Before You Leave
Do not forget to bring your airline tickets and passport. Make photocopies of all your travel documents, such as passport, and airline tickets, and place these in a separate bag other than the one in which you will carry the originals.
Flight from the U.S.
We suggest that you use a carry-on bag for important documents (passport, etc.), and some things that you might use on the flight (books, magazines, clothing, medications, cosmetics, etc.). Airports "film-safe" X-rays may damage your film. Carry undeveloped film in lead envelopes (available from most photo specialty stores).
What to Bring with You
Bring any medications that you use in their original containers, cosmetics you regularly use, film (also available at local shops in Turkey), personal hygiene products, special items (i.e., extra pair of contact lenses), personal dietary preferences (i.e., low fat breakfast cereal, sugar substitutes, etc.). Consider bringing the following items: vitamins, munchies, energy bars, Band-Aids, antiseptic, hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. Bring a student-style backpack to carry camera equipment, tissues, bottled water, etc. On your return, it can either be folded into your suitcase or used, if the suitcases are filled.
During the time of your visit, temperatures may range from 50 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, so bring some warm clothing, as well as outfits for warm weather. A light rain coat or an umbrella will also be helpful, as it can rain unexpectedly. Your shoes should be very comfortable and well broken-in. We suggest that you bring at least two (2) pairs of shoes. Although casual clothing is appropriate at all times during the tour, you may want to dress up for dinner.
A few of the locations that we visit on the tour are sacred shrines, mosques, churches and monasteries. Sports clothing, such as sweats and shorts, are not appropriate. Women must cover their legs in such places. In mosques, women will be given a covering for their shoulders and all individuals must remove their shoes and are provided with paper or cloth "booties." In some Orthodox churches and monasteries, Orthodox women are required to wear a head covering, such as a scarf, and must avoid wearing pants. However, for non-Orthodox women this will not be required.
When visiting Cappadocia, we suggest long pants, especially when exploring cave dwellings as some crawling may be necessary and the tufa surfaces can be quite rough. Be sure to also bring a wide brimmed hat, sun tan lotion, and comfortable shoes. A fanny pack or small knapsack may also be useful in order to carry a bottle of water and perhaps an energy snack for some of the hikes.
Electrical and Electronic Devices
The standard for electrical sockets in Turkish hotels is 220 volts, and require a round, continental-type, plug or adapter that can be purchased in any travel supply store.
We do not recommend drinking tap water. Use bottled water for drinking, and even for brushing your teeth. Bottled water can be purchased in your hotel. On the street, drink cold beverages that are bottled or canned. Avoid purchasing alcohol on the street. Wash hands often with soap and water, especially before meals. Do not eat food purchased from street vendors. To prevent fungal and parasitic infections, keep your feet clean and dry, and do not go barefoot. You may want to avoid drinking beverages with ice, however in practice we have never experienced problems. Do not handle animals. No vaccinations are mandatory for entry into Turkey.
Tipping is appreciated in Turkey, and is a great way to show appreciation for services well performed. An appropriate tip amount should be about 15% for most services. Our tour guides and interpreters have the rigorous task of interpreting details about, theology, symbolism and technical information about icon and wall painting to our tour members. They deserve a generous tip from tour participants and we heartily encourage it.
Geography and Population
Turkey includes the large peninsula of Western Asia, called both Asia Minor and Anatolia, and the part of Europe called Thrace. It covers an area of 783,500 square kilometers (300,000 square miles) comparable to slightly less than California, Oregon and Washington combined or to the countries of Spain and Italy together. To the south and west are the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas respectively; to the north is the Black Sea. In clockwise order, Turkey shares borders with Greece, Bulgaria, Georgia, Armenia, Iran, Iraq, and Syria. Nineteen mountains are over 4,100 meters (13,800 feet) high; of them Mt. Ararat (Agri Dag) is the highest at 5,073 meters (16,910 feet). Both the Tigris and the Euphrates Rivers (Dicle and Firat) rise in Anatolia. The current population of Turkey is over
70 million people of whom 65% live in cities. More than half of the population is under the age of 20.
The population is 99% Muslim, however, Turkey is a secular republic which grants freedom of worship.
The currency in Turkey is call the Turkish Lira (TL). Exchange rates are published daily and foreign currency may be exchanged with exchange brokers (Doviz Buro), banks or at hotels. Credit cards are widely accepted and ATMí»s are available for Turkish Lira withdrawals exchanged at the daily foreign exchange rates. Travelers checks are acceptable for getting cash and making payments for some purchases but are not the preferred form of payment.
Turkey is two (2) hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time or seven (7) hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time in the US.
Whether your time in Turkey be for a few days or a few weeks, shopping is usually an integral part of any visit. Turkish Carpets are beautiful and quite valuable since they are hand woven with unique designs made with materials dyed with natural colors. Each region of Turkey has its own design and the silk carpets of course are the most valuable some of which can take up to eighteen months to make by one weaver. In addition leather and jewelry (gold and silver) are favorite purchases. In Turkey you can haggle to get the prices down and you will find that you can find something for anyone#39;s budget.
Turkish Cuisine is one of the best in the world. It has a wide variety of dishes many prepared with fresh vegetables and olive oil. Turkish food is very healthy as well as delicious. The fresh fruits are plentiful and very tasty.
Visas are required by many countries in order to visit Turkey and therefore one must check with the appropriate Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence to learn what is required. For US citizens, no prior request is necessary, but a visa must be purchased upon arrival in Turkey. Usually it is issued just before passing passport control and is valid for 90 days. The current cost of a visa for U.S. tourists is $20 USD.
Traveling in Turkey Today
Check your Midnight Express stereotypes at the door -- this is a rapidly modernizing country with one foot in Europe and one in the Middle East. It#39;s not all oriental splendor, mystery, intrigue and whirling dervishes, but a spicy maelstrom of history knocking up against a modern world.
The Turkish people have an unrivalled reputation for hospitality, the cuisine is to die for, the coastline is a dream, and many Turkish cities are dotted with spectacular mosques and castles. And while costs are rising, Turkey remains the Mediterranean#39;s bargain-basement destination.
There#39;s an enormous variety of things to see and do ranging from water sports to mountain trekking, archaeology to night-clubbing and river rafting to raki drinking. Whether you leave Turkey with magnificent carpets, amulets to ward off evil, belly-dancing tips, an appreciation of its history, or just a tan, you#39;re likely to want to go back for more.
Turkey is generally safe, but domestic and regional tensions result in occasional waves of low-level violence, particularly bombings. On 16 May, 2004, four percussion bombs exploded outside HSBC banks in Istanbul and Ankara, echoing events of late 2003 when Istanbul was rocked by a series of bombings in which a synagogue, a bank and the British consulate were targeted.
So far, travelers have not been specifically targeted by terrorists and suicide bombers. However, foreign interests have been targeted and there is always the danger that travelers will find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. The best defense is to maintain a modest profile and be aware of current events.