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Monday, 31 January 2011

Top items smuggled into Turkey

Turkish customs shed some light on things smuggled into the country and the item at the top of the list is unexpected to say the least.

The usual suspects of Cars, tobacco and alcoholic drinks made the top five but according to official figures, red meat was the most smuggled item in 2010 followed by gasoline.

The figures show that customs officials seized 12 times more red meat and five times more fuel than in 2009; during the first 11 months of last 2010, 32.2 tons of red meat - up from 2.5 tons in 2009 and 30,579 tons of fuel, up from 5.983 tons in 2009 were seized.

The increase in meat smuggling was blamed on "Greedy" store owners; while high rate of smuggled gasoline was said to be down to increasing cost of crude oil and the depreciation of the Turkish lira.

I have one question though, how exactly do you smuggle meat?

Friday, 28 January 2011

German film board prevents release of Turkish film

The release of Turkish film, “Kurtlar Vadisi: Filistin” (Valley of the Wolves: Palestine) has been halted in Germany because it allegedly features anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli overtones and was slated for release on Jan. 27, International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

I’m all for artistic freedom but I have to agree with the German Movie Control Association or FSK because screening “Kurtlar Vadisi: Filistin” (Valley of the Wolves: Palestine) in Germany on International Holocaust Remembrance Day would have definitely rubbed people the wrong way.

The film which is a spinoff of big hit Turkey TV franchise, Valley of the Wolves features Turkey’s answer to James Bond, Polat Alemdar and reprises the raid on the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish ship that was carrying humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip last year when it was attacked by Israeli commandos, resulting in the deaths of eight Turks and one U.S. citizen of Turkish origin.

The film sees superhero Polat Alemdar sets out to hunt down the Israeli military commander who ordered the raid on the flotilla and avenge the killing of the eight Turks and one Turkish-American who died in the real-life attack.

So far there is no word on when the film will be released in Germany.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Turkey's Sandland festival in Antalya pays tribute to Hollywood

The 5th International Antalya Sand Festival is scheduled for April; this year’s festival will have 25 professional sculptors from around the world and the theme is Hollywood scenes and stars.

If you love Hollywood classics then you’ll definitely have to be in Antalya this April; sculptors will be recreating 30 unforgettable Hollywood productions such as ‘Star Wars,’ ‘Jurassic Park,’ ‘The Godfather,’ ‘The Matrix,’ ‘Pirates of the Caribbean,’ ‘Braveheart,’ ‘Jaws,’ ‘E.T,’ ‘Spiderman,’ ‘Harry Potter,’ ‘Lord of the Rings,’ ‘King Kong,’ ‘Transformers,’ ‘Back to The Future,’ ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’ and ‘James Bond’.

I know most people who holiday or buy property in Antalya don’t have the Sandland festival in mind when picking Antalya but this event is really cool and contributes to the promotion of both Antalya and Turkey. Last year some 160,000 people visited the event and it’s bound to be even bigger this year.

Last year’s event used 10,000 tons of sand and 3,000 tons of water over an area of 7,000 square meters, In terms of the amount of sand, the number of participating artists and the size of the area, Antalya’s Sandland festival is one of the largest sand events in the world.

The participating artists will begin to create their works in April and their depictions will remain on display until Nov. 14, according to organizers. Make sure you catch it if you happen to be in Antalya around that time.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Doing the coffee run Turkey style

I hear some Starbucks in Turkey have installed security systems for its toilets featuring electronic passcode access only. This means customers can use the restroom during busy hours with a door code written on their receipts.

Customers who want to use the toilets first must find their password on their coffee receipt and then enter it on the machine next to the restroom doors.

The password is the same for every customer; they are specially given to each branch and are changed every three to four months.

This system is currently in practise at Starbucks in Istanbul’s Kadıköy district on the Anatolian side, four Starbucks cafes on the European side, three in Taksim and one in Bebek. So now you know which Starbucks has cleaner toilet facilities.

This is the first time I’ve heard a Starbucks do this and I have to say I like it; the system gives priority to paying customers over people just walking in off the streets not to mention the facilities remain clean.

I wonder when Starbucks in central London will employ this tactic; they will certainly have no complaints from me…

Friday, 21 January 2011

Turkey Visa restrictions to be lifted for Russian Citizens

Today, Turkey announced that Russians visiting Turkey will not need a visa as they are scraping visas for Russians visiting the country.

The visa is being scraped later this year because about 3 million Russian tourists visit the country annually and trade between the two countries have an annual turnover of about $100 billion a year.

