Diana Darke wrote the excellent Discovery Guide to Eastern Turkey in 1990 and that is a useful book which I still regularly refer to so I'm really pleased that she has now written another guide to this region that has developed so much in the last 20 years. As usual with the Bradt Guides, the quality is great. (I'm primarily a Rough Guides fan, but Bradt has some great coverage of less visited areas and I've really enjoyed the Bradt Guides I've read to date.) Eastern Turkey does deserve a guide book of its own, and this one does the region justice. Although not so hard to travel to, you do need a good guide to manage the logistics effectively and to get the most out of the towns, villages and sites along the way, and this book is the best I have come across for this region. It is full of interesting information not found elsewhere, such as the meaning of symbols used in carpet weaving, for example. I strongly recommend visiting this area, and doing so independently (you don't need to be in an organised group) and using this book as your guide. Also I'd suggest looking at the Turkey Travel Planner website as well as other online sources. Finally I've taken the train from Istanbul to both Aleppo and Tehran, travelling through eastern Turkey and both journeys were memorable for all the right reasons.
on 7 January 2014
Quite informative in places but uninspiring overall, Diana Darke's book is not a great asset for travelling in Eastern Turkey. Over one third of the descriptive section is devoted to the Ankara region and Cappodocia, which aren't in Eastern Turkey at all, but in the center of the country.
I was also disappointed to that scant coverage was given to the Kackar mountains (surely one of Turkey's most interesting mountain areas): one paragraph in the introductory pages plus half a page in the chapter covering the Northeast of Turkey.
The author also seems unaware of the Deriner Dam, a few dozen kilometres downstream of Yusufeli (currently the Kackar's main hiking base), work on which began in 1998 and was completed last year. The dam is the highest in Turkey and allegedly the sixth highest in the world. It's construction means the spectacular and bio-diversity rich Coruh valley above Artvin will soon be under water. Terraces of fruit, nut and olive trees that have been farmed for centuries will be lost, along with dozens of villages.
Detailed information about the Kackar mountains, and more up-to-date information about the area in general, or about the hiking possibilities in other parts of Eastern Turkey, can be found in the Rough Guide to Turkey.
Darke's book is also lacking in detailed information about buses and trains within Turkey, rather remiss for a travel guide about a country in which many visitors travel by rail or long-distance coach. Again, the Rough Guide is better. Please note the Istanbul section of the line from Istanbul to Ankara, which has been undergoing serious engineering works for a number of years, has still not reopened. Maybe this year!
on 26 June 2014
This is written by someone who has first-hand experience travelling in the area, and gives interesting background info (historical & geographical) as well as some practical detail on where to stay & what to see. We've used it in the Trabzon-Rize-Artvin area and found it reliable. Inevitably the book's space limitations (overall it's a huge area that the book covers) mean there's not a vast amount of detail for any given place, but the regional overviews give a fascinating general picture as well. It is also readable: browsing other regions makes you want to go there too! Unfortunately we needed this info just before the 2nd edition was due.
The declared purpose of this new travel guide from Bradt is to alert the traveler to the beauties of Turkey's interior and Black Sea Coast. The history of these areas stretches back into the mists of time, as attested by ruins of pagan and Christian buildings, dating to long before the Ottoman era. Starting with a short history of the region which explains how the various different bits of architecture got there, the guide proper begins at Ankara, the Turkish capital, still largely neglected in favour if Istanbul, 'the city of the world's desire', for perfectly understandable reasons. Practicalities, such as what to do after dark (not much, if this guide is to be believed), local laws, and the best time to visit are dealt with, after which Diana Darke describes the areas with the panache of one familiar with the area, whetting the appetite of the casual reader, and rendering excellent service to the tourist. Practical advice is very much to the fore in this book, including warnings about tourist traps, such as the underground cities of Cappadocia, which are overcrowded in season, something as likely to destroy any sense of atmosphere as the Pyramids.
Details of accommodation, transport and places to eat are given, and brief descriptions of places to visit, as well as things to be wary of. This is a model of what a travel guide should be, written by someone with experience and talent.
on 15 January 2012
I've not read many Bradt travel guides before, having been more a fan of Lonely Planet and possibly Footprint, Baedeker. I was pleasantly surprised by this Bradt guide, which introduces the reader to Eastern Turkey, somewhere that's not on everyone's top 10 holiday list. To give some context to the geography of Eastern Turkey - on the west side you have Ankara, the capital and the likely start of any visit there. From there east, you are not visiting cities but more smaller towns, beautiful scenery and potentially getting close to the borders with Georgia, Armenia, Iran, Iraq and Syria. Mt Arafat and some of the ancient ruins have particular appeal.
