23 Şubat 2014 Pazar

Merhaba To Istanbul


Located in the center of the Old World, Istanbul is one of the world's great cities famous for its historical monuments and magnificent scenic beauties. It is the only city in the world which spreads over two continents: it lies at a point where Asia and Europe are separated by a narrow strait - the Bosphorus. Istanbul has a history of over 2,500 years, and ever since its establishment on this strategic junction of lands and seas, the city has been a crucial trade center.
 

The historic city of Istanbul is situated on a peninsula flanked on three sides by the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn. It has been the capital of three great empires, the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires, and for more than 1,600 years over 120 emperors and sultans ruled the world from here. No other city in the world can claim such a distinction.
 

During its development, the city was enlarged four times, each time the city walls being rebuilt further to the west.
 

Surrounded by 5th century Roman city walls and stretching over seven hills, Istanbul is adorned by the masterpieces of Turkish art, the great mosques of the Sultans that crown the hills. The city presents an exquisite, majestic and serene silhouette from all directions. The Golden Horn, which is a very secure natural harbor, has played a significant role in the development of the city.
 

Fortune provided such advantages to Istanbul as a location at a junction where the main overland routes reach the sea, an easily defensible peninsula, an ideal climate, a rich and generous nature, control of the strategic Bosphorus, and a central geographical position in the ancient world.
 

As a capital of empires, the city was not only an administrative, but also a religious center. The Patriarchate of Eastern Christians has been headquartered here since its establishment, and the largest early churches and monasteries of the Christian world rose in this city on top of the pagan temples. Within a century after the city was conquered, it was enriched with mosques, palaces, schools, baths and other architectural monuments that gave it a Turkish character, while some of the existing churches in ruins were repaired, altered and converted into mosques.Between the 16th century when the Ottoman sultans acquired themselves the title of the "Caliph of Islam" and 1924, the first year of the Republic, Istanbul was also the headquarters of the Caliphate. More Jews settled in Istanbul than any other port, and here they built themselves a new and happy life after they were rescued from Spain by the Turks in the 15th century. Istanbul has always been a city of tolerance where mosques, churches and synagogues existed side by side. The city was adorned with a large number of dazzling and impressive works even during the period of decline of the Ottomans.

During this time, the influence of European art made itself felt in the new palaces, while the northern slopes of the Golden Horn, Galata and Beyoglu districts assumed a European character. Even when the Empire, which was a party to World War I, collapsed and the young Republic that replaced it moved the capital to Ankara, Istanbul did not lose its significance.
 
The haphazard development that began in the years following World War II and accelerated in the 1950's has unfortunately had a negative impact on the fabric of the old city, and while old wooden houses disappeared rapidly, concrete buildings proliferated. Istanbul experienced a population explosion due to immigration, and within a very short period it expanded far beyond the historical city walls. The areas inside the walls were invaded by workshops, mills and offices; even the new thoroughfares could not solve the traffic problems, and the inadequacy of the infrastructure gave rise to a sea pollution problem, starting with the Golden Horn.
 

With the initiatives for saving the city in the 1980s, Istanbul embarked on a process of restructuring on a scale unseen in its history.Thousands of buildings along the Golden Horn were demolished to make way for a green belt on its shores; parks and gardens were built on the land claimed by filling up the beaches of the Sea of Marmara. In order to prevent sea pollution drainage systems were completed and physical and biological wastewater treatment plants were erected; the use of natural gas for heating has considerably reduced air pollution.

Efforts are continuing for the restoration of the Roman city walls, and Beyoglu, the main artery, was rescued by building a newavenue. Improvements were made in ihe general cleaning, maintenance, garbage collection fields and these services are now at Western European standards. Ring roads cross the Bosphorus over two suspension bridges to connect the two continents. The European side has now a fast tramway system and a subway, and comfort and speed has been ensured in sea transportation with the hydrofoil terminals built on the seashores. All industrial establishments on the historic peninsula have been moved to new facilities in the suburbs, and the new international bus terminal has reduced traffic intensity. The old jail and the first large concrete building of the city were given over to tourism and converted into 5-star hotels.
 

The city is growing dynamically and developing at full speed on an east-west axis along the shores of the Marmara.
 
 
 
 
 

 
 

22 Şubat 2014 Cumartesi

For A Short Visit The Istanbul

  
Have you got only a short period of time to visit this beautiful city? No need to worry- there are choices of “tasting Istanbul” even in a short period of time.

Daily excursions available throughout the year will give you the chance to visit the most important historical sites, museums, famous Grand Bazaar and surroundings. Excursions departing from hotels of the port present to you the monuments in the historical peninsula in half-day tours. You get a chance to visit Ayasofya Museum, the Mosque of Süleyman the Magnificent, the Mosque of Sultan Ahmet (also known as Blue Mosque), Hippodrome and Topkapı Palace Museum. You may also participate in tours taking you on the Bosphorus or to the Asian side. Then, you will go back home with unforgettable and beautiful memories.

