( for text information on Istanbul and Ephesus, right away without any clicks, please scroll this page )

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 with American CBS tv crew during Nato Summit, IStanbul

( The photo on the right is from Nato Summit , Istanbul 2004 : with American CBS Tv crew, I am the one in Hawai shirt, standing on the left )

Hi! My name is Oguz ( pronounced as in " he ' owes' me " ) English keyboard does not have our turkish letter ' soft g' which has got an accent mark above it , so this pronounciation tip helps.

Quick pronounciation tips how to say thanks in Turkish : pronounce these words in English quickly one after the other , rolling the words in your mouth a bit ; and that's it! : " tea , sugar , a dream" . ( sugar is actually shaker , so remember the word shaker, with sugar ) . The spelling of the word is actualy , "Tesekkur ederim" ! TO say "hi" ; you may simply say Salam, first a , as in Camel , second a is as in the "u" in "uncle" . Or simply learn the word "Merhaba", that is more common. Likewise good morning : say " united " a bit fast . The word in Turkish is "Gunaydın" . :)) Turks do like shaking hands, so this is a good tip for good communication; but when you are sure the person is a religious orthodox moslem Turk ( he will usually have short hair and beard and moustache), or in a mosque, cross sex hand shaking may spoil his or her ablution required for prayer; so , better avoid in this case , and then greet like a japanese by bowing slightly, or nodding; or a great Turkish way of celebrating someone is by putting your right hand to your chest - heart, and padding gently twice, this is also a very polite way of refusing an offer, but around Blue Mosque, just ignore the vendors, orelse they will stick at you! Buying postcard from a street vendor, if the vendor does not have a stationed sales point is not recommended. Also the unsealed fruit juice served from the oriental tanks carried by the vendor like a backpack, that is also not recommended; and if you need a guide , he or she should bear a licence tag, provided by the Turkish Ministry of Tourism.

This following link that includes top sites to visit will help you decide on what to include to your Turkey , Istanbul, and Ephesus visits : top sites in Turkey to visit
(Text only) .

Although I updated this page in April 2007, the content may still need some further fine tunings; if you email I will provide with the current information. For travellers who would like a private tour; you may email me to contact; upon which I can provide the contact details of my associate travel agencies in the U.S. and Turkey. About this page : When you place your mouse over a photo , a text will be visible, if that photo has got one.

Topkapi Palace is visited by almost every visitor to Istanbul, and the Harem life and the Harem section of the palaces collect much attention ( of mostly gentlemen :)) ) You may know that some of the servants of the sultan were eunuchs ( you may read more on them at : my Forum pages
The black eunuchs of the Harem ( imagine a eunuch with a twin that is not castrated , switching places whenever the eunuchs went to the market to buy more of the carefully selected young women to the Harem . Anyways, this is the topic of the short movie scenario I am working on. But we can tell being a eunuch is not fun at all and; " obviously this is not a 'father to son' job! " :))

Famous Movie of Ferzan Ozpetek , bsed on life in the Harem. As well as the eunuchs of the Harem sultan also had mute servants - they were the bodyguards and also executioners of the sultan ( only the sultan could communicate with them with a special sign language ( I wonder whether the poor fellow when - purchased at the slave market was given an option to be a eunuch or a mute )

The photo below with the Eunuch kissing the concubine of the Harem is from the film Harem Suare of Turkish Director Ferzan Ozpetek; the movie was the winner of Cannes movie festival . There were speculations of sad love stories between harem women and eunuchs which could only be a 'limited' love .

This is often named smooth guiding; when historical and archaelogical background is packed carefully at the right dose with a sense of humour, the interest level on a tour may be kept high more of the time.

When you click the links on this page the information and the tips or tralelogues are not plainly quoted information texts but they are based on experience and include personal commentary especially for the visitors who are interested in Istanbul , Ephesus , and Cappadocia ; the sites I have been visiting for many years.

by the >On my private tours I present high resolution cd copy of selections from my Istanbul, Ephesus, Aphrodisias, Antalya and the rest of Turkey photography sessions to my tour participants, that way saving you a bit from the responsibility of having to be a photographer, rather than the visitor enjoying the sites.

 istanbul's three main districts are old town , new town , and Asiatic istanbul

It is tough decision when you just have 2 or 3 days in Istanbul and try to get the best out of it. This city was the capital of three empires ; Roman , Byzantine , and Ottoman , and it was ruled over 120 kings , emperors and sultans . And you just have 2 or 3 days to enjoy it all.

