AyseDeniz Gokcin: The key to travel success

Globetrotting Turkish pianist AyseDeniz Gokcin on the perils of flying Wizz Air and the charm of rural Turkey

6 mins

Mountain/desert/jungle/ocean which are you?

Ocean – I often get into a dark and deep mood and contemplate... Then I get these huge waves that take me to completely new places, where I discover and learn. Feeling like “calm waters” is almost impossible for me... Even with music it is like that, I choose to play romantic and emotionally charged pieces that erupt with energy, depth and meaning.

First travel experience?

I was a baby (I think a few months old) and went to Northern Cyprus by plane.Obviously, I don’t remember all the details but it must have been a blast... ;-)

Favourite journey?

I have been to more than 25 countries but I rarely travel in my own country (Turkey) as a tourist. Though, one of the best experiences with my father was when we went on a two-week trip to the Black Sea region by car, starting from Samsun to Rize (The Çamlıhemşin district is one of the best places to visit ever! No tourists, only local people, amazing food and clean air) all the way to the border of Georgia. We did a lot of off road driving, crossing rivers and managing to go over roads that were actually blocked due to erosion. We stayed in small villages and ate local food, went fishing with local people, learned about their traditional dances (Horon) and went rafting in the Coruh River...

It was one of the most exciting trips ever. Full of adventure (including the fear of getting stranded when it rains!) and interpersonal experiences, meeting lovely people.

Top five places worldwide?

Cappadocia; Aspen; Santa Barbara; Paris; Istanbul.

Special place to stay?

Somewhere exotic... Maybe an island.

Three items you always pack?

My iPhone, music scores and a credit card.

Passport stamp you're proudest of?


Passport stamp most like to have?

It’s not so much the stamp – I’d much rather be able to simply travel through the EU, in and out of countries, without having to get a visa and passport check every time.

Guilty travel pleasure?

Eating a lot of food just to taste everything!

Window or aisle?

Aisle. So I don’t disturb people who sleep during long journeys! I am a little hyperactive.

Who is your ideal travelling companion?

A stranger who has many interesting life stories to tell.

Best meal on the road? Worst?

Best: Porridge with fish! (It was on Qatar Airways).

Worst: Really bad chicken and potatoes – they were probably stored for a month before they were heated up.

Most surprising place? Most disappointing?

Disappointing would be the train journey I had from Beijing to Zhengzhou for eight hours... It was so dirty, loud and long. I should have taken the bullet train!

Surprising would be Jerusalem. It was so intensely filled with energy by people from three different religions, who were really passionate and sure about their beliefs that I felt a little out of place. But still, I was mesmerised by the environment. Also, the Old City is full of historical ruins that I really felt like I was in another era. I am so used to ultra-modern urban places with skyscrapers... It was very surprising to witness that.

Where do you NOT want to go?

I do not want to go to politically unstable countries that are under attack at the moment... I don’t think I could handle all the emotions if I did go. I’d be utterly sad.

Who/what inspired you to travel?

My classical music career inspires – it encourages me to travel... I love going to summer festivals and meeting new people. I also love performing to different audiences from different countries.

What do you listen to on the road? Any song take you back to a particular time or place?

Acoustic music, mostly old songs or classical music. I love listening to Cat Stevens and Billy Joel.

What do you read?

I read like ten books at a time. Most are non-fiction, some about politics, some about philosophy and others about science. Although, my favourite book is fiction – Ulysses by James Joyce.

Is there a person you met while travelling who reaffirmed your faith in humanity? Anyone who made you lose it?

Might sound not so deep, but I hate it when airlines over-charge. Once I went to Belgrade, and was flying Wizz Air. The manager and the worker were completely rude, and although my bag fit in the measuring box, they still charged me £50 because the wheels were 2cm too long. I hate it when there is no good customer care.

As opposed to that, when I left Beijing with 40kg of luggage, the person there told me “shh, don’t do it next time but I will let you go, no need to pay extra”. Small things like these during travel make you believe OR get angry at people. When they are nice, it’s the best experience ever!

What's the most impressive / useful phrase you know in a foreign language?

Duìbùqǐ (sorry in Mandarin).

What is your worst habit as a traveller?

I sometimes lose my tickets!

Snowbound in a tent in Antarctica, how would you entertain your companions?

I would play hangman or scribble on the snow/ice.

When and where in your travels have you been happiest?

During summers when I meet a lot of people my age. 

What smell most says 'travel' to you?

New suitcase smell!

Given a choice, which era would you travel in?

In the future!

If you could combine three cities to make your perfect metropolis, what would they be?

Singapore / Hong Kong

Paris / London


AyseDeniz Gokcin is a classical (globe-trotting) Pianist. To follow AyseDeniz on Twitter go to @ADPianist or find her on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/ADPianist. For more information on AyseDeniz, visit www.aysedeniz.org

Related Articles