Natalie Sayin is the author of Turkish Travel Blog. And with her passion in history, she shows us the beauty of Turkey through her lens and writing. Follow her travels thru Facebook, Twitter and Instagram; and visit Turkey without having to leave your home.
First of all, tell us a quick background of who you are...
I am 38 years old, live on the Aegean coast of Turkey and have made it my aim in life to explore as much of the country as I can, with specific aims to learning about the culture and history.
What is it about Turkey that has you obsessed about?
I am really not sure. When I first came to Turkey in 2001, it just felt like home and that vibe has stayed with me ever since. A tarot card reader did tell me once, that I had a past life in Turkey but I prefer to believe that it is because I just feel comfortable and it is my destiny to live here.
What is your inspiration to start your blog?
It was meant to be an online diary so I could track my travels but over time, it grew with readers who also had a passionate interest in the country. Then I discovered that many readers were also researching Turkey because they planned to visit for the first time, and they wanted advice on where to go and what to do.
Of all the places you have visited, what is the most memorable one?
This is hard to answer because I have been to a lot of places which are all fantastic. I really liked the Northeast of Turkey because the area is so green and delving into the traditions and culture of the Laz and Hemsin communities was great fun.
This year, I also did a four night gulet boat trip from Fethiye to Olympos on the Mediterranean coast and that was just surreal. We slept on deck, explored ancient ruins, spotted loggerheads turtles, and docked into scenic coastal villages. I would like to do some more sailing of the Aegean and Med coasts.
Have you ever experienced any challenges in traveling solo?
No, because it is easier to travel solo. I don’t have to take into account the needs and wants of other people. I can go where I want and do anything that interests me. The worst aspect is that unless I take selfies, I am not in many of my holiday photos!
How do you fund your travel?
I am a freelance travel writer so all my trips are good for work as well as leisure. Rather than write generic articles, I can be specific and detailed with information which makes it easier to sell anything I write.
Do you take advantage of airline credit cards to save on flights? If so, which card do you use?
I don’t fly that much while traveling. Most trips consist of moving onto the next town or district so I use road transport more, than domestic flights. This is something I should look into though because I have heard the concept of air miles is a great way to save money.
What places are still in your bucket list?
There is too many to mention but I would like to visit Gallipoli, which was the site of the Anzac landings in 1915. Now, it is a memorial to the fallen soldiers. Close by is the UNESCO site of Troy. I would also like to visit Bursa and Safranbolu because they are prominent in Ottoman history. The Eastern district of Van is also appealing. It has a large lake and many ruins of Armenian churches.
Do you have any major travel regrets?
No, I have always gained something from every trip or place I have visited. I keep an open mind when traveling and this often provides more memorable experiences, than disappointment.
What has been your greatest learning in travelling Turkey?
That it is impossible to stereotype Turkish culture. From the east to the west, regional traditions are strong and for example, someone who has grown up in Western Istanbul will not think or act the same as someone who grew up in Mardin, which is in the east. The diversity is amazing. I have also learnt a lot about the history of Turkey and it is mind-baffling at times.
What advice can you give to young travelers out there?
Keep an open mind and your experiences will be much more memorable, no matter where in the world you go. Don’t plan to the last detail and be prepared just to go with the flow.