Explore Operations Manager Kristen Laas was a first time visitor to Turkey. Not knowing what to expect, she fell in love with the country so much that she plans to visit again in September:
"I’ve never really been interested in ancient ruins or history; 'old stuff' is the domain of my sister. My passion lies in wildlife and nature, especially the kind found in Africa. Not to mention that growing up in Toronto, Canada…well, our idea of 'old' is a building that’s fifty years old. We just don’t do 'old stuff' in Canada.
So when I was given the opportunity to visit Kas, Turkey on our 'Walking the Turquoise Coast' holiday, I had no idea what to expect. Never having been to Turkey, and never having done a walking trip before, I expected that there would be some meandering walks through hilly, dusty terrain with nice views of the Mediterranean, combined with visits to ancient ruins. I thought we might see a few fallen statues and I mentally prepared myself, knowing I would probably need to pretend to admire a bunch of unidentifiable ruins.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
This trip completely changed my ideas about Turkey, about walking tours and about 'old stuff'. Quite simply, I fell equally in love with Turkey, walking tours and with ancient ruins.
During our visits to Xanthos, the ruins at Patara and Semena Castle, I discovered a most unexpected fascination with 'old stuff'. History was no longer something I read about, an abstract concept that I had no connection to. History came to life as I marched down the same cobbled footpath that Roman soldiers trod thousands of years ago, explored ancient Lycian tombs and trekked past ruin after ruin as our tour leader Dave expertly brought history to life.
Walking no longer became a mode of transportation, something you did to get from point A to point B. Instead, it became a journey of exploration and discovery, a chance to marvel at the beauty surrounding me while challenging myself to something I had never tried before.
As for Turkey, I am ashamed to admit I knew almost next to nothing about Turkey. For years, my passion has been Africa, almost to the exclusion of the rest of the world. My knowledge of Turkey centred around Istanbul, and what I learned from a few Turkish friends in Canada.
What I discovered in my short time there was that it is one of the most beautiful areas I’ve ever seen. Meadows filled with wildflowers set against a backdrop of snow-capped mountain peaks (snow not being something I EVER associated with Turkey!). Turquoise water of a colour I never imagined existed in real life. Lush green hardwood forests that brought back memories of the forests in Canada. Endless views of the Taurus Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea everywhere I looked.
Of course, my first trip to Turkey just would not have been as enjoyable as it was without the help of the people of Turkey, who I found to be some of the friendliest, most hospitable people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting; people who immediately made me feel very welcome in their country.
The question I always ask myself after visiting somewhere new is 'would I go back?'.
Without a doubt, after walking the turquoise coast and experiencing a very small slice of Turkey, the answer of course is yes.
In fact, I’ll be heading back to Turkey in September.
And I can’t wait!"
If you want to follow in Kristen's footsteps, take a look at the tour she went on: Walking in Turkey