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Istanbul (Lonely Planet City Guides) Paperback – 1 Apr 2010
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Lonely Planet guides are, quite simply, like no other --New York Times
An excellent and pretty definitive travel guide for getting to grips with Istanbul --Amazon customer
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All the standard features are there - historical contexts, practical information etc - but I particularly appreciated the sections detailing e.g. the types of restaurant you'll come across. I enjoyed the style of these chapters, and appreciated more of an insight into Turkish life than the somewhat drier and concise Rough Guide information.
One major issue I would like to highlight though, is that the author of this book clearly has friends living in Istanbul, and no doubt reviewed some of the restaurants and experiences with a Turkish speaker on-hand. Not that language itself was a problem, but I regularly had the distinct feeling that I was being taken advantage of because of my lack of local knowledge. I doubt that an Istanbulla would have been overcharged or given sub-standard food, particularly in the more authentic restaurants, and at times the reviews differed considerably from the reality.
Local insight has definitely enhanced this book, but it has also perhaps given an overly positive spin on things and is not therefore, a true representation of experiencing the city as a tourist. Still, a lot of very useful and interesting information, particularly for sight-seeing, and more than worth the money.
My main criticism of LP books is that the maps are pretty useless, and this is once again the case. You really need to get a separate map f you are going to venture beyond the really well trodden path. (There are a couple of bookshops on Istiklal Cadessi that sell good maps).
I found the tone of the book suited me - it is enthusiastic about an amazing city, and the author certainly knows the place well. I don;t usually follow guide book suggestions for places to eat, preferring to discover those on my own. I am gald I allowed Maxwell to lead me to a couple of cafes and bars, however, as they were excellent.
(By the way, I was a woman travelling on my own and found I was notlead to anywhere I felt threatened or was taken advantage of)
I recommend this book for both the novice and experienced traveller to the city (which I don't with all LP City Guides - some, like Paris, I think reather too basic for the experienced visitor to that city).
We felt that this book was for people with a much larger income than we have (and are prepared to be ripped off) - we are not backpackers but do like to get close to the city, either the city has nothing to offer or the author is just not our kind of person.. We found most places we really liked by accident,, some of the addresses are wrong in the book and the map has at least one street incorrectly labeled.
There was no warning about the masses of hawkers - shoe shine etc and the fact that all the restaurants have people outside pressurizing you to go in. We would have found advice on this helpful before we went.
Particular note - the tea place in Gulhane park is extremely expensive - £3 for a nescafe, and in the area around Nevizade Sokak, which was highly recommended in the front of the book, we were charged £55 for a below average meal..
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