Merhaba – (Turkish word for hello). We had been getting the travel itch to go somewhere, and some of our friends had been to Turkey during the pandemic, so we thought why not? With their help on where to stay and what was a MUST see, we started planning our trip around the main things we wanted to do and just went for it! After we came back, we got asked so many questions about where we stayed, what we did, how things were during the pandemic. I will link all the places we stayed and the companies we used for our activities at the end of this post as well as write out our experience traveling during a pandemic starting with getting tested!
The tricky part was getting a negative PCR test to gain entry into the country, which you had to have to present to the ticket agent in the USA before going (we booked our flight on Turkish airline, and when I mean booked I mean listed as standby, because as flight attendants you know we are all about the travel benefits and that means cheaper flights, but it’s all based on seat availability). I was on a four day trip and had gotten my test done in Scottsdale, Arizona. Casey got hers done in Ft. Lauderdale. I had a few people ask me, what the difference is between a rapid COVID 19 test and the PCR test. I think the main difference is the PCR test is sent to a lab and undergoes a more accurate test? I am not sure, do not quote me! All I know, is both Casey and I are fully vaccinated, but some countries are still called for the negative test! Casey’s test came back within 24 hours. Mine on the other hand, I had to call the Urgent Care I had been tested at, which gave me a number to call the lab for my results, which then I had to pull up on my desktop computer, because I couldn’t get it on my cell phone. Long story short, we made the flight.
The flight to Turkey (Istanbul) to be exact, from Boston took about 9 hours. We flew from Boston as I had finished a work trip, and Casey flew up with me on my working flight, ironically haha, from Ft Lauderdale to Boston. We got to Boston about 2:00 pm and our flight to Turkey wasn’t until 11:40 that night, so you can imagine we had some time to kill! We walked around Boston a bit, stopped in a cafe to work on our computers, and then went to a popular store in Boston (Primark, if you know, you know) to get rain jackets since it was raining in Boston and called for rain a couple of days in Istanbul. Originally the weather wasn’t supposed to be rainy!
Def recommend exploring one city, or tiring yourself out before a long flight, because we both slept the whole time minus when it was time to eat. The food on the flight was really good. Going to Turkey we had dinner on the flight and then they served us breakfast in the morning, we had arrived to Turkey around 3:45/4:00pm local time, and had to catch another flight to Kenesia at 6:00/7:00, where we took about an hour long shuttle ride to our airbnb in Cappadocia! We got to Cappadocia around 9 or 10? The times are all getting by me now. I just remember it was late, and we had to be up EARLY for our hot air balloon ride, which was totally worth it!! ( I posted a video of our experience on our YouTube Page that I’ll link here, and also will provide pictures below).
We were picked up at 4:45 am for the hot air balloon ride and taken to the launch spot. You really don’t realize how big the hot air balloons are until you’re standing right next to one! There were a few more groups of people that we went up in the air with, and two pilots directing the hot air balloon. I can’t even begin to describe how beautiful and magical the ride was!! You don’t even notice that your thousands of feet in the air, because you’re just in awe of the view! We were told there’s normally hundreds of balloons, but there was about 30-50 which seemed like a lot to us! Watching the sunrise above the mountains and feeling like you’re in it, was truly an experience we will never forget. I only hope photos and videos do it a little justice. After the hot air balloon ride, which was probably about an hour and 15 mins, the pilots popped bottles of pink champagne and everyone toasted to a safe landing and to celebrating life. It was a really nice touch to end the excursion.
When we arrived back at our airbnb, we took a nap for about another hour until it was time for breakfast. The airbnb we stayed at was called Adalya Cave Hotel, and they provided breakfast with our stay. We had our first Turkish Breakfast experience (and it just got better as our trip went on). They bring out so much food, but in small portions so you get to taste everything from breads, sauces, fruit, pancakes, omelets, cheese, olives and Turkish coffee or tea! It was delicious! Def fueled us up for a hike later on that day (which I have also linked to our YouTube channel here). We hiked four about 3-4 hours to kill some time before our ATV ride that evening. The hike we did was called Pigeon Valley and I believe it also stretches into what’s called Love Valley. The landscape was beautiful. Just miles of rock caves with windows and doors carved in, marking what probably used to be civilization that lived in them. Winding paths around the mountains with tall pointy structures called “Fairy Chimneys.” There were even small cafes along the trails that served coffee and tea with a bite to eat. Unfortunately, they were closed during the time we went.
We walked all the way up to Uchisar, a town at the top of the hill, which I believe is the highest point of Cappadocia. You can tour the Uchisar Castle, which looks like a giant ant hill as it’s another cave structure with many open windows and doors carved into the rock. We didn’t go in the castle, but I read up on the history of it from TourMakerTurkey.com and today it is a historic monument, with souvenir shops and boutiques hotels around town carved into the rocks.
