Turkey is a country that constantly juxtaposes the reverent mysticism and progressive modernity. The call to prayer interrupts a wave of commuters during rush hour, women in hijabs walk between tourists holding selfie sticks. The solemn and unwavering countenance of Ataturk presides over a nation still plagued by hypocrisy, chaos, and confusion. because of its turbulent history, volatile location, and relentless drive to hold on to tradition while remaining competitive in a perpetually modernized world, Turkey has been plagued by conflict for much of its history. conflict that has so unfortunately escalated recently. Let that not keep us from going, because conflict and terrorism wins when we close the curtains and hide in our seemingly safeguarded homes. The best defense we have is to break down barriers, to open our minds, to eliminate stereotypes, keep moving.
so when you decide to go to Turkey, spend some time in Anatolia in the city of Cappadocia. be charmed by the people, captivated by the landscape, and completely lost in a land that is so magical it doesn’t seem real. take the balloon photo and then do everything else there is to do there.
and start here my friends: your 3-day guide to Cappadocia.
There’s more to this land than instagram-worthy hot air balloons. Cappadocia is an otherworldly region in central turkey consisting of multiple small villages situated in a fairy tale-like setting. This, “the land of beautiful horses” got its tranquil, surreal landscape thanks to two volcanoes erupting and covering the rocky terrain with hot magma 60 million years ago. 60 million. Now the volcanoes have hushed and what is left is an arid snowscape of flowing stone, hidden caves, and jarring mountains dotted with charming villages, breathtaking views, and the relentlessly hospitable Anatolian people.
where to stay
Goreme Mansion, in Goreme, Capadoccia.
Almost all options here for accommodations are “cave hotels” which are exactly what they sound like- minus the stalactites and bats. While I can only share my experience at one of these enchanting chateaus, I feel that you really need to look no further. Goreme Mansion is located at the top of the hill in central Goreme. This charming 7-room hotel consists of three floors of open terraces and a rooftop with more than a view.
the hotel is located close to the village’s minaret (as, consequently, everything else in town) gives you a very Arabian wake up call at 542am but rather than abruptly waking you, it paints your dreams in a mystical light. Sleep with the windows open, because I almost guarantee you’ll miss this experience once you’re gone. The hotel provides a complimentary Turkish Breakfast from 730 to 9 every morning, and is all homemade by the “staff” here… which, by the way, isn’t a staff at all. Ali, the owner, grew up in this house and has been continuously updating and adding to the mansion to give guests the perfect taste of his hometown. His face is worn with then inimitable marks of years of laughter, kindness, and humility. Busra, who introduces herself immediately not by her position at the mansion, but insisting- “I am your sister. What’s mine is yours,” is the most hospitable person I’ve ever run into. She takes the time to explain and plan your stay for you, adding in anecdotes and histories of the land and people, making calls on the phone and to friends in the street to arrange activities, rides, and exclusive discounts. She is truly the magic of this place and defined the Anatolian experience here for me- kindness, humility, generosity, towards all who pass; an infectious generosity that you carry with you long after leaving.
The rooms are spacious, bathrooms are nearly spa-like, and overall feeling of the place is just as they intended- like home. (If home is in,a cave in a magical fairy tale and you are the queen and dine on coffees and olives all day. of course.) oh yeah, and this will put you back only $26 a night.
this is their address, believe it or not
Gaferli Mah., Şükrü efendi Sokak No:1, Nevşehir, Turkey
what to eat
Kebab in clay pots, from Sedef.
Sure, this is a bit of a novelty- but something yiu must try. Handmade pottery is abundant here due to the readily available clay from the red river, able hands, and arid climate. Meat and spices are placed in ceramics pots and cooked with fire underground, brought to your table, and then broken with a samurai-esque sword to release the most tender and flavorful kebab adventure you’ll experience in turkey. Served with fresh bread, tomato, onion, yogurt,cucumber, and all of it’s other friends, it’s a delicacy not to be missed.
I recommend Sedef, which is located at Bilal Eroglu Cad., in Goreme.
A real Turkish breakfast, anywhere.
Turkish breakfast is like a choose-your-own-adventure novel. A mixture of breads, cheeses, meats, yogurt, tomato, cucumber, olives, honey, jam, and pretty much anything else they can think of arrives on an array of plates and allows you to combine flavors on your fork to get your day started with a fresh variety of local fare. Don’t be shy either- you’ll need some energy.