Return to Turkey

I traveled to Turkey once in the 70s and then again in the 90s, and it was amazing to see how the country had changed. From my first trip, I distinctly remembered a wooded area alongside the Bosporus because it was so pristine and beautiful—maybe it was an island?—but when I returned two decades later, it had been completely replaced by hotels and apartment buildings. The country had become so much more modern! An upside to this, though, was that the people seemed much more friendly and welcoming of Americans. After all, not many of us visited Turkey back in the 70s, so at that time they viewed us with interest and curiosity … but not a lot of trust. Now, they are much more open to talking to Americans and sharing their beautiful homeland.

One thing that didn’t change, however, was the bustling souk of Istanbul—and I hope it never does. It’s such an amazing place to wander, to become part of the energy of the city. Also, the food in Turkey is fabulous. I took a cooking lesson while I was there, but found that most recipes had way too many steps for me—so I prefer to leave it to the experts!

Turkey is such a fascinating, dynamic country, so I’m delighted to hear that so many travelers urged us to revive it as a Grand Circle destination. I may have to go back soon myself, just to see what else has changed since my previous journeys—and what remains the same. Have you ever returned to a country after decades away? If so, I’d love to hear about it. Next month, we’ll be discussing our Seine: Paris to Normandy River Cruise (as well as some exciting new destinations) in Harriet’s Corner—but I welcome your stories about anywhere in the world.