I’ve always wanted to go to Turkey. Why? Because it’s chock full of history and it is the only country that is wholly European, Asian and Middle Eastern. It’s an amazing place. I thought Istanbul would be a great starting point.
Visa For Nigerians
To get a Turkish visa online you need to have:
1. A valid visa for Schengen states, The US or The UK and
2. A Return ticket on Turkish Airlines
See more here http://abuja.emb.mfa.gov.tr/ShowInfoNotes.aspx?ID=122127
You can now apply online at https://www.evisa.org.uk/ in the UK
I booked my return flight (10 days) on Turkish Airlines (A MUST!) for £200 return (Gatwick – Ataturk) just two days before my flight. I am certain you’d be able to get cheaper ones if you are more decisive than I am, booking months or weeks before your intended day of travel.
I booked a place, using Airbnb. I chose to stay close to the city center which is the the Fatih District on the ‘European side’. I was going to stay with an Italian-Brazilian lady in the Cerrahpasa area. For 10 days it cost £400 for two people. For one person, you could get a nice place for £150. Added to this cost was the tour guide fee, which is VERY helpful if you are new to Istanbul.
I lost my credit card the day before, so I managed to get some cash from the bank and exchanged some of it on Oxford street, London. The rate was 1 pound to 2.8 Turkish lira. That is, 200 pounds gave me 570 Turkish Lira. Do not exchange for less. You are bound to get better rates in Turkey.
The flight was nice, airplane food just OK, especially if you are hungry. I arrived at Ataturk and followed the signs to obtain my Visa, also on the line was a Bangladeshi couple who smiled at me and told me what I was going to go through. I have to say, immigration officers seem to be the same everywhere in the world, sour-faced and largely unpleasant. After getting a stamp on my passport I had to go back to pay for the visa. I was ripped off because I didn’t have the exact change in Euros or Dollars.They took £20 from me. Remember, HOLD EXACT CHANGE IN EUROS OR DOLLARS which is $20 OR 15 Euros. http://www.mfa.gov.tr/visa-fees-at-border-gates-for-2010.en.mfa
You will get a 1 month stay as a Nigerian. After paying, I had to go show the receipt and get another stamp. Then I was free to go through and get my baggage, wee! all in 45mins!
Luckily my host came to get me at the airport, my flight arrived at 9:15 pm. She was holding a card with my name, I felt so good! We got a taxi which cost approximately 40 Lira. There are other ways to get into town, you can take the Metro, which has good connections to the city Tram, or take a bus.
Now, if you will get around alot, it is best to get an Istanbulkart which is like an Oyster card, you can use it on trams, Metro, Buses and boats. http://www.turkeytravelplanner.com/go/Istanbul/Transport/istanbulkart.html
My host came to Istanbul on a holiday early this year, fell in love with the city and came back to live in it two months after so be careful this city might just steal your heart!
- Go See the Mosques! they are Free! http://www.allaboutturkey.com/ist_mosq.htm Remember to cover your head, arms and legs!
- Go see the Hagia Sophia, even if its just to take pictures outside
- Go to the Archaeological Museums
- Don’t go to the Galata tower if you don’t have the money to spare, I’d rather have you eat with the money at the restaurant close to the tower where you get an excellent view of Istanbul AND the tower.
- Don’t go to Istanbul Modern Museum, if you aren’t into Modern art, it is not for casual sight see-er
- Food! Food!! Food!!! There’s food everywhere and it’s cheap! don’t end up in tourist trap restaurants, if the food isn’t cheap, get out. Your whole meal should not cost more than 20 Lira for one person
- Eat Fish and Bread on the sea-side!
- Don’t overload on Kebaps! Try the Turkish Ice cream, I’m addicted!
- Explore the Prince’s Islands, No cars or motor vehicles are allowed on the islands. It’s all bicycles, horse buggies and general loveliness
- Take a trip down the Bosphorus, there you will end up in the Black Sea
- Explore the Asian side (Kadikoy) if you have the time
- Do take a Turkish Bath, but be careful and read the reviews on Trip Advisor first!
- Shop in the Bazaars, if you are used to navigating Balogun, Tejuosho or Oshodi, this should be a breeze.
- Shop on the Asian side, you’d find things cheaper.
- Shop on Caddesi Istiklal, you will find both cheap wonderful things and your normal high street finds.
- Don’t buy from a woman-manned shop. lol, if you want to bargain.
- Don’t fall for Taxi scams or shopping area scams, make sure you get your change first before giving your money.
- As a ‘Black’ person, enjoy the stares, as a woman, enjoy the calls of ‘Rihanna, Beyonce, Shakira!‘ enjoy the questions about your hair, where you are from and don’t worry about the french they speak to you just reply, bonjour or au revoir. Smile with the children as they try to practise their english with you
- Istanbul is wholly Turkish, but a few know bits of English, try to learn a few phrases.
- Do watch a Turkish movie and perhaps go see the Whirling Dervishes
Turkey is a muslim country and while being far from conservative, it is best to respect your self. Wear shorts and tee shirts but nothing revealing. Don’t forget to enjoy yourself while you snap all those pictures!
That day I woke up and took a long stare out at Istanbul from the balcony of my place. I was gonna miss it terribly, it is heart wrenching. I had my box stocked up with a couple of Turkish items, Turkish evil eye talisman, Turkish Delights, Sweets, Essential Oils, Silk scarves, Hammam towels, Soaps, Perfume, some new clothing items, a pair of leather boots e.t.c
If your flight is at 12pm, make sure you get to Ataturk airport before 10am! You have to go through a series of checks, and the queues go on forever!, You will be subjected to xray checks before you can even see your flight check in desk, and then after that! Take some more pictures and reminisce about what you just enjoyed and promise yourself to come back.