I know Turkey visas do not cost much but why are Russians getting free entry whilst Brits still have to pay? I reckon there are as many Britons in Turkey as there are Russians.

And with the number of British investors in Turkey properties each year, they easily eclipse Russian investors and I for one think Brits should not have Visa restrictions when entering Turkey.

We at Talk about Turkey will love to hear your thoughts on this issue…

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Loose Women presenter discovers the joys of Bodrum

For someone whose job it is to inform people, Loose Women presenter Lisa Maxwell was not ‘in the know’ about Bodrum. But thank God a friend finally let her in on the Turkey’s worst kept secret; she finally took the plunge and now understands why Bodrum is Turkey’s answer to St Tropez.

Bodrum’s a charming resort, stylish and elegant not to mention cheap, it has amazing climate and is great for families. Surrounded by the Aegean Sea, Bodrum has its own harbour, countless shops, bars and restaurants that line the streets under the spectacular Bodrum Castle.

Bodrum also possesses a number of beautiful bays and beaches making it a great holiday hotspot.
It’s also not a bad place for a holiday home; it is a popular choice for people looking to move to Turkey or for investors looking to invest in rental properties. Savvy investors know they will get people on Turkey villa holidays looking to rent Bodrum properties guaranteeing investors a tidy return all year round.

Whichever way you look at it, Bodrum is a good bet; Lisa Maxwell just found that out, I reckon it’s time you did too.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

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Monday, 17 January 2011

Top 10 Turkey Beaches

As traditions go, booking summer holidays at the beginning of the year, is one as old as time. It certainly gives us something to look forward to in those long gloomy January days.

Turkey is still a hot spot and according to airline figures the first six months of 2011 has seen more reservations made for Turkey than ever before.

So if you are one of the many who have made plans to spend summer in Turkey then here’s an essential guide to the top ten beaches in Turkey.

Ölüdeniz Beach

They don’t call it the Turquoise Coast for nothing. The water here is an uncommonly crisp blue and because the curved beach is so large, it can accommodate even the biggest of paradise-seeking crowds. There is mountainous scenery and a famously calm lagoon along the beach’s western stretch.

Lara Beach, Antalya

Lara Beach is one of the longest brownish beaches in Turkey; it is a strip of land which pulls out to the Gulf of Antalya. Lara Beach promises golden sands and turquoise waters.

Konyaalti Beach

Konyaalti sits in the heart of the big city; the beach seems to stretch on forever, so you won’t have a problem claiming your own patch of sand.

Patara Beach

Patara Beach is a 12 km beautiful white sandy stretch voted as one of the top beaches in the world by Times Online. Backed by mountains and bordered by sand dunes, mimosa bushes and the large marshy area which once was the harbour of Patara, this beach is part of a national park and a key biodiversity area, rich in birdlife and the breeding ground of the endangered loggerhead turtle (caretta caretta).

Calis Beach

Calis beach is a smaller compared to some of the many beaches along the coast of Turkey. Calis Beach is a small beach resort with stunning views and spectacular sunsets across the Bay to Sovalye Island and Fethiye.

Gemile Bay Beach

Gemile Bay beach is more tranquil, unspoilt and forms into a charming cove. From here you will be able to cherish the views of St. Nicholas Island whilst you bask in the glorious sunshine.

Cleopatra Beach

Located to the west of the peninsula, its impressive white shores are peculiar to this beach. The beach itself is relatively small and secluded. It has remarkably clear waters which prove popular with swimmers and snorkerllers. Other activities here include wind-surfing and water skiing.

Butterfly Valley

Spectacularly situated between two towering cliffs, Butterfly valley stretches out in a v-shape, ending in a sweep of pristine beach. Most visitors access the beach by boat from Olu Deniz or Fethiye, but for adventurous trekkers there is a rocky path that leads down from the road (around 40 mins down and an hour back up).

Kemer Beach

Kemer is a real jewel in the Mediterranean crown and has only recently been discovered by tourists; the beaches here have been awarded the Blue Flag Award for their cleanliness. The two beaches here - a pebbly one and a sandy one - both offer different kinds of watersports.

Side East and West Beach

Side is a multi-faceted town supporting all modern tourist activities yet retaining its ancient history. The town is surrounded by long sandy beaches known as the East and West beaches. These beaches aren't particularly far from each other but the West beach is slightly more popular due to its shallow waters. Both beaches however, offer an array of water-sports such as, parasailing, water skiing, fishing and much more.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

‘Porn project’ causes chaos at Turkey University

Students, scholars and outside supporters protested at scandal-hit Istanbul Bilgi University after three faculty members were fired for approving a student’s final thesis titled “The Porn Project.”