The Roman fortifications, Chora (Kariye) Museum renowned for its late Byzantine period frescoes and mosaics, the Galata Tower for a splendid panorama of the city, Dolmabahçe Palace on the Bosphorus - the richest palace museum in the world, Archaeological Museums, Turkish-Islamic Arts Museum, the Spice Bazaar and others require 3 to 4 days’ time.

And cruising Bosphorus… A ferry ride on the Bosphorus will be amongst the most unforgettable. You may be carried away with the unparalleled beauty of the yalı mansions lining along the coasts and from which many ancient love stories reflect on the water, luxurious modern villas of the 20th century, the palaces of Dolmabahçe, Beylerbeyi and Göksu, Rumeli and Anadolu Fortresses, remnants of the fishing villages, restaurants, tea gardens, and night clubs. In the same day you can cool off in the waters of the Black Sea and then relax with a cup of coffee at a tea garden on the quiet coasts of the Sea of Marmara enjoying the beauty of the Istanbul Straits.
Istanbul is a place where the ancient meets the modern. For shopping there is a great variety of choices. The Grand Bazaar and the big reputable shops by it, the shopping malls of Ak Merkez, Galleria, Capitol and many more, the boutiques at Nişantaşı and Beyoğlu and in the Baghdad Street are at your service all through the year.

The Grand Bazaar still retains the dreamlike atmosphere of the “good old days,” yet, it presents you with the newest choices of the modern world: eye-catching jewelry, copperwork, rugs, leatherwear, suede wear, and many more… Once caught by it, you may lose track of time strolling in the Grand Bazaar.
                                     

Besides its historical importance and cultural heritage, the city is furbished with modern hotels, elegant restaurants, nightclubs, bars, historical bazaars and shops as well.

Once you step in this city, you will be able to experience by yourself this historical and natural beauty beyond words can describe. Our greetings and love from the beautiful Istanbul, home of many civilizations.
 
DON'T GO WİTHOUT
  • Seeing the Mosques of Süleymaniye and Sultan Ahmet (also known as the Blue Mosque);
  • Visiting the Ayasofya and Chora Museums;
  • Visiting the Topkapı and Dolmabahçe Palaces and the Rumeli Fortress;
  • Taking the ferry up the Bosphorus and to the Princes’ Islands;
  • Watching the panorama of the city from the Galata Tower and the Pierre Loti;
  • Enjoying the cultural and artistic activities;
  • Wondering and joining the life of entertainment;
  • Visiting the Ortaköy market;
  • Riding the phaeton in Büyükada (island);
  • Eating fish at a restaurant on the Bosphorus, at Kumkapı or Flower Passage; eating yoghurt at Kanlıca and profiterol at Beyoğlu;
  • Buying a rug, jewelry, leatherwear at the Grand Bazaar, Turkish delight, baklava, pastrami and candy at the Spice Bazaar;
  • Shopping at Beyoğlu and other mega sized shopping malls.

20 Şubat 2014 Perşembe

Who Requires A Visa?



Ordinary Passport Holders from the following countries require a visa to enter Turkey:

Afghanistan*, Algeria, Angola, Antigua-Barbuda, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bangladesh**, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Cuba, Cote d’Ivoire, Dominica, Dominican Republic, East Timor, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Greek Cypriot Administration, Haiti, Hungary, India*, Indonesia***, Iraq, Ireland, Jamaica, Kiribati, Laos, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Mozambique, Myanmar (Burma), Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands, Niger, Nigeria, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), Northern Mariana Islands, Norway**, Oman, Pakistan**, Palau Republic, Palestine, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar*, Russian Federation, Rwanda, St Christopher Nevis, St Lucia, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia**, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Surinam, Swaziland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Tonga, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America, Vanuatu, Vietnam, Western Samoa, Yemen, Zaire, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

* Diplomatic passport holders are exempt from visa for their travels up to 90 days.
** Official passport holders are exempted from visa for their travels to Turkey for up to 90 days.
*** Official passport holders are exempt from visa for their travels to Turkey for up to 60 days.

Ordinary Passport Holders from the following Countries are exempt from visa for their travels up to 90 days:

* Ordinary and official “Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the PRC ( SAR ) Passport” holders are exempt from visa for their travels up to 90 days. Hong Kong citizens who have “British National Overseas. Passport” are subject to visa and they can obtain three month-multiple entry visas at the Turkish border gates. Holders of “Certificate of Identity-Hong Kong ( C.I. )” and “Document of Identity for Visa Purposes-Hong Kong( D.I. )” must get their visas from the Turkish representations abroad.

Ordinary Passport Holders from the following Countries are exempt from visa for their travels up to 60 days:
Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia

Ordinary Passport Holders from the following Countries are exempt from visa for their travels up to 30 days:
Costa Rica, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia*, Macao Special Administration, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan,

Ordinary and official passport holders from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus are exempt from visa.

