Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

I've just returned from an extraordinary trip to Turkey with the White House Travel Bloggers, courtesy of Turkish Airlines (never-ending thank yous!). I will have much more on our trip, and, of course, you can learn all about Turkey from expert travel bloggers here in our Best of Turkey: An A-Z Guide. But today, coping with jet lag and wishing I was back in Turkey, I'll share a few photos of our time in Turkey - maybe not the classic images you'd expect, but life as I lived it, a tour of Turkish people, really - that famous Turkish hospitality as I experienced it, and the joy I felt in being there.

You can follow along on social media with #LoveFromTurkey and #WidenYourWorld. Also, check my instagram for on-the-spot Turkey goodness.

Turkey? It changed me. Here's a bit of #LoveFromTurkey...



An ancient door at the Hagia Sofia, Istanbul, with some modern hashtags



Flying Turkish Airlines

Flying in - exciting!


#LoveFromTurkey - on Turkish Airlines Business Class

Here's what they don't tell you about the famed Turkish hospitality - it extends into airspace! With Ece, my favorite flight attendant


Election flags in Istanbul

Turkey is gearing up for an election. There were colorful flags adorning most streets, representing different parties


fresh honeycomb at Renaissance Hotel Istanbul

Fresh honeycomb at our breakfast buffet at the Renaissance Hotel


Simit Cart, Hagia Sofia

These ubiquitous simit carts provide simit goodness all over Istanbul. Slather the thin round breads with nutella!


Swimming at Renaissance Istanbul

I can always find a pool. Renaissance Bosphorus, Istanbul


I love Turkish Airlines!

We toured the Turkish Airlines HQ, where I hugged new friends - and even an airplane


Ottoman spoons, Istanbul

Colorful Ottoman spoons caught my eye (3 for 10 Turkish Lira)


Travel Blogger hijinks

Travel Blogger hijinks - in which Ryan of Turnipseed Travel tries some puppy dog eyes and Evelyn Hannon of Journeywoman laughs with us (yes, the baby blues worked) - at 360 Istanbul restaurant


Blue Mosque, Istanbul

Feeling pensive at the Blue Mosque. The history and art awed me


Widen Your World

So these two gentlemen, now friends, wheeled me all around Istanbul, and we laughed together and found new paths, when places weren't handicap accessible. 


Travel bloggers working

On the streets of Istanbul, near Taksim Square, Jerome Shaw of Travel Boldly captured a street musician, while our Turkish Airlines paparazzi captured Jerome


Istanbul's streets - not so handicap accessible

Istanbul's streets - not so handicap accessible. Luckily, we found workarounds


Flower stands everywhere in Istanbul

Here's my theory about city people. They need nature, and find it where they can, as evidenced by the plethora of flower stands all around the city


Istanbul trolley

The trolley in Istanbul runs through Taksim Square and around. 



The most honest bathroom sign I've ever seen. Yes, we felt like that. 


Wishes at House of the Virgin Mary, Ephesus

Wishes at House of the Virgin Mary, Ephesus


Turkish flag,Sirince

The beautiful Turkish flag was spotted during a lunch outing in Sirince, near Ephesus



Our tour guide at Ephesus and surroundings glowed with happiness in Sirince, when she found out her sister had just given birth! Joy knows no national boundaries, and cell phone photos are awesome


Turkish carpets

We toured a non-profit carpet making workshop and educational center. 



At the carpet making educational center, a photo of Turkey's founder, Ataturk. His portrait is everywhere, and his importance to the country cannot be overstated


gorgeous door, at the Turkish carpet educational center, Turkey

My friends and wheelchair helpers soon learned to stop at interesting doors for photos


Kusadasi harbor, as seen in my water glass

Kusadasi harbor, as seen in and around my water glass​ 


Hotel Kismet, Kusadasi, Turkey

My balcony at the Hotel Kismet, Kusadasi (also known as heaven)


evil eyes, Turkey. #lovefromturkey

I love evil eyes, and I especially loved these large ones. Keep out, evil!


strawberry juice

Fresh strawberry juice at a gas station and souvenir stand on the way to Pamukkale. Glory in a glass!


