Lonely Planet Istanbul Encounter 3rd Ed.: 3rd Edition Paperback – Feb 9 2011
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"Bottom line: ... It's the lean, easy-to-use and fact-filled Lonely Planet ... that we'll slip into our carry-on next time." -- Washington Post
"The trusted companions for a generation of independent travellers." -- New York Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Virginia Maxwell knows exactly why Istanbul has been called the city of the world's desire, as she desires nothing more than to return and sample its manifold delights again and again. With her partner Peter and young son Max, she has tramped its cobbled streets, explored its bazaars and marvelled at the friendliness and good humour of its locals. With good friends Jill, Kate, Catherine, Dave and Janet she's checked out bars, relaxed in cay bahcesis (tea gardens) and eaten trayloads of meze; and with sister Elizabeth she's hopped on and off ferries, eaten lokum (Turkish delight) and watched dervises whirl.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Most Lonely Planet books are written by people far more authoritative than this. They have either lived in those places or worked there for several months at a time. It seems like this writer just took a few trips to Istanbul with her friends and somehow landed a pretty sweet book deal. She barely touches the neighborhoods that are not the main tourist attractions.
As for the touristy areas, she may as well have been a writer for the Turkish Tourism Association. She gives very little history of the places she writes about and does not give a realistic take on them. For instance, she says that Topkapi Palace is so great that "tourist attractions rarely get better than this." What she fails to mention is that very little of the palace is left in its original state so you don't get a sense of palace life. The rooms are lined with shelves with old artifacts so it is essentially a museum in a palace. The Turkish government only let the palace become a tourist attraction bit by bit so this is to be expected. It is a great place but Maxwell hardly conveys that.
Also, she says that Ayasofya will take your breath away. This is the worst-maintained historical place I have ever seen. She fails to mention that there has been scaffolding in the dome for nearly 10 years.
Also, the ferry information she gives is wrong and we missed a trip to the Princes' Islands because of it.
Lastly, I don't think phrases like "wet dream" belong in a tourism book. What does that even mean anyway?
I am not saying Istanbul is not worthy of praise. It certainly is an amazing city in its fusion of East and West and I had hoped to be guided through it by someone who better understood that rather than a bubble gum fan. I honestly cannot understand how this book made it to publishing with its lack of detail and gushing style. I usually have far better Lonely Planet experiences. Hopefully the company will update this book with a new author soon who can give Istanbul the assessment it deserves.
This book is full of outdated information even though is only from last year: many of the bars/cafes/restaurants mentioned are closed. Second, many addresses are wrong. Third and most important: all the shops, bars, cafes and restaurant mentioned are really REALLY tourist traps. I do not think the author is a local at all (if she is, she hanging with tourists all the time). Also, I did not find any value added in this guide book than any other Istanbul guide book.
When I buy encounter (I have London, Tokyo, Berlin, Rome and they are top notch) I expect a different level.
A new author (please a local this time....) should completely rewrite the entrie book.
This book is a loss of money and TIME (you will loose time looking for the shop/restaurant she mentions finding out is either a tourist trap or wrong address...)
I will take a seemingly innocuous facet of the book---ferry recommendations. The schedule times are wrong. Imagine missing a once a day Bosprous ferry cruise. I made it aboard. I wanted to see the European side so sat where the book recommended only to discover I was seated on the Asian viewing side of the vessel with no way to change to the other side since the ferry was full. Then I noticed the author had misidentified which shore several landmarks were on. I could only conclude the author had never actually taken the cruise but had relied on second-hand, wrong info. She also suggests taking the ferries to various Golden Horn locales failing to mention that the ferries run sporadically if at all, leaving me stranded and cursing. If you use this book after reading this review, heaven help you.
It also directs the tourist to a couple of really abysmally dreary and to be avoided neighborhoods. The book devotes far too much space to recommending pathetic and often out of business restaurants.
In my 40 years of travel never have I encountered such a poorly researched and presented travel guide.
I can only conclude that unless they provide specific examples, the positive reviewers liked the format of the book but did not acutally attempt to use it--a plague among travel book reviews on Amazon.
My main criticism of LP books is that the maps are pretty useless, and this is once again the case. You really need to get a separate map f you are going to venture beyond the really well trodden path. (There are a couple of bookshops on Istiklal Cadessi that sell good maps).
I found the tone of the book suited me - it is enthusiastic about an amazing city, and the author certainly knows the place well. I don;t usually follow guide book suggestions for places to eat, preferring to discover those on my own. I am gald I allowed Maxwell to lead me to a couple of cafes and bars, however, as they were excellent.
I recommend this book for both the novice and experienced traveller to the city (which I don;t with all LP City Guides - some, like Paris, I think reather too basic for the experienced visitor to that city).
Lonely planet is the middle of the road for me. On the lower end is a travel guide that only puts words. On the far extreme of that is my favorite guides " Eyewitness" guide by DK. Every page is packed with photos to go along with the commentary.
Lonely Planet guides are middle of the road, in that, they have words and photos. I still love them though.