Where is Turkey?
It is on the Mediterranean, in the Anatolian region of West Asia. The countries on its borders are Bulgaria, Greece, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. Further to the northeast are Syria, Iraq and Iran.
History of Turkey
Turkey is dotted with ruined castles and palaces of great empires. They say it had a tumultuous history which has left a deep legacy. You will overwhelmed by the passion of ordinary Turks for their country. But for ordinary Turks that passion finds its outlet in simple pleasures through time with their family and the enjoyment of food, music, football, and friendship. For visitors Turks have an inspiring ability to share their joy in the simple things.
The best way to unwind is to spend an afternoon being pampered at a hamam or a swim in the beautiful waters of the Mediterranean coast. For Adventure you can head east to Nemrut Daği National Park or enjoy the wonderful atmosphere of markets and bars in Istanbul.
The many regions of Turkey are, Aegean Turkey, Black Sea Turkey, Central Anatolia,
Eastern Anatolia, Marmara Region, Mediterranean Turkey and South-eastern Anatolia The highest mountain is Mount Ararat at 5,165 m it is the point at which is known as the landing place of Noah’s Ark . By 1945 Turkey had joined the UN, and in 1952 it became a member of NATO.
The most important holiday in Turkey is the fasting month of Ramadan on Oct 29 Republic Day (anniversary of the declaration of the Turkish Republic). Ankara is the capital of Turkey .
Turkey Visa Requirements
Visitors from many countries will require a visa to enter Turkey. However many citizens can obtain a three month-multiple entry visa at the Turkish border gates for a fee between €15 and €45 – these include Australia, Canada, the US, the UK and Ireland.
Citizens from New Zealand do not require a visa for visits of up to 90 days.
In most cases entering Turkey by air is straight forward as you only need to have the correct visa. However it can be more complicated to enter by land via a border crossing as there can be different payment requirements and facilities. Often the smaller border crossing points will only accept Euros or US dollars and may not have money changing facilities or ATMs. Ensure you have enough funds in the appropriate currency if you plan to enter Turkey via a land border crossing. You may also be required to show immigration officials that you have return or onward tickets and adequate means of support and accommodation upon entering Turkey.
When entering through a border with the countries of Georgia, Iran, Iraq or Syria it is stricter as customs officers may want to see what you are bringing in. If travelling by train or bus expect to be held up at the border for two to three hours if other passengers don’t have their paperwork in order.
As entry requirements may change from time to time it is strongly advised that you check with the department of foreign affairs or your local consulate or embassy for the current requirements.
Turkey Travel Health
In Turkey you have two Hospitals private and public. Public hospitals are run by the Ministry of Health. There are emergency wards open 24 hours a day in every hospital. Turkey has a high standard private health care available at reasonable cost in the main cities. Many Turkish doctors and dentists speak a foreign language, particularly at major hospitals. Private health insurance is recommended. . Vaccinations against tuberculosis and hepatitis B can be recommended. Mosquitoes are a menace and keeping a mosquito repellent handy would make it more comfortable. Malaria is long gone (except the southernmost areas near the Syrian border) people desert the streets between the sunset and one hour after that.
I would advise against drinking the tap water if you’re only there on a short visit. Stick to bottled water, always boil water for 10 minutes or use water-purification tablets or a filter. Never drink water from rivers or lakes since it may contain bacteria or viruses that can cause diarrhoea or vomiting.
In the cities Stray dogs bear plastic ear rings. Those tags mean it is, vaccinated, sterilized, and then returned back to the streets. .
If you intend to travel to Eastern or South-eastern Anatolia, The situation is far from secure due to ethnic strife and protests, sometimes resulting in violence.
What is Turkey Local Currency?
Turkey’s currency is the Yeni Türk Lirası commonly referred to as the Lira. It comes in a 1 lira coin, and notes of 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 lira. Coins of 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 are also found and are known as Kurus.
By January 2005, the economy was considered robust enough to introduce the new Turkish lira (Yeni Türk Lirası) and finally do away with six zeroes on each and every banknote
Restaurateurs and shop owners don’t often carry large denomination notes on them, so try to keep a supply of small money on you for small payments.
Atms are readily available in the cities and virtually all machines have English, French and German instructions.
US dollars and Euros are the easiest currencies to change, although many banks and exchange offices will change other major currencies such as UK pounds and Japanese yen. You may find it difficult to exchange Australian or Canadian currency except at banks and offices in major cities.