“The Porn Project,” which included footage of two people having sex did not only get three lecturers dismissed, the school administration also filed criminal complaints against them with a prosecutor’s office since pornography is a punishable offense under Turkey’s laws.

Participants in the demonstration demanded that the three academics be reinstated in their jobs and the situation be investigated by “an unbiased committee” according to the academic rules.

Studying porn related courses is nothing new when it comes to academia , most educational institutions the world over allow such studies so are protesters right in saying Turkey’s laws are stifling the country’s academic progress?

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

McDonald’s Turkey to open 30 more restaurants in 2011

Not sure what Turkey’s obesity rate is at the moment but after this announcement, I expect it to soar to high levels if the rest of Europe is anything to go by.

McDonald’s Turkey opened 26 restaurants in 2010 and they expect to open30 more this year as part of a 25 million Turkish Lira investment to mark the 25th anniversary of McDonald’s in Turkey.

McDonald’s has nearly 160 restaurants throughout Turkey and employs around 4,000 people which is good for the economy but about to turn into a nightmare for Turkey Health Services.

According to McDonald executives, 36 million units of bread, 3,200 tons of meat and 5,000 tons of potatoes were sold last year in its Turkey restaurants. It looks like Turkey will be catching up with the rest of Europe’s obesity levels very soon.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Plastic surgery tourism on the up in Turkey

With Turkey making a name for itself in plastic surgery, there’s been a rise in plastic surgery tourism. Turkey is now vying to become one of the top five countries in plastic surgery tourism with some 350,000 people visit Turkey annually to be nipped and tucked.

Compared to other countries, plastic surgery in Turkey is on the cheap, for example, Nose remodelling surgery in Europe costs 15,000 euros, while the price drops to 2,500 or 3,000 euros in Turkey.

The United States still has the largest share of the plastic surgery tourism market, taking $5.5 billion a year. It is followed by Europe which takes 3.5 billion euros and then there is Brazil and Turkey.

Foreign patients come from countries such as the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Kuwait, Libya, Egypt, Syria and Turkmenistan, undergo their procedures and recuperations in Turkey and then return to their home countries.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Kobe caught in the middle of Armenian-Turkish feud

Three weeks ago, we posted a story about the success of Turkey’s economy and how this is manifested in the ability of the national carrier to sign household names like Kobe Bryant to front their campaigns. Like every story, there is more than one way to interpret it and we thank one of our readers for reminding us of that.

Naturally, Armenian-Americans are unhappy about Kobe’s two-year endorsement deal with Turkish Airlines (THY); having long exerted pressure for official recognition of genocide claims by the US government, unhappy is actually an understatement, enraged is more like it.

The tension stems from Turkey’s denial that the killings of Anatolian Armenians during World War I constitute genocide. Turkey says the deaths were a result of civil unrest that accompanied the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and obviously Armenians aren’t buying it.

This issue is quite topical so Kobe Bryant can’t exactly claim he doesn’t know what the situation is; a symbolic resolution on the Armenian claims was passed by a House committee in the US Congress in March, but amid protests from Ankara, the House Democratic leadership never brought it to the floor for a vote.

Becoming the “global brand ambassador” for Turkish Airlines (THY) for the next two years has prompted Armenian-American groups to protest through radio and social media sites with some claiming Kobe’s deal as ‘anti-human rights’.

This has led to calls for the boycott all things Kobe, with some 600,000 to 700,000 Armenians living in southern California; it looks like the Los Angeles Lakers will also be coming in for some of the heat.

The Turkish American community are of course in support of the deal and described Armenian claims as ‘harassment and racist’.

So should Kobe have stayed away from the deal, was endorsing Turkish Airlines (THY) insensitive or just business?

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Delusional ‘terrorist’ subdued on Turkish Airline

‘I have a bomb’; a phrase all air passengers have come to dread since September 11th but these days passengers are more proactive than they used to be. This is not the first time passengers have thwart a hijack attempt on board a flight but this incident is almost laughable if it didn't make it painfully obvious how real terrorists’ threats are.

The hijacker, a Turkish citizen from a Kurdish village in the south-eastern region of Anatolia put on a mask and tried to force his way into the cockpit on flight TK1754 from Oslo to Istanbul saying he had a bomb.

He demanded that the plane return to Oslo, before being subdued by passengers, his bomb was fake but I’m sure he succeeded in freaking people out.

According to the police, a passenger was sitting on top of the suspect when they entered the plane to collect him. I sure hope the passenger who was sitting on him weighed a ton.