For my birthday, I got a scratch out world map from a friend. The purpose of this map is to scratch out of the map the places where you have travelled to, revealing the colours that lie beneath. I scratched out the countries I had visited, feeling rather proud of myself until I realized the map looked quite empty. My expectation when I started scratching was that I had been to a lot of countries. Apparently not. Expectation ≠ Reality.
I asked myself, where did I want to travel to? Short answer, Everywhere. But I guess it’s not that easy. There’s money, time and other logistical issues to think about. But we can start somewhere. One advantage of living in Europe is that most countries are easily accessible by road or cheap flight, so I made a list of European countries that I wished to travel to in the next 5 years. On my list was Turkey, Greece, Mainland Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Russia, Italy and Israel.
My first travel destination was Turkey. Turkey is a very popular travel destination for Dutch people due to its favourable weather condition and cheap prices (Like they say, the Dutch are cheap, haha). I travelled together with my girlfriend, Miracle, who is already an experienced traveller. We used a travel website to plan the trip. Travel websites are really good if you are an inexperienced traveller or don’t want to be burdened with planning every single detail of the trip. That goes with saying , sometimes it’s nice to plan every detail of the trip if you are travelling with a group of friends or you would like to explore the city (Refer to Ams 2 Ibz article for a nice read about a group trip). If you just want to relax, then using a travel website is advisable. Most travel websites offer you a price covering your flight to and from the destination, food, hotel and more. We flew 3 hours from Amsterdam to Antalya, and then drove 2 hours (felt like 5 hours) to our Hotel in Alanya located at the southern coast of Turkey.
This part of the country is known for its tourism, giving visitors hundreds of hotel resorts to choose and activities to do. My top 3 expectations for the trip was to relax by the beach and swim in the mediterranean sea, eat some tasty turkish food, and visit a turkish market. All of my expectations were met and I even got to do some extra fun activities like parasailing. My time in Alanya was enjoyable and most of all relaxing. Sometimes getting rest out of your personal space/home is advisable because this means that you are not drawn into the daily tasks that arise due to your presence at home.
I can definitely recommend Turkey as a cheap and easily plannable travel destination to anyone. The service and the people there were amazing, and I could feel that they had a responsibility of making sure that you returned. An average Turk is extremely proud of his/her country, and I always wondered why? Maybe because it is a country that has had to overcome some adversity? Or because it is a majority muslim country? Or because they believe they deserve to be members of the EU? I don’t know but the Nationalistic pride of its people is really evident, especially those living outside of Turkey. Thinking about it, they deserve to be proud of the influence that Turkey has had on European culture, from the many Turkish shops everywhere, to the Turkish originated world cup winning German players like Özil and Khedira, to the tasty bread, tea and meat that is now part of the European cuisine.
On our way back we met a Greek guy who was stuck at the airport. We got talking and I told him Greece was on my travel list. He gave me a couple of pointers and travel tips for visiting Greece. My fingers are already itching to scratch out Greece.