Travellers cheques are hard to change there are high fees for doing so.
When shopping look for the shops that have a blue Tax Free sticker on their windowpane or at their entrance. Collect the necessary papers after your purchase before leaving the shop and you will be able to reclaim your VAT when leaving Turkey.
What is Turkey’s Weather?
Aegean and Mediterranean coastal areas have typical Mediterranean climate. There is hardly a drop of rain during the sunny and hot summer (May to October). Winters are rainy in these regions, mountainous areas higher than 2000 metres can have snow which can be quite heavy.
The region around the Sea of Marmara, including Istanbul, has Mediterranean climate, but it can rain, during summer (as showers which tend to last for 15-20 minutes).
Black Sea region has a subtropical oceanic climate in the east, and a colder oceanic climate in the west. The temperature seldom drops below 5°C. Summers in the western parts of this region are hotter, and less rainy and snow is not an unusual event.
Most of the coastal areas have a high level of humidity during most of the year.
Interior areas generally have hot summers and cold and snowy winters. The more easterly the location is, the colder the winters are and the heavier the snow. The north-eastern part (around Erzurum and Kars) is the only inland area which has cool and rainy summers.
The south-eastern region near the Syrian border has a desert-like climate, temperature is constantly above 40°C during summers with no rain. Snowfall is occasional in winters.
Culture of Turkey
Turkey is a mostly Muslim country so ensure that you do not speak badly of the Islamic religion .The Call to Prayer is read 5 times a day. Show respect when recordings are coming from the speakers of the numerous mosques throughout Turkey. Turks are extremely proud and sensitive of their heritage and culture.
During Ramadan the most important holiday in Turkey. Some city councils set up structures in their squares to serve warm meals during sunset free of charge. Another impact of Ramadan on travellers is that some restaurant owners use it as an opportunity for a much-needed vacation and shut their business for 30 days, not as much in big cities. . Mainly local’s inland and eastern locations are more conservative than people in the rest of the country, so you may want to refrain from eating, drinking, or smoking in public in those areas during the daytime through Ramadan. Watch how the local folk act.
Because of religious traditions, all women are required to wear head scarves s upon entering a mosque as well as an Orthodox church. The same goes for the tombs of Islamic saints, if you don’t have a shawl or a scarve to put on your head, you can borrow one at the entrance. All shoes should be removed before entering any mosque.
Tipping is practiced in Turkey around 10% of the total bill or simply rounding up to the next lira for smaller purchases is welcome, it is not a custom always followed. Taxi drivers will tend to round up your fare to the next lira and give your change accordingly, this is not so much a scam as a custom, if you insist on your change, it will be given but often reluctantly.
In Turkey, bargaining is a must.
What Languages Are Spoken In Turkey?
The sole official language of Turkey is Turkish, although Kurdish is also spoken by a small proportion of the population. In general people living near borders will often be speaking the language at the other side too, like Arabic in the South-East.
Thanks to migration, even in rural areas most villages will have at least somebody who can speak another language. English is increasingly popular among the younger generation. The “Universities” that train pupils for a job in tourism pour out thousands of youngsters who want to practice their knowledge on the tourist, with varying degrees of fluency.
You can find telephone booths on streets, post-offices and almost any public building. Phone cards are available or you can use your credit card on the phones operating with chipped-cards. There are also telephones available in private kiosks where you pay cash after your call but these are invariably more expensive. You will need to dial 0 prior to telephone code for intercity calls.
Numbers starting with 0800 are pay-free, with 0900 are high-fee services. 7-digit numbers starting with 444 are charged as local calls wherever they are dialled in Turkey.
For international calls Dial 00 prior to country code for international calls.
The International country code of Turkey is 90 for inbound calls.
Internet-cafés are available even in smaller towns. All have good DSL connections, and price for connection is about more or less 1 TL/hour. Free wireless connections are available at some airports, hotels and restaurants/cafés (especially in big cities).
Post offices are recognizable by their yellow-black “PTT” signs. Sending international letters cost only 0.80 TL (about €0.40).
Turkey Transport Options
There are two international airports in Istanbul, Ataturk International Airport which is 24 km west of the city. and Sabiha Gökçen International Airport which is 40 km west of Istanbul. At the town of Izmir there is Adnan Menderes airport that is 18km south of the city and. In Ankara is Esenboga airport which is 33km northeast of the city.
