Sometimes things are worth trying even if you're not confident of the outcome. Visiting Turkey was one of those things. Due to safety concerns, political unrest, and the ongoing state of emergency, my mother offered to reimburse me the cost of my ticket so I wouldn't go. I declined her offer and had one of the best trips of my life.
If you’re a female traveler of color, the most “dangerous” thing I experienced was rather polite but forward male advances. I felt absolutely safe in Istanbul and as I traveled to other less populated areas of the country, I felt a greater sense of security.
I traveled solo to Turkey in June 2017. Though this is relatively recent, it is wise to check the US State Department’s recommendations and other up-to- date references before you plan a trip.
The region of Turkey that stole my heart was Cappadocia. The main town here is Goreme and chances are, if you’ve seen a picture of Turkey, it was probably taken here. This area has unique geography, history, art, hot air balloons, and unicorns (just kidding but they do have very beautiful horses). The icing on the cake was the hospitality of the locals. I was treated with kindness, respect, and curiosity. I was the only black person I saw during my 4 day stay in Cappadocia, however I felt at home.
There are a couple of places in Cappadocia that stand out. Sultan Cave Suites is one of them. This place has a gorgeous terrace to catch a sunrise or sunset. I honestly booked a room here for this very purpose. If you’re considering a stay in Goreme, it’s definitely worth it (at least for one night). Another hotel with gorgeous views and features is the Museum Hotel. Oh and check out my favorite restaurant in the area — Mitos Cafe —for a home cooked meal. The best way to experience the beauty of Cappadocia is from above in a hot air balloon at sunrise. I went with Air Cappadocia because of the high safety rating and the price. I am an bargain shopper typically, but I was willing to pay a higher amount for peace of mind.
During my stay in Goreme, I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that a salt lake similar to the salt flats in Bolivia were close by. Tuz Golu, which literally translates to Salt Lake, was only 2 hrs away from Cappadocia so I hired private transport for about $115 and had the experience of a life time.
My finally destination in Turkey was Pamukkale. It was my hope to see the popular calcium formations filled with cerulean water, but my actual experience was much different. The natural travertines or pools are frequently emptied for maintenance. The picturesque images of the area are possibly from long, long ago. Visitors are only allowed to swim in the manmade pools, sourced with thermal spring water.
Even though I was a little disappointed, the journey and experience was still worth it. Throughout the country you can get budget flights for around $20 one way or overnight buses for around $10. At theses prices, it’s worth checking out every region of Turkey that interests you.
Overall my trip to Turkey was one of my favorites yet. There are so many archaeological sites regions that I didn’t have a chance to visit on my 10 day trip. It’s my hope that my experience inspires a visit!