Deciding To Go
I had never really considered Turkey as a possible travel destination. It’s not that the idea didn’t appeal to me. It had just never occurred to me. There were just so many other destinations in Europe and Asia that came to mind when I thought about travelling: Berlin, Amsterdam, Tokyo, Bangkok. Turkey was a place whose name conjured up images of tea lights, genies and donor kebabs, but for some reason not the image of a great holiday.
When I moved to Russia, I started hearing ‘Turkey’ mentioned more and more as a great place to visit. It seemed Turkey for Russians was like Phuket or Bali for Australians – a place to lounge around beside a pool and drink cheap cocktails. I immediately dismissed the idea as dull and unadventurous. Who wants to travel to another country just to swim in the sea? I could do that at home for half the price and with half the tourists. My idea of travel was more about living in a new culture, trying new food, feeling out of my comfort zone.
Then, as my time in Russia was coming to an end, my husband mentioned that we might like to pop over to Turkey before we leave – kind of like a final rite of passage after living in Russia – the obligatory trip to Turkey. I had no qualms with the idea but wanted to make it a little bit more authentic than a week in a flash hotel in some closed resort on the coast. And so, we began planning… And I can now say that my original dismissive attitude to a Turkey trip was horribly unfounded. The two weeks we spent in Istanbul were filled with adventure and beauty, revelations and discoveries. But before I get too carried away, let’s go back to the very first day when we landed in Istanbul…