DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Turkey Flexibound – Mar 29 2010
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'A pleasurable read with ravishing photography plus maps and plans of supreme quality.' The Observer --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Hint: Don't buy the companion Eyewitness Guide for Istanbul. About 90% of that guide is found in this book.
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I check this one from the library in order to take an armchair nostalgic trip back to this wonderful country. My wife and I (children included) lived for a total of around six years in Turkey and enjoyed ever single day of our stay. While there we traveled extensively throughout the country. Now let me make it quite clear. We were poor as church mice when we lived there and everything we did, travel, live, eat, drink, hike, camp...everything, was done on a shoe string budget. For the most part our travel was done in an ancient, temperamental, rust encrusted Citron that ran when it wanted to, and did not run when it decided to take a rest. There was no rhyme or reason to its various moods. Anyway, our travel budget at its very peak was on less that four dollars per day, and that included lodging. My wife, while not fluent, quickly learned enough of the language that allowed us to get along just fine. Now all that being said...back to the book.
This little offering from DK is just loaded with some very pretty pictures and does give a good overview of what can be found in this most interesting of countries. It gives the reader a vague idea of what to expect but that is about the extent of it. Now, if you are a high end traveler, one with your own guide, or you have signed up for one of the more expensive tour companies and you are uncomfortable with anything more exotic than Disney World, then you will need much more than this book has to offer.
Turkey has quite a number of things going for it. First, there are more ancient ruins per square foot than any country in the world. We are talking remnants of cultures that predate ancient Greece. Many of these "ruins" are in remarkable shape, all things considered. Secondly, the Turkish people are as a whole the most gracious people we have ever encountered. They are polite, intelligent, and generous to a fault, and have the ability to make you feel instantly at home. Third there is the food. As to variety, eat ability and the pure joy of flavor, it would be extremely hard to find another country to match this one. Fourth, the transportation system, while I will admit is different at times, is quite accessible and you can always find a way to get where you are going one way or another. At times we would travel in the cities via taxi, bus, private car and even by donkey in certain locations. (Try to get to the monastery above the city in the Princes' Islands with out using one of the little beasties with attitudes). Air travel was good most of the time as well as bus and ferry.
Unfortunately, the book addresses almost none of these things. Yes, there are pretty pictures of very nice ruins but little substance accompanying them. As to lodging and food; this work is geared almost exclusively for the high end traveler. If you are interested in eating food that has been altered to completely fit American or European taste and if you are fanatically seeking out rooms which offer T.V., and if you want a nice clean place where you will not have to walk far, then this book is probably for you. I might suggest though that you could save big bucks simply by checking into the Holiday Inn in any mid size city in the U.S. Hey, they all have T.Vs. in each room and you can watch to your hearts content.
If you follow this books advice I dare say that you will not experience, even by the most loose of standards, the fine foods offered by this country. If you heed their warnings about the problems with "haggling" over the price of almost everything, you will be missing out on a great cultural experience. If you avoid the "seedy" looking places this work advises you to do, then you again will miss out of the best part of your trip. (Take warning here though...there is "seedy," and then there is "Seedy." You can indeed get in trouble in certainly establishments, the same as you can in quite a number of such places here at home). If you follow the maps provided here, especially in Istanbul and Ankara...well folks...good luck!
I will say that the chapter on personal safety and security is good in this work and should certainly be heeded. Of course in all honesty my wife and I always felt much safer in even the worse parts of any city, Istanbul and Ankara included, than we felt, and still feel, in most of our major cities. Keep in mind that Turkey is in reality two different countries...you have the cities and you have the country. These are two completely different worlds. When traveling in the cities always use common sense and sound judgment. In the country, even if you mess up, the people there are usally more than willing to bail you out of trouble. Again, that is the same advice I would give you if you were to travel anywhere in the U.S.
This is a nice book to use as an initial overall planner. There are several other travel books out there, all of which should be check before you make your trip. It is also a good idea, in order to get the most out of your trip, to either go online or check some nice history books out about the history of this remarkable place. We plan to return in the next couple of years and do hope that not all our old haunts have changed.
