|Travel in a time of coronavirus
I started this blog as a celebration of travel and our crazy, fabulous planet, but with Covid-19 closing borders for months, if not years, any new adventures are on hold. So, in the meantime, I’ll be delving into my diaries and dusting off my old 35mm slides to bring you some stories and photos from the past 25 years. To eyes used to the crispness of digital photos these scanned slides may look grainy and the colours slightly off, but just think of these imperfections as a nostalgic reminder of an era when travel, and the world itself, were simpler.
I had my first real taste of travel in Turkey. As a very green 21-year-old I hitchhiked from Amsterdam to Istanbul, then spent two months circuiting the country — first along the Mediterranean coast, then as far east as I could go, and finally back via the Black Sea.
Since then I’ve been lucky enough to go back several times. I can’t single out any one country as my favourite but if I was forced to choose, Turkey would definitely make the shortlist.
So what’s so great about this country at the crossroads of Asia and Europe? Well, the landscapes are extraordinarily varied, the history is stupendous (Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Armenians, Seljuks and Ottoman Turks have all left their marks), Turkish transport is the envy of supposedly more developed nations, and the food is delicious with desserts to die for.
Underlying it all — a few dodgy carpet sellers aside — is Turkish hospitality. Looking after guests is a basic tenet of the Muslim faith but the way I’ve been welcomed has always felt like more than just a matter of religious obligation.
I last went back to Turkey in 2004 when these photos were taken. It was supposed to be a quick trip across the country on my way to Iran, but a visa hold-up at the Iranian consulate in Erzurum meant I had an extra two weeks to explore. A few places I visited were so amazing they’ll get their own blog posts in time.
It was autumn when I headed east across Turkey and winter by the time I went back the other way, as you’ll see in the photos. I saw more snow and ice in a few days in eastern Turkey than I ever did in northern Europe.