* Diplomatic and service passport holders are exempt from visa requirement for their travels up to 90 (ninety) days.

Note: The above information is for tourists. If you are going to study or work in Turkey, you must obtain appropriate visa from Turkish diplomatic/consular missions, prior to proceeding to Turkey.

What documents will be required?
The applicant is required to submit the following documents while applying in person:

- Valid travel document (passport) (It should be valid at least three months longer than the expiry date of the requested visa),
– Completed visa application form,
– One passport size photograph of the applicant (It should be affixed on the top left side of the visa application form),
– Documents supporting the purpose and the conditions of the planned visit (e.g. letter of invitation, travel itinerary, round trip ticket, hotel reservation with payment guarantee etc.),
– Guarantees regarding means of subsistence,
– Non-refundable visa processing fee (the amount differs depending on the nationality and visa type),
– If the person applies from a country other than his/her homeland, then he/she should also submit his/her valid residence permit or any document that proves he/she legally stays in that country.
– If the person applies for a business visa, an invitation letter from the counterpart company is also required in addition to the above mentioned documents.

Note: Please be informed that the requested documents may vary according to the local conditions where the Turkish Embassy/Consulate is based.

Note: If the relevant Turkish Embassy/Consulate exceptionally receives the visa applications by mail or by courier service, the applicant must send the above mentioned documents and also a pre-paid or self-stamped return envelope (DHL, Fed Ex, Express, UPS, or some sort of insured/certified mail is highly recommended, since the original passport will be returned inside that envelope). Please contact with the nearest Turkish Embassy/Consulate to learn whether they receive the applications by mail or not.

If the person prefers to obtain the entry visa at a Turkish border gate, then he/she will be required to have the following documents:
– Valid travel document (passport) (It should be valid at least three months longer than the expiry date of the visa requested.)
– Non-refundable visa processing fee (the amount differs depending on the nationality and visa type)

Only holders of passports from the follwoing countries can apply for entry visa at a Turkish border gate:
 USA, Albania, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belarus, Belgium, Armenia, Estonia, Greek Cypriot Adm., Netherlands, Hong Kong (BNO), United Kingdom, Ireland, Spain, Canada, Lithuania, Hungary, Moldova, Montenegro, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Fed., Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine, Jordan, Malta, Oman, UAE (*), Qatar (*), Kuwait (*), Saudi Arabia (*), Antigua – Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Maldives, St. Christopher Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, South Africa, Mauritius, Kosovo.

Time required to issue a visa:

Dependent on nationality of applicant. Minimum of 1 day but some applications may be referred to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ankara which may take much longer.

 How do I apply?

Passport holders from the following countries can apply for tourist visas at the Turkish border gate:
USA, Albania, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belarus, Belgium, Armenia, Estonia, Greek Cypriot Adm., Netherlands, Hong Kong (BNO), United Kingdom, Ireland, Spain, Canada, Lithuania, Hungary, Moldova, Montenegro, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Fed., Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine, Jordan, Malta, Oman, UAE (*), Qatar (*), Kuwait (*), Saudi Arabia (*), Antigua – Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Maldives, St. Christopher Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, South Africa, Mauritius, Kosovo.

Alternatively you can apply to your nearest Consulate of Consular section at Embassy; see Contact Addresses section.

What is the cost of a visa?
Tourist/Work Single-entry visa; Tourist/Work Multiple-entry visa; Education, Residence, Study and Long Term Multiple-entry visa; and Transit visa. Prices vary according to nationality. Some visas must be obtained in advance. Contact the Consulate (or Consular section at Embassy) for the up to date prices (see the link below for embassy contact info);

How long is the visa valid for?
 There are two types of visas in the Turkish practice:
 1) Entry visa (single entry, multiple entry and entry with special annotations)
 2) Transit visa (single and double transit)

- Single entry visa is valid for one year and allows its holder, depending on the nationality and passport type, to stay in Turkey up to three months and to visit the country only one time.
– Multiple entry visa is valid for up to five years and allows its holder to make multiple visits and, depending on the nationality and passport type he/she can stay one to three months each time he/she enters into Turkey.
– Transit visa is valid for up to three months and allows the person to travel to another country through transiting the Turkish territory.

If the connecting flight to the third country does not require an overnight stay in Turkey, then no visa is necessary. In other words, Turkey does not issue Airport Transit Visa (ATV).

The passengers of cruise ships are allowed to enter and stay overnight in the port cities of Turkey upon the permission given by local border police authorities. These passengers are not required to obtain an entry visa to Turkey.

Other information:
 Residence Permits:
 An entry visa enables the bearer to stay in Turkey for the duration stated on the visa sticker. However, if the person intends or is obliged to stay in Turkey longer than the permitted duration, this extension is subject to the approval of the Ministry of Interior. In this case, the person has to obtain a residence permit.

