Turkey has always been regarded by travelers as somewhat questionable as a tourist destination, partly because of all the misconceptions about Islam, the main religion of the country, and partly because of its somewhat dodgy neighbors (Syria, Iraq). But the reality is that there is nothing further from the truth. Modern enough to be described as European, exotic enough to have more than half of its territory in Asia, Turkey has, in fact, one of the richest histories on the globe; with cities dating back to centuries before Christ, Roman conquerors, Greek monuments, Byzantine churches and Ottoman mosques.
Add some well-preserved ruins, jaw-dropping landscapes and the unique lunar landscapes of Cappadocia and you have a perfect destination to explore. Meet the friendly and always talkative locals and experiment with one of the best cuisines and best transport systems in Europe (and their affordable prices) and you have nothing else to lose, except your misconceptions.
The new Fodor’s Turkey guide is a good way to help you start planning a trip to the country. The 2009 edition is now in full color, which adds more excitement to your research in comparison with its main competitor, Lonely Planet. If you can afford only one guide, bear in mind that while the latter is more practical and backpacker-oriented (which means always valuable but sometimes full of silly tips, such as “how not to be caught with a joint”), the former is more profound in its researches, and might be more interesting for culture vultures and travelers into ancient history
Fodor’s introduces the country dividing by it into six different regions, helping travelers to pinpoint exactly what they’re after: ancient sites, beaches, castles, museums etc. The guide exposes not only the highlights of each one, but also delves into more detail — apart from the typical where-to-stay-how-to-go, the new guide shows how you can have a great experience once you are there: boating up the Bosphorus in Istanbul, staying in a cave hotel or ballooning over Cappadocia, boarding a cruise on the Mediterranean coasts and so on.
The guide also provides valuable information about Turkey nowadays: politics, Islam, the process of joining the European Union and an essential chapter of FAQs: Is Turkey cheap? Will it be hard to find alcohol in a Muslim country? Do women need to cover up? Should I be afraid of terrorism? The do’s and don’ts are all in there. Another plus is the World of Mouth section, which consists of short quotes by travelers, who share their experiences of traveling in the country.
The main drawback is its layout. Sometimes there’s too much information on one page and it can be hard to focus. Another disadvantage is the rating system. Hotel and restaurant prices, for example, are represented by symbols, with a key in the opening pages of each chapter. However the divisions vary from “less than â‚¬50” to “more than â‚¬200”. This means if you have a budget of â‚¬15 for accommodation you’ll need to use the Internet to check the real price of your room. Other symbols are not clear and you need to go back to the key every now and then to double-check what they mean.
Although confusing, is just a matter of getting used to the guide to make it work for you. Fodor’s Turkey guide is a great, handy introduction for people who don’t know anything about the country, as well for those who are already planning to go there. Iyi yolculuklar! (Happy traveling!)
A copy of Fodor’s Turkey, 7th Edition (Full-Color Gold Guides)was supplied for review.