- Learn a little of the language. Even if you are just staying in Istanbul or taking a package tour, it is helpful to know the courtesies and greetings. The further you get from Istanbul and the more you travel on your own, the more Turkish you will need. We found the following resources to be especially helpful:
- Barron's Getting By in Turkish (2 tape audio cassette set).
This was the most helpful of all the language resources we tried. We did not find the pronounciation guide as helpful as we might have because it was oriented more towards a native speaker of British English. It covers courtesies, ordering food and drinks, up to light conversation. The varied repetition and review quizzes make learning especially easy.
The portrayal of the Turkish culture best matches that of Istanbul, the Tourquoise Coast, and other regular tourist areas.
The little booklet that comes with the cassettes is also helpful and very portable, but for preparation use at home I would have preferred a bigger book with larger text further from the margins that stays open at the page you turn to.
- EuroTalkinteractive Learn Turkish (CDROM for Windows or Macintosh PC) aka Talk Now!.
This CDROM was was the second most helpful media we tried. One of the advantages to this CD is that you will see the spelling of various words as you learn them. This filled in the spots where the Barron's tapes were weak. The software on the CDROM cannot be used from the Local drive. In other words, the CDROM has to be in the CDROM drive to be usable. Unlike Barron's which is conversational, this CDROM increases your vocabulary by introducing see-and-say words (along with representitive pictographs) and then giving you several different quiz options. Words and phrases taught include colors, time, food, numbers, and common phrases (greetings and courtesies).
We found the following resources to be less helpful than the two above, but still worthwhile:
- EuroTalkinteractive Learn Turkish (CDROM for Windows or Macintosh PC) aka World Talk.
This CDROM is the next in the series listed above after "Talk Now!". It says it is at the "intermediate" level. Although we found the beginner's CDROM extremely helpful, the intermediate one lost us. We think there should have been one or two steps (other CDROMs) between them. Talk Now uses single words and a few phrases but World Talk is full of paragraphs. Somehow we missed the step of simple sentences and Turkish grammatical rules. The reason we still found this CDROM useful is that it allowed us to train our ear to hear the one or two significant and familiar words in a conversation that would give us some hint as to content.
- Language/30 Turkish (2 tape audio cassette set).
This was the least helpful of all the resources we tried. Various phrases and sentences, grouped by category, are spoken once in English and then twice in Turkish. The words are spoken quickly, too quickly for the untrained ear to fully appreciate the pronounciation, and much too quickly to learn, and there are no reviews, the material is presented once only.
There were two minor good points about this tape. One was that, of all the material, this was the most authentically Turkish in origin. Another good point was that there were a few pieces of helpful cultural information not available on the other media. I would not recommend this tape unless it is used only to supplement the others.
- There are no phone books in Turkey or they are very difficult to find. If you need to purchase something you have to ask someone locally (which means knowing a little of the language is a big help). Products not manufactured in Turkey may be very difficult to locate and expensive.
- Film, batteries, compactflash memory (digital camera media) bring from USA. They are harder to find and more expensive in Turkey.
- Maps - buy them in the USA, harder to find in Turkey!
- If you are going to rent a vehicle, a cigarette lighter adapter (inverter) is a great addition, charge your toothbrush, razor, renewable batteries in the battery charger.
- Bring 2 bathing suits, in case you want to swim again while one is still drying.
- Bring your own washcloth. Turkish hotels don't supply them.
- Bring a flashlight or an LED light stick for the vehicle if you are going to sleep in it.
- Bring clothes you can hand wash that will dry quickly. Nylon pants and shirts designed specifically for this kind of travel work well, especially the "convertible" pants in which the legs zip off so you can wear them as shorts.
- There is no such thing as a port-a-potty in Turkey. Turkish toilets are strange. Bring your own little packets of tissues from USA. Tampons aren't available outside the tourist areas (but pads are).
- Leave USA coins at home. They are unusable in Turkey, and heavy to haul around. Paper USA money is accepted in many places.