Fresh donuts, served with a smile. #lovefromturkey

While my team wandered the streets of Sirince, I had a lovely cold hot chocolate, and freshly made donuts from this very kind woman



Love from Pamukkale. Did you know that UNESCO stops the water in most of the pools for much of the year, to conserve them? The mountain range behind is called Baba - for father.



While my team went into the Basilica of St John near Ephesus, I learned that this father and son duo have very different ways of living within their religion - and the tolerance and acceptance of family. I honestly think these two guys made my day with their clear, strong, happy views of life.


Swimming the Bosphorus! #lovefromturkey

Lashaun Martin of Mocha Moms and I swim the Hellespont (or as near as we could get) at 360 Istanbul. Learn more about swimming the Hellespont here (my aunt and mom did it!)


fresh lemonade in Istanbul

While my team toured Galeta Tower, Kadir and Sezer took me to a beautiful, hidden, magical lemonade cafe. We whiled away a few hours discussing mascots, life, Doctor Who, and more. Check my instagram for the photo of the bathroom that has a TREE in it! Love these guys. 


Turkish delight, Spice Market, Istanbul

Hmm, which Turkish delight to buy to eat right now bring home? Luckily, there were samples...


Turkish coffee, oh how I miss you

Turkish coffee, oh, how I miss you... 


Shopping in Ephesus

Shopping in Ephesus with Can, who valiantly pushed me around. No purchases were made.


The Aegean Sea, from Hotel Kismet, Kusadasi

The Aegean Sea, from Hotel Kismet, Kusadasi. Swam twice, wish I'd swim a million times...


happy mermaid in Turkey

Happy mermaids at Hotel Kismet, Kusadasi. They understand us, here...


Hagia Sofia

Golden glow at Hagia Sofia


Turkish ice cream on the Bosphorus

Turkish ice cream on the Bosphorus


Smiling in Kusadasi, Turkey

Myself, fellow educator Lillie Teacha Marshall, and Gizem Salcigil White from Turkish Airlines at the Kusadasi Harbor


Racing track at Turkish Airlines Istanbul Business Class Lounge

Racing track for small electric track cars at Turkish Airlines Istanbul Business Class Lounge. A British gentleman and I faced off, best 15 out of 20? We couldn't stop!


Why yes, please. Istanbul Renaissance Bosphorus Hotel

Why yes, please. Istanbul Renaissance Bosphorus Hotel


Widen Your World - #LoveFromTurkey. At Hagia Sofia

Widen Your World - #LoveFromTurkey. At Hagia Sofia


Your world is 360. at 360 Istanbul

Your world is 360. at 360 Istanbul


#lovefromturkey writers flying out from IST

Some of the #lovefromturkey writers, flying out from IST. From left: Elena Sonnino, Beth Santos, Ryan Wright, myself, the wheelchair guy (thank you!), and LaShaun Martin.


Newspapers in IST Turkish Airlines Business Class Lounge

Newspapers in IST Turkish Airlines Business Class Lounge


A Tardis in Istanbul?

A Tardis in Istanbul? I'll write in a bit about how Sezer and I discovered the hidden depths of Istanbul's trash system



Carol Cain and our fearless leader, Gizem Salcigil White getting ready to fly out to visit Ephesus


A cruise on the Bosphorus

A cruise on the Bosphorus



At Ladies Beach, near Kusadasi, Aegean Sea

Had enough yet? HA! Thought not. More articles to come!
And take a look at these photo articles from my fellow travel writers:
Thank you so much, Turkish Airlines and Gizem Salcigil White, for making a trip I'd never thought possible actually happen. While Turkey has a ways to go in terms of handicap accessibility, Turkish Airlines and all the airports I experienced were definitely accessible (thank you!). And, I understand that ancient buildings can't always be made accessible, and that cobblestones and wheelchairs are a bit of work. Finding workarounds and discovering bookshops, new friends, and cold lemonade made my days.
What made this trip to Turkey so special to me was the people - friendly, caring, and ever so hospitable. 

So when you hear #lovefromturkey, know it to be true.

All photos courtesy and copyright Jessie Voigts