Nick Papantonis

Multimedia Journalist

Ankara

I wrote the following on Facebook to my friends and family regarding the Ankara bombing:

By now you have all heard the news concerning Ankara. While details are still emerging, what I can say is that this attack has been expected for the past few days (time/location unknown, of course) and was likely carried out by an anti-government group such as the PKK, which isn't usually known for targeting civilians.

It's important to remember that most of Turkey, including Istanbul, is safe. Except for Ankara and the South East region, Turkey is generally considered to be safer for tourists than most parts of the world, including Europe. It's also important to not lump the country together as a whole. When Boston was attacked a few years ago, we did not avoid Miami or Chicago. Same deal here.

I had the opportunity to travel to Alanya, a tourist city on the Mediterranean coast, this past weekend, and befriended the owner of a cafe that catered to tourists. Alanya normally has 350,000 tourists at any given time during the high season, but he and many other locals are worried. The city and many others in the area is expecting 25% fewer visitors this year because of fears about ISIS and Syrian refugees, even though Alanya will never be a target and is nowhere near the border region.

While travelling, it's important to be aware of current events, but please do not let this event deter you from visiting this wonderful country. Turkish people are kind and welcoming and hate the ongoing situation more than anyone else. They, like everyone else, want to live their lives and don't like seeing their country in the headlines each week, especially when it hurts their businesses and ways of life. As long as you're smart and look both ways when crossing the street, you will be fine during your visit to Istanbul, Cappadocia, or anywhere else you choose to go.

SIDE NOTE: We are no longer allowed to travel independently to Ankara.

NICK@WPDE.COM | @NICKPAPANTONIS

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