Applications for residence permits should be made to the Alien’s Branch of Local Police Departments (Emniyet Mudurlugu Yabancilar Subesi) within 30 days upon arrival at Turkey. Applicants are generally required to submit work permit, work visa, education visa or research visa and a letter describing his/her circumstances (i.e. employment, education, marriage to a Turkish citizen).

Once the person is granted with the residence permit, he/she can enter into Turkey multiple times as long as his/her residence permit is valid and thus he/she does not need a visa for entry into Turkey. If the extension of the residence permit is required, the extension or renewal should be made timely before the expiry date. The person is recommended to have the validity of the residence permit extended before leaving Turkey, if the validity of residence permit is to expire or has already expired.

Embassy contact information:
Please contact the nearest Embassy of Turkey for information on what documentation you may require to enter Turkey.

18 Şubat 2014 Salı

Before You Go



What to Pack?

What to pack for a trip to Istanbul depends on what time of year you are going and what you plan to do in the city. We have put together a list of the most important items to bring with you on your visit to Istanbul:
Things like shampoo, dental floss, toiletries and cosmetics are expensive in Turkey compared to most western countries, so it’s advisable to bring these with you.
A day pack for trips around the city.
Mosquito repellent for those balmy summer evenings.
Ear plugs, if you don’t wish to be woken at sunrise by the first call to prayer.
Sun cream, sunglasses and a hat to block out hot summer rays.
A raincoat. Istanbul can be cold and rainy during the winter, spring and autumn months, and the city experiences light showers in summer.
If you’re planning on visiting any mosques, a scarf and skirt or sarong will come in handy for women; trousers or long shorts are needed for men.
An adaptor to fit a European style two-pronged power socket.
Tampons, although available, can be difficult to find and costly in Istanbul.
Comfortable shoes for walking around the city.
Swimwear- for a dunk at the Princes’ Islands or Black Sea beaches, or for wearing on a hamam visit.
Prescription medicine. Though most prescription medicines can be obtained relatively easily and cheaply from Istanbul’s ‘Eczane’s’ (pharmacies), bringing what you’ll need from home can save you the time and hassle of translation.
Photocopies of your important documents. These can be your passport, birth certificate, marriage license, driving licence or medical records. Put a set of photocopies in a large envelope, and take it with you. It may also be useful to make another set in an envelope and give it to someone you trust, so that he/she can mail you in case of an emergency. You can use Google Documents to scan images of your important documents and save it to its online database.
If you have a six-digit pin on your bank card, consult with your bank before leaving, as you need a four-digit pin number to use ATMs in Turkey
A camera for capturing the city.


What to Wear?

Turkish men and women in Istanbul take pride in their appearance and seem to have perfected the smart/casual look. It is rare to see sloppily dressed Turks and dirty or ripped clothes in Istanbul, even among those who are less well off.

Turkish women are generally elegant dressers and prefer western style clothing from big name European and American brands. Very short skirts, low cut tops or very revealing outfits aren’t common (apart from at the nightclubs along the Bosphorus, where they’re the order of the day), and can give the wrong impression, so they are not advisable. Although many Turkish women wear high heels, the cobbled streets and uneven sidewalks can make walking on kitten heels a major challenge in Istanbul!

  Turkey is a secular state and tolerant of other religions and cultures so there is no reason for female visitors to wear a headscarf, apart from inside a mosque. Scarves are usually available at mosques for this purpose.

Men will notice that shorts are generally not worn in Istanbul as locals tend to think that they are designated for the beach, not the city, and you will stand out as a tourist if you don a pair in Istanbul. Keep in mind that men must wear trousers when entering mosques, or long shorts covering the knees.


15 Şubat 2014 Cumartesi

Is Turkey Safe for Women Traveling Alone?




When I proudly announced that I was going to Turkey 2 months ago, I was met with a surprising amount of skepticism, worry and doubt, mostly from my family. Calmly reassuring everyone that Turkey is a very safe country and that I was going no matter what they said, I continued to plan and coordinate my dream trip.
Why couldn’t they just be happy for me?

A week later, the US embassy was bombed in Ankara. And a few days after that, the murdered body of Sarai Sierra, an woman from NYC traveling alone in Turkey was discovered in Istanbul.
How was I going to explain that to mom and dad?



“You should cancel your trip.” “You are crazy to go right now to Turkey.” “I can’t believe you are going to Turkey alone, and as a woman too” were many of the oppositions I began to hear.

Selectively deaf to disagreements, especially of the travel variety, I continued planning my trip. Nothing short of a revolution would keep me from going to Turkey. If I had learned anything from 6+ years of solo travel, it was that these sorts of mass hysterias were usually blown way out of proportion, especially about countries in the Middle East. If you take away anything from this post, remember to take your friend’s and family’s warnings and advice with a grain of salt.

