Top positive review
Thorough, detailed, interesting and useful...
on 23 August 2013
This is a well written, detailed guide to Istanbul.
It's broken up into several sections, including an introduction, a survival guide (more on that later), and a series of geographical sections, each self-contained. It also contains a capacious index. The book itself is printed on good quality stock paper, and is, as one trip out in the rain proved, remarkably water resistant. It's not so thick that it's going to be heavy carrying around, but vertically it's a bit more than the height of a paperback, so it won't easily fit into a pocket - which is a shame. Still, it's easy enough to carry in-hand or in a backpack/travelling bag.
The introduction takes the reader through a a brief, travel-channel-esque summary of Istanbul, before leading into the main event, the geographical sections. Each part of Istanbul, and the outskirts, is represented here, and each section contains discrete sub-sections for food, hotels, drinking establishments and places of interest.
Each of the larger tourist attractions has its own detailed paragraphs, and there's a series of very well-done photographs scattered liberally throughout the text, which are fascinating to look at by themselves. Effectively, the text tells you all about the attraction, and the photographs show you what it looks like - always useful in deciding where to go in a limited timeframe.
At the back of the book is the `survival guide', which covers all sorts of useful tips, like how much to tip, how to travel in the city, the potential usefulness of museum cards, and other things that a local probably knows immediately, but which might catch out the new visitor. It certainly proved instructive reading.
I think my only real complaint, as with others in this new guide series, is with the area maps. The text is broken into geographical sections, and all of the attractions, restaurants etc. for a given area are given a code in the text, which tells you where they are on the area map. The maps are detailed, so it's easy to find where you're going. However, all the area maps are at the back of the book, rather than at the start of each area section, meaning that there's a startling amount of flipping between the section for the area you're in and the back of the book - this starts to get annoying after a while, not least because finding the map for a particular area among all the other pages of maps is a bit trickier than if it was just at the start of the appropriate area section.
Still, this is a relatively minor niggle; overall this is a thorough, detailed guide by obviously informed authors, and will serve as an excellent travel aid.