I am giving this one a three star rating simply because it is a good overview and it is well designed and information is well organized and easy to find. As far as actual usefulness goes, when you are in country, I would have to give it a two star rating at best.
While reading you enter into a world of bathing pools with the remains of marble columns, Medieval castles, Turkish baths, old harbors with remnants of city walls, waterfalls, modern cities, underground cities, rock-cut monasteries, outdoor markets, Roman mosaics, cathedrals with unique architecture, mosques with beautiful gardens and palaces.
I'd love to walk through the Topkapi Palace, which is now a public museum. The authors explain how you need to take guided tours through various sections, so that is helpful information to know before you plan a trip.
If you are interested in Turkish music, you can read about the traditional instruments. I'm currently listening to "Art of the Turkish Ud" and the album "Ahenk Turkish Classical Music" has me intrigued.
The main chapters:
Introducing Turkey - This section paints a portrait of Turkey by exploring beguiling seascapes, brooding mountains and the tranquility of lakes. Pictures hint at the beauty of the sapphire water and ancient ruins. You will want to jump into these pictures and soak up the sun. You can read about the history of Turkey and read about the Hellenistic Age and The Byzantine Empire.
Istanbul Area by Area - This section shows you how Turkey's largest city is divided into four sightseeing areas. There are street-by-street maps, story boxes to explore specific subjects in detail and suggested routes for walking through the city.
Turkey Region by Region - The rest of the country is divided into seven regions and each has its own chapter. Pictorial maps, town maps, the top sights and detailed information makes this a fascinating study.
Travelers' Needs - A section with information on where to stay, where to eat, shopping and entertainment. You can choose to stay in an opulent palace or a smaller summer house. You could even sleep out under the stars.
The authors explain how you can get great deals by paying cash and explore a variety of exciting entertainment locations, like ski resorts, whitewater rafting, pony trekking or sailing. It sounds romantic to take a rail tour or to explore ruins. There is a survival guide section explaining customs, etiquette, currency and how to use a card phone.
Perfect for the armchair traveler or for planning a trip to Turkey. This is one of my favorite DK guides. It truly awakens the traveling spirit and encourages you to think about journeying out into the world.
~The Rebecca Review
There is lots of info in this guide, but it is delivered with all the flair of a biology textbook. The facts are there, but there is nothing to stir anticipation. There is nothing that makes you say: "Wow--I want to go there". Its hotel and restaurant recommendations, very important for independent travel, are almost nonexistent, and those there are, are almost all upper end stuff. There is no interest in the ambiance of a place--there is more emphasis on whether there is a TV in the room. I'm far more interested in a hotel's great view or a restaurant being trypcal of the region. The cuisine of Turkey is one of the reasons to visit, but food and drink are hardly mentioned. There isn't even a menu translation, an invaluable feature, unless you always eat at tour bus restaurants with english menus.
I will say that DK's maps and photos are outstanding, but that's not enough to recommend it. It's back to LP for me.
BTW, we ended up finding 2 other couples to share the cost of a van. The van waited for us to take us back to the downtown area. The downtown area is right off the ship, walking distance. You will get acosted by salesmen, so be prepared. It's an interesting salesmenship...they expect to "host" you with drinks and seats. they will then bring items to you. It would feel luxurious to be waited on and hosted if they weren't pressuring you to buy. They do accept no as an answer though...eventually So, once we settled into the concept, we realized it was part of the culture and learned to handle the stalking and haggling and constant pressure. The same thing that makes them sales oriented also make them customer service oriented in their restaurants-this was nice.
1) The hotel information is mainly for nicer establishments and there are not many listed.
2) The pictures are really nice, but there is not a lot of cultural, historical, or instructional information.
3) The book is really heavy making it a pain to carry around.
I also owned the Lonely Planet Turkey book and loved it, I would recommend it over the Eyewitness Guide. It got me to where I wanted to go and I found most of the information to be accurate. People I worked with also liked the Rough Guide of Turkey.
One other suggestion, if you are just headed to Istanbul, or plan to be in the country for a long period of time I would purchase both a Turkey guide and an Istanbul guide in order to save having to carry around a huge guidebook to the entire country.