Movies and news in the USA love to rave about the dangers of traveling to “Muslim” countries, stirring up fear and xenophobia which couldn’t be more WRONG. They paint the Middle East as a volatile time bomb waiting to explode and filled with dangerous Arabs who hate Americans and who want to kidnap little blond girls like me and eat them for breakfast.

Really?

I saw Taken 2 for the first time on the plane back from Istanbul (poor choice Lufhansa) and my mouth dropped open in astonishment. No wonder people had the totally wrong idea about Turkey when this garbage was in mainstream media.

To characterize the entire Middle East based on incidents in Iraq, Afghanistan or places that have had terrorist attacks in the past is akin to saying that the US is filled with gangsters with big guns OR with crazy young men who enjoying shooting children.

I was going to Istanbul not Baghdad. Of course there are dangerous places in the Middle East, but there are far more safe places to visit.

Culturally the US and countries like Turkey are very different, but why should we be scared of something different? Isn’t that why we love travel? To go explore unknown places, meet new people and experience different cultures? To lump them all together as dangerous “Arabs” is both simpleminded and appallingly racist.

It is true that women in the US enjoy a considerable amount of freedom compared with other countries around the world, but does that mean because I am a young American woman who enjoys traveling, I always need to travel with people by my side? Or worse, can I only feel safe traveling when I have a man beside me? Should I be frightened to travel alone? Or is it ok to travel alone as long as I am not going to “Muslim” countries?

Believe it or not, but I have heard all of the above multiple times, more often than not from people who are very close to me. Nothing bothers me more when people make sweeping generalizations about a place they’ve never been to and probably can’t even name the capital of.

I firmly trust the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Turkey maybe in the Middle East (actually, its location baffles me: Middle East? Asia? Europe? Eurasia?) but from what I’d heard from fellow travelers and travel bloggers, Turkey’s nothing like its neighbors. Everyone had nothing but nice things to say about it. I survived two weeks in Egypt right after the revolution; I seriously doubted that Turkey would even remotely test my patience like Cairo or Luxor did.

Why is Turkey “dangerous?” Because they’re Muslim? Because they share a border with Syria and Iran? Because one American woman was murdered there. How many people are murdered in America every god damn day? Every time I turn on the news, some one else has died here. Someone pulled a gun in a school. Someone shot up a movie theater. Someone has gone missing. Someone was raped. According to NOW, on average 3 women a day are murdered in the United States by a partner AT HOME. As much as we love to preach safety and superiority over the rest of the world, the United States is a pretty scary place.

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again. America, you have absolutely NO RIGHT to be calling other countries dangerous. Nothing galls me more than hearing my fellow countrymen condemn another country based on stereotypes propagated by the media and movies.

This fact was brutally reaffirmed yesterday when the Boston marathon was bombed. Downtown Boston. Bombed. In the United States. In a very nice area. People died on sidewalks I’ve walked on. How can you NOT question if you are living in a safe place?

And today? The anniversary of the Virginia Tech shooting, you know, where my mom, brother, one of my best friends and half my high school went to college.

In my short 24 years on this planet, I have had to call close friends and family three different times during major tragedies. When I was 12 years old and my dad was working in DC during 9/11. When I was 18 years old in the spring of my first year of college, some nutcase killed 32 people at Virginia Tech. And again yesterday when the Boston marathon was bombed – I went to school in MA, and most of my friends are still up there.

24 years old, and I’ve already had to make that phone call asking “are you ok?” praying to god that certain people in my life were still alive 3 separate times. How fucked up is that?

But go on, tell me Turkey is dangerous. Tell me traveling as a woman is dangerous.

There is no place safe for a single American to be traveling east of Italy. I would imagine the Turkish police will get to the heart of the issue very soon and they are not afraid to execute anyone they decide is responsible for this murder.”

“If you are looking for justice in a Muslim country then forget it if a man killed her and he is married then his wife will go to prison for his deeds. his punishment will be her shame. it works for them!”

“Sadly, any American, male or female, traveling anywhere on the planet, especially the Middle-East, is not safe.. This woman, while I admire the fact that she wanted to get her photography career going, should NEVER have gone to Turkey, be it with a friend or alone, but especially not alone! Men over there have absolutely no respect for women in their own country much less foreign woman. To them, Sierra being alone was an invitation to harm her, whether they meant to murder her or not, who can say right now.Without a cadre of close friends surrounding a women, she is better off staying away from such dangerous places as the Middle-East or, if she must go there, she should NEVER go out by herself.”

“Makes no sense to me why a woman, even a pair would go to a middle eastern country knowing or should know the conditions women & young children are treated.”

“Then go ahead and travel to Iran and say “Hey dude, I’m your friend.” They’ll scream “infidel” at you and chop your head to pieces.”

“Why in the hell would anyone go to Turkey on vacation?”






Sigh. And that was just page 1. Of 16.

This all goes back to my main question – is Turkey safe for solo female travelers?
Yes, yes it is.

