it will likely remain on my list of favorite places in Istanbul and a destination worth revisiting

If you take this trip there are at least two interesting sites to see at the final destination, one being Eyüp Sultan Mosque (get off the ferry at the Eyüp dock) and the other being the Pierre Loti Café. The mosque and the surrounding complex is one of Islam’s holiest sites and seconds after your arrival at the destination you can feel it in the air. The café is accessible via a cable car ride up the hill. The cable car facility is just around the corner from the mosque complex. Ask the locals for directions but be certain to ask for the cable car location or you might get directed up the stairs for a 15 or 20 minute uphill climb through the cemetery. That, for some, can be an experience worth pursuing. The café is small but the terrace seating is great with stunning views. At the original café expect only drinks and ice cream on the menu (that’s what we found). There are other restaurants with decent views and better selections but for the authentic Pierre Loti Café experience I say at least sit inside the café for a cup of cay then go explore the other options for food and alternative views. Before you take this journey or in planning your trip there before your arrival in Turkey I have two recommendations: 1) reading up on the mosque and its history; 2) research Pierre Loti including finding an English translation of his book Aziyadé which has an interesting take on Turkey in Loti’s era. Yes, full of perceptions and misperceptions through the eyes of an “outsider” attempting to fit-in in a most unique way. The Rahmi M Koç Museum also sits right along the shore on this journey and is hard to miss. Look for the large ship, airplane, submarine (yes a sub) on the right as you venture toward Eyüp. In fact, it has inspired us to repeat the journey stopping at the museum as our final destination that day.

Tavsan

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Re: Visting Turkey Right Now

Post by turkeytom » Fri Oct 18, 2013 7:55 am

Thanks, Tavşan.

Here's my take on the Golden Horn ferry cruise, Eyüp, and the Pierre Loti Café:

http://www.turkeytravelplanner.com/go/I ... ruise.html

http://www.turkeytravelplanner.com/go/I ... /eyup.html

http://www.turkeytravelplanner.com/go/I ... _cafe.html

Tom Brosnahan

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Re: Visting Turkey Right Now

Post by Tavsan » Mon Oct 21, 2013 11:53 pm

Tom:

As always I find myself amazed with your site. Didn't even think to look this one up as we were out the door before we knew it that day. I am going to show this to my fellow travelers so they can better understand what we experienced although with regard to the mosque I think they understand that way better than I do.

We have had some great aha moments over the holiday break including:

Discovery of the lesser known but awesome Ihlamur Palace after a rather disappointing run at the Saturday Bazaar in Besiktas.

We made the trip to Haci Bekir shop in Eminonu amidst one of the largest crowds I have ever witnessed anywhere in Istanbul much less Eminonu. Sheesh! That's one of my favorite visits when the Spice Bazaar is open. It was closed for the holiday. :( Even too crowded to take a stroll over to the old train station. The aha moment there was the realization that a lot of people on holiday like Eminonu! :lol:

And just yesterday we hiked around Yildiz Park. Istanbul's Central Park so to speak and bit of tranquility in the middle of Istanbul. So many trees! :D

The good thing about being here for an extended period of time is the afforded luxury of being able to see some of the lesser visited sites and some of the slightly off the beaten path places one would never imagine seeing during a brief visit. For example, sampling kaymak for breakfast from Pando in the carsi in Besiktas or catching Karadeniz right across the same street open for doner at lunch (there are no tables, just little seats to sit on along with the legions of other fans sitting as well as those still in the long line that forms there daily).

Thanks again for the helpful heads up. This will certainly make a repeat trip even more meaningful and informed. I think our next visit there will be in late November.

Tavsan

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Re: Visting Turkey Right Now

Post by turkeytom » Tue Oct 22, 2013 9:58 am

Tavşan,

Glad it's going so well. I'm in Ankara after updating TTP's pages on:

Black Sea Coast: http://www.turkeytravelplanner.com/go/B ... index.html

Safranbolu: http://www.turkeytravelplanner.com/go/C ... afranbolu/

Sinop: http://www.turkeytravelplanner.com/go/B ... index.html

Giresun: http://www.turkeytravelplanner.com/go/B ... index.html

Trabzon: http://www.turkeytravelplanner.com/go/B ... index.html

Sumela: http://www.turkeytravelplanner.com/go/B ... umela.html

Amasya: http://www.turkeytravelplanner.com/go/C ... ia/Amasya/

Yes, Ihlamur Kasrı is really a gem: http://www.turkeytravelplanner.com/gale ... s/009.html

Next time you should seek out the Aynalı Kavak Kasrı in Hasköy overlooking the Golden Horn, a gem of a Tulip Period imperial villa:

http://www.turkeytravelplanner.com/go/I ... kavak.html

There's also Küçüksu Kasrı on the Asian shore of the Bosphorus, a true Baroque mini-palace.

