If you follow me on Instagram you would have seen that I recently took a trip to Turkey, something I did not think would even be possible just a few weeks prior. The UK government allowed travel corridors between some (mostly-European) countries meaning that they had bilateral agreements between them that travellers wouldn’t need to quarantine on either side. You can view the list of countries here.
This came into effect in mid July, only a month after the UK started imposing mandatory self-isolation for all incoming persons into the country (three months too late if you ask me)… but that’s another story.
I was so thrilled to see Turkey on the list as I have been dying to go back since I first visited in 2015 and it was one of the places I had planned to visit this year before COVID-19 cancelled all fun for 2020.
Flights were quite reasonably priced, I was moving out of my house in London and had some free time and so I booked with only a week to wait!
Checking in at Stansted Airport
Stansted is probably my least favourite of the five London airports, but I was just happy to be at any airport really! It was actually busier than I expected but much less so than any of my previous visits.
There were hand sanitiser stations everywhere, people must wear masks and they had added security as well.
Most airlines were asking people to self check in using touch screens kiosks but they were not allowing cabin baggage in the overhead lockers so even our small suitcases had to be checked. This meant we still had to queue to check bags and for security of course but they had markers laid out on the floor to ensure social distancing was observed throughout.
Security was a breeze due to lesser crowds and on through to the duty free section which all seemed back to normal. Most eateries before the boarding gates were open and only a few retail stores remained closed. In the waiting areas there were empty seats between each person or group but this wasn’t being strictly enforced at the time, people were just being sensible.
Onboard the flight
We flew with Pegasus Airlines and our temperature was checked by the flight attendant upon boarding. Although our flight was pretty full, only 2/3 seats per row seemed to be filled. They asked people not to queue for the restrooms and with no overhead baggage this meant no one was moving around too much in the corridor. Masks had to be worn apart from when eating or drinking but they kindly asked you not to eat or drink at the same time as someone else in your row to limit health risk. They had meal services as normal that you could purchase on board as meals were not included.
On our return flight from Dalaman to London Heathrow we flew with British Airways and food (or snacks) were included in their price. They were not serving meals but would bring around packed bags with water, buscuits and crisps and we could request them when we were hungry. That flight was only about 1/5th full so social distancing was easy as people could have a row to themselves (but for take off we were all up the front for weight balancing purposes).
How Turkey were dealing with the pandemic
Going through immigration in Istanbul was surprisingly easy (despite the long line) and we were very impressed with the COVID-safe measures in place there. People wore masks not only in all shops, but outside in the streets as well. We had our temperatures checked at most hotels and even some restaurants and all staff commonly wore masks for our protection.
Istanbul was quite strict with this but Cappadocia was much more relaxed. Cafes and restaurants still had hand sanitiser everywhere and we had our temperature checked a few times but the region had so few cases that most locals were not wearing them. It was also very quiet so social distancing was really easy.
In Pammukale, they required you to wear masks but if you were swimming or far from others you didn’t need to. In Fethiye it was required in all shops and staff at restaurants were all wearing them but on the streets and at the beach it was not necessary.
I’ve posted more photos and highlights on my Instagram.
Did I feel safe?
Absolutely, I think the measures in Turkey far surpassed the measures taken here in the UK, despite the drastic difference in statistics. To date, the UK has had over 300,000 confirmed cases and over 45,000 deaths when compared to Turkeys 230,000 confirmed cases and over 5,000 deaths (the UK were only testing people who were really unwell for so long so I think the real number of cases would be a lot higher) so clearly their methods are working.
Would I travel again?
Yes, I plan to travel next to Greece and then Malta, two countries who have recorded very low cases and I have no doubt I will feel safe there as well.
Have you travelled yet? Where did you go and how did you think it was handled? Would love to know in the comments below.