Its history lies down Ottoman Period from Rome (Byzantine) Era. At the beginning, the East Rome Time (between 15th and 16th centuries), this natural castle was used as a defense mechanism to prevent any attacks from the enemy. The people took advantage of it. Especially it was run as a warning system because whenever there was a problem the guards easily sent messages by using lights, mirrors from the castle. Afterwards due to its geopolitical position, it was a main control centre of trade way like Royal Road and Silk Road in the periods of Persian and Seljuk.
In Ottoman Time, the castle was again a main location for protection and maintenance. Because of that, those times it was surrounded many homes. When it happened any attack from invasion of the enemy, the local people could effortlessly escape to the fortress to protect themselves.
After our hike we found a restaurant to grab some lunch from as a lot of places still didn’t allow indoor seating. We ordered some food from this place called Old Cappadocia Cafe, to go and took it back to our airbnb on the rooftop lounge area to eat before we had to leave for our ATV ride.
Our ATV ride was probably Casey’s favorite part of the trip. It was just the two of us on one ATV and we took turns driving and using the Go Pro to capture it on video (see our ATV excursion video here on YouTube). We got to ride for probably a little over an hour, following a tour guide to a few different spots along the trails. The first stop we got off in this little town and had fresh squeezed watermelon juice, and then you could walk around and see some of the buildings and shops. The second stop we parked on the edge of the cliffs in Love Valley that overlooked a pit of Fairy Chimneys. The view was just stunning! They also had ice cream for purchase and a clay pots that you could write a wish on and tie it to a tree with hundreds of clay pots on them, al full of Sikhs, thus called a wish tree. The third and last stop, we were able to catch the sunset on top of a hill and you could buy hot wine to drink. We didn’t stay to watch the sunset, as we wanted to drive through it, so that’s what we did!
After our shuttle dropped us off from the ATV ride, we stopped in this coffee shop across from our airbnb called “King’s Coffee” with the sweetest older man. He called us his sweethearts and showed us all the different teas and some coffees he had in his shop. He also gave us some cookies and little desserts to eat while drinking our coffee. We ended up buying some of his tea to take home with us! By then it was time for dinner, so we went to a restaurant just next to King’s Coffee Shop called Pumpkin Goreme Restaurant and Art Gallery. We had a chicken and rice plate with a glass of rose (our favorite), and the restaurant gifted us these cute little keychains of the hot air balloons that say Cappadocia! You can bet from our early start of the morning from hot air balloon rides at sunrise to ATV rides at sunset, we were wiped!
Our last day in Cappadocia we woke up a little later than 4:00 am haha to catch the sunrise with the hot air balloons, except this time, we weren’t going to be riding in them. We were told you can hike to Sunset Point, a spot on a trail that overlooks the valley and you can take in the sunrise and watch the hot air balloons take off. Sadly, I miss calculated the time of the hike and confused it with the time of a drive – it was a 10 min drive and more than a 10 min walk. Whoops. But we did reach a good point in part of the hike we did, where you still get the same views more or less. It was still so cool, to see all the hot air balloons in the sky, and knowing we had just gotten to do that the morning before!
Once the sun came up, we headed back down to town, back to our airbnb for breakfast. This time they had yogurt parfaits for us, which were yummy! After breakfast, we ended up walking around town and exploring more of it, to kill some time before our shuttle ride back to Kensia airport to catch our flight to Istanbul later that afternoon. We got some more coffee from King’s Coffee and had some fresh juice from one of the street vendors – this time it was grapefruit juice! We stopped into a rooftop bar and did a little hookah and chatted with some of the locals, who worked there, and ironically he used to be a flight attendant!
Our flight to Istanbul was around 3:45 so we left Cappadocia around noon and ended up eating something at the airport. We arrived in Istanbul around 5-6pm local, and had to take another shuttle to our airbnb, but I will save Istanbul for a whole other blog post as this one has gotten long enough! I’ve also posted some tips and links as promised below for accommodations and activities in Cappadocia! You can view much more of our trips by heading to our Instagram @Fit_ForFlight and clicking the link in our bio (or here) to view our Travel Vlogs on Youtube!
Accommodations: Adelya Cave Hotel: https://www.adelyacave.com
Company for Hot Air Balloon Ride: http://www.airkapadokya.com
Company for ATV Tour: *We booked our ATV tour (and hot air balloon ride) through the Adelya Cave Hotel
Favorite Place for coffee: King’s Coffee Shop
Recommended Restaurants: Old Cappadocia Cafe & Restaurant & Pumpkin Goreme Restaurant