Out of season
Tourism seems to play already a strong role in Istanbul, where some places show a seasonal functionality. We were in a park, with what should be a great and probably nice complex of lakes and waterfalls, but everything was stopped, dry and dirty. I think that if the park was out of service the guide wouldn't have taken us there, so, I believe that it will work only in summer months.
Well, we were in May, and, in Portugal, things to work in summer are usually already moving by then!Related to:
Harem in Dolmabahce Palace
The harem is beautiful, but after the outstanding luxury of the main palace it seems... poor and sad.
I suggest that, if you may, you reverse the order of the separated visits - start with the harem, and finish with the palace - this will save you the sensation of wasting time and the consequent loss of interest in the details that the harem may provide about HOW they really lived there in the old days.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Castles and Palaces
TURKEY AIRPORT CONTROL
Yesterday, my husband and I had traveled to Turkey for a holiday break. After 4 hours flight, we could at last see Istanbul from the plane. Unfortunately, this was all we got to see!
Our exciting holidays had turned into a living hell when I was refused entry to Turkey. After queuing up for one and a half hours at the visa section, all they could tell me was that I must have applied at the Turkish consulate in London and that I must go back to London in the next flight.
I had begged them to read the print out I had from their own consulate’s website and which says that I was eligible to get a 30 days Turkish visa at the airport. But they refused to read or hear anything and claimed that the rules had changed a few days earlier.
My print out was dated from October 15th but I had double checked the information on the website prior to our flight and nothing had changed. I had explained that the Turkish consulate in London had directed me to the website (I had a copy of the email confirming this) as well as I showed them what was on the website itself. All they said was: “ we don’t know what the consulate puts on their website but we don’t care! You have to go back to London!
I then asked to speak to someone from their consulate but they locked me in a small room with no windows for 5 hours with no food or right to call or speak to anyone- Not even my husband who was travelling with me.
As they separated me from my husband, I didn’t even know whether he managed to get a flight back. Although I did explain to them that I needed to see him to get the house keys at least because I had nowhere to go in London; they ignored me!
On the other side my husband was trying to speak to anyone who could possibly help but they first refused to help him or allow him to speak to me. Then they started sending him back and forth for five hours where he was running pretty much everywhere trying to find an explanation to what was happening. Unfortunately, no one had given him any explanation; all they could tell him was that if he wanted to return with me he’d have to change his ticket but that they can’t tell him which flight I was in. He even said to them that I had no keys for our house and that he had to give it to me but they still didn’t want to tell him about my flight – how ridiculous and inhuman?
My husband had no choice but to take a chance and book the next flight to London for three times the price! Not to mentioned that all our pre-booked flight returns, accommodation and the currency exchange had gone to waste.
After 5 hours of hell, they released me from the lock they put me in and took me to a plane where I didn’t even know if my husband was in. Hopefully he was and we flew 4 hours back after hours of abuse. To this date the rules on the Turkish website I was directed to did not change.
Please, share this story around as this is my only chance to bring to justice the ones who abused my rights for no reason whatsoever.
PS: As I did not witness other experiences myself, I cannot include other examples. But similar cases of abuse at the Ataturk airport are available on on the internet.Related to:
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
It always breaks my heart to see stray animals wandering around cities, in Istanbul it seemed that the stray cats far outnumbered the stray dogs and they were everywhere. It did seem like people were feeding them, we saw a woman with cat food and water taking care of some near Topkapi and some of the restaurant owners threw scraps out for them. At least we didn't see any dead ones, I guess they are smart enough to avoid the trams and the cars, but some of them are pretty ragged looking and one little fellow outside the Archeology Museum jumped into my lap and would probably have stayed there all day had we not been pressed for time.
Fake jewerly and credit card copying
Wish I had read the warning about Divas Jewelry before we went to Istanbul (Oct. - Nov. 2012). I purchased earrings there and have just returned home where I will confirm whether they are actually white gold. But the REAL problem is that my original purchase was charged correctly, then another charge of $689 was added to my credit card a week later. Thankfully I had proof that we were no longer in Istanbul, but my cc company said the card had actually been swiped. After some inspection, Capitol One suspects that this is a company who uses info from your original card and makes a copy card, which they then swipe for supposed future purchases. Since I had hard proof of being in another area on the date the company added the second charge, that amount is being credited to my account. DO NOT go with anyone to the Blue Mosque or any carpet or jewelry store. This company charges your card under the name Avrasya Kuyumculuk and the business name is Divas Jewellery (yes, two Ls). Once I confirm whether earrings are gold, I will update. This is now,the second warning on this company.Related to:
- Women's Travel
stay away from Divas Jewelry near blue mosque
a nice showroom but fake fake stuff. bought silver jewlery (supposedly designer at high price). broke in two when i got home and it turned out to be some lead based alloy.
wrote to them and asked for another one that was mailed to me. same thing. arrived broken in pieces. a friend was visiting istanbul so sent the receipt with her, confirmed in advance via email that they will give her another ring. they refused to acknowledge despite a receipt.
