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Istanbul Guide Books

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I was wondering if any one of you has a recommendation for a guide book? Either on Turkey in general or Istanbul in particular. I'm more looking for cultural information and practical information like bus details or phone service or money systems, etc. etc. rather than an in-depth description of each tourist site since I likely won't have the means to travel far and all of the basic tourist sites are easy enough to figure out with a school group.

Also, do you guys have Turkish dictionaries or phrase books that you really like? I tend to use the lagenscheidt dictionary series for other languages but maybe you guys have other favorites?

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Here is link to route planning in Istanbul http://www.turkeycentral.com/topic/17321-istanbul-route-planning/#entry84135

Langenscheidt dictionaries are still the best,I have a yellow pocket dictionary that is dog eared from years of use Posted Image

This site is really good for Turkish idioms http://tureng.com/search/fed%20up

Finally, check out the the Turkish Cultural Foundation website http://www.turkishculture.org/ it has a wealth of information on all things Turkish.

Finally ordinary guidebooks can be purchased all over Istanbul in many different languages.

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I've read a LOT of guide books about Turkey. But the one I always take on the road is the Eyewitness travel guide to Istanbul or Turkey. It does a fantastic job of explaining all of the essentials while keeping it brief. The layout of the book is like a well-designed web page so it's easy to scan on the go. It has some of the best maps I've seen, with numbered markers showing what and where where everything is, and corresponding numbered descriptions of those things. It also has diagrams of various tourist attractions, maps of the transportation systems, a "street finder," and a section about getting around either in either Istanbul or Turkey, depending on which book you use. The book on Turkey includes Istanbul, but in a less detailed way. Like most guides it has various useful sentences translated into Turkish, in an appendix.

I recently toured much of Istanbul using an iPhone app called City Walk Istanbul. You can click on various menu icons to find the tram and bus stops, restaurants, shops, hotels, just about everything. The best part is its various tours, such as "City Orientation Tour," "Roman Heritage," "The Bosphorus Coast," etc. And if you are trying to find something, it has a "radar" setting which tells you how far away an attraction is and what direction to walk, guiding you directly to it (and of course it also tells you about them and has photos of them). I don't remember how much it cost (there is a "light" free version) but it was worth the money for all of the time and frustration it saved me.

I use the Eyewitness guide to educate myself about what I am going to see either that day or the next day and set up a plan so that I can do it efficiently. Then when I set out I use the City Walk Istanbul app to find everything. Let's say I'm going to see the Chora Church, but have no idea where it is and don't know much about it. I read about it in the Eyewitness guide first, learning about how to get there (tram, bus, etc). Then once I get to the general area I let the app's radar guide me to it as I walk. While at the church I might refer to the Eyewitness guide, which me in detail what I'm looking at in each section of the church, even down to what each fresco on the walls and ceilings represents. Then I would do it again to see what else is in the area, and do the same thing again for the next place.

Rather than carrying a dictionary I have the Slovoved Turkish-English dictionary app. You just type in the word and it brings up the Turkish or English equivalent. The definitions also have several examples of how the word is used, and an audio recording of how the word is spoken. It's especially helpful with Turks who are not used to hearing foreigners try to speak Turkish. Most do in the tourist areas, but in some of the more remote neighborhoods it's not so common. Sometimes I am sure I am saying the word correctly but it just doesn't get through. But if they see it written down or displayed on my iPhone, (or hear it) they understand perfectly.

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No problem Paks, in any case I'd recommend having a look at the Eyewitness Guide. I've used the Rough Guide, the Lonely Planet Guide, and the Blue Guide, all of which are excellent. If there's a guide out there, I've probably seen it. But the Eyewitness Guide is the best in my opinion. I don't know why it isn't more well known.

When you are in Istanbul, there will be a lot of people walking around Sultanahmet (where most of the attractions are) selling guides. Don't waste your time with them. They tend to be badly translated and are probably not written by anyone who should be writing guide books. Get a proper guide. If you don't get one before you go there, there are book shops along Divan Yolu (the road the tram runs on) where you can buy proper guide books from known publishers. Better to buy one there than off the street.

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Are you going with a school group? As a student or teacher? What ages are the group members? Does your group have a guide?

Guide books are good but they are almost always out of date even before they are printed. If you have time before you go, think about the specific questions you have and ask here as you think of them. The Thorntree Lonely Planet forum is a great online, up-to-the-minute resource for travellers as is Turkey Travel Planner(TTP). TTP does have sponsored links, so carefully use his information as a guide, his recommendations are usually quite good however. This Istanbul page also has info and recommendations.

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I'm going alone but I will be attending Dilmer which has some group activities supposedly after class and on the weekends. The age group is probably older. I will likely be one of the younger ones at 20.

I'll definitely take your advice though! I have lots of questions, I will try to write them down and ask you all. :)

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