Banks and Currency Exchange
In Turkey, the local currency is the Turkish Lira (TL). Foreign currency can be exchanged at the airport as well as at private exchange offices which can be found throughout the city and are open from 8:30 to 20:00 hrs. In addition, Traveller’s Cheques and Eurocheques can be cashed at the local banks which are open between 8:30 and 17:00 hrs. The major credit cards (such as Visa, MasterCard) are accepted in most Turkish restaurants and shops.
There is a lot to be seen in Istanbul and Turkey. A selection of tours will be available throughout the congress including the famous sites at the Historical Peninsula -also known as the Old City- and the Bosphorus cruises. The Aegean, Anatolian and Mediterranean sections of Turkey are also packed with archaeological sites of varying ancient civilizations and can be visited in the offered pre and post congress tours.
Istanbul is a culinary delight no matter what your budget. From simple workers’ eateries and sidewalk cafes to posh culinary palaces with liveried waiters, Turkish cuisine is good and the value-for-money unbeatable. A typical Turkish dish generally consists of lamb, mutton, and veal with a variety of vegetables. Pilaf, all kinds of pastry, bulgur, haricot beans, rich olive oil, and vegetables are also common side dishes. Meatballs, shish kebab, and doner kebab are also classic dishes. Because of its coastal location, fish is also popular although it is usually cooked simply, such as grilled, or fried with olive oil and lemon juice. Istanbul is the commercial and cultural centre of Turkey; and there are restaurants of many nationalities such as Korean, Russian, Italian, and Chinese. American-style fast-food outlets are becoming more popular, but for a quick snack it is more appropriate to fill up at the plethora of tiny takeaways offering kebabs and snacks. It is easy to sample good quality regional cuisine in typical small restaurants, usually at low cost, especially in the commercial and business areas.
Atatürk Airport serves domestic and international scheduled and charter flights 24 hours a day. It is located 24 km west of the city centre.
The electric current is 220V AC with a frequency of 50 Hertz. European standard plugs with two round pins are used.
Shopping in Istanbul
Famed as the City of a Thousand Colours and Fragrances, Istanbul is a paradise for shoppers. A large variety of traditional carpets, jewels, gold, and leather goods can be purchased on the street in the tourist areas, or one can visit the city’s modern shopping malls where Turkish brand goods can be found.
The shops are open from 8:00 to 21:00 from Monday to Saturday.
The Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar open their gates at 8:00 and close at 19:00 from Monday to Saturday.
The large shopping malls open from 10:00 to 22:00 seven days a week.
Shops do not close for lunch.
Turkey is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and seven hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time (EST).
Service charges are included in the cost of all goods and services. Although it is not mandatory, a small tip is customary for good service. As a guideline, add about 10% to the total bill. When paying by credit card, a cash tip is preferred.