Why Cappadocia is the Most Magical Place on Earth

Why Cappadocia is the Most Magical Place on Earth

Exactly a year ago, I visited a place called Cappadocia, which is in Turkey. This place is so picturesque and full of magic, that words are not enough to describe the beauty. Yes, that’s one of the reasons why I never ended up writing about Cappadocia, but I will give it a try.

Sunset at Red Valley, Cappadocia, Turkey

Sunset at Red Valley, Cappadocia, Turkey

Of course, I had seen pictures of Cappadocia before I arrived here, but I was not prepared for the magnitude of it all. I mean, when you visit a destination that is famous for its landscape, it is usually limited to a part of the city, or maximum the full city itself. But this is WAY more than that. It is more than 10 cities!

I arrived here on an overnight bus from Pamukkale and boy, I was really sleep deprived. I remember waking up when the bus had already entered Cappadocia region but was 15 minutes away from my destination – Göreme.

It may sound funny but my jaw actually dropped lower than usual as soon as I saw outside the window. My mouth stayed open in a weird way even when I got off the bus and sat in a car to my hotel. Yes, it is safe to say that I fell in love at the first sight with Cappadocia.

Alright, I have spent enough energy in trying to tell you how I felt while I was there, but here’s now it’s time to tell you why Cappadocia is the most magical place on Earth.

Here’s why Cappadocia is the Most Magical Place on Earth –

Evil Eye adorned tree in Göreme, Cappadocia

Evil Eye adorned tree in Göreme, Cappadocia

01 | Cappadocia Looks Like Another Planet

Sometimes weird can be truly beautiful. Cappadocia’s weird landscape is what makes it magical. Its strange beauty is unique and I doubt if you will ever see a place like this anywhere else on the planet. Perhaps Mother Nature was on LSD when she created Cappadocia.

Looks like Planet Tatooine - Göreme, Cappadocia, Turkey

Looks like Planet Tatooine – Göreme, Cappadocia, Turkey

The correct way to describe Cappadocia’s landscape is actually “Moonscape” because it looks otherworldly. You may not ever get a chance to visit another planet, but a visit to Cappadocia will make you forget you’re on Earth.

Just look at this picture – how can this be real? (but it is!). As per me, this is truly magical.

Sunset point in Göreme, Cappadocia, Turkey

Sunset point in Göreme, Cappadocia, Turkey

Remember Planet Tatooine from Star Wars? The landscape of Cappadocia is strikingly similar. A little research on the Internet informed me that George Lucas actually wanted to shoot there, but did not get the permission so picked Tunisia instead. Reality looks even more beautiful than photoshop in Cappadocia.

02 | Cappadocia has Fairy Chimneys!

As if the name wasn’t magical enough, these fairy chimneys are dreamlike structures that are all over Cappadocia. I will be honest, to me they look like magic mushrooms.. or penises but I will let you decide for yourself.

Fairy Chimneys in Göreme, Cappadocia, Turkey

Fairy Chimneys in Göreme, Cappadocia, Turkey

In case you’re curious, these strange formations exist because of volcanic eruptions and were carved beautifully by the wind. Yes, erosion can be pretty too.

 

03| Magic Carpet Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia is INSANE

One of the best ways to enjoy the beauty of Cappadocia’s moonscape is by flying over it. Yes, it’s expensive but Cappadocia is one of the cheapest locations in the world to experience a hot air balloon ride. It may be cheaper than the most but it is definitely the most beautiful one.

Hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia, Turkey

Hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia, Turkey

A hot air balloon ride normally costs around $100, which includes a pickup, breakfast, the ride itself, champagne and a drop back to the hotel. There are many tour operators that offer this but since it can be risky, I’d suggest you pick the best.

After weeks of research, I picked Turkiye Balloons and I was very happy with their service. Thankfully, they don’t overstuff their balloon baskets and I was able to capture the moment without other people in them. Oh, and they have some of the most experienced pilots.

Bird's eye view of Cappadocia during my hot air balloon ride

Bird’s eye view of Cappadocia during my hot air balloon ride

I will never forget the stunning bird’s eye view of these Fairy Chimneys from up above when I went for a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia.

 

04 | Caves Everywhere.. and you can have one too

If Cappadocia wasn’t magical enough, things get better because there are caves everywhere, even inside the weird rock formations.

Cappadocia has caves everywhere

Cappadocia has caves everywhere

These caves were built many centuries ago and some are still inhabited. Of course, most of them have turned into hotels, so if you can have your own cave when you visit Cappadocia.

Thankfully, these cave hotels are not just for the rich travelers and are for literally every budget. Even some hostels are built inside them! The best thing is that the interiors stay cool and it feels like a natural air conditioner.

Inside a cave in Cappadocia, Turkey

Inside a cave in Cappadocia, Turkey

I stayed in Ottoman Cave Suites in Goreme and Kale Konak Cave Hotel in Uçhisar. They are both fantastic and the location is perfect. They are both equally good but the only thing that makes a difference is the location as they are in different cities. Goreme is in the middle of it all and has fun vibes where as Uçhisar is more fancy and high end.

To know more about where to stay in Cappadocia, scroll till the end of this article.

 

05 | Cappadocia’s Epic Sunrises and Sunsets Will Spoil You For Life

Sunset in Red Valley, Cappadocia

Sunset in Red Valley, Cappadocia

Waking up early is something I do rarely, but you will be surprised to know that I woke at 4 am every morning while I was in Cappadocia. The sun rises here at 4:30 am in summers and the view is worth a million dollars.