The monuments of the 3 empires by themselves could have been enough reason to attract you to Istanbul, and but, what attracted these empires make more reasons for you to visit Turkey :

Ottoman Sultan Mehmet the second conquered Constantinople in 1453 A number of the large cities around the world divided by rivers or straits have certain charms like Venice , London, Amsterdam , New York and some others , and so is Istanbul . Istanbul also has got the prestige of being mentioned twice in Homer's Iliad, to do with Odysseus, and his followers trying to sail through Bosphorus Straits after the Trojan Battles . By the way, Bosphorus Straits was introduced by Homer as the site of the clashing rocks and this need be a reference to an earthquake faultline ( these two points - one from Homer , the other as a hypothesis are not much commercialised. )

Also , Istanbul is situated partly in Europe, partly in Asia on both sides of Bosphorus Straits : This is a bit like the rivers seperating New Jersey and Long Island from Manhattan . So, from news or travel programs on tv, high school years, art books, from friends as previous visitors , from search engines on internet, from James Bond or Jackie Chan movies you have enough ( ! ) background on Istanbul : You know some of the famous stops here : Blue Mosque , Saint Sophia ( Ayasofya ) , Topkapi Palace, Bosphorus Cruise, Grand Bazaar. Not enough though to plan your minimum two or three days here: So, I step in at this point.

Above, bird's eye photo showing the highlights of the old town. Okey, this bird was not completely over the monuments, but still the photo does a good job in revealing the location of some of the major sites. Below, I will be listing top 10 - 15 sites to choose from according to your interest , but I will also make an itenary for 2 or 3 days :

Saint Sophia - Ayasofya Day 1 : Most tours make the same mistake : They visit these places of interest one after the other : Blue Mosque , Ayasofya ( Saint Sophia ) The Byzantine Cathedral , Basilica cistern , Topkapi Palace and some even add Grand Bazaar to the same day. I am sure u will agree : not the quantity but the quality What is wrong there : If you are not a serious athlete ; from 9 a.m. to 5p.m. except sitting down for lunch this is too much, too long a day of standing and walking. Most people have sore legs and will not be in great shape the following day.

What should be done : Add diversity

sample : better planned day 1 : 1.Begin your day with a stop at the Spice Market ( also known as the Egyptian Bazaar ) departing your hotel by 9 a.m. , visit Spice Market . You will experience , the smells , sounds , tastes of Turkey. Market places are full of energy and fun, and this market place has sure got a lot of that : Henna for your red hair ! , sultan's paste as the natural turkish viagra :)) ( seriously ) , " binbirdelik otu " , the plant named St. John's Wort in Europe and considered to increase serotonin levels naturally ; as a matter of fact , herbal health world is also at your disposal here ; green tea + cinnamon + clove boiled together protects you from allergy and cold symptoms and if you are an antihistaminic pill edict, here is the way to avoid all the side effects of those pills by natural herbal support.

( diet advice : And if you are on diet and avoiding oils to avoid fat , your brain maybe in danger ; your brain needs omega 3 from walnut, or fish oil pills , so even if you are on strict diet, keep on getting omega 3 to keep your brain, for your young years, and for a healthier brain in older years. ) This market place is also the place where you get boxes of turkish delight - that sweat gel with pistachio nut in it , and small pendents or bracelets, evil eye protector beads.

2. At 10.35 the Bosphorus cruise ship departs ( across Spice Market, cross from the pedestrian tunnel, pier number 2 , reads "Bogaz ") This is the large boat, not very comfortable to appreciate the Bosphorus, the window seats seats are taken too quickly , the windows are small ( the city boat lines must be trying to add to the reputation of Turkey as " the best well kept secret " by trying to offer the least from a Bosphorus Cruise )and a bit dirty or worn out - scratched . Still, this is inexpensive, there are some limeted outdoor seats, but better head to Ortakoy in Summer in p.m. for a cruise with the citizens. Boats hold around 60 or 70 passengers, the whole upper deck is outdoors, and you can see and enjoy it all. The only negative is at times the loud music they play. Private boat rental is available but at the right price.

