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Just Got Back from Istanbul!

Hello Everyone,
I thought I might let you all know that I was in Istanbul recently July 8-13. I know many want to go, but are concerned for safety. I am still reflecting on safety, both in Istanbul and here in the USA.

I want you to know that I felt very safe in Istanbul. ( I am a 63 year old woman ). The airport security was pretty tight - checking trunks of incoming taxis and cars. Not every single one, but it was happening. Once in the Istanbul airport for departure, you go through three security points. Pretty good, I think. I know the airport attack occured just outside of and barely inside of the terminal. I realized that could happen at any airport anywhere, except maybe Israel. It definitely challenged my false sense of security in the USA.

The restaurants are pretty empty and no long lines anywhere, not even Topkapi Palace or Hagia Sophia. I don't mean at all to diminish the horror of the bomb attacks in Istanbul. As a matter of fact, many people there with whom I spoke are horrified, too. But it made me so sad. Everyone was so grateful for us to visit. The city is enormous and there are so many interesting places to be. We had a little elbow room there, which is unusual. I went to all of the places that have been bombed and experienced my own moments of silence. It seemed as risky ( or not ) as anywhere else to me that is a large metropolis.

Looking at us from over there, we look like gun toting maniacs in the US. I never worried about mass concealed weapons in Istanbul. But I worry about them very much where I live in Seattle, Washington. Everyone has to come to their own terms with comfort and safety. All I can say is that I was worried before I got there, but once there, I really relaxed. We had a wonderful time and the Turkish are known for their hospitality - all still there. If you are considering a trip to Istanbul, you won't be disappointed.

Posted by
2258 posts

Thanks for this report Jeanne. I will be in Istanbul and other parts of Turkey in September, very excited. Can I ask you, aside from the most famous sites that everyone visits, were there highlights among the "second tier" or less well-known sites and experiences, that you can recommend, and that I might not otherwise select to visit with limited time?

Posted by
24 posts

How nice to hear from you all.

Larry, I suggest you eat well in Turkey. Go to the top of the Blue Acadia Hotel in Sultanahmet for a drink to take in the most awesome view of Istanbul and the sea. It is worth the price of the drink.

Search out the lovely parks that dot neighborhoods by strolling away from and crowd and toward the quieter streets for local life.

The Fatih district along the Golden Horn is very interesting. Greek Orthodox Church there.

Have you ever been to a meyhane? Kind of like a wine bar with plenty of terrific food. Locals drink reki, but wine and beer are also on the menu. I suggest this one for a great time: Musterek in Beyoglu on the other side of the bridge from the Old District. Delicious food, sweet business owners, and a fine, local crowd having fun.

Walk through Cemberlitas and look at the smaller shops or have a Turkish bath.

For THE BEST borek in Istanbul (back to eating): Gulogu in Karakoy. They also do baklava and other delights.

You could take a ferry to an island called Buyucada. Rent a bicycle there.

I'll post more as I think of them. Still jet-lagging!

If you tram, but mostly walk in and to these places, you see many wonderful things and witness small, memorable and very local moments.

None of these names have the defining markings on the Turkish words. Sorry!

Every neighborhood, it seems, has a small mosque. Take in the small mosques.

Posted by
35 posts

Larry -
I would recommend the Istanbul Modern art museum, it was quite fascinating. Also, if you're into cooking, Cooking Alaturka, in Sultanahmet, is great fun. And you get to eat the fruit of your labors! And of course, a turkish bath, Ayasofya is the best! Also in Sultanahmet.

Posted by
3200 posts

Would you still post the same way today, after the military coup attempt? I think the thing that can be challenging is how quickly things can change in any country.

Posted by
4637 posts

Roberto got it perfectly. Just in time. All flights from Istanbul are cancelled at this time.

Posted by
12215 posts

And days before the airport attack there were posts on the forum insisting that the airport was perfectly safe. However, depending on who wins the coup, if its over by September, I might be inclined to go as a show of support.

Posted by
4637 posts

James, for us tourists does not matter who wins. My educated guess is that situation will be stabilized by September.

Posted by
24 posts

Of course I wouldn't post the same way after today! Of course not! While I got back in time, my son is still there. That's why I went - to visit my son. So even though I made it back, I have a dear son there living through it.

Posted by
12215 posts

Jeanne; our prayers are with you and your loved ones.

Ilja, I sent you a PM

Posted by
888 posts

Jeanne,

Thanks for your post. It was wonderful to hear of your trip, and hope all is well with your son. I have family who lived in Turkey for a while.

Posted by
4559 posts

There were reports on the BBC 10 days or so ago saying that holiday bookings in Turkey were down 40% in some resorts, as the Russians and some other nationalities are going elsewhere for their holidays, due to the increased terrorism threat. That may explain why places didn't seem busy.

Things aren't going to get any better after yesterday's attempted coup.

Posted by
1045 posts

Jeanne --
I was in Turkey for 2 weeks in 2002 and have never stopped wishing I could return.
Thank you for your report.
And I wish only the best for you -- and your son who is there now.
If it seems appropriate to you, please let us know how he is doing.

Posted by
300 posts

Thank you so much for your post. I visited Turkey last October, and, even with all the recent events, I plan to return as soon as my schedule and finances allow. It's a beautiful country with wonderful people.

Posted by
882 posts

Thanks for your post. While there is unrest right now Turkey is still a country I plan on visiting one day when time allows for 3-4 weeks to combine with some Greek Islands. I have been on vacation and so don't know much about what happened, but I hope Turkey makes it through this.