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Useful Tips

1- Time Electricity and Measures 
Time

Local time is equal to GMT + 2 hours. Same time zone all over the country. 

Electricity

It is standard; 220 V all over Turkey.  
Weights and Measures

The Metric & Kilo system is used. 
2 - Postal Services and Telecommunications

Postal Services and Telecommunications

Turkey’s postal services are comparatively organized and efficient. All post offices bear the distinctive yellow PTT sign (Post, Telephone, Telegrams). Larger and central offices are open from 08:00-24:00. 

Telephone: All cities are linked by an efficient direct dialing system. Public telephones have two different systems. Some of them work with cards and some with tokens. They are both sold at PTTs. Tokens are called “jeton” in Turkish. Small jetons are only enough for local calls. Phone cards are in 3 different sizes and can be used more than once depending on the capacity of the card. All over Turkey, phone numbers consist of two sections; area code (3 digits) and the number itself (7 digits). During weekdays from 18:00 to 06:00 and on weekends calls are comparatively cheaper than the normal times as one can speak longer with the same amount of phone credit. The telephone system in Turkey is good. The total number of the telephone lines is 7.5 million. In other words the ratio is 7.5 persons per telephone (1993). With this number Turkey lies seventh in Europe and fourteenth in the world. 
Same area calls just the 7-digit number

From area to area 0 + area code + number
International calls 0 + 0 + country code + area code + number

3- Money

Monetary System 

The unit of currency is the Turkish Lira (TL). Coins are 1,000; 2,500; 5,000; 10,000; 25,000 and bank notes are 10,000; 20,000; 50,000; 100,000; 250,000; 500,000. Too many zeros can complicate life but are inevitable in a country where the annual inflation rate is about 70-100%. The cancellation of these many zeros is wondered about and suggested frequently by foreigners but, unless the inflation rate is reduced, it will have little effect and it cannot be repeated annually. Considering the possible psychological effects it has been discussed and in a very short time it will be implemented. 

Banks and ATMs 

Turkey boasts many banking companies and branches can be found everywhere. The big retail banks all have ATMs, some of which give cash advances against foreign credit cards. It should be noted that most ATM entry codes use numbers rather than letters / passwords. Banks will exchange foreign currency and travelers checks with your passport as proof of identity. Commissions are charged at between 1 and 3% per transaction. Exchange rates change daily and can be checked in the press. Banks are usually open between 09:30¬12:00 and 13:30¬17:00 on weekdays. On Saturdays and Sundays they are closed. 

Changing Money 

"Doviz" or exchange offices offer a fast service outside normal banking hours and at better rates than banks or hotels. They do not charge commission and only change foreign cash currency. Passports are not required. 

Credit Cards 

It should be noted that credit card commissions charged by the various credit card companies might sometimes be added to a client's bill-particularly if shopping in very touristic places. Also, with the rate of inflation affecting the daily exchange rate, the international rate used by the credit card company's banking agents may differ to that used by the vendor; clients may win or loose small amounts either way.

4-Food and Drinks

Foods & Drinks

Turkish cuisine is considered to be among the best in the world. So many civilizations, so many styles and the abundant food supply contribute to today's cuisine. "Afiyet olsun!" is an expression used to wish that a meal is enjoyed. Unlike many other languages it is used both before and after the meal. When anybody wants to express appreciation about food prepared by somebody else, he says "Elinize saglik!" which means "May God give health to your hands". When proposing a toast, the expression "Serefe!" is used which literally means "To honor!". 

Restaurant Types 

Lokanta

This kind of restaurant is typically Turkish and offers home-cooking style food. From a selection of meals, it is possible to go to the window and choose whatever you like. Guvec is any kind of meat prepared in a casserole. Bulgur pilavi is cooked crushed wheat. Dolma is stuffed vegetables, usually grape leaves, peppers, eggplants, cabbage leaves or mussels filled with rice, minced meat and raisins. Meatballs, vegetables or liver are among traditional Turkish food. 

