If you’ve read any of my past blog posts you’ll know I’m a proponent of off season travel. My visit to Turkey in late November was no different. In Istanbul we had absolutely perfect temperate afternoons and cool evenings. My husband and I ate nearly every lunch and dinner outdoors and the weather was ideal for hiking and outdoor sightseeing. It got a bit cooler and rainier as we headed east towards Cappadocia, but this didn’t dampen our spirits. In the off season there was no need to pre-book reservations for anything. We sometimes stumbled down alley ways at the Grand Bazaar without another person in sight and the most memorable experience was sitting in front of the Library of Celsus at Ephesus at sunset surrounded by nothing but the famous cats.
Before I departed I shared with others where I was going and often heard, “Oh, you’ll love it” or “I’ve wanted to go for years” and “Is it safe?” Turkey shares southern and eastern borders with Syria, Iraq and Iran however we stuck to the western and central areas of the country. We encountered a good number of Syrian refugees in Istanbul, mostly kids on the street begging for food or selling small Kleenex packets, and we also met a handsome young Iraqi refugee who worked at a pizza joint in Goreme. Aside from the general “keep aware of my foreign surroundings” advice that always spools through my head I felt very safe. The Turks were some of the friendliest people I’ve met—they’re beguiling.
We drove from Izmir to Goreme, a distance of about 800 km. For us, driving allows a great amount of freedom and serendipity. We can get into the nooks and crannies of a place with more ease. I initially went into the car rental decision with a bit of trepidation as there are many reports about the dangers of driving in Turkey. I figured that our experience driving in Jamaica and South Africa had prepped us for Turkey however there is an excellent and inexpensive network of buses and dolmus (mini-vans) throughout the country. For us, the car rental was the right decision. – Rochelle, April 2014