The historic town of Kalkan is an enchanting traditional town in Turkey and one of the most beautiful resorts along the stunning Lycian Coast. With the absence of mass tourism, Kalkan remains a charming and unspoiled haven of lush nature, brilliant blue crystal-clear sea, historic architecture, ancient history and warm traditional Turkish hospitality.
However, what is it like to travel to Turkey amid a global pandemic in 2020? Bhav Taylor recently took a holiday to Turkey with specialist tour operator Simpson Travel having booked through the independent travel agent, Triangle Travel. She shares her experiences of travelling to Kalkan during a pandemic.
A First-Hand Experience
I am currently travelling back from Kalkan in Turkey and am reflecting on a week of sunshine and relaxation. We had only booked this trip a month ago due to three overseas trips being cancelled due to the pandemic.
Turkey was chosen for several reasons. We had travelled to Kalkan before and with Turkey initially on the air corridor list with low COVID-19 cases, it seemed right. Add to that it was going to be warm enough to sit outside, enjoy the sunshine and be able to relax so we booked a package with the travel agent Triangle Travel to travel with the specialist tour operator, Simpson Travel.
Two weeks before we were due to travel Turkey was removed from the Government air corridor list. Triangle Travel was in touch within minutes of the FCDO advice changing to discuss options. They highlighted that we would need to reassess our travel insurance coverage and the requirement to quarantine on our return if we decided to go ahead.
With a new travel policy purchased and flights cancelled 48 hours before departure, we were re-booked with British Airways and were finally on our way.
Was I anxious? It wasn’t until the week we were due to travel. I questioned whether we were doing the right thing. Having boarded planes and travelled frequently for work and leisure I had never given this a second thought, but this time I knew it was going to be different.
At The Airport
Arriving at a significantly quieter LHR T5, two and a half hours before flying we were met with lots of signage and hand sanitizers. So, what had changed since I had last travelled?
For a start, it was easy to find a car parking space at T5 and you couldn’t enter the terminal unless you were flying. Unfortunately, we couldn’t check in online due to extra checks so therefore had to wait until 2 hours before departure before our check-in would open.
Mask-wearing in the terminal was compulsory although it was disappointing to note that not everyone practices social distancing, especially in queues. Once through security, we noticed that there were limited food and retail outlets open. There were more people in the terminal than I expected to see but significantly fewer for a Saturday morning in October.
On The Flight
Our experience with BA was also very different to when I last flew. In a good way!
For a start, nobody rushed to the boarding gate when the flight was called. Once aboard a personal protection pack was handed out and this included items such as an antibacterial towelette and some hand sanitiser gel. We were adequately spaced out on the flight and were advised we had to wear our masks for the entire duration of the flight unless consuming food/drinks.
Whilst up in the air no one was allowed to queue in the aisles for the toilets and there was limited walking around the cabin. BA are currently not offering a pay-service refreshment trolley but instead, a complimentary snack bag containing biscuits, crisps and a bottle of water. Your food could be consumed on board. Tea/Coffee, Water and juice were also served.
Upon landing you disembarked by row number and the usual chaos was a thing of the past – a pleasant experience!
Now onto the Turkish experience, starting with Dalaman Airport which was so easy with locator forms dropped into a box and temperature spot checks in place. The whole process of passport control was both speedy and efficient.
The Simpson Travel Experience
Finally, onto the Simpson Travel and Kalkan experience.
We were met by a driver from Bravo Tours, who was wearing a mask and the vehicle had signs to confirm it had been disinfected by ULV technique. On board the transfer a well-being pack was provided that contained a mask, antibacterial wipes and a bottle of water.
On arrival at our hotel, our luggage was taken and sprayed with disinfectant and our temperatures were taken on arrival and every 2 days.
We were briefed on the measures they had taken due to Covid, so we knew what to expect.
All staff at the hotel were wearing masks and there were social distancing signs and hand sanitisers around the hotel. The breakfast buffet was now served by the staff. Essentially all precautions had been taken and enforced and this was replicated when we walked into Kalkan.
Restaurants, shops, and bars all follow the rules. Police were out patrolling, reminding people to wear masks when walking around and providing free ones. Failure to wear a mask could result in a hefty fine but they were very polite about the enforcement and people that weren’t aware were responsive.
Looking back this year I have done a lot to work on my mental well-being as we all adjusted to this new way of living. These included exercise, losing weight, watching lots of Netflix, eating a healthy diet with treats thrown in, keeping in touch with family and friends through Zoom calls and visiting when I could but I was desperate to travel overseas.
I feel very fortunate and privileged to be able to travel. It’s one of my many passions.
I am lucky enough to work for Yomdel which has always supported flexible working and has enforced it from a safety aspect too since the start of the pandemic. They fully supported me travelling knowing that I would have to quarantine on my return. Working remotely has never been an issue for them and without this flexibility, we would not have even thought about travelling.
We felt safe travelling from an end-to-end perspective and having a change of scenery has done our mental well-being no end of good.
Booking a package through a reputable agent and travelling with a trustworthy company like Simpson Travel ensured we were looked after from start to finish. We forgot about the Coronavirus and relaxed, our only reminder was the hand sanitisers and mask-wearing (this wasn’t a hardship)
So, would I do it again, yes in a heartbeat! I wait eagerly to see more countries reopen so I can start planning and booking trips again.
After all, if you can’t travel what is life about?
Our sincere thanks to Bhav Taylor for sharing her experiences. Bhav travelled with Simpson Travel, a specialist tour operator to Kalkan in Turkey as well as a choice of other European destinations.
Bhav booked her Simpson Travel holiday to Kalkan with Triangle Travel, the Berkshire and Oxfordshire-based independent travel agent with branches in Didcot, Mortimer, Newbury, Pangbourne and Wallingford.