The author, Diana Darke, is clearly a huge fan of Eastern Turkey and it shows in the detail of what she has written. Having studied Arabic Studies at Oxford University, she written 5 books on Turkey and undertaken a Masters in Islamic Architecture with particular interest in the Ottoman empire. Throughout the book, she details the history of each site, with some useful routes for how to get between each site with stops on the way. My only criticism of the book though is the maps are utterly rubbish. They look like something that's been traced over a map and little more... you will definitely need to get a proper map to visit Eastern Turkey.
The book is also very informative in terms of what to expect in terms of culture, cuisine, languages, ease of travel.
All in all, though, a very good guide - it whets my appetite to visit Eastern Turkey, somewhere I am yet to visit to.
I am completely hooked on this series after examining this particular book. I loved this guide book on Eastern Turkey and at the first opportunity I am going. I was completely fascinated, having lived in Turkey for two years in the early 70s when the 'east' was a mysterious and terribly dangerous place spoken of in hushed tones and more than a hint of fear, here it is, opened up in detail and totally accessible apparently. The Turkey that was once known to all as cowboy and indian country, even to the Turks themselves, is now explored thoroughly, by a woman no less. How many ways can I count how much this book impressed me.
Absolutely brilliant. Questions I was quietly asking as I read answered almost in the next sentences.
A brilliant guide book that must now be tested by those using it on the ground.
In places that have been prohibited, ignored or neglected for one reason or another by the vast majority of travelers, the guide book at hand becomes the bible, so let's see if this one lives up to its great promise. From what I have read so far, I strongly feel this one will, and at the very first opportunity, intend to find out for myself.
on 25 July 2014
This is the best travel book on Turkey - I love it and use it constantly. I have spent a lot of time in Eastern Turkey, having lived and worked there as well as travelling, and it is still indispensable for any trip. It is full of interesting information as well as having really practical advice about travel. It is the most accurate and useful book for Turkey. I wish there was something of this quality about the west of the country.
My previous experience of a Bradt guide is the Malta one. I found the Eastern Turkey guide to be just as packed full of practical, down to earth information as the one on Malta. There is a wealth of advice on where to go and how to get by day to day, while treating the country and its inhabitants with the respect they deserve. An integral part of the guide is the recurring and necessary discussion of the culture of the region, which has been home to a succession of civilisations from ancient times.
I was particularly keen to obtain this guide to the eastern part of Turkey, having already visited the western region twice in the past. Of great interest to me are the ruins and cultural remains to be found in this fascinating country. Having visited many sites in the west, for example Ephesus and Termessos, I was excited to see what would be in store in the rest of the country. I was not in the least disappointed by what I read: as I am coming to expect from Bradt guides, the contents are written by authors with a deep love and wealth of experience of the country or region described.
Truly practical information is given for each town, city, site and location, including exactly what is permitted in terms of suitable clothing, access, and photography. Each place name is followed by its own sections for Getting There, Where to Stay, Where to Eat, and What to See, often with subheadings for further attractions and different forms of transport. Hotels and other places to stay are listed with authentic details of the accommodation provided and what food is available. In this guide you will also find inspiring photographs, evocative descriptions of archaeological sites, and interesting and informative explanations of geological features, e.g. 'The Fairy Chimneys'.
The introductions given to each chapter, the short historical essays and the plentiful maps are perfectly appropriate to this richly detailed and authoritative guide. Underneath each chapter heading is quoted a wise and wonderful saying, e.g. "Destiny caresses the few and molests the many."
This is not a simple guide book but a vast fund of information about a fascinating, less familiar region.
on 13 June 2014
Having had a fantastic experience with the Bradt Ethiopia guide I was thrilled to see that the company offered an Eastern Turkey guide too, but having just got back from a couple of weeks in south-east Turkey using the book I found myself rather disappointed with it. It's not dreadful, by any means - most of the essential information is there and the background section is strong - but the maps are pathetically inadequate, sometimes even wrong, and the author clearly looks down on travellers using public transport, so information about buses, trains and general exploring on foot (which is one of the main uses of guidebooks these days, Trip Advisor is much more useful when it comes to hotels and restaurants) is weak and sometimes missing altogether.
Moreover, there are some weird authorial decisions - two and a half pages describing the Zeugma mosaics in detail (yes, they're amazing, but who wants to read a lengthy description when you could see them in the flesh or find photos online?) but no mention of Gobekli Tepe or Halfeti, both major tourist sites. I got the sense from the biographical material that the author's heart was in Syria, and the biographical material trumpeted her command of Arabic, which is not super relevant.
I see that a new edition has just come out - perhaps that will remedy some of these deficiencies.
on 19 February 2012
I became interested in Eastern Turkey after reading an account of her visit to Gobekli Tepe and Urfa by the Turkish-American author Elif Batuman in the New Yorker. I bought this book in order to find out more about the region and, in particular, Gobekli Tepe. I was therefore astonished and disappointed to find no mention in the book of this immensely important site, the discovery of which has turned the world of archaeology upside down.