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Top Tips for Istanbul

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New York City
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Top Tips for Istanbul

1) Bring really comfortable shoes. I thought I had but ended up buying sneakers on our second day in Istanbul. It's a city for walking, with hills and cobble-stoned streets.

2) Bring earplugs so the dawn call to prayer, broadcast over speakers from the mosques, doesn't wake you.

3) Buy an Akbil for public transportation; it provides multi-ride (you decide how much) access to trams, buses, the underground, and ferries.

4) Resist the impulse to respond with a polite "No thanks" or "I have enough carpets" to the incredibly numerous and aggressive touts in front of the carpet stores. That only encourages them; the only way to escape engaging with them is to avoid eye contact and to act as if you don't speak English.

5) If you take a taxi, make sure the driver turns the meter on as you head off.

6) Be very careful of the restaurants that cater to tourists, which rip you off while acting incredibly friendly. Common scams: Pouring bottled water after you sit down and then charging you for it. "Specials" presented by the waiter are often much more expensive than similar items on the printed menu. Ask the price of anything not on the menu and repeat it back to the waiter to confirm -- better yet, scribble it down to confirm (we were charged 48 TL for something we thought was "for 8 TL." Another time, when we said we'd share a dish, we were charged double, and told that the one plate we'd gotten had double the usual amount of food since we were sharing. (If you're going to share, don't announce it in advance.)

San Francisco...
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1. Re: Top Tips for Istanbul

1.Allow the call to prayer you hear throughout your day, be a reminder to stop and just take in the fact that you are in Istanbul.

2.As a woman, know when you might be interacting with a more old fashion islamic gentleman. If need be let the man traveling with you take the lead.

3.Have toilet paper in your daypack.

4.Practice the position of the turkish toilet at home. you will probably need to use one at least once.

**just because the toilet stall that is available is turkish toilet, doesnt me that ALL are. the one that is occupied could be worth the wait.

even if no English is spoken by other women in line..the pantomine always works.

5. Whatever you intend to purchase, do your research PRIOR to your arrival to know the best value

6.Genuine Hospitality and a Carpet Salesman...

they can overlap..keep that in mind as you are approached..many pointed us in the right direction without expecting anything in return. try to remain gracious..

an old songs says..there are 50 ways to leave your lover

Islam says there a 99 ways to say God..(i think, I remembered this correctly)

you as a savvy traveller can surely come up with 20 ways to graciously say no thank you.

7. Embrace the Lira, print out a travellers conversion cheat sheet at oanda.com or xe.com.

Your life will be so much easier.

8. allow enough time, 2-3 days is NOT enough. There is so much more to Istanbul than Topkapi, Blue Mosque, Haghia Sophia and Grand Bazaar that I would still rate on a tier 1 of must sees.

9. Bring plenty of memory cards

10. if traveling with an IPOD pack an extra battery portable charger. No where in Taksim or Sultanhamet or several other places can you find one. Trust me I SEARCHED and our desk clerks searched I'm became quite familiar with all electronika outlet options

this is what i'm talking about

energizer.com/products/energi-to-go/Pages/ip…

Side note: To all you locals/DE's this is a stall you should open and advertise it in all travel magazines.

11. youtube is banned in turkey remember to set your Tivo at home for any season finals of your favorite tv shows.

12. At the train station is GREAT but small museum of the Orient Express, we loved it.

13. don't wait until the last day to go on your Bosphorous cruise or ferry to the Asian side. We did, we had gorgeous weather all week and then that day a fierce 1 day storm hit.

i'm sure I will think of so many more

Concord, California
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2. Re: Top Tips for Istanbul

OliveMcC,

#4,just remember these salespeople rely on tourists for their livelihood.

#6. this is why I eat away from tourist areas or go to a grocery store and buy food for a picnic. I also ate in places on side streets,where few tourists go.

#2- I like the call to prayers,I didn't need an alarm clock when I was in Istanbul.

I might add: to respect customs of modesty in Mosques,IE no shorts,no short sleeves,no cut offs or tank tops. I cover my head in mosques,as a sign of respect.

Most of all,I go to a country with no preconceived ideas of the culture,people,practices or behavior. I read up on those before I go.

I never worry about my safety in foreign countries.

Cincinnati, Ohio
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3. Re: Top Tips for Istanbul

Re: tip 2, a polite "no thank you" plus continuing walking worked great for me during our four-day visit last September.

Surrey, UK
Destination Expert
for Istanbul
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4. Re: Top Tips for Istanbul

Great list isailthe7seas... It is obvious you have caught Istanbulitis!!

As for shoes - you cannot have enough comfortable shoes in Istanbul! Everything is hilly, uneven or cobbled!!

I agree there is a way to smile and say 'no thanks' in a way that leave people in no doubt that you mean no.... However if sellers think there is a chance you might change your mind, they will persist....!!! It takes practise but as Califpoppy says, they are just making their living - it just isn't what we are used to. If you haven't got the knack, ignoring works fine - I just can't do it...

The akbil is a fantastic thing.... so useful.