Enjoy the rest of your stay!

Tom Brosnahan

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Re: Visting Turkey Right Now

Post by Tavsan » Sat Nov 09, 2013 9:16 pm

We were in Sultanahmet today and had the strangest thing happen. Usually, I give cab drivers a break. I tip better than average, don’t complain about them squeezing two or three liras extra out of a route by taking the long way, etc. Today my wife and mother-in-law (both Turkish) attempted to flag a cab repeatedly in Sultanahmet and approached cabs attempting to catch a cab back home. Not a single driver stopped or agreed, when approached, to transport them. At one point we were told there were NO available taksis in Sultanahmet. This I know was not true. No explanation, just there were no taksis. I, the yabanci (foreigner), flagged a cab. It stopped, the driver agreed to transport me, but when my family stepped off the curb and he heard Turkish he got very angry and drove us to the train tracks and kicked us out of his cab. What is it with Sultanahmet cab drivers and transporting Turkish citizens? I can understand that they might want to stay in Sultanahment or capitalize on transporting tourists if it means higher fares at night and saving gas or something but why would a driver agree to transport me but not me and Turkish folks. Just doesn’t make sense unless they want to, let’s say, transport tourists so they can make better money taking their time or the long way home. It just seemed so unlike Turkey. Was there a strike or something? Learned a lesson today and I won’t be recommending or taking taksis in Sultanahmet for a while. I will walk there and back (It’s a hike) before taking a cab. :P

Tavsan

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Re: Visting Turkey Right Now

Post by turkeytom » Sun Nov 10, 2013 6:37 pm

I never enter a cab in Sultanahmet because, it seems to me, all the taxis there are looking for fat tourist fares or, worse, tourists they can rip off. I take the tram to some other location, such as Eminönü or Aksaray, and take a taxi from there.

Istanbul taxi drivers' rip-off methods are myriad and ingenious. Read these pages:

http://www.turkeytravelplanner.com/go/I ... lTaxi.html

http://www.turkeytravelplanner.com/go/I ... aints.html

http://www.turkeytravelplanner.com/go/I ... o_use.html

I have had the experience of getting into a cab in Sultanahmet, telling the driver where I wanted to go (a reasonable, but relatively short fare), and been told to get out. It is against the law for a driver to do this, but it's common practice in Sultanahmet.

In the rest of Istanbul, taxi drivers are much better, even almost normal; and in Ankara it's a joy to use taxis. Never had a problem there—but then Ankara is not a tourist mecca.

Tom Brosnahan

Tavsan
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Re: Visting Turkey Right Now

Post by Tavsan » Thu Nov 14, 2013 12:04 am

Tom:

This makes things way more clear than they were this past weekend. I will share this with the rest of the family. I have a relative headed this way and they are fairly fluent in "public transportation" outside of cabs so I will make certain to get them a bus/metro/train/ferry pass for their stay. I think the big mistake we made was we were tired and the train was jam packed with people. Otherwise, we would have taken the train over a taksi. In fact, we took the train over to start with and all went quite smoothly. I am learning to be a little more wise too regarding posted prices versus places where no prices are posted at all.

Still you are at the mercy of outdated information at times. We had another incident a not all that long ago where we visited Kiz Kulesi only to find that 1) they didn't have our reservation and 2) they had really raised prices but had neglected to correct their old website or take it down. The pricing differences were substantial. They eventually made it right but my wife had to take them to task. You don't keep outdated information up on the web for a long time and try to charge people new, either unpublished rates or rates that are hard to find online. In our searches online all we found were the old rates. Their excuse was that they actually had a new site and an old site. All we were able to find was the old site that was apparently way out of date.

I greatly appreciate your comments on Ankara taksi services. They rarely disappoint. As everybddy here knows, I simply love Ankara. Everything is way easier there including shopping for just about anything. It remains my favorite place to buy silver in Turkey as well as gold. It is easier to navigate, quieter, and the air quality is definitely better. I hear people trash talk Ankara from time to time but they just don't know Ankara. Tourists are often told to avoid it but I find it a very friendly city with some great sites and activities. Speaking of which, the arts season during the winter months is simply splendid! That is just around the corner.

Tavsan

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Re: Visting Turkey Right Now

Post by turkeytom » Thu Nov 14, 2013 1:08 am

I agree about Ankara, having spent a few pleasant days there on my last trip. The problem is that Turkey has so much to offer, and visitors have so little time... :?

Tom Brosnahan


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