I grew up in northern Michigan in the middle of the woods. I guess it was that childhood and youth that put the need for nature in my soul. I have lived in diverse places across the U.S. Then I moved to Mongolia for three years, and now I live in Turkey. While I appreciate the convenience of living in a city, I always enjoy the opportunity to escape the concrete-glass jungle and be in the natural world. I’ve done that no matter where I lived in the world. Here in Turkey I am able to enjoy my two favorite things in harmony: nature and history.
I haven’t yet been here a year, but it seems that whenever I visit a new site from my list of “places to see in Turkey,” I am able to cross one thing OFF, while I add two, three, or even FOUR more sites to the list. It’s one step forward, sometimes three or four backward. I guess it means I will need to spend a number of years in this pocket of Asia!
But allow me to provide you with some examples:
I have managed to travel to Antalya three times already–last fall for a week and then two weekend trips this spring. On one day trip I visited the historic sites of Perge, Aspendos, and the ancient city of Side. Most historic sites offer a view to the sea or the surrounding area which could be hilltop, green expanse, or the outskirts of a village and the surrounding farmland. Also on that day trip, we spent time at the Manavgat Waterfalls. Not a large falls, but beautiful in its coloring and the sound of so much rushing water.
On a second trip, I walked to Duden Waterfalls (picture below). One will often get a view of these falls while coming in for your landing at the airport. Even while spending time in the old Harbor, you can look at the sea under the shadow of the Taurus Mountains. If timed just right, you can be swimming in the Mediterranean on Konyaaltı Beach with snow still visible in the distance.
In April I had the pleasure of accompanying my school’s Hiking Club on a two-night camping trip to Lake Bafa. Our campsite was remote–a 20 minute boat trip from the Pansiyon that fed us breakfast both days. Yes, we were collected each morning and transported for breakfast. I call this “supported camping,” as it was NOT glamping, but not like the camping of my youth. While most of the trip was about nature–a salt water lake surrounded by mountains and rock formations–there were also monastery ruins all around us. We hiked, we swam, we roasted marshmallows over a campfire.
Here in Izmir I’m blessed to work on a campus that includes a variety of trees such as orange, pomegranate, and pine. Flowers bloom nearly all year round–wisteria, roses, bougainvillea, and orange blossoms just to name a few! While Izmir is a city of over 4 million, and mostly a city of apartment buildings and structures, my workplace is an oasis of green in the middle of it. Whenever I feel stressed, I can step outside my library and smell pine and see colors.
Additionally, there are a number of seaside places a relatively short drive away from the city of Izmir: Urla (known for its wineries), Çeşme (summer homes abound), Ovacık, Sığacık, and the whole peninsula of Karaburun. One can swim in the sea or hike the hills and revel in the vistas. Sunshine abounds and the wind or breeze is almost always present.
Overall, living in Turkey has given me a unique opportunity to experience nature alongside history. I look forward to seeing more of the wonders of this country through my continued travels.