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Political unrest -- any areas to avoid?

Boulder, Colorado
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Political unrest -- any areas to avoid?

I'm headed to Istanbul tomorrow for a three-night stay. I'm an American woman who will be traveling alone. I don't expect any trouble, though of course I won't be doing anything stupid. However, it seems like the political situation in Turkey is getting very hot this week (especially today).

I know these things are impossible to predict with certainty, but am I likely to run into any protests in the tourist areas? I am signed up for the U.S. State Department's Istanbul and Turkey e-mail lists; I'm sure that if anything is announced, they will send out a warning. There are currently no alerts or specific warnings for Istanbul, though.

I'm asking here more about unplanned or spontaneous demonstrations. I'm staying in Sultanahmet and will visit Taksim and Beyoglu, but will probably not venture outside those areas on this short trip. I'm not really concerned, but my parents and friends will probably freak out when they wake up and read the news today about half the Cabinet getting fired, and I'd like to be able to reassure them. Thanks!

Istanbul
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1. Re: Political unrest -- any areas to avoid?

erdehof, Just use your regular street smarts and you will be OK. Istanbul is safe. In fact much safer than NYC. Already 1/3 of the government has been sacked but you do not need be concerned about that as that is internal politics. There are no demonstrations at Sultanahmet area. In Taksim area if you encounter one, just walk away from the crowds. That is it. What would you suggest that I do in Paris if I encounter French people demonstrating against their government?

enigma...

Edited: 26 December 2013, 15:16
Boulder, Colorado
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2. Re: Political unrest -- any areas to avoid?

Thank you -- I wanted to hear that from someone who lives in Istanbul and be able to tell my mother, "See? So-and-so in Istanbul says it will be OK!" You know how mothers are...

Of course I would advise you (or anyone!) to avoid political protests in any city if at all possible, although they happen so often in France that it can be rather tricky to do so... sigh. They are very rarely violent, though. Same in the U.S. -- most demonstrations are peaceful, but there are a few you definitely want to avoid (World Bank/IMF protests, a few of the uglier Occupy incidents, KKK rallies). I wouldn't say, "Don't go to Washington D.C. on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision because the protest might get violent," but I WOULD say, "Don't go to Washington D.C. on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision because it will be a huge pain to get around the city!"

I am very much looking forward to seeing your beautiful city!

Amsterdam, The...
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3. Re: Political unrest -- any areas to avoid?

Hi! I just arrıved last nıght. Am stayıng ın a hotel ın Taksım Square (The Marmara. Excellent!). Dıd a cıty tour today. I have not seen anythıng that even closely resembles a rıot. Nothıng! It's a very pleasant and safe cıty. I was here twıce before and ıt just the same as on my prevıous vısıts. So do come, you'll love ıt. Maybe there ıs polıtıcal trouble, but you don't notıce ıt ın the streets at all.

Boulder, Colorado
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4. Re: Political unrest -- any areas to avoid?

Thanks, Carolinde! Glad to hear that you are having a great time so far. Would you mind telling me with which company you did a city tour and what it included? My itinerary is still up in the air -- I have a few "must visit" sites and a hamam appointment, but otherwise I'm flexible, so I'm curious to hear what you're doing. How long will you be in the city? Maybe we can meet up!

I've been involved in a few (peaceful!) demonstrations in the U.S., including D.C.'s 2010 Rally to Restore Sanity And/Or Fear (which I think was a tourist attraction in itself -- I personally hosted two out-of-state visitors who were there solely for the rally!). I accidentally ran into a medium-size protest in Buenos Aires in 2008 (I had not signed up for the State Department e-mails at that time) and avoided a huge one in Cape Town last month (which the State Department did warn me about via e-mail, so I trust them when it comes to planned demonstrations).

Basically, I trust the Istanbul consulate to let me know if something big is planned. I just want to try to avoid the "spontaneous" rallies that tend to spring up in big cities when things are in flux. If this were happening in France, I would be asking the same questions on the Nice boards. It pays to be prudent, in my experience!

Amsterdam, The...
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5. Re: Political unrest -- any areas to avoid?

Hello! Thıs mornıng I went on a boat tour of the Bosphorus and vısıted the Spıce Market. I am not sure of the name of the company. I booked the trıp through the hotel. I just know there are sooooo many companıes and they all offer more or less the same tours. I know GrayLıne ıs one of them. The hotel wıll be able to tell you. Today I have not seen any protests, demonstratıonsş whatever eıther. So I hope you wıll be reassured. Where are you stayıng? I would really recommend The Marmara Taksım. Thıs ıs my second vısıt to thıs hotel and I love ıt. Wonderful place, very central, frıendly and helpful staff!!! It would have been great to meet up. I always lıke meetıng new people! However, I am flyıng back to Amsterdam tomorrow. But do let me know about everythıng that you are doıng ın Istanbul. I would love to hear! Thıs afternoon I am goıng shoppıng ın a huge shoppıng mall called Cevahır, only two underground stops from Taksım, I belıeve. And then on to Nısantaşı for more shoppıng. How long are you stayıng ın Istanbul?

Boulder, Colorado
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6. Re: Political unrest -- any areas to avoid?

Sounds like you're having a great trip! I will be at the Ottoman Hotel Park in Sultanahmet. I've never been before, but I will check out the Marmara Taksim if I get the chance. Sorry I'll miss you. Have a safe journey back to Amsterdam!

I called my parents last night to reassure them and they are still freaked out. Some things never change even when you're on the wrong side of 30!

Amsterdam, The...
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7. Re: Political unrest -- any areas to avoid?

That's good, you'll be close to famous sıghts lıke Topkapı Palace etc. Take a hop on hop offtour of the cıty!! There ıs a blue and a red tour. The fırst tıme I vısıted Istanbul I stayed ın that area. It's good! Your parents have nothıng to worry about.I mean, there are demonstratıons ın so many cıtıes all over the world. But not here. I am a woman travellıng on her own and I feel very safe here. Have you ever been to Amsterdam, by the way? You probably need to be more aware of pıckpockets and bagsnatchers ın Amsterdam than here. Relax and have fun!!!

Boulder, Colorado
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8. Re: Political unrest -- any areas to avoid?

I just had to update -- after all my promises to my loved ones about avoiding political rallies, my plane landed right in the middle of one! Who holds a huge rally at the airport?? Took me 2 hours to get out of there, and I think it would have taken much longer if I hadn't booked a ride in advance. Rough landing! Sounds like Taksim was not a great place to be today either. Eesh.

Here's hoping that tomorrow will be better and will involve a lot less angry honking of car horns!

Madison
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9. Re: Political unrest -- any areas to avoid?

I was there a few days ago and walked into a demonstration on Istiklal haha. It was nothing violent, just a crowd holding lights or candles and police in riot gear blocking the street.

Istanbul, Turkey
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10. Re: Political unrest -- any areas to avoid?

The political unrest is ascelating in Turkey. There may be protests and even riots in the coming days especially in and around Taksim and Istiklal area. Stay away from the crowded areas where you see also the riot police on duty.

Sultanahmet, Eminönü and the entire Old City are perfectly safe for your travels.

Forewarned is forearmed.

Borus