This summer, we booked our long awaited flight to finally go see the sights we’d been dreaming of for a long time! Turkey is one of the most scenic and most versatile places I have visited. It’s so rich in history and culture, with incredible varying landscapes at every turn, it’s hard to believe your still within the same country!
First stop – Adana
The first leg of our road trip began in Adana. The main reason for choosing Adana was the convenience in getting a flight from Doha and also the proximity to the following cities we planned to visit by road (and also because of their kebabs!! Duh!). We arrived at Adana airport in the early hours of the morning where we took a taxi to our hotel, Sheraton Grand Adana. Our room had the most spectacular view of the Ulu Çami (Masjid) which was a few miles away, situated within the Inonu Park. Since we only had a couple nights at the hotel, we wasted no time and got our walking shoes on. It was a little hotter then I anticipated but we went straight to the park nevertheless. We walked quite a ways around the park, considering how warm it was, and took refuge in the Ulu Çami for a short namaz (prayer) break. One thing about Turkey is, you can go to any town, city, village and still find these beautiful çami’s with the low hanging chandeliers, the intricate patterns, the beautiful domes and the cleanliness of the whole operation. It’s always such a wonderful experience walking in, but then having to motivate yourself to finally get up, to leave again. It’s too mesmerising to not want to spend longer admiring every detail.
I will be honest, I am most definitely not the brains behind our travel planning! Hubby puts in 101% when it comes to making the most of our travel. So naturally, he researched enough to find a decent car hire (circular car hire) that would drop the car off at our hotel a day before we leave for Cappadocia (kap-ah-dok-ya). It was our first time hiring a car during our travel (ever) and we were pleased with it all, especially the convinience in picking and dropping the car.
Onwards to Cappadocia
Arriving in Cappadocia you could already see how the landscape had changed from green, lush and hilly to flat to rocky and desert-like when we finally saw the fairy chimneys at the end of the winding road! I can’t even remember how long ago (When I was 17?) I saw an ad on the television about going to visit Cappadocia and the hot air balloons – it was such a dream to finally be able to go, Alhamdullilah!
The drive getting to our cosy cave hotel was just stunning. It is situated in Göreme, one of the more central areas, close to the high street cafes, restaurants, carpet & souvenir shops. The ease of having a car helped us get around, but while in Göreme, we would trek downhill to get to the shops or just to grab a bite to eat & marvel at this new part of Turkey we had never seen before. The hotel we stayed in was called Koza Cave Hotel, a small family run business. The entire thing is made using the space within the fairy chimneys! The family who own the place were lovely and took care of anything you needed. The breakfast was served in a wonderful room with a panoramic view of the fairy chimneys, all cooked by various family members or helpers. Might I add, this was super convenient because we had custom made breakfast if we requested it! (perfect when traveling with fussy children). We booked the King suite. It was a work of art being in that place! The way they’ve utilised the space within the chimney is amazing. It has a set of very steep stairs leading all the way up to the top, where you’ve got amazing views (balloons at sunrise!) On the first morning, we woke up quite early to see if the balloons were flying and we were in luck! we quickly got dressed for a little touristy photoshoot (because c’mon, how could we not!) Best part was, the kids were fast asleep in their beds and we sneaked out the roof which was adjacent to the hotel rooftop to do our little photoshoot, so it was easy to keep an eye on them at the same time.
On the second morning of our stay we wanted to experience a different angle of the balloons so we put the kids in the car (whilst still in PJs) and went chasing balloons. It was such an exhilarating time. We were in control of what direction we wanted to go and felt the rush of being spontaneous which resulted in making a lot of beautiful memories.
One of the things that really disappointed me to the point where I ended up crying (Yes, I know) was the lack of basic manners with some of the local shop keepers. In hindsight, I actually do understand how stressful it can be to have tourists constantly going in and out of your shop 24/7 and all just for pictures. I was still hurt and disappointed when one of the carpet shop owners picked us out to be rude to. It completely changed my entire mindset that day and left me feeling so small (I’m just not very good at confrontation I guess…) I was excited about being there and it crushed my heart a little..
Anyway, once I tried to got myself over this ordeal, we managed to explore outside of Göreme too. (We steered clear of shops & shop keepers after this though) We would drive one town over and we found a wonderful little place called Avanos. It had cheaper (much tastier) food! It also had a nice little walk along the river/lake, not sure which one. This became our usual drive-to place for the next couple of nights. Goreme itself offers a variety of activities for tourists – too many to name. I felt that you didn’t need to do every activity to experience the essence of Cappadocia. The main ones would be the ballon ride experience OR for someone afraid of heights, there is the ATV tour, where they take you out on buggys around some of the fairy chimney spots. I felt like I would have liked to have done the horse ride too but there just wasn’t enough time to fit all that in.
The last two nights we wanted to experience a different part of Cappadocia called Uçhisar where we stayed at Millstone Cave Suites, which was not an authentic cave hotel but very popular for their restaurant. This restaurant also provides special packages for breakfast with the balloons. They take your order for breakfast items you wish to be served and wake you up for the balloons at sunrise. We were lucky we got to experience the balloons at sunrise on every single morning of our stay!