Not only is my answer yes, I also believe that Turkey is a great destination for solo female travelers and a perfect introduction to the Middle East. Why?
Pressing issue aside, Istanbul is considered to be one of the safest big cities in the world. It has a much lower crime rate than the rest of Europe, especially big cities like London, Paris and Berlin. Over the past few months I have scoured the internet for articles about crime in Turkey, and one fact that always stuck out for me was the fact that almost every police officer in Turkey holds a university degree, while many more have masters or PhDs. Educated law enforcement, what a novel idea.

It’s not your typical “Muslim” country. That isn’t to say that other Muslim countries are dangerous, something I do not believe is true in the slightest, but for example the harassment I dealt with in Egypt was a thousand times worse than anything I experienced in Turkey. Traveling alone, I was never followed, never pinched or poked, never hassled or oggled. Only once did a get hit on big time – walking home at night, I heard someone yell out to me “Miss you dropped something,” and I turned around to see a young guy on his knees holding his chest and said, “my heart.” And let’s be honest, I was totally fine with that!

Turkey is a very east-meets-west country, with many girls dressing the same way as Europeans, working and living just like you or me. Did you know that up until recently, women were banned from entering university wearing a headscarf in Turkey? But it is also undeniably a Muslim country, and there is a new wave of conservatism in the government. Turkey is in the midst of a transformation and it’s really fascinating to watch; almost everyone I talked to was willing to talk with me about religion, and they were more than happy to share their strong opinions with me. Men and women socialize, hang out, study, work even drink, but they won’t touch bacon. Fascinating!

Apart from that, I think what impressed me most about Turkey was the unfailing kindness and generosity of everyone I met. With 30 countries under my belt, Turkey definitely has some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met. To hear someone who’s most likely never been there categorize as a deadly place for Americans, especially women makes me want to scream!

So I think what we need to ask ourselves is NOT whether or not Turkey is a safe destination for women wanting to travel alone, but rather what can we do to improve violence against women around the world? How can you protect yourself when traveling alone, home or abroad?
I think the second part of the issue is that the United States desperately needs to reevaluate its perception of the rest of the world, starting with the Middle East and Islamic countries. I, for one, will be doing my part to show people that the world is much safer than you realize; no more making excuses.

My 5 tips for solo female travelers in Turkey

1. Don’t be a dumbass
This one does seem fairly obvious, but unfortunately it bears repeating. Be smart. Over the years, and after many trips and mess-ups around the world, you learn. So if this is your first solo trip as a woman outside the US (like it was for Sarai), maybe you should pick a less challenging destination. Like Spain. Not only will you not be harassed, you will most likely also be ignored. Over time you will learn caution, and learn to read situations better while traveling that can keep you from getting into danger. This takes time and experience
If a situation makes you feel uncomfortable, get the hell out of there as fast as you can. Run. Scream. Don’t be polite. I’ve read many articles about Sarai Sierra’s death, and she was caught on tape in plenty of places I wouldn’t have ventured to alone. Walking along random railroad tracks at dusk? Not a good idea in most of the world. Carrying your iPad out in the middle of a local mall? Also not a good idea.

If you are concerned about being alone, then don’t be alone. Stay in a hostel and make friends, join a day tour or research group activities. There are plenty of ways to be with people when you are traveling alone.

2. Don’t stay somewhere sketchy
Again fairly obvious but often forgotten. Research where you will stay. Read the reviews, ask other people who have been there for suggestions. Don’t sacrifice saving a few dollars to stay in a shithole in a bad area. When you check in, think about what the area will be like after dark and if you have to walk back alone. Unless you’re in Pamplona for San Fermin, there will always be somewhere to stay and you can always change locations. Talking with locals in Istanbul, I found out Sarai Sierra was staying in an Air BNB apartment in quite possibly the worst area of town. Not smart. Especially when you are alone and in a unfamiliar place for the first time.

When I booked my hotels in Turkey, I did a lot of research and carefully chose ones that were perfect for women traveling alone: Hotel Empress Zoe in Istanbul (run by two American sisters) and the Kelebek Cave Hotel in Cappadocia. In Izmir I stayed at a place called the Olimpiyat Hotel which I recommend avoid at all costs.

3. Bring a door stop
Ever since I started backpacking in 2007, I’ve always carried a small rubber doorstop to jam under my hotel and private hostel room doors. Some places have really flimsy doors and you never know who might also have a key. With a door stop, it makes it so much harder to ninja-kick a door in, and let’s say, rob, stab or rape a girl. I also avoid staying on ground floors where someone could come through a window easily and I don’t leave easily accessed windows open. Common sense really.

