As a young girl growing up in Europe my family often vacationed in beautiful Turkey. I have vivid memories of walking through the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul thinking it was the most exciting and colorful place on earth. I remember the never ending days of summer on board a traditional “gulet” and jumping into the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean Sea. I can recall driving in our old family VW through the Turkish countryside past orange and lemon tree groves that would stretch as far as the eye could see. Images of wandering through the ruins in Ephesus are still in my mind and I will never forget the famous underground cities in Cappadocia, which back then seemed like a giant fairy tale land. Turkey would forever remain a wonderful part of my childhood.

Many years later, after having traveled through much of Asia and the Middle East, I returned to Turkey, this time accompanied by a guide and driver. I spent days in Istanbul and discovered a city that is incredibly vibrant and cosmopolitan. My trip took me all the way to the Eastern part of the country to Lake Van, a wild and desolate area. From here I continued across the Anatolian Plateau to Kars where I found a unique mix of Turkish, Russian and Central Asian influence.

As enchanted and full of wonder Turkey seemed in my youth, I was delighted to discover that the allure of this beautiful country had only been amplified by my most recent travels.