In general, I like DK books. I own several of them and have a resourceful library just stuffed with the things. I learn much from them. Alas though, I fear that I was and am not overly impressed with the Eyewitness Travel Guide to Turkey being reviewed here.
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.