Mount Dora, Florida
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for Istanbul
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5. Re: Top Tips for Istanbul

1. Shoes: Absolutely! I never take new shoes to Turkey!

2. Earplugs: Not for me. I love hearing that first call to prayer and then rolling over and knowing I can sleep a bit longer. There are hundreds of silent mornings, and I would not miss the first call to prayer in Turkey. I even crack my window in winter so I do not miss it.

3. Akbil: Absolutely!

4. Carpet Salesmen: I understand that for many people the easiest thing to do with carpet salesmen is to simply ignore them. Like GTTD we just cannot do that. When we are in a hurry we just shake our heads and say "No", usually in Turkish. We often advise people who are worried about carpet dealers to keep walking, avoid verbal responses and avoid eye contact. We stop and visit with the carpet dealers in our neighborhood. A couple of them have been very kind to us, even when they know there is absolutely no chance of selling us a carpet.

When I am alone and approached by a carpet seller I always smile and ask for the name of his shop because, I tell him, I have too many carpets and I need to sell some. This almost always establishes the appropriate tone without being offensive. I certainly do have plenty of carpets.

5. Taxis: Lots of tips: Be sure meter is turned on day. Be sure meter is running. Be sure taxi driver is going in the right direction. Be sure you have some idea of where you are going. Be sure you and the driver agree on the denomination of the currency you give him before you put it in his hand. Be sure to write down number of taxi, or take a quick photo with your cell phone. If you have a problem with a taxi, call the tourist police, get help from the people in your hotel or the nearest tourist friendly business.

6. Restaurants: It is important when in Turkey to make sure that everyone understands the price before anyone agrees to purchase anything. We were caught by this on our first night in Turkey. From that point forward we always ask the price before we ordered anything, accepted anything or agreed to anything. It is good advice, not just for Turkey, but for every country one visits.

I do not know anything about YouTube because I rarely watch it, but we did not miss any of our favorite TV shows. My husband was able to download them on our computer. I have no idea how, and it may not have been strictly legal. A couple of expats at the Java Studio showed him how to do it.

I have only seen one Turkish toilet in Istanbul, and there was a conventional toilet also available. I find public toilets in Istanbul generally better equipped in terms of toilet paper than those in the US. I, however, always carry a supply.

We bought memory cards and at the last minute decided to take our laptop. We downloaded photos to the laptop and sent them to friends and family each night so they could share our experience. Now we travel with two laptops so we can use them at the same time. Memory cards are certainly easier, and there are dozens of shops in Sultanahmet that can convert photos to CD's, but I hate to be without my laptop. Sometimes when I am traveling I need to come to the forum for advice or directions.

If you need things for your iPod or any other products made by Apple visit the Apple store in Kanyon Mall.

Terrific advice about the Bosphorus Ferry. Make sure your schedule is generous enough so that you can take the first great weather day and experience the ferry ride.

San Francisco...
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6. Re: Top Tips for Istanbul

Hi!

Just wanted to say the Apple Store didn't have it.

I'm a DE on locating (or not) AA portable Battery chargers for ipod!

hahahhahahahahahahahahahaahahhahahaahahaha

but don't feel bad Istanbul, I couldn't find it in the city of Athens!!!

until we went to the Athens airport, their electronika store didn't have it BUT the furthest out

rinky dink magazine/snack kiosk did!!!!

I was ready to hug the salesclerk...

I really needed it for our flight back to SFO!!!

Mount Dora, Florida
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for Istanbul
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7. Re: Top Tips for Istanbul

Was the Apple store just temporarily out? They had them when we were there in January/February/March.

Maybe TA can start a new forum for how to find those things we cannot live without, and you could be the founding DE!

I do know the feeling. We looked all over our entire town for some stupid cable my husband needed. We must have gone to 20 stores. We finally found it in a little kiosk in the Atlanta airport.

Albany, New York
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8. Re: Top Tips for Istanbul

Am I missing something about the iPod chargers? Did you have problems charging them with the usual cable in the hotel? I have the two-round-pronged adapter used across Europe plus a USB AC adapter that can handle 50Hz/240V, etc. Is there some other issue specific to Turkey, or did you just want a charger to use on the go?

Mount Dora, Florida
Destination Expert
for Istanbul
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9. Re: Top Tips for Istanbul

No there is no unique problem in Turkey. Just wanted extra power in flight.

San Francisco...
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10. Re: Top Tips for Istanbul

thanks BR

On this particular trip we had 10 flight segments that included our time in Cappadocia, Greece and Bulgaria and then back to San Francisco California...

lots of time on the airplane and airport connections

I brought my portable AA battery charger with me but it died from Frankfurt to Istanbul.

It wasnt an energizer.

My Dell mini laptop would only give me additional battery life for 3 more hours using a USB cord.

Fully charged an ipod would never last me all the way home to SFO.

I have severe chronic pain I literally NEED my IPOD to help my mind go to another place as part of my coping strategy for sitting long periods(also lots of drugs). My health issues have taken a lot from my life...but I wont allow it to take away my love of travel.

on a side note I was just at Costco(those in North America will know it) and they are offering to Duracell chargers for ipods/blackberrys for 20USD total.