Monday, June 03, 2013

Turkey Preface 2: What to Bring

Addition to Yesterday
I made a couple safety edits to yesterday's post, including this paragraph: I would recommend that, if a person is in the inland country, you have your hotel before dark.  Big cities tend to be more secular friendly. I do believe there is an inner "clash of civilizations" going on in Turkey.  It is between secular Turkey and fundamentalist influences. It was no surprise that a very modern mall in Adana (Tarsus) had security procedures at the entrances.

What to Bring to Turkey
The less luggage the better (like, no carry ons).  You can often rinse out your clothes in hotels and let them hang dry. Obviously you'll need a passport.  You can buy a visa at the Istanbul airport for $20 American.  There are also sites where you can get it ahead of time and save 20 minutes.

We were probably more on the economical side (gas and hotels were the biggest expense).  I spent a little more than $900 dollars there, in addition to the $1000+ plane fare.  If you go east beyond Colossae, the trip becomes far more travel than visiting sites. And it probably becomes more dangerous the farther east you go, especially as you get near to Syria and Iran.  I'd stay away from Mt. Ararat. :-) But you also have to remember that Syria is only half way across the country--a very long way away from the eastern border to Iran.

Not all bank cards will work in Turkey.  Find out ahead of time.  An ATM is almost always the best way to get money in a foreign country.  Also have some back-up ready on a credit card and tell your credit card you're going to be there.  Otherwise they'll shut it off until they can call your house to double check and, of course, you won't be there to tell them.

It took about 150 Turkish lira to fill the tank of our small rental car (about 1200 lira to rent for 10 days with unlimited mileage).  It took Kurshunsuz 95 (unleaded).  The lira is about 1.8 dollars right now.  If you only do the 7 churches of Revelation or only go as far as Yalvach (Pisidian Antioch), you would save quite a bit of gas, saving several hundred dollars.

You might take a plastic spork with you if you're going to buy from markets and eat on the side of the road.  They have great bread in any village, great watermelon sometimes at the side of the road.  Migros is like Wal-Mart, and you can buy most anything.  Tomatoes and olives are a plenty.  Hotels usually serve a breakfast of tomatoes, olives, bread, feta cheese, other cheeses, hard boiled eggs, and often at least one surprise.

mezeler, "appetizers"

They don't do a lot of coffee.  It's all tea (chai) in the glass cups like the one in the picture from yesterday.  You can occasionally find Turkish coffee with the grounds in the bottom, but more often they'll serve you Nescafe instant coffee.  Dave took a number of Starbucks Via packages and hot water was always at breakfast for him to make the magic.

Don't drink the water.  There is bottled water to be had everywhere in multiple sizes.  We didn't need toilet paper but stashed some in our suitcases just in case of emergency.

A compass wouldn't be a bad idea.  Our Garman GPS was at times helpful but it also sent us on a number of frustrating dead ends.  It once led us to someone's driveway, not to mention a rather shady alley with individuals of questionable character.  Ross' iPad turned out to be very helpful because he had maps on it.  Even when there was no road to be seen on it, we could follow the blue dot on the iPad.  And he didn't actually have roaming on.  It was apparently just picking up the cell phone towers.  Everyone in Turkey has a cell phone, including Memesh of the one room shack.

You'll need a Europe style adapter (two round prongs).  Turkey is on 220 volts, but most cell phone and computer charges will handle either 110 or 220, so all you need for these is the adapter to stick on the end of your charger.  Other devices would need a transformer, but they probably aren't necessary to take (like don't take a hair dryer).

We were consistently able to find hotel rooms for about 100 lira (about 55 dollars), sometimes less.  You can often negotiate prices down.  May seems to be an optimal time to go.  Not a lot of summer traffic yet but nice temperature.  They fill the tank for you and round off.  The attendant laughed at me once when I tried to pay for .02 lira.

Hotels seem to be grouped all together.  So the best thing is to ask for "oteler nereda" (hotels where? - the singular is otel) and then follow directions.  Ask again when the trail dries up.  I personally suspect that hotels that say "hotel" will be more expensive than ones that say "otel," just because they're targeting westerners in their spelling.

Useful words in a hotel lobby (phonetic rather than actual spellings):

1. one - beer
2. two - icky
3. three - ooch
4. four - dirt
5. five - besh
6. room - oda (rooms - odalar)
7. nekadar - how much
8. kavalti? - breakfast?
9. wi-fi? - 'nough said

While I'm at it, it's also helpful to know:

10. hello (merhaba)
11. thank you - teshekuhr lehr (thanks, also the harder to say "teshekuhr edirim")
12. please - lutfin
13. gule gule is actually what they say to you when you leave

Take a map of Turkey.  An iPad with map loaded is superb as long as it is charged.  I didn't take my laptop.  The little Turkish phase book I bought was helpful, although I've decided that I don't like Lonely Planet phrase books or guide books.  They're just not made to dip in and out.  They're more to read from beginning to end and that just isn't traveling.  Michelin seems better but I haven't sampled enough to say what my favorite would be.

Dave took a big Bible.  I think a little one might be preferred for me not to draw attention.  The call to prayer goes off 5 times a day wherever you are: before dawn, after dusk, noon, afternoon, and evening. I would be nice if we were reminded to pray here every once and a while.  Most Muslims are very friendly and inviting.  We went into a mosque at Nicaea and those inside were friendly.

For clothes I would avoid shorts on either men or women.  We didn't go anywhere that T-shirts were inappropriate, although there are places in the far eastern part of Turkey.  I would advise not looking unnecessarily American.

Finally, we took a letter from IWU saying that we were on a study tour.  At Colossae we were questioned by the state police and we learned the word erretmen (phonetic), "teacher."  The letter earned its keep there, even though they couldn't read it.  The letter also probably got us into the site at Laodicea, which is a developing site.  On the other hand, once they had printed tickets for a site, the letter was useless.

There were thus three kinds of sites.  First were the "Disney world" developed sites (Pergamum, Ephesus, Cappadocia) that had pretty tickets and well orchestrated entrances.  Second were the developing sites where there was often a security gate or a fence (e.g., Laodicea... Colossae and Troas had gates but no one was there when we came).  Finally are the completely undeveloped sites like Lystra and Derbe.

1 comment:

Vernon said...

This is cool!