3. Topkapi Palace is from 15th to 19th century the palace of the Ottomans . At the ticket booth, do not forget to buy your tickets for the treasury section. Harem tickets are sold seperately once you get inside the palace , but agree in cueing the long line, and if you are not among the first 50? or so, you can't make it. ( If you have more days , I recommend Dolmabahce palace of the 19th century, impressive indoors , everything intact, harem entrance is not as painful as Topkapi .)

< IMG SRC="http://www.welldoneturkey.com/harem2.jpg " >

If you have a tour guide, in Topkapi , like elsewhere , guides have a priority in buying a ticket. So if you have a guide, doors literally open for you more easily.

 sunset as seen from Harem district of Asiatic Istanbul

4. After the palace it is lunch time; the palace's restaurant Konyali is famous, it has got a great scenery of Marmara sea , Bosphorus Straits, Maiden's Tower ( appeared in a late Bond movie ) , and Asiatic Istanbul . The café section is a must for a drink as a result. Try the chocolate cake, or a mixed fruit plate with honeydo and watermellon in summer time. At its a-la-carte section a main course may cost around 10$ u.s. Lamb schank is recommended. If you do this palace first and then head for the Spaice Market, close to this market is Hamdi Restaurant, try its lamb kebab, or mince meat kebab with ground pistachio in it. This restaurant faces the Golden Horn Estuary, for better seats by the window get a reservation.

5. So, after lunch you can now head for your cruise from Ortakoy, if you are not going for a private one. Ortakoy is nice flea market weekends , good for gifts. Custom jewellery or inexpensive silk - silky scarves are among many selections. The cruise is 1 hour. 6. Originally this much is plenty for one day, for those high on energy , a stroll on Istiklal Street lined with 19th century apartment houses with spectecular architecture is in one sense similar to that old street of Boston, the difference is , the only car available here is the street car, nice way of enjoying the street . day 2 : Visit Saint Sophia and Basilica Cistern as the first thing.

Drive onto Chora church, or Dolmabahce as you prefer. Next to Chora, Asitane Restaurant cooks 16 - 17th century Ottoman meals from the palace's cook books. This may be a nice experience. Nice sunday brunches here may make a nice option. Then Arasta Bazaar; Definetely more peaceful then the Grand Bazaar , as you will experience later as you shop until you drop in the Grand Bazaar.

Ottoman Military Band concert At three o'clocks daily ( closed on mon. and tuesday ) the Ottoman Military Band concert is also a great display of Ottoman military costumes, like a fashion show. 2 or 4 guards are in their heavy armour, and this was the music that inspired Beethoven , Mozart, and Chaikovksky to be the origin for the music named ala turca. The first half of the concert is half an hour, and that is good enough. Before the concert begins , the special slide presentation with 10 or more projectors make a grand 10 minute presentation on the band's origin ; this is a nice trip through Ottoman history following the evolution of the band with some superb paints showing different sultans, Ottoman miniatures, designs, some European connections etc. One never expects this much exclusive art from anything related to battles!

third day : If you are among .lucky visitors at least staying three days, you can do all that is mentioned above , plus maybe even more , covering one or two more museums, take a boat to Asiatic Istanbul etc. The Archaelogical museum has got a superb sarcophagi collection including Alexander The Great Sarcophagus, roman sculpture, church relics, Trojan artefacts, and some Egyptian relics including mummies and related objects. The Turkish and Islamis Art museum, Artistanbul museum are among options, as well as a hydrafoil ( seacat - seabus ) escape to Prince's islands.

video clips : You will enjoy these mini video clips highly from the Turkish Ministry of Tourism website
, if you download these incredible mini Turkey commercial mini clip files ; right click on the pictures , and choose 'save as ' . As this is a ministry website , feel comfortable to download these image files, they are just concerned in getting here more tourists , not placing a trojan virus to your pc . Though it make take hours to download if you have a telephone line connection, still worth the trouble. I mean it! If you have the slightest interest in Turkey in one way or the other, you should see these! They are shown in Europe on Tv a lot!

Istanbul has got a Broadway like musical , based on the glamorous Ottoman Empire days , and intigue of the Harem ; named Hurrem Sultan ( wife of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent as well as a sophisticated dance group called Sultans Of Dances .

