traveling to turkey: making a judgment call

theromanticAs we’re all aware, sometimes, travels just don’t go as planned. This is no new challenge for us, and we’ve gotten pretty good at rolling with the punches. On Sunday, the hubs and I were due to board a flight from Bangkok to Istanbul for one week in Turkey.

From touring Hagia Sophia to riding in a hot air balloon over Cappadocia, it was going to be the perfect way to kick off our time in Europe. I’ve long dreamed of going to Turkey. Out of all of our plans, it was one of the places I was most looking forward to.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t feel like the right time to take my first step onto Turkish soil. Though I’ve been doing my best to follow along, here are a few articles that can more eloquently detail the situation. They’re worth a read if you’re also feeling confused and unclear:

Because we registered our trip with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (something I fully recommend), we started getting e-mails almost instantly warning travelers to avoid large protests or gatherings—even peaceful ones—and citing that these events pop up quickly, and sometimes turn violent without warning.

Then came the e-mails from friends and family… the same ones who have been nothing short of positive and supportive. No one challenged our decisions to quit our jobs in a tough economy or second-guessed the logic of using our savings to travel the world. So, when these people make one simple request — “please don’t go to Turkey” — we felt like maybe we should give in on this one.

I’m not saying that everyone should cancel their upcoming trips to Turkey. We did speak with our hosts in Istanbul, and they all said that the tourist areas are still safe. Most confirmed that guests have not had any issues. We also heard that main roads and public transit may be shutting down soon. The threat of striking airlines, airports, or trains ultimately made our decision for us.

This is a little bit of a lesson in why many people say not to book your airfare in advance. We’re definitely losing money, and trying to change reservations from the middle of a jungle in Thailand is not the easiest feat. However, I know that the people of Turkey will make it through this extremely frustrating and trying time, and I know that when we do make it to the city where east meets west, we’ll be able to do our time there justice.

So, where to instead? Well, because we’ll be out about $500 due to flight cancellations and lost deposits, we went with the cheapest option AirTreks had to offer. On Sunday, we’ll be making our way to…

 Belgrade, Serbia

After four days in Belgrade and possibly a tiny town or two nearby, we’ll hop a train and head for…

kotor

Montenegro
Photo Credit: Sunreef Yachts

dubrovnik

Dubrovnik
Photo credit: Potatomato

Dubronik was always our next destination after Turkey. But this change gives us a little more time in a region that, for one reason or another, kept getting bumped down on our list of travel priorities. If we have to look for a silver lining, that is definitely it. When else would we have four days to explore the local Serbian culture in Zemun?

Still, even though we’re excited to be in Serbia on Sunday, our hearts will be in Turkey.

xo,

the romantic

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16 Comments

  1. June 6, 2013 / 10:41

    Too bad about Turkey – it is one of the places that I am dying to go to….but more time in Croatia – you won’t be disappointed! I fell in love with the place and will be going back. Dubrovnik was brilliant – wish I had had more time to actually explore. I only hit the main touristy things (the view from the top of the cable car is stunning and will give you a perfect venue for a virtual cheers with the wino from the top!) Enjoy Serbia – should be fascinating!
    Anita Mac recently posted..Wanderlusters: Exploring the Tropical Waters of Australia and New ZealandMy Profile

    • June 6, 2013 / 11:28

      completely agree. and though i really am sure we would have been safe, it was the growing concern that we’d miss our flight out of the country due to unforeseen circumstances that made us nervous! i’m pretty ok with the alternatives, though 🙂
      Lazy Travelers recently posted..traveling to turkey: making a judgment callMy Profile

  2. Britany Robinson
    June 6, 2013 / 12:15

    I’m glad you guys are taking caution and avoiding Turkey for now! It’s up there on my list of “I need to get there!!” destinations as well, but hopefully things will settle down soon and you guys can see it another time in a more peaceful setting.

    ps. you were seriously missed at Tbex last weekend!!
    Britany Robinson recently posted..Where do I Belong? Post TBEX Confessions of a Struggling Travel BloggerMy Profile

  3. Lyn Smith
    June 6, 2013 / 21:57

    So glad that you are being on the safe side with this one! Have a great time exploring the new spots on your itinerary! xoxo

  4. June 9, 2013 / 13:57

    That’s a good idea to change destinations. With political unrest, it’s best to lean on the side of caution. Montenegro looks beautiful though, so I’m sure you will enjoy your detour there!

  5. June 16, 2013 / 16:13

    It’s unfortunate that you guys can’t make it to Turkey. However, I know how that goes when you have to change your plans, even if you were really looking forward to that place. Your alternative itinerary however doesn’t sound too bad!

  6. Tom @ Waegook Tom
    July 10, 2013 / 04:33

    Belgrade!!! I’ve heard universally wonderful things about that city and would love to go there in the near future. One traveller I met said that after just five minutes in the city, she wanted to move there, and praised the friendliness of Serbian people.

    I’m heading to Istanbul on Monday, things seem to be calmer there and I hope they stay that way. Nobody has asked me to reconsider going there, but I’m keeping an eye on the situation and, if things take a turn for the worse, I have no qualms about dropping £100 to change my ticket with Emirates and getting an earlier flight out of there.

    I hope Turkey does make its way through this and that, if there is a change in government, it can do so without further violence or bloodshed. Istanbul really is a beautiful city, and the country is amazing.
    Tom @ Waegook Tom recently posted..An Organised Flyer’s Nightmare, Or Dear Air CanadaMy Profile

    • July 17, 2013 / 18:48

      belgrade was amazing–the people really are so welcoming and the city is beautiful! keep it high on your list, for sure.

      i hope you’re loving istanbul. i’m definitely jealous, but i know we’ll make it to turkey someday.

      completely second what you said, and it already sounds like things are vastly improving. all travelers we’ve spoken with since has said the main areas of the city still feel very safe.
      Lazy Travelers recently posted..jetsetters: @TravellingKing1My Profile

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