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September 2, 2009

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WHERE'S JOHNNY JET?                    Istanbul, Turkey Basics

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At press time, 1 Turkish lira (TL) = 0.66 USD. Therefore, 1 USD = 1.49 TL. Just think of everything being 33% off so Turkey is still a bargain for U.S. travelers. FYI: ATMs are plentiful and if you use an international bank’s machine, it will give you a choice of Turkish lira, euros, pounds or U.S. dollars.

When traveling to a foreign country it’s always a good idea to learn a few basic words in the local language. One website I found that has some good free translations for Turkey (but has annoying pop up ads) is Not only can you see the translation but you can hear the pronunciation as well. FYI: I am the worst at languages but almost everyone I met spoke English and every restaurant had menus in multiple languages so there was no language barrier. HELPFUL WEBSITE: If you are looking for a Turkish online translator, try

Turkey is so full of history it would take a lifetime to learn it. But some interesting facts are that Turkey has the site of the first human settlement. It was the seat of the Byzantine, Roman and Ottoman Empires. It was the birthplace of Homer and supposedly the last home of the Virgin Mary. Today, Turkey is a modern nation with a fascinating blend of East and West, antiquity and contemporary.

Istanbul is historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople. The capital city also has long history, which I’m not even going to pretend I know. But according to : Istanbul was the capital city of the Roman Empire from 330–395. Then the East Roman (Byzantine) Empire from 395–1204 and 1261–1453, then the Latin Empire from 1204–1261, and finally the Ottoman Empire from 1453–1922. In October of 1923, the Republic of Turkey was born after the Turkish War of Independence.

Today, Istanbul is Turkey’s largest city and one of the fifth biggest in the world. What makes this city unique is that it is located on the Bosphorus Strait, which extends on both the European (Thrace) and Asian (Anatolia) sides of the Bosphorus River. FYI: About 70% of the locals live on the European side.

Just like Rome, Istanbul was built on seven hills all bearing at least one historic mosque. The city is not as strictly Muslim as I thought it would be and according to the 2000 census, there are 2,691 active mosques, 123 active churches and 26 active synagogues.

Istanbul has a temperate climate. It’s hot and humid in the summer with the average temperature being 82°F (28°C) between June and September. On the flip side, the winters are cold and wet with an average temp of 42°F (5°C).

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Istanbul ATM



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