Famous Movie of Ferzan Ozpetek , bsed on life in the Harem.

These are not to be missed . These include modernised version of Anatolian folk dances with a slight modern touch .The result is superb! Interested in Turkey photos? As well as the other links below, check the website of this Computerist - webdesigner, Chuck from New Jersey, who is also a photographer like myself - a participant of one of the tours I led in July 2001 (He has got this great enthusiasm for photography; no visitor to Istanbul covered so many mosques, and Turks from Turkey turned out to be leaving thanks messages to his photography pages for his contribution as a valuable photo source. He has got great results. Couple of those artistic photos of Celcus Library and Hadrian Temple, at Ephesus you will admire, in which you see Chuck and Laura , I was the one behind the camera www.newmanservices.com/turkey

Lots of visitors to Istanbul ask about the most interesting sites and things to do , which I also included below. "Bond Movie" locations in Istanbul






TOP ISTANBUL SITES AND VISITS (detailed info is available at Attractions of Istanbul
:

  1. TOPKAPI PALACE - The imperial Palace of the Ottomans Topkapi Palace: hub of the Ottoman universe (complete sightseeing tour: allow for ½ day) After conquering Constantinople, Mehmet II chose the smartest spot in town as his home. At the tip of the peninsula on which Constantinople was located, washed by the waves of the Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara, he built his Topkapi Palace subdivided into four courtyards. It wasn't just his home, however. This is where the strings of world history were being pulled: the business of the empire was done , the Ottoman bureaucracy was educated, and the sultan's elite troops, the janissaries, housed (first courtyard).

And being less than careful in the second courtyard could actually cost you your head. If you were only waiting to see the sultan about something (third courtyard), you'd better watch which queue you were in – the sultan's executioners were also housed here, ready to fulfil their master's wishes. And, if you thought you could catch a glimpse of what was going on in the harem (Buy a separate ticket – it’s well worth the visit!), you'd be very wrong. The harem, well-guarded by the sultan's mother, could be entered by only one man - the sultan himself (as you can well imagine, eunuchs could come and go as they pleased). From the early 16th century, when the brothers of the heir to the throne were no longer being sent straight back to meet their maker, they were also allowed to live in the harem. ( in a cosy cell ) And if now, like the sultan in former times, you feel like taking a break and a cup of coffee, go on to the fourth courtyard, a large garden with pavilions and an unforgettable view of the entrance to the Bosphorus

Harem and Topkapi palace , treasury ticket , hectic ticket booth locations info :

Harem : (most tours don't include it. It's considered as a seperate museum in the palace. You can see a long line of visitors to buy a ticket(Tickets are 8$ approx - 10 new lira )

You need to purchase seperate tickets for the jewellery section at the ticket booth, before stepping into the palace at the same booth where you get your palace entrance ticket.

The Harem tickets are sold inside the palace, in front of the entrance of the Harem. The tours are every two hours or so. But the harem girls you are viewing in these pictures will not be around, their strike is still going on. Late afternoon by 3.30 pm the palace is more peaceful (cruiseship groups are gone )

2. SAINT SOPHIA CHURCH - The Byzantine Cathedral , the Church of the Divine Wisdom, with its bright red brickwork and its four minarets.

Emperor Justinian's dream was chiselled out of stone in record time – 5 years and 10 months! On 27 December in 537 AD, he was able to consecrate his building, antiquity's largest Christian church. Today's landmark was also greatly appreciated by Mehmet II. After conquering Constantinople, he declared the church the Sultan's Mosque. And this destiny is easily visible on a tour (9:30 am - 5:00 pm Tuesday to Sunday; admission about EUR 5). Below is a photo that I took showing mosaic details. I touched the photo with photoshop program for some colour adjustements.

3. THE BASILICA CISTERN

was the set of the Bond movie - From Russia with Love , showing Mr. Bond escaping from one building to another by sailing on a little boat in the cistern. Built by Byzantine Emperor who is also the comissioner of Saint Sophia. Ottomans did not like water which was not running . As an example an Ottoman practice was pouring to get rid of all stored water in one house when somebody died ( probably in time they learnt this water could be dangerous to their health, carrying what we call germs , microbic elements etc. today ), Anyway ,with over 300 columns this is like a sunken palace, and named so as a result by the Turks - Yerebatan Sarayi.