Kebapci

This is the place where kebaps are sold. Kebap is a roast, broiled or grilled meat prepared in many different ways each of them called by adding a word to kebap; doner kebap, sis kebap, patlican kebap, etc. Doner kebap is lamb meat roasted on a revolving spit. Sis kebap is cubes of meat on skewers. Kofte is grilled or fried meatballs. 

Farinaceous Food Restaurants 

These differ from Italian pizza to Turkish farinaceous foods such as borekci, pideci, lahmacuncu, mantici, etc. Borek is a flaky pastry filled with cheese, eggs, vegetables, or minced meat, then fried or baked. Gozleme is a thin dough filled with cheese and parsley and baked on thin iron plate placed in wood or charcoal fire. Pide is a thick dough base filled or covered with any combination of meat, cheese, eggs, etc. It is quite similar to pizza but served with butter and grated cheese. Lahmacun is a thin round dough base covered with a spicy mixture of minced lamb meat, onions, tomatoes and parsley. Manti is a kind of pasta filled with minced lamb meat and served with yogurt and garlic. 

Corbaci

In the times before there was fast food, people went to these restaurants to eat tripe or chicken soup either for breakfast or after heavy nights of drinking. These places also sell a special food: Kokorec, roast and grilled lamb intestines, also sold in push carts by peddlers in the streets. 

Meyhane and Fish Restaurants 

These restaurants are generally for proper dinner meals. First, a large variety of soguk (cold) meze, (hors d'oeuvres) will be offered on a big tray among which you can choose a few, then you should sample a few sicak (hot) meze before the main dish. The main dish is either fish or meat. After having desserts or fruit, it is time to drink a cup of Turkish coffee. 

Soguk meze: White cheese, olives, lakerda (salted bonito), dolma (stuffed vegetables), cacik (chopped cucumbers with yogurt and garlic), piyaz (beans salad), Arnavut cigeri (spiced liver), fava (bean paste), imam bayildi (stuffed eggplant), pilaki (white beans), patlican kizartma (fried eggplant), etc. Sicak meze: Fried mussels or squid, various kinds of borek, fried potatoes, etc. 

Tatlici

This is a place where they sell different kinds of sweets. There are many of them like baklavaci, muhallebici, dondurmaci, helvaci, etc. Baklava is thin layers of flaky pastry stuffed with almond paste, walnuts or pistachio nuts in syrup. Its name comes from the shape in which it is cut; lozenge-shapes. Kaymak is thick clotted cream eaten with most sweets as well as on its own with honey or jam. Asure (Noah's pudding) is made from numerous types of dried fruits and pulses. Sutlac is rice pudding. Kadayif is shredded wheat in syrup. Kestane sekeri is glacÈ chestnuts. They are generally canned or kept in glass jars in syrup. It is common in Bursa. Lokum (Turkish Delight) is cubes of jelly like or gummy confection flavored with flower or fruit essences and dusted with powdered sugar. Pismaniye is a sweet-meat made of sugar, flour and butter which resembles flax fibers. Tahin-Pekmez is a mixture of both Tahin, sesame oil and Pekmez, molasses or treacle (heavy syrup obtained from grapes). Helva is a flaky confection of crushed sesame seeds in a base of syrup. Dondurma is ice cream. 

Drinks 

Turkish coffee is a ritual rather than a drink. Although coffee is not grown in Turkey, it is called Turkish coffee because it was introduced to the western world by Turks during the Siege of Vienna in the 16C. 

It is made by mixing an extremely finely ground coffee with water and sugar. According to your taste, you should let the waiter know in advance how much sugar you want in it: sade (without sugar), az sekerli (a little sugar), orta (medium sugar) or sekerli (with much sugar). 

Turkish coffee is drunk in small sips after you've rinsed your mouth with a little water which comes in a glass together with the coffee. While drinking you should leave the coffee grounds at the bottom of the cup. Turkish coffee is drunk any time especially after meals but definitely not at breakfast. It is believed that after a heavy meal, one should either drink a cup of coffee or take a 40-step walk for digestion. 