4. Blend in
Given how I look, I am almost never mistaken for a local, unless I am in the mother country: Poland. But when I am traveling, I always walk around with an air of confidence, and never with a map in hand. Yes, I sometimes get lost, but then I pop in a doorway or in a shop and pull out a map that I have folded, or ask for directions. But I never walk down the street or stop with an open map. Act like you belong, even when you’re lost until you can find a comfortable place to ask for directions.
And as much as I disagree with it, if you are in a conservative country, cover up ladies. No cleavage. No skimpy legs. No flirty dresses. Istanbul is very modern, so you see local women dress very western and since there are so many tourists, even in summer, I don’t think you’d have much of an issue wearing shorts or a t-shirt. The Turkish coastline is very famous for cruise stops and beach holidays, so likewise, I doubt you’d have many problems dressing like you would back home in summer.

5. Avoid eye contact
This is not just for Turkey, but for many places, even in the US, eye contact can mean an invitation or flirting. This was something I never did until this trip, always staring people down and smiling at everyone. I can’t help it, I’m a smiler. But I tried it in the markets in Istanbul and it worked phenomenally. Just stare straight ahead. Works like a charm.

The same goes for conversations with shopkeepers or men in general. Be aware of your tone so you don’t sound flirty. This also really helps. This all goes back to number one and learning to read situations through experience. I am hesitant to say never talk or my eye contact with locals because that means missing out on truly authentic and fun travel experiences. A huge part of my trips come from meeting people from where I am going. But over the years I have learned to read people very well, and the instant I feel uncomfortable or threatened, I’m out of there.

Do you travel alone? Are you a solo female traveler? What precautions do you take? Have you ever been to Turkey? 


http://youngadventuress.com/2013/04/is-turkey-safe-for-women-traveling-alone.html

11 Şubat 2014 Salı

İstanbul Treasury Of Calligraphy

 

 

EXHİBİTİNG CALLİGRAPHİC İNSCRİPTİONS OF UNRİVALED BEAUTY AT EVERY STEP, ISTANBUL İS THE VİRTUAL CAPİTAL OF THİS ISLAMİC ART. WE HAVE LİSTED HERE SOME OF THE MOST STUNNİNG WORKS OF CALLİGRAPHY ON THE CİTY’S HİSTORİC PENİNSULA, WHİCH HAS ALWAYS ATTRACTED WORLD-CLASS CALLİGRAPHERS.

İstanbul Treasury Of Calligraphy
İstanbul Treasury Of Calligraphy
Ottoman Istanbul boasted hundreds of libraries large and small. But Ottoman Istanbul itself could be said to have been a library in its own right insofar as the inscriptions engraved on the mosques, tombs, madrasas, soup kitchens, obelisks, fountains and gravestones at every turn give the impression that the whole city is a library waiting to be read.
Many of those inscriptions disappeared during the last century, some due to neglect, some for other reasons. But today’s Istanbul continues to be an extraordinary treasure trove for aficionados of the calligraphic art. So much so that it’s hard to walk for five minutes in the city’s old quarters without coming across some valuable inscription. What, I wonder, is the reason for that?
 
 
It All Stated With A Pen  
Although there is a widespread belief that the art of calligraphy grew out of a ‘ban on images’, this is not true. 
Indeed, to attribute an art as rich as calligraphy to a ban is to do it a great injustice. The art of calligraphy is a manifestation of the fundamental importance of writing and the written text in the Islamic religion. Islam is a religion whose Prophet said, “The pen is the first thing Allah created,” a religion in which the Qur’an itself is sited as evidence of Prophethood, a religion based on the written word of Allah. Thus, the art of calligraphy was born out of a concern to preserve the word of Allah in a way befitting his nature. And indeed, it is impossible to explain in any other way the stunning beauty attained in the second century of the Islamic era by the Arabic script, which exhibited few aesthetic qualities prior to the advent of Islam.  
The Ottoman School Of CalligraphyThe Turks of course did not invent the art of calligraphy, but no people could be said to have devoted themselves to this art more ardently than the Turks. The city of Istanbul has been the capital of calligraphy ever since its conquest in 1453. The Ottoman school of calligraphy (Hüsn-i Hat), the foundations of which were laid when Mehmet the Conqueror’s son Bayezid II invited to Istanbul Şeyh Hamdullah (1429-1520), whom he had met as a prince in Amasya, has made its home in this city for more than five hundred years by continuously renewing itself as a living tradition.
When Word Comes To StoneAlthough paper is of course the most common medium used for calligraphy, the works that are most lasting and able to address the broadest mass of people are those inscribed on buildings in stone. Inscriptions of this kind were actually produced starting from the very early periods; the inscriptions on the Dome of the Rock in Al-Quds (Jerusalem), for example, date to the year 691. But it was in the 19th century that the inscriptions of monumental proportions, in the script we call ‘Jalî’, attained perfection. Great artists like Mustafa Râkım, Yesârîzâde Mustafa İzzet, Kadı Asker Mustafa İzzet, Şefik, Haşim, Abdülfettah, Sami and Nazif adorned Istanbul with immortal inscriptions on all sides, inscriptions that make Istanbul Istanbul at least as much as its architectural monuments.
“The Qur’an was received in the Hejaz, recited in Cairo and written in Istanbul,” is an oft-repeated cliché, but there’s no denying that it contains a kernel of truth. The art of calligraphy occupies a major place throughout the Islamic world, of course, but its importance in Istanbul is altogether different. Mustafa Râkım was actually a Laz, Mahmud Celâleddin was from Dagestan, and Abdülfettah was of Greek, Abdullah Zühdi of Arab, and Hamid el-Âmidî of Kurdish origin, but all of them flourished in Istanbul, and all rose there to the pinnacle of the calligraphic art.
So that you won’t miss the masterpieces of calligraphy as you tour the museums, mosques and markets on the standard Istanbul tourist itinerary, we have listed for you ten of the most important ones on the Historic Peninsula.    
Calligraphy Tour On The Historic PeninsulaValide Sultan Mosque Fountain and Public Fountain (Eminönü)
Tomb of Nakşidil Sultan (Fatih)
Tomb of Mihrişah Sultan (Eyüp)
Ayasofya Mosque/Hagia Sophia (Sultanahmet)
Grand Bazaar Fezmakers’ Gate (Beyazıt)
Topkapı Palace Museum (Sultanahmet)
Hırka-i Şerif Mosque/Mosque of the Holy Mantle of the Prophet (Fatih)
Tomb of Sultan Reşad (Eyüp)
Süleymaniye Mosque (Beyazıt)
Fatih Mosque Graveyard (Fatih)
 
