After ten years of relationship, a daughter, and four years of blogging, I’d like to look back to where it all began and the adventures that have made this moment possible. It’s been 10 years of breathtaking adventures. Honestly, I have never thought we’d come this far and the blog will become such an integral part of our family.
We had just landed in Izmir, exhausted after seven hours’ delay followed by three hours’ wait in the airport for lost luggage. As we started driving away from the city lights onto the motorway, and then into pitch darkness on the way to Ildir, I could smell the freedom. It was in the invisible presence of the sea, in the summer wind, in the loud song of the crickets, in the bloomed begonville, celebrated by brightly lit minarets and by the tired, excited happiness of our first holiday together.
I had just met the love of my life and within the substance of our relationship was – and still is – the liberating opportunity of being ourselves in each and every circumstance. It is this feeling, beyond anything else, that makes us tick as a couple, and which we substantiate best in our travels. We are a well-oiled entity when we travel, from dreaming and planning to booking, packing, overcoming pitfalls, and diving into the unknown.
During our first two-weeks holiday we discovered Izmir and the Aegean shore of Turkey – from Cesme and Alacati to visiting Ephesus and Meryemana Evi, driving to Karaburun to eat fish, and exploring every isolated beach around Ildir – followed by a drive to Antalya over the steep roads that cross the Taurus mountains. Mineral springs in Pamukkale, fresh figs from Denizli, souvenir shopping in Antalya’s Kaleici, moon rises over Apollo’s temple in Side, sunsets in the ancient theater Aspendos, lazy days at the beach, the Kursunlu national park, Manavagat’s bazaar, Alanya’s Damlatas cave and castle – ample opportunities to discover ourselves and the feeling of borderless opportunity for growth, of unencumbered freedom, one only gets from being in the right place, at the right time, with the right person.
Vienna, Book, and Travel is, alongside our memories and experiences, the tangible expression of this feeling, a never-ending drive on the motorway towards well-known or novel destinations, towards the fulfillment and richness that only travel can render, towards our better selves. It took shape seven years later as it needed its own time to evolve from mere feeling to a life-changing project.
Immediately after our trip to Turkey, I took a job as a molecular biology postdoc in Vienna, the logical next step in my scientific career. One year later Sinan found a similar position, which for us meant two things. That one, we would settle in Vienna and start calling it home, with all that implies. Two, that we would use our resources to travel extensively and enjoy life to its fullest.
During these years we grew into the habit of looking up destinations suggested by a book we read randomly, a restaurant we tried in Vienna, or a wine we drank. That’s how we discovered Florence, Portugal, or Provence, respectively. We would spend the winter months then collecting information, pouring over books, maps, websites, planning itineraries and budgets, booking solidly. We believe thorough planning gives room for more freedom and improvisation at the destination. This is how, over the past years, we have traveled to more places than we can count in Italy, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Greece, Macedonia, Denmark, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary, the United Kingdom, Austria, Turkey, and Romania. Our travels have been as much about touristic sights, history and architecture, as they have been about culture, mentality, food, drink, and customs. Equally extensive as our list of memories and experiences is our list of travel projects and ideas that we have not yet materialized.
Five years later and seven months pregnant, I left my postdoc job. Literary the next day I started Vienna, Book, and Travel. The time was right, the idea was ripe, and the fulfillment both maternity and the website were bringing made those early months the most exciting ones in my life. I felt and still feel as free as when I was driving on the motorway towards Ildir, without leaving my Viennese neighborhood for days on end.
Our daughter Ilinca Yagmur has taught us to cherish the moment rather than look into the future. And while we never stopped planning itineraries, trips, and adventures, we also started focusing on spending uniquely personalized days in Vienna, reading more, and taking short trips. What Ilinca Yagmur also brought in our lives, besides inexhaustible joie de vivre and curiosity, is an unparalleled intensity in everything we do. She transformed our routine into a carousel of feelings, small achievements, insightful moments, that make us so much richer at the end of every single day. It is primarily to her that we owe the fast pace at which Vienna, Book, and Travel has been growing and evolving.
My maternity year had seen the blog, then called Dream, Book, and Travel slowly build itself into a cultural family travel website. Our second year has brought us in contact with a large network of bloggers and travelers, through conferences and the personalized itineraries we were making at the time. For almost two years now, I have taken again a full-time job in Vienna, and through the recent pandemic, we have focused on leading a travel-inspired lifestyle even though we did not travel much.
Throughout the years, we have aimed to make the blog not only about cultural family travel, practical tips, books, itineraries, sightseeing, and wanderlust. We have built into it insights about the inner challenges we overcome while traveling, the way we sometimes travel deeper within during a single day trip. The dedicated Blog section is about our personal development while traveling, and what we learn from planning a trip, living it, and remembering it.
As we are now in the process of an identity shift at Vienna, Book, and Travel that best illustrates who we are and what we write about, we are grateful to have had you along for the journey and happy to share our experiences and grow richer together, through traveling!
And as life would so often have it, due to several circumstances, not all related to the pandemic situation, in one week’s time I will undertake a trip to Turkey alone with Ilinca for the first time. I am excited and nervous and grateful for this opportunity to provide my daughter with memorable adventures and one-on-one time. It’s going to be our first airplane journey in two years and an opportunity to grow as a family, as travelers, and as bloggers. Through the carousel of emotions, nervousness, and excitement, I somehow believe our entire adventure has built up to this moment and I am looking forward to living it, sharing it with you, and adding it to our list of cherished memories.
Is any other parent out there undertaking the first solo flight with a toddler in a really long time? Hands-up and let’s chat!