Let’s get this sticky subject out of the way and start by posting the current Foreign Office advice for British Nationals traveling to Turkey
Travel to Turkey – click to read
So, they are not advising against travel to anywhere other than the immediate border areas with Syria. Most of the travel and photos you will see on this blog are at least 1000km’s and usually more from the Syrian border, in the South West, West and North of the country. It is a huge place, the distances involved are considerable and significant, a point well worth remembering. Yes the terror alert is severe – as it has been in London and many major UK cities for many months too, which puts it into perspective a little. As I type this on 24th Jan 2016, the latest news coming from Daesh is that they are threatening attacks in the tourist areas of Spain and with Paris already recovering from major terrorism and the rest of Europe on high alert, it is fair to say that where ever you travel there is a risk. However probably not much greater than the risk of staying at home, and about the same if you live or work in the UK’s big cities.
Turkey is a truly incredible country, with a rich and varied history, friendly people, stunning scenery, great weather and myriad things to see and do. I hope to show you some of those things in this mainly photo blog and to show that missing out on this country because of a small risk is to miss out on a whole lot of fun, knowledge and friendships. Whilst it is a predominantly Muslim country by way of religion and ergo a certain amount of culture, it is a republic and the people vary from quite devout to agnostic and every degree in between. Contrary to what some people seem to think and to dispel some myths and fears, it is not an Arab country and whilst there is some political pressure encouraging people to be more ‘Islamic’, generally speaking people practice as much or as little as they wish. They do not live under Sharia law. You will see ladies with and without headscarves, you will see people who pray at mosque daily and some who only go on a Friday, some who never go or pray. You will hear the call to prayers from the minarets as you buy alcohol in your chosen restaurant or bar in the tourist areas and rarely is religion waved in your face. You will find some mosques you are allowed to respectfully enter, you will also see churches and Synagogues. English is spoken to some extent, often self taught, especially in the popular tourist spots, but it pays to learn or carry with you some common phrases, including the phonetic versions, as it can be quite different to what you might think seeing it written down. Again in many popular tourist places, signs will be in several languages, including English.
So, is it safe? Well, no one can guarantee absolute safety anywhere in the world, but speaking as someone who was in Istanbul a few weeks ago when a terrorist chose to blow himself and a group of tourists up in the city… I would still say ‘safe enough’ in my opinion. It was the first day of our trip, but we carried on anyway, we saw wonderful places, experienced so much which was new to us, made new friends and brought home memories which will last a lifetime. If terrorists instil terror, they have won, and I for one do not want them to win. I will continue to travel to Turkey and enjoy it’s beauty, it’s history and it’s welcome, in the same way I want the people of other countries to carry on visiting the UK, in spite of the current heightened risks, especially here in my city, London.
So, Hoşgeldiniz! Welcome to Turkey and please enjoy the blog.