Bosphorus Cruise 4. THE BOSPHORUS CRUISE

If Mythology refers to it , there is something special about it : This is mentioned twice ! : Jason and the Argonats crossing the clashing rocks ( Bosphorus Straits must be an earth quake faultline - hence ; "clashing rocks" ) , its relation to Io , the mistress of Zeus , giving it the name Bosphorus , meaning the passage of the heifer) Not to forget Persian King Darius crossing his army on a bridge made up of boats anchored next to one another. 2 impressive suspension bridges, palatial houses on both sides, Ottoman Palaces (Dolmabahce, Beylerbeyi, Ciragan ) , Castles (Rumeli and Anadolu Castles ), mosques, forests etc. This is the most prestigious place (and the most expensive ) for residence in all of Turkey. Bosphorus Cruise Unfortunately the packed city lines ferry offers very limited area at the outer areas of its decks and because of the small charge (5 $ approx. one way ) it is packed . So take your ferry from Ortakoy district, join the locals, though the music is juust slightly loud

5. OTTOMAN MILITARY BAND

this unique performance adds a thrill to a visit to Istanbul , and takes the visitor's Ottoman experience to the zenith. It comes with a slide presentation including their influence to classical comnposers like Mosart and Beethoven. They became the origin of Ala Turca music. Over 60 members in original Ottoman costumes & armour.

6. ST. SAVIOUR IN CHORA CHURCH

You will appreciate Byzantine art at its peak with the mosaics and fresqoes decorating all of the walls of the church, giving completer life cycles of Mary and Christ (Mary's childhood details are breathtaking, unknown to westerners - bases on Apocriphal work of St. James )

 suleymaniye mosque and sea-gull

7. BLUE MOSQUE & SULEYMANIYE MOSQUE

These are the top two Imperial mosques of ISTANBUL. My photo with the bird below shows Suleymaniye Mosque with the bird from Asaitic Istanbul. The Blue Mosque is exceptional in more ways than one. Being the only mosque with six minarets and thus seen to rival the Great Mosque in Mecca, the latter had an extra one added – after all, Mecca is Mecca! The cost of building the Blue Mosque was exceptional too: it turned into a black hole for the public purse.

In retrospect, the horrendous costs did pay off, though. So: dress appropriately, you are entering a mosque, after all ( if you're not wearing something suitable, you can rent a scarf or a shawl for a small fee. NB: no entry at prayer times; tourists enter through a separate gate, shoes off, and – wow!

Once inside, the visitor is greeted with true cascades of light and colour: blue tiles, huge candelabras, and 260 windows, most of them stained glass (actually reproductions, but no less grandiose than the originals), make for an unrivalled impression. And, with the mosque not only being a place of worship, but also a social institution, it was also provided with a soup kitchen, a hammam for the bath on holy Fridays, and shops.

8. ASIATIC ( and non-touristy ) ISTANBUL

 sunset as seen from Harem district of Asiatic Istanbul

Asiatic Istanbul is undeservingly ignored although it is special as partly seen in Bond Movie - The World is not Enough - towards the end of the movie , just of the Asiatic Shire of Istanbul is this islet on which stands the Maiden's Castle. The coastal line facing it is also across the old town ( you need like 5 times optic zoom for good photo results , even better then the one here with the bird and a mosque siluette , which I took eith Sony Vx2000 a digital still shot from a camcorder ) but hey ,you will take the ferry ( 0.60 cents u.s. )

almost across the Spice Market in the old town and on the ferry great photo oppurtunity , once the ferry ride is over, walk towards the Maiden's Castle for 10 minutes , discover the fisherman's shelter , and superb Istanbul photos for contests and to capture hearts ( see mines at www.reocities.com/incedetaylar ) and then after sunset take the same ferry back.

Would you like to be the only tourists in a local vegetable and fish marketplace and then have lunch at a restaurant, where the grand grand father of the owner was THE COOK OF THE OTTOMAN PALACE!!! ( impressive selections, ... ) Followed by a drive through the top residential areas and scenic Bosphorus driveway.  sunset as seen from Harem district of Asiatic Istanbul

9. Shopping at the Grand or the Egyptian Bazaar.

described at the beginning.