Bus travel is made very comfortable in Turkey with air-conditioned buses. There are now luxury buses with 1st class seats and service available. If travelling by bus you can find a bus to almost any destination.
The Turkish Republic State Railways offer cheap but slower travel. As it only has11, 000 km of rail network in the total, many cities and tourist spots are out of rail coverage
Like all of its neighbours (except Cyprus), driving is on the right side of the road. It is illegal to use a mobile phone while driving. Maximum unit of alcohol in blood for drivers is 0.05 grams. The use of seat belts both at the front and back line is obligatory. Also Turkish signboards are identical to the ones used in Europe, and differences are often insignificant. Turkey uses the metric system, all distances are in kilometres. Fuel in Turkey is one of the most expensive in the world because of the very heavy taxes. You will find car rental desks in arrival terminals of all airports.
Hizli ferries are fast catamaran-type ferryboats that connect Istanbul to the other side of the Marmara Sea. They can cut travel time dramatically. Similar services connect several parts of Istanbul with the Asian side, or places farther up the Bosporus. This type of fast ferry is all over the country wherever there is enough water.
Rare in the Mediterranean, one can still find some seclusion on a private charter in Turkey. In fact, Turkey offers more coastline than any other Mediterranean country
Turkey Travel Tips
Petty crime. Watch your belongings in crowded public transport, especially in trams and urban buses. Always have someone take care of your belongings when swimming at beach
If your wallet is taken, before going to a police station, look into the trash cans nearby, as tossing the wallet into the nearest garbage is what most thieves do in Turkey. Your money will be gone, but there is a chance that your credit cards and papers are still there.
Be advised to carry passport or other means of identification at all times. Referring to the police always made them hand the passport back, once the registration procedure was finalized.
Turkey Local Food
Turkeys location adjacent to asia, the middle east and europe means the food has a wonderful range of influences. Beef is the most important meat with the main vegetables consisting of eggplant (aubergine), onion, lentil, bean, tomato, garlic, and cucumber. Spices are extensively employed as well.
Eating cheaply is mostly done at Kebab stands, which are everywhere. There are many more upmarket restaurants available. These are generally fairly specialised in the type of cuisine they serve. One common variety is a Kebab restaurant where the full traditional meal can be found. Typically there will be a lentil soup to start along wiht a mezze (or tasting plate) with a variety of cheeses, olives and pickles. The main meal will be the Kbab meat which is cooked on a rotating spit and shaved thinly before serving.
Western style Kebabs in flat bread are almost unknown in Turkey. The bread in a proper Turkish Kebab is thick and crunchy and filled with flavoursome meat, lettuce, onions and tomato.
Turkish coffee (kahve) is strong and tasty, just be careful not to drink the sludgy grounds at the bottom of the cup.
While the significant proportion of the Turks are Muslims, alcoholic enjoyed by the locals and freely available to buy. The local firewater of choice is rakı, anise-flavoured liquor double distilled from fermented grape skin. It is usually mixed with water and drunk with another glass of iced water to accompany it.
Turkish wines are surprisingly good. With many good local vineyards especially in the Western part of the country. Red Poppy Syrup is one of the traditional Turkish drinks made of red poppy petals, water and sugar by natural ways. Also in Mardin and Antakya has special wines they pruduce tradational wines more than 1000 years.
Turkey Local Timezones
Currently, Turkey’s standard meridian in winter is the Greenwich Mean Time +2 (GMT+2) , In the summer, time is adjusted to GMT +3.The winter time is applied for five months and summer time is applied for seven months. Turkey is to abandon daylight saving time in 2011.
Electricity 230v /50Hz you can use (European 2-pin) Round pins with side ground contacts.
The quality of power might in Turkey can be an problem. Some travellers recommend the use of a Universal Surge Suppressor, especially if using sensitive equipment.
Turkey Dutyfree Limits
Turkey is the biggest leather producer in the world. Istanbul is the city that specializes in leather. Many regions in Turkey produce handmade kilims and carpets. Bursa is known for Silk dresses, scarves And silk fans.
Handmade Cappadocian pottery is made of the local salty clay. The Salt content of the clay is thanks to the salt spray produced by the Salt Lake in the heartland of Central Anatolia this is what makes local earthenware top quality.
To export or to take out the antiques which are more than 100 years old from Turkey is subject to heavy restrictions or in many cases outright forbidden.