First there were a series of terrorist attacks in Istanbul and Ankara and a threat from Kurdish separatists vowing to target Turkey's tourism industry to inflict economic harm.
Then an attempted military coup followed by a government crackdown on dissent.
As we followed the news in the months leading up to our planned drive across Turkey, it was easy to feel nervous and uncertain about just what we would encounter.
But finally, after all the anticipation and hand-wringing, the day of our border crossing had arrived. And you know what? Things in Turkey seemed almost entirely normal, and it was hard to tell anything was awry!
After a pit stop to take some photos at an amazing salt flat we passed along our way...
...we arrived at Cappadocia, known for its natural stone pillars and buildings hollowed out of ancient, volcanic hills. When we first made plans to drive through Turkey, we knew this would be worth a detour, and now that we were here, it didn't disappoint!
We checked into Kale Konak, an amazing cave hotel
...and began walking around town, but the streets were surprisingly quiet. Other tourists -- scared away by the recent events -- were nowhere to be found, and the shops were nearly empty.
The irony was that this part of Turkey was actually remarkably safe, and there was never a moment during our journey when we felt uncomfortable or in any sort of danger.
We realized that the risks of a particular situation can sometimes seem wildly different depending upon the lens you use to look at the world, and -- especially from afar -- they often have more to do with perception than reality.
Listen to my latest podcast episode to hear all about our adventures in Turkey.
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photos courtesy of Drew Gurian