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Travel in Turkey

I am a 65 year old woman with white hair working in Turkey for three months.
I would like to go to Istanbul, which is about an hour flight from where I am now.
My coworkers are freaked out by the semi civil war going on here, and of course 10 people were killed last weekend in Istanbul, so what I am hearing goes against my natural instinct which is that 10 people were probably killed in any major city last weekend, I might not get back to Turkey before I am too old to walk around, and that Istanbul is generally a safe city.
1. Does anyone have an opinion on this?
2. Can anyone recommend a personal chaperone who would meet me at the airport and help me get around for two days?
3. How much should I expect to pay for such a service, i.e. individual tour guide?
Thanks in advance for your guidance.
Kathy

Posted by
6694 posts

RS tours use SRM Travel and they are excellent. Inquire with them the cost of a city tour that meets your specifications and includes an airport pick-up. It's probably best to get quotes from a few companies for comparison (SRM are the only one I'm familiar with). If you can navigate a big city, then Istanbul is doable without a guide (their tram system is easy, but packed, and there are lots of central areas where you can just walk); in that case, just ask for an airport transfer from the hotel if you're uncomfortable with taxis to the Old City.

Posted by
12316 posts

First, I saw Istanbul last year and it was fascinating. I didn't "like" it, but it was fascinating. Glad I went.

Second, we used this guide for the entire stay: Nesime Kaya kbesime@hotmail.com and she was pretty good. I would use her again.

Third, we stayed at the Admar Hotel. Pretty perfect given your concerns. Great staff, close to everything so you don't have a lot of travel time, etc.

Fourth, I wouldn't go to Istanbul now. Not that it's "that" dangerous or risky, its just that the world is full of places I want to see that I know I will be much more relaxed visiting and as a result enjoy a little more.

Posted by
14267 posts

A friend and I went to Istanbul on our own 3 years ago (though no white hair, we aren't far apart in age from you). We were on our own (no guide) for 5 days, then I had 2 more days solo. We stayed at the Erboy Hotel (excellent) and both enjoyed it all very much.

It's hard for anyone to advise you on whether to take the opportunity now or not. I probably wouldn't visit now, if I had the choice, but for me it's not a "now or never" decision.

Posted by
338 posts

I do have some thoughts on your first questions and an observation on your second.

  1. In the past I have typically told people not to worry about terrorist incidents in Turkey and urged them to go. I've been in Istanbul during a bombing and Adana during a protest and never felt unsafe. Previous incidents were mostly focused on the government/government locations and not on tourists or cultural sites. This last attack was different in that it deliberately targeted tourists and a cultural site in the historic center of the city. Given that issue, I think there is reason to exercise some caution - that is not the same as saying not to go. Given this might be your only chance to visit, I think you should go, but take a few precautions:
  • Monitor the news on the investigation into the most recent incident and pay attention to State Department warnings.
  • Do some things to improve your situational awareness/safety - carry some extra cash, pay attention to building exits/surroundings, don't stay on the bottom two floors of a hotel, avoid large crowds, etc. There are plenty of on-line resources to review for suggestions (e.g. the U.S. Army has an on-line anti-terrorism course that civilians can access).

2 and 3. I don't have a recommendation, but will say that most of the key historic sites are centered around Sultanahmet or are close by. You can easily take a cab to your hotel from the airport and walk between them. A guide will be more useful if you want information beyond your guidebooks/museum guides, etc.

Have fun!

Posted by
11613 posts

I love Istanbul and would not pass up the chance to visit unless there were a State Department warning. Perhaps I'd go even then. I stayed in the Sultanhamet area, close to everything. Don't miss the underground cistern. Can't wait to go back!

Posted by
35 posts

Last year I used SRM Travel for a full day tour in Istanbul. The guide was excellent! You can tailor the tour to your personal desires, or request one of their pre-planned tours. Either way, you will get a special, up close look at a great city. I paid around $250 for an 8 hour tour.
As for an airport transfer, I arranged that with my hotel in Istanbul. It was 30 Euros, one way.

Posted by
4 posts

Oh for Petes sake, the responses here are amazing!
Thank you all so much taking the time to reply, and for the great advice.
After checking the tour options you gave me, I have decided to go, and book a couple of tours.
Your suggestions were most helpful.
Thank you
Thank you
Thank you
I'm excited.
Kathy

Posted by
3696 posts

I also loved Istanbul and would definitely return! Now or never.... I go for now...
I would regret listening to people who are discouraging me from going because they are afraid...
Especially since you are already there!

I took my 12 year old grandson and we both loved it!

Posted by
4 posts

Thank you to everyone on this site who helped me.
I spent two days with Sema from Couture Travel, (new) and it was the highlight of my visit to Turkey. She whispered in my ear the history of the sites we visited, told me just where to stand to get a good photo, knew delicious restaurants and was a genuine Turkish Delight. An amazing and delightful person, I would recommend this service without hesitation.
I am so glad I went to Istanbul, and was making plans to return as soon as I got to the airport.
An experience not to be missed,
Kathy