10 . TURKISH AND ISLAMIC ARTS MUSEUM - great collection

11. THE HOUSE OF MR. SABANCI - This is one of the two top wealthy Turkish families, their palatial house is just converted into a private museum; what a priviledge to see it . Mr . Sabanci is an art collector, and his Calligrapy collection went around the world. The family at one point was in Fortune 500 listing .

12. THE ARCHAELOGICAL MUSEUM - includes unique artefacts like Alexander the great Sarcophagus. One of the most important archaelogical museums of the world.

13. STREET CAR RIDE ON ISTIKLAL STREET - Fanciest walking street of Istanbul with late 19th century Italian architecture. Cafes, bars, window shopping, people watching. Famous Pera Palas Hotel can be included.

14. PRINCE ISLANDS & CART RIDE ON THE GRAND ISLAND - For Istanbul visitors staying 4 days or more.

Istanbul - the Byzantine Constantinople Istanbul was the capital city of three empires : Ottoman , Byzantine , and Roman Empires , and she was ruled over 120 kings, emperors and sultans. The impressive Bosphorus Straits of Istanbul with so many palaces and mansions built along is admired highly by the visitors on a fancy 2 hour cruise. This is also the site of the ‘Clashing Rocks’ in the Mythology, through which ‘Jason & The Argounats’ were trying to pass. Many visitors come back to Istanbul in winter for a weeks’ stay to enjoy more in depth. Active churches, and Synagogues as well as the mosques attract visitors at religiously significant days, like feasts, or Christmas.

Special Istanbul visits in short : Topkapi & Dolmabahce Palace, The Blue Mosque, The Grand Ottoman Military Band of the Ottomans, Saint Sophia Church & Basilica Cistern of the Byzantines , An unforgettable Bosphorus Straits Cruise , Shopping at the Grand or the Egyptian Bazaar.

Asiatic Istanbul

blue mosque - sultanahmet mosque

ISTANBUL:

In the reign of Constantine The Great, Byzantium was renamed as Constantinople, and became the capital of The Roman Empire, first, and then The Eastern Roman Empire(also known as Byzantine Empire). During the reign of Emperor Justinian, many great monuments, including cisterns(one is behind Hagia Sophia,and it is today a restaurant- not famous for the food.Another one is right across Hagia Sophia. It is called BASİLİCA CISTERN. Its roof is supported by 334 columns. You may realise it is this fascinating structure showing jAMES BOND in action at 'FROM RUSSİA WITH LOVE' ),and still one of the five greatest cathedrals on earth- one thousand five hundred year old Hagia Sophia (Saint Sophia) were built. Hagia Sophia (Saint Sophia - Ayasofya )(on the right) is a museum today.In 1453 Ottomans conquered Constantinople, and named her Istanbul making her their capital.

istanbul's silhouette OTTOMANS(1299-1923) ruled 27 nations on 3 continents in 16th century during the period of Sultan Suleyman The Magnificent.(In Europe Ottomans went as far as Vienna;Balkan countries,Middle-East, part of Africa (including Egypt as a province) were under Ottoman rule.The city called Bursa became their first capital in 1299. The grandeur of this empire can also be observed by visiting some of their social, religious, and state monuments.In many cities as well as Bursa and Istanbul.

Some Special Sites & Facts :

EPHESUS :

Two photos here are from one of my tour& photography sessions in Ephesus. As well as artsy shots, I also like catching natural moments. I began taking digital shots ( as well as traditional analog ones ) and email the interesting ones to my tour members, like this lady in front of Celcus Library. She told she was a former model by the way.

The other Ephesus photo above shows me in front of Artemis temple with its only standing column ( with hard to see stork family atop ) , and Ephesus Castle behind it. ( This photo session included the geeese family and the rest, that photo will also be here soon ) At my photography pages you will find more :

Below is Chuck and Laura my favourite tourists posing for me in front of Hadrian's Temple at Ephesus. It is my pilgrimage to drive from Istanbul to rejoin my tour people after our days in Istanbul as they are mostly taking a cruise , if we are not on a couch round-trip. In Ephesus I still have some lesser shot photos with its own unique perspective probably not commercialised yet. In the future I can give such a photo for free to the Tourism of Ministry for their posters just for the honour.

more informatıon : e-mail me your questions for my advice on travelling in Turkey, including information on hotels, tours, travel agencies, routes,sites, transportation.

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