Article: İrvin Cemil Schick

7 Şubat 2014 Cuma

From Şile To Ağva: A Refreshing Summer On The Black Sea

 

From Şile To Ağva: A Refreshing Summer On The Black Sea
From Şile To Ağva: A Refreshing Summer On The Black Sea
Perched on a promontory high over the Black Sea north of Istanbul, Şile is ideal for a few days getaway. There is a surprise marketplace in the center of town, where you will come across a statue of a young girl weaving the famous Şile bezi cotton cloth. The shops along the avenue are a rainbow of color with embroidered tablecloths, curtains, dresses, shirts and countless other items, all made of Şile bezi, a lightweight, naturally crimped fabric made of natural cotton. It’s perfectly delightful to enjoy the refreshing breeze and gaze at the sea from the rocks at the harbor, where crates laden with fresh fish are carried from the boats direct to the restaurants. Whatever comes out of the sea is immediately offered to the customer. The patch of defense wall on the steep cliff opposite dates back to the Byzantines. Next to the harbor, swimmers frolic on the public beach, where the town’s world-famous beach volleyball matches are played. Acrobatic gulls are the real owners of the palisades overlooking Kavala Park, and the historic Şile Lighthouse complements the scene. Built in 1858, this 20-meter octagonal structure is described as Turkey’s oldest lighthouse in its promotional brochure. Further down the road are the Weeping Rocks, so called because the water seeping through these intriguing rock formations worn down by centuries of wind and waves have been compared to tear drops. A little further on, the area around the windmill at the tip of a green headland is ideal for a walk. Swimming, sunbathing, picnicking, or a fresh fish feast… The possibilities are endless at Şile.
The Nearby Villages
We set out now to see the villages of Şile. Kabakoz, about 10 kilometers outside of town, lies at the foot of a wooded slope. Known since time immemorial for weaving Şile bezi, the town’s people engaged in the craft have dwindled sharply today. Kabakoz’s next door neighbor Akçakese is a former Ottoman village. The newest of its wooden mansions, built by the same masters who constructed the houses at Safranbolu, is a hundred years old. Most of these houses with their columned balconies, symmetric al facades and ornamental eaves have been restored.  And the village’s long beach with its log cabins is reminiscent of the tree houses at Olympos near Antalya. Ağva, too, is not far away, nestled between two rivers that empty into the Black Sea at the end of a road that winds through the woods. Named for the jungle-like vegetation along its coast, Yeşilcay (Green Stream) is a natural harbor, where colorful boats are moored to wooden piers along the length of the river. A wide beach extends from the point where the river empties into the sea. Göksu Çayı meanwhile, so-called because the blue sky is reflected in its waters, is known for its river hotels. According to the local guides, there are exactly 32 hiking trails in the area. The best known are Kalemköy, where you can see Roman ruins, Geredeli with its Genoese harbor, Gürlek Cave at Hacılı, which bears traces of life from the 3d century, and the Genoese defense walls at Hisartepe. Only 15 minutes from Ağva by boat, the coast is chock full of interesting rock formations, tiny islands and caves. You can choose your own private cove and have a dip in the cool waters off these coasts, which are almost always deserted. The best spot for magnificent sunsets at Ağva is obvious. We settle down to wait next to the lighthouse at end of the breakwater. The sun sinks slowly, staining the Black Sea myriad shades of red.
 
By Skylife