Cay (tea) is much more common. Especially at breakfast, but is also drunk anytime from small glasses and stirred with tiny spoons. Boza is a fermented and sweetened drink made from corn or wheat. 

Salep is a boiled milk flavored with orchis plant. 

Ayran is a refreshing tangy drink of yogurt, water and salt whipped together. 

Raki (lion's milk) is the national drink; a 90-proof aniseed-flavored alcohol. To drink raki properly, one needs two long and narrow glasses. One of the glasses changes its color from a clear liquid to a milky-white when it is filled with half raki and half water. The other is for just plain water. The aim is to keep the levels of the two glasses more or less the same. Raki is generally a drink that goes with a good meal. It is drunk cold, mostly with ice and requires some sort of food, the best accompaniment being some meze. The average number of glasses for one person is between 2-4. 

Wine: There is a good variety of Turkish wine. They are comparatively reasonable in price and of good quality. Some selections are Kavaklidere Yakut (red),Selection (red), Cankaya (white) and Muscat (white), Doluca Moskado (white) and Villa Doluca (both red and white). 

Drinking Water

Although water is considered safe to drink in most places in Turkey, chlorination and the different mineral contents of the tap water, particularly in the larger cities and tourist resorts, can sometimes cause problems for the visitor. It is therefore advisable to drink bottled water or mineral water as a safeguard. Local people in major or touristic cities, especially in Istanbul, do not drink water from the tap. In fact, there are drinking water stations similar in organization to gas stations, where the locals go to "fill up" their water storage containers.

5- Smoking, Drugs. Baths & Toilets

Smoking

"Either poor or penurious you feel, 

Light a cigarette after each meal." Turkey has the fourth place in the world with 22 million active and 22 million passive smokers. Unfortunately, people do not seem to care much for non-smokers. Recently however, there has been a tendency to prohibit people smoking in public places but this may take more time to gain acceptance. 

Drugs

The illegal possession, sale or use of drugs such as hashish, heroin and cocaine, is strictly forbidden by Turkish Law. 

Baths and Toilets 

Water has always been abundant enough to become part of the culture. Therefore, people of Anatolia have gotten used to running water. They always prefer washing themselves in running water (shower or Turkish bath) rather than sitting in bathtubs. If they have a bath, they would take a shower afterwards. Washing faces is the same; they would do it under running water rather than in a washbasin filled with water. Toilets may be oriental or western. They have separate sections for men and women. Near each mosque there are usually public toilets. Small water pipes coming from the back of the toilets are for water to cleanse with providing a simplified bidet. Toilet paper is used just for drying. Therefore, since paper is not thought to be absolutely necessary, you might not find enough in all public facilities. 
Toilets : (1) western style, (2) oriental style

Public toilets are always better in hotels and restaurants. On highways, toilets may be quite primitive. In most places both men and women have to pay to use public facilities.

6- Newspapers, Security Areas, Antiquities

Newspapers

Foreign newspapers are available one day after publication and only in big cities. Turkish Daily News is a good paper to keep up with daily events in Turkey.

Security Areas 

Photography is not permitted in certain places; docks, airports, military establishments and frontier areas, etc. Check for signs or ask for advice if uncertain.

Antiquities 

From time to time genuine antiquities as well as imitations are offered for sale. Under no circumstance should these be purchased. The sale, purchase and possession are strictly controlled by Turkish Law and punishments are severe. For instance, to take a used carpet or a piece of copper out of the country, one has to get approval from the directorate of an authorized museum. 

7- Shops & Shopping

Shops and Shopping

Shops are usually open between 8:30¬19:00 and normally closed on Sunday. Turkey, as a result of its geographical location, is a treasure-house of hand-made products. These range from carpets and kilims, to gold and silver jewelry, ceramics, leather and suede clothing, ornaments fashioned from alabaster, onyx, copper, and meerschaum. When purchasing carpets, jewelry or leather products, it is advisable to consult your guide or do your shopping at a reputable store rather than in the street from vendors. 

