Monday, June 13, 2005


I was in Istanbul for a conference on "Democracy and Global Security" sponsered by the Turkish government and the Turkish National Police Force. They treated us very well.

I'm going to skip the details about 1) how friendly the Turks are, 2) how beautiful the City is, and 3) how East meets West. It's all true, mind you. But just consider them all said. And you've probably heard it all before. And don't forget the food is good too. I even drunk the water.

Istanbul is cheaper than New York. But then most places are. I expected the City to be even cheaper. But money can go pretty quickly. Public transporation is $0.80. Movies are $7. Lunch is $5 to $10. Beers are $2.50 - $5 (unlike Greece, alcohol is taxed pretty high). Taxis about $5. Apartments in the city center start at around $500/month, which is also a normal wage. So many people live with their parents.

I do miss pork when I'm there. Beef is no bacon. Turks, being Muslim, don't eat pork. But Turks, even though Muslim, drink booze.

Turkey chopped six zeros off the currency this year. But for now both old and new Lira are in effect. It's easy to convert between the two: two or two million. No problem. But you would think they would have jumped at the chance to not say and write millions all the time. But most prices are still given in old lira. So a cheap hotel room costs 30,000,000 lira. Currently it's 1.35 Lira to the dollar.

Since I got to Istanbul a day early, I spent the first night at the Police Guesthouse. An interesting concept. Cops and their families can stay there for $5 - $10 dollars a night. Decent hotel. But kind of far out of town. But you can get into the City via bus or boat.

I took a little tour boat ride on the Bosphorus. Here's a very large swimming pool on a very large barge floating in the Bosphorus.

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