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Not Turkey

I see Rick will soon visit Istanbul. I've been there, and while the Bosporus is singularly beautiful, the remainder of this city is not Europe and neither are the people. Many are quite rude or repeatedly pestering you to buy something. However, the issue that concerns me is this country is moving in an anti-democratic direction, and we should not reward such places with our travel. There are plenty of other beautiful places. Visit there. Formers recommends not traveling here, which I strongly support.

Posted by
6073 posts

Our own orange-glazed President says the press is the enemy of the people and they should not believe what they hear...so it's a bit odd to warn others where to travel based on anti-democratic principles (you know...glass houses and all that). He's hardly a stalwart of democracy or human rights overseas either. So, by your own reasoning, foreigners shouldn't travel to the US either due to the impression they may get (rightly or wrongly, a leader is a projection of its people to the world). And we should avoid Hungary and Poland too, which are also trending in the wrong direction and have been rebuked by the EU.

If you read the reviews of the Best of Turkey and Istanbul tours, it appears that many people had very positive experiences nonetheless. I've been to Turkey about 4 times (one of them was a RS tour to the southwest of Turkey) and it's interesting precisely because it's not like Europe, and blends the East and West. The Bosphorus is one of the most stunning things I ever experienced, so I took a (local) ferry multiple times just to take it all in - same with the Golden Horn and over to the Asian side.

That's not to deny that there are serious issues with freedom of the press and authoritarian behavior that isolates and marginalizes secular Turks. The touts are annoying and very persistent, but I found many people to be very warm and hospitable and friendly. Everyone has his/her own comfort zone - Turkey may not be in yours and that's ok.

Posted by
5170 posts

Been there on an RS Tour. Loved everything about it.
The history, the people, the food. As far as the geography it is in Asia and Europe. Rather fascinating fact actually.

Posted by
686 posts

Agnes-- you are my favorite person today. Thank you for your post.

"....the remainder of this city is not Europe and neither are the people." What? What difference does that make? Is Europe the only place anyone should travel?

"Many are quite rude or repeatedly pestering you to buy something." Hmmm, sounds a lot like every city I have been to, except I did not encounter any rude people in Turkey. Even the touts have a good sense of humor. I hope you are not telling people not to travel anyplace where things are done differently or are a little uncomfortable.

"...this country is moving in an anti-democratic direction, and we should not reward such places with our travel." HP, you don't post where you are from, but if you are American, you might have to move out of the country. Our current president and by default, his party, are doing everything they can to move in an anti-democratic direction. Aren't you paying attention?

Posted by
13909 posts

My goodness, if I were going to restrict my travel to places whose governments I support, I might end up saving a lot of money!

Hasn't the US moving in an anti-democratic direction for the last 3 years . . . maybe a lot longer if you consider how much power has moved from the legislative to the executive. Don't get me started on the anti-democratic direction of all too many European nations. Africa, South America, Asia . . . I might have to limit myself to Malta and New Zealand.

As for rudeness and pestering, that's cultural. I think it's rude when an American waitress calls me "honey" and/or touches my arm or shoulder. That would never happen in Turkey.

just sayin' . . .

Posted by
896 posts

I knew in fourth grade that I had to visit Turkey. I too went with a RS tour and loved every second!

Nobody was rude and the touts were a hoot.
I slipped on stairs in a small bazaar area and fell most of the way down. Two of the merchants (men) ran over to help me. I have no idea what they were saying, but how sweet and caring is that?
While in Istanbul a young couple asked my husband if they could take is picture. He said yes and the young lady sat next to my husband while her young man took the photo.

The food was the best!
Agnes, you made me laugh!