Carpets 

A carpet is more a work of art than an article which people step on for everyday use. 70% of the tourists coming to Turkey return to their homes with carpets because Turkey is a treasure-house of carpets. To understand how valuable Turkish carpets are, it is better to go back to their origin. For a nomad who lived in a tent, home was a simple place; a combination of walls, roof and floor. The floor was not usually an elaborate structure, just a simple carpet laid directly onto the earth. The carpet was a bug-excluder, soil leveler, temperature controller and comfort provider all in one. The texture of the material beneath one's feet was sensual proof that this was home and not the wild. 

As for the history of the carpet, various fragments exist from the 5¬6C AD, but it is only from the Seljuk period in Anatolia that many more pieces have survived. Marco Polo, during his journey through Seljuk lands towards the end of the 13C reported that the best and finest carpets were produced in Konya. Since a carpet is more of a work of art, the deeper meanings of each design cannot be neglected. A carpet can be likened to a poem; neither can tolerate any extra element which does not contribute to its wholeness and value. Therefore, just like in a poem, each pattern of a carpet is chosen for its beauty and motifs are carefully arranged to form rhymes. 

Turkish carpets carry a wide range of symbols. For many centuries, Anatolian women have been expressing their wishes, fears, interests, fidelity and love through the artistic medium of carpets. Even so, there are typical repeated motifs changing from region to region; geometric designs, tree of life, the central medallion design, the prayer niches in prayer rugs, etc. 

Turkish carpets are made of silk, wool or cotton. A silk pile gives a carpet the great brilliance. Cotton-warped carpets almost always have a more rigid and mechanical appearance than woolen-warped. Yarns have been used in their natural colors or colored with dyes extracted from flowers, roots and insects. Carpets are made on vertical looms strung with 3 to 24 warp (vertical) threads per cm (8 to 60 per in) of width. Working from bottom to top, the carpet maker either weaves the rug with a flat surface or knots it for a pile texture. Pile rugs use 5¬7.5 cm / 2¬3 in lengths of yarn tied in Turkish (Gordes) or Persian (Sehna) knots with rows of horizontal weft yarn laced over and under the vertical warp threads for strength. After the carpet is completely knotted, its pile is sheared and the warp threads at each end are tied into a fringe. The finer the yarn and the closer the warp threads are strung together, the denser the weave and, usually, the finer the quality. 

The best-known flat-woven rug is the kilim which is lighter in weight and less bulky than pile rugs. It has a plain weave made by shooting the weft yarn over and under the warp threads in one row, then alternating the weft in the next row. The sumak type is woven in a herringbone pattern by wrapping a continuous weft around pairs of warp threads. 

Taking a tour of a carpet production center is highly recommended in order to have firsthand experience of this art and to see a full range of the different designs exhibited. 

Leather 

Leather processing is a traditional handicraft in Turkey and was developed greatly during the Ottoman period. Istanbul's traditional leather manufacturing industry was concentrated in the district of Kazlicesme, where Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror had 360 tannery shops built to be rented out to leather craftsmen. Over the next 500 years Kazlicesme became a notorious eyesore which could be smelt long before it came into sight and the hundreds of small manufacturers have now been moved to a spacious modern industrial estate in Pendik. 

Although it is a big industry, leather-wear is still very dependent on personal appeal and touch. It is also risky, time-consuming, laborious and therefore costly. It takes about 45 days to transform a skin into leather ready for dying and nearly 60 days from skinning to the finished garment. Also the volume of livestock in Turkey is not increasing at a sufficiently high rate to keep up with the industry's demand. 

Despite all these difficulties, the leather sector comes after textiles in terms of export figures. The principal markets for Turkish leather goods today are the European Union countries led by Germany and then France. 