Istanbul, very difficult for older people
The streets are very difficult to walk on, uneven easy to trip,and in some places, such as
Sultanahmet you are forced to walk in the street with some very erratic traffic !
None of the sites have handrails to help with balance or support at the entry.
Basically no accommodations are made for older people or those with disabilities,
At Topkapi, the toilet was entered by a narrow stairway without an enclosing wall , so if
accidentally pushed,you could easily fall down several feet.
There was only ONE waiting line for both the men's and women's toilets,( of which there were only
four toilets for woman), and people entered and left via this one precarious three foot "stair"
This place makes money hand over fist, so you wonder why they could not offer safer, more well
thought out accommodations for those needing to use the loo?Related to:
touts tourist guides
we visited istanbul in march this year- beautiful country, awe inspiring architecture and a new culture.our tour guide took us to the first shop in the spice market-alladin and recommended it.we bought flower teas and turkish delight for which we paid four times the price and very average quality.my advice DO NOT FOLLOW recommendations from taxi drivers and tourist guides, and ALLADIN-very avoidableRelated to:
- Business Travel
I am very angry at myself for falling for this trick but wanted to warn others so they don't get conned the way that I did. The con starts with 2 guys who start a nice friendly conversation with you. They say they're just heading for dinner and want to invite you along, because Turkish people are so friendly. They take you to an authentic restaurant where they proceed to get to know you. They then actually pay the bill, insisting that it's a small thing. Next, they suggest going to a night club for a night cap. You go there, have some girls sit with you and drink. Here comes the payoff, when you finnish and the bill comes, IT'S FOR $3500! There's no way that it's that much but they insist and even offer to pay half. You are now stuck and are threatened in a very subtle way that if you don't pay, it's not going to be good. They accompany you right to the ATM to make sure you pay every dime that you can take out. I'm feel dirty that I got tricked but glad I made out of there in 1 piece. DO NOT except any invite from anyone while walking! It's not like in Canada or the US where you can trust people to be on the level.
Tobacco and alcahol
Tobacco and alcohol are very expensive in istanbul compared to other Cities.and the tobacco quality is the lowest ,all the major Cigarettes brands are made in turkey so the quality is very low. alcohol prices(Vodka,Whiskey)are very expensive.
so if your are a tasteful smoker bring your own cigarettes with you. the only thing that i found that got fair price is beer.
Queueing at the Aya Sofya
The Aya Sofya is one of Istanbul's top attractions.
The entrance is split into an entrance for organised tours and an entrance for occasional visitors. The organised tours have their own guides who know hot to get their groups inside quickly; the unguided lone visitors just have to queue up and buy a ticket first.
When you arrive as a lone visitor you can get the impression that it will take a hour or so to get inside, but a queue of 100 meters gets through surprisingly in about 10 minutes.
In the mean time private guides try to offer you their services and rapid entrance.
If you need any guidance, better get a self-guided audio tour.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
- Budget Travel
Bargaining or haggling
Be aware that haggling down the price of any thing you buy,The seller,vendor mostly raise the price because the vendor knows very well the buyer will try to haggle it down. It is part of the culture,cloth,taking a taxi,souveniurs,even the hotel price...etc from 20% to 40% ,50%.Do your best ;)
By all accounts, Istanbul is a safe city. At no point in my travels did I feel threatened by anyone. Be aware of your surroundings at all times and you should come home safely and with all your possessions. Try to avoid walking alone at night. If you are walking by yourself down a dark street, you will be a tempting target for any thief.
Istanbul has been a repeated target by terrorists, both by Al Qaeda and a Kurdish separatist movement known as PKK. The threat you face in Istanbul is the same as it is in London. Unless there is evidence of a forthcoming attack, I would not worry about it. As I repeatedly tell other travelers, you are more likely to get killed in a car going to the airport than you are by a terrorist’s bomb. To be on the safe side, avoid demonstrations or any area where you see a large concentration of police. As the saying goes, “where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”
Turnabout is fair play. (Hear that America?)
Americans - If you do your research before arriving in Turkey you will find that the visa costs 100 dollars for Americans entering Turkey. It's the highest of any nationality.
"What an injustice!?!?" would be the cry of the ignorants. "It smacks of anti-Americanism!?!?"
Not at all. That is the entry fee that the US charges for Turkish citizens entering the US.
So bring 100 dollars in US currency with you. You will need it. As you grumble and hand it over remember....
turnabout is fair play.
Update! (June 7th, 2004)
The Turkish government announced that they have lowered the visa fee for Americans to 20 dollars! Perhaps more Americans will now discover the wonderful place that is Turkey.
Thank you to VT member Erkman from Istanbul for bringing this to my attention.
Irregardless of this - I would still have gone back.
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