Posted by
30 posts

Gosh, when I do the arithmetic, it seems I may be in the slight minority at least about Turkey. We all certainly agree about trump (lower case intentional). I will not attempt to defend what is occurring in the U.S.-it's deplorable. Yet our experience in Turkey is what it was. Together with my spouse, we have been to most all countries in Europe (even lived there a few years), excepting a few in the east, and have not found folks like Turkey...well some French. Yes, the authoritarian slide exists in other places such as Hungary where, although the people are pleasant and Budapest amazing, we will not return, but for the most part Europe is the enlightened corner of the globe. Yes Vandabrud I certainly agree with you about Agnes-a pleasant post. But Agnes I don't think the difference is culture. Also been to Morocco (yeah pestered to buy and not renown for democracy yet trending in that direction), but we loved it and the people. We are not uncomfortable with difference, we embrace it. Off to Malta and Sicily for April and May (we hope). Chani, any suggestions for Malta. We'll be there for nine days.

Posted by
6073 posts

I think one of the worst stains is the denial of the Armenian genocide but they will say the Ottomans (not the Turks) were responsible. Almost any Greek or Armenian would be in your corner about avoiding Turkey (I can't even talk to my Greek dentist about Turkey or he gets enraged about "Greek stolen land"). But anyhow....I'm guessing you may have had a different experience with touts and others in Morocco on account of being on a tour versus traveling independently. When you're on a tour, you're pretty much shielded from a lot of unpleasantries (I think that's the reason why so many people take them). I cannot imagine that touts in Morocco are less persistent or annoying. Both Turks and Moroccans have a reputation for their hospitality.

Regarding Malta, surprisingly even tiny Malta has had an investigative journalist who was trying to expose corruption car bombed 3 years ago...and is a haven for money laundering....so it's very hard to find a truly clean place these days. Populism in "enlightened" Europe, as you called it, is not going away anytime soon. But do get a Bradt Malta travel guide (I believe it's a British publication but available on Amazon), it's a great resource for your planning. I used it along with Lonely Planet, nothing else was available. I would highly recommend basing yourself in Valetta and giving yourself a few days there, but taking easy bus day trips to Mdina/ Rabat, the neolithic temples on the coast, the Hypogeum (requires an advanced ticket), the Three Cities, and some small villages which are lovely (I went to Naxxar). It's also worthwhile to take a ferry over to Gozo and even overnight there...it has a different, less dense, and rural feel and is much more green than Malta (which has little vegetation and is hot, hot, hot). The ferry to Sicily didn't work out for me - it was much more convenient to fly over to Catania using Air Malta (it took about 40 minutes).

Posted by
30 posts

Oh boy Agnes the touts in Morocco. I have a picture of a man walking with my wife for what had to be a hundred yards attempting to convince her to buy something at his price. He obviously didn't know her, and eventually agreed to her initial offer. Very funny experience. And yes, while we occasionally do take a day tour, we have never taken a fully guided one. Too rebellious I imagine. We are staying six days in Valletta and three in Gozo. Using Air Malta as well. We don't have the book you suggest but will obtain it. Thank you.

Posted by
276 posts

What Agnes said.
I am looking forward to my third visit to Istanbul next month. I hope it happens :-)

Posted by
5017 posts

Am in Turkey right now. Everyone we have encountered here has been friendly, helpful, welcoming - everything that any visitor would hope for.

The government? Let he whose government is without sin cast the first stone.

Turkey is a wonderful place to visit.

Posted by
76 posts

Well HP;
Something has bothered you politically so you blame for the Turkish people being unfriendly and rude. That is totally wrong. Its you, its not Turkish people.

I been to the USA over 100 times and I encountered rude people too. In one instance, they even stole my bike in NYC. Meantime, I met lovely American people in Maine, in Florida, in Montana etc.. who offered me free coffee, beer or free yacht tour in Florida.
Not all Americans rude as not all Turkish are rude.
Your opinions about Turkey are purely political and I can see that with your sentence starting with "however".

Yes you are right, Turkey is going to anti-democratic direction but If you worry about Turkey going into anti-democratic direction that much then you should check out CIA's involvement in 2016 coup.

In this video, below you can watch impressions of an American teacher living in Turkey and what she thinks about Turkey and Turkish people.

https://youtu.be/LBVW31R4xwk