Subject: Re: Istanbul and warm water
Hi Ann and Ziners,

We spent several days in Istanbul as part of a longer trip we made to Turkey in 2002. I usually like to research hotels myself but since we were travelling with some of my wife's family and they had been there before, we followed their lead. It was recommended that we find a small hotel in the Sultanahmet area - the old city, near Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque - and I think that this was good advice. There are dozens of little 2-star type places there. Old Town is very picturesque and we always felt safe. If you want to see photos from our visit to Istanbul you can visit our web site.

You don't say what time of year you're going, but if it's anywhere near summer than I recommend that you make sure your hotel has air conditioning, and that it is available all day. We were there in June, and the temperature hovered around and above 40 (Celsius; that's 104 Fahrenheit) every day we were there. And it's not cool at night like we're used to in Oregon. Unfortunately the hotel we were in limited the use of air conditioning to certain hours, and we had to sleep with the windows open. It was pretty noisy. The last night we were there, the Turkish team had won a World Cup match and the city celebrated all night! It was fun to watch.

But we loved the Sultanahmet location. It was so close to the museums, palaces, and mosques that we came to see. We took taxis everywhere. Fares were pretty cheap, and there's not really a better way to get around. We tried the public transportation once but it has no right-of-way and the cars overwhelmed it. People were walking faster! (Don't even think about driving in Istanbul.) There are some taxi drivers who try to take more of your money than they should, and there are various schemes that they use. We were way overcharged once, but it wasn't the end of the world and it was a great learning experience for me. Other taxi drivers were wonderful and took good care of us.

If you get overheated like I did, the most fun and interesting way to get cooled off is to take one of the ferries across the Bosporus. They are very inexpensive. They're like commuter trains for people who live across the water and work in the Old Town. Make sure that you grab an outdoor seat quickly when they open the gates!

Contrary to what they will tell you, it's NOT a requirement that all American tourists must buy a carpet. It can be difficult to avoid! The sales experience is a lot of fun.

Dave Votaw in Salem, Oregon