When purchasing leather goods, one should be aware of the very wide range of products; different animal skins, baby lamb, lamb, suede, nubuk, pelluria, etc. and their differing qualities and prices


8-Transportation

Inter-city and International Transportation

Air

Together with some private airlines, Turkish Airlines (THY) has a domestic flights network covering seventeen Turkish airports, the first five of which are also international: 

Istanbul, Izmir, Ankara, Dalaman, Antalya, Adana, Bursa, Denizli, Kayseri, Samsun, Erzurum, Erzincan, Malatya, Diyarbakir, Urfa, Elazig, Kars, Van. While Ankara is the major junction of the domestic air routes, Istanbul is the busiest airport and the principal terminus of international lines. Domestic fares are quite reasonable, between 50-100 US Dollars one way to each destination. Turkish Airlines has one of the newest fleets of aircraft and is among the youngest airlines in the world. THY has a capacity of 67 airplanes and 10,500 seats (1994). 

Sea

As a country surrounded by sea on three sides Turkey should have been using much more sea transportation. Except for a few routes sea transportation is not very common. Turkish Maritime Lines is operating some routes from Istanbul to the Black Sea, Marmara Sea, Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. 

Rail

Turkey's railway system extends approximately 10,200 km / 6,340 miles of which 2,300 km / 1,430 miles is within the framework of the International Main Railways European Charter and the Trans-European Railways (TER). 

Turkish Railways employ 55,000 workers and the General Directorate replaces 300¬500 km / 185-310 miles of track each year. There are 58 steam, 554 diesel and 58 electric locomotives in operation. 12% of the railways work on electricity and the remaining 88% are diesel. The number of passengers traveling by train per year is around 150 million, the amount of freight transported is 17 million tons. 

Except for the route between Ankara and Istanbul and a few other routes extending to the eastern part of Turkey which provide comfort under severe climatic conditions, traveling by train is not usually preferred, because buses provide faster, cheaper and more comfortable services. 

Bus

With a network of 368,677 km / 229,000 miles (1992) of roads, Turkey has excellent bus services. Many of the luxurious buses are manufactured in Turkey, therefore the number of buses is comparatively high. The ratio is 25 people per one public vehicle. Because of the big competition among the private bus companies, the number of services is high. In some destinations, services are as frequent as the airlines with cafe, bar and restaurant facilities on board. The fares are around 10-20 US Dollars to each destination.

City Transportation 

Apart from public buses, trains and trams the most common means of transportation are taxis, ferry boats (Istanbul and Izmir), sea buses (Istanbul) and dolmus. 

Dolmus

Dolmus (literally full of passengers) is a kind of shared taxi which, sometimes takes the form of a large car, a station wagon, a regular taxi or a minibus. It follows a specific fixed route. Passengers pay according to the distance traveled and can get in and out whenever and wherever they want to by informing the driver. It is a very practical means of transport and much cheaper than a taxi. The dolmus fares are determined by municipalities according to distances. 

Taxis

Taxis are numerous all over Turkey and are recognizable by their yellow color and lighted "taxi" signs on top. Each taxi is metered and there are two different rates. After midnight (24:00) till morning (06:00) it will cost 50% more than the daytime fare. Additional expenses like ferryboat or bridge crossing fees are extra to passengers. Tipping is not necessary, however leaving the change or rounding up the fare is customary. 

Ferry Boats (Istanbul and Izmir) 

The busy city of Istanbul sits on the shores of Europe and Asia. Many of the inhabitants live on one continent but work, study or socialize on the other. Apart from the two bridges on the Bosphorus, ferry boats are the only means to connect the two continents and are therefore vital. It is different in Izmir where ferry boats provide an easy option with which to cross the Bay of Izmir. The ferry service is reliable and peaceful operating throughout the day and until midnight. 

Sea Buses (Istanbul)

With fewer boats than the ferry boat system these fast and smooth services by air conditioned power boats offer very efficient commuting from one point to another across Istanbul's Bosphorus. More expensive than the ferry boats they also offer light snacks and beverages.

Airport, Ferryport, Bus Terminal Transfers
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