Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Wow, I can't believe my last post was in July. But in my defense, I've been busy with a manuscript on Paris; I took a much-needed vacation to Vermont (very nice!); and my Tuscany and Umbria book has just been published! Before I devote a whole slew of posts to those beautiful regions of Italy, I want to make one last post on this main page about Istanbul. In the future, all my posts on Istanbul -- and anywhere in Turkiye -- will appear together in a separate corner of the blog, and I'll continue to add to it, so check it every now and then for news and notes.

Fall is a really nice time to visit a number of places in the world, and Istanbul is one of them. It's still quite warm during the day in September and October, typically with plenty of sunshine, and it's cool at night (great sleeping weather). It's no accident that the September issue of Travel + Leisure features "Istanbul's Best Turkish Restaurants" by Melik Kaylan (http://www.travelandleisure.com/). A boat trip up the Bosphorus to the Black Sea is an especially enjoyable outing as most of the other passengers at this time of year are locals, and again the weather's beautiful. The trip does require a six hour commitment -- to sail up, have lunch, and sail back -- but another option is a ninety-minute trip offered by TurYol (http://www.turyol.com/), which is in Turkish only but you can call (90) 212.512.1287, the number for the Turizm Burosu (Tourism Bureau), to find out the details in English (or someone at your hotel can call for you). TurYol has a fleet of boats that are smaller than the standard Bosphorus-Black Sea ferry, and its ninety-minute trip departs from the Eminonu ferry dock and heads up the Bosphorus on the Golden Horn side to Rumeli Hisari (the European castle), the largest fortification the Ottomans ever built (see my post dated 6/18/10 for a more thorough description and history). At Rumeli Hisari the boat turns around and heads back to Eminonu, and while en route you have a better opportunity to see the yalis (beautiful, wooden, waterside summer residences built by the Ottoman aristocracy in the 17th and 18th centuries) than you would on the larger ferry because the smaller boats hug the shoreline (the name yali, by the way, is derived from the Greek word yialos, "seashore).

In closing, I hope I will be forgiven for this minor display of shameless self-promotion: the quote below is from http://www.turkeytravelplanner.com/ and was written by Tom Brosnahan, who is almost single-handedly responsible for me going to Turkey in the first place. Tom was the original author of the Lonely Planet Turkey guide, and continued to update it for more than twenty years. He knows more about contemporary Turkey than just about anyone in the world, and his website is quite simply the very best about Turkey in existence, which is the only reason why I don't feel too guilty about sharing his review of my book here:

"So many books exist on Turkish culture that it's difficult to know where to start.
Wait—no it isn't!
The place to start is with Barrie Kerper's Istanbul: The Collected Traveler.
Ms Kerper, a longtime lover of
Istanbul and Turkish culture, has collected nearly 600 pages of essays, stories, news items, poems, recipes and interviews on Turkey in general and Istanbul in particular.
The range of topics is almost bewildering, from an essay on
Ottoman Art by the esteemed museum director Ms Esin Atıl through debates on the origins of Turkish cuisine to John Freely's classic portrait of "The Passage of Flowers" (Istanbul's Çiçek Pasajı). There's even an interview with yours truly.
Ms Kerper's vision of, and acquaintance with, Turkish culture is broad and eclectic: history, architecture, art, cuisine, society, geography, literature, personalities—you name it, and she has probably included a piece of writing that touches upon it.
Beyond Istanbul, the book includes writing about the
Bosphorus, Edirne (Adrianople), Bursa (Proussa) and Gallipoli.
If 600 pages is not enough for you, fret not. Ms Kerper details Recommended Reading that goes beyond each of the section headings in her book.
The tourist doing a quick 10-day check-off of Turkey's top sights might not care about culture, but if you have an interest in Turkey beyond the quick tour, Istanbul: The Collected Traveler is a great way to begin your education about all things Turkish."
I hope you will visit Istanbul, soon, and that you will find my book enormously helpful. Gule, gule! (go with smiles, or bon voyage)

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