Sunrise view - Sultan Cave Suites, Cappadocia, Turkey

Sunrise view – Sultan Cave Suites, Cappadocia, Turkey

It’s beautiful to see how the colors change from orange to beige and the sky gets bejeweled by hundreds of hot air balloons! This sight is magical enough to make anyone forget the real world.

 

06 | Cappadocia’s Underground City Will Stun You

Cappadocia is stunning not just above the surface, but also beneath the ground. There are underground cities that were created many centuries ago and some of them are more than ten levels deep. And no, these were not just used as temporary places of shelter but people lived here permanently.

Cappadocia's underground city

Cappadocia’s underground city

It gets even stranger – more than 40 underground cities have been discovered in Cappadocia and some of them are connected to each other via tunnels. These were hidden for many years and one of the biggest was discovered in 2014. As per some archeologists, they were created in the 1200s BC. Whoa!

Inside Derinkuyu underground city, Cappadocia

Inside Derinkuyu underground city, Cappadocia

I visited Derinkuyu underground city and I was shocked to see the remains of schools, chapels, stables, and storage cellars that were many levels beneath the ground. If you suffer from claustrophobia (like I do), you can still visit them because they are surprisingly airy.

 

07 | Cappadocia Has Some Seriously Spectacular Viewpoints

If you’re a sucker for viewpoints, then Cappadocia will not disappoint you. It’s landscape is hilly, which makes it easy to find elevated areas where you can chill for hours and enjoy the view. I never had to research about or hunt for a viewpoint while I was there. I found a few while exploring on my own.

Just Married - Bride and groom in Red Valley, Cappadocia, Turkey

Just Married – Bride and groom in Red Valley, Cappadocia, Turkey

I was lucky that some of the locals that I had met in Cappadocia took me to those viewpoints without me even asking. Some of the most popular viewpoints are Goreme’s sunset point, Uchisar castle, Three Sister Rock panorama point and Red Valley sunset point. In fact, the last one is so magical, that people actually come here for wedding shoots. I saw three newly married couples and I couldn’t help clicking them.

08 | Cappadocia Looks Like THIS Under Snow

Cappadocia under snow

Cappadocia looks like THIS when it snows – truly magical!

Cappadocia is not just a summer destination but it can be enjoyed through out the year. It came to me as a surprise that it snows in Cappadocia in the winters. Cappadocia’s weather is unpredictable and it has been known to snow in March too! Here’s another picture that will surely steal your heart.

A dog sitting on the road in Cappadocia with snow around

This adorable dog is surely enjoying the snow

I visited Cappadocia in the summer months but I’d go back in a heartbeat to see how it looks under snow. I can’t decide if it looks more beautiful with or without snow. What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

 

09 | There is a LOT to explore in Cappadocia

Stunning viewpoints in Cappadocia, Turkey

Stunning viewpoints in Cappadocia, Turkey

Cappadocia is massive and even if you spend a week here, you will barely just touch the surface. There is a love valley (Zemi valley), red valley, rose valley, Ihlara valley, pigeon valley, and many other valleys. You can go hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, historical tours, culture tours and what not.

The view from Uchisar Place, Cappadocia

The view from Uchisar Place, Cappadocia

Yes, there are many things to do in Cappadocia so you will definitely not be bored when you visit it. Honestly, you don’t really have to do everything here but you can just chill and explore your surroundings at your own pace.

You can also explore Cappadocia’s stunning art shops, cave monasteries, Uchisar palace, – seriously, there is so much to do in Cappadocia that I will write a separate post about it.

Cute art shops in Göreme, Cappadocia

Cute art shops in Göreme, Cappadocia

BONUS: Cappadocia will make you an Instagram superstar.

Haha – this point is especially relevant for new bloggers because it is difficult to take a bad photo in Cappadocia.

Where to stay in Cappadocia, Turkey?

If you’re visiting Cappadocia for more than 4 days, I’d suggest you stay in both – Göreme and Uçhisar. They are both beautiful but different and you should try to enjoy sunrise views at both locations. Here are a places that I recommend you book yourself a cave to make the most out of your visit to Cappadocia –

01 | Kale Konak Cave Hotel, Uchisar, Cappadocia

The view from my balcony at Kale Konak Konak Cave Hotel, Uçhisar, Cappadocia

The view from my balcony at Kale Konak Konak Cave Hotel, Uçhisar, Cappadocia

This hotel is super fancy and pretty. The views from the balcony are amazing and you will have a lot of fun exploring this hotel. This place is more suited for couples or families not solo travelers.

Read reviews on TripAdvisor or Compare prices on Hotelscombined.com

Location: Right behind the famous Uçhisar Castle

Price range: $95 – $120

Book Now (deals): Agoda.com or Booking.com or Hotels.com

02 | Ottoman Cave Suites

Ottoman Cave Suites, Göreme, Cappadocia, Turkey

Ottoman Cave Suites, Göreme, Cappadocia, Turkey

This place has massive suites that are inside caves. These suites are very big in size and so are the bathrooms. The hotel is very pretty and I loved their breakfast. The location is amazing and most of the famous attractions are within walking range. 

Read reviews on TripAdvisor or Compare prices on Hotelscombined.com

Location: 2 minutes walk from Goreme town center, Goreme bus stop

Price range: $60 – $80

Book Now (deals): Agoda.com or Booking.com or Hotels.com

03 | The Dorm Cave By Travellers

I made a friend in Cappadocia who was staying here and loved this place. It’s a very cute hostel with bunk beds inside caves.

Read reviews on TripAdvisor or Compare prices on Hotelscombined.com

Location: 5 minutes walk from Goreme town center, Goreme bus stop

Price range: $8 for a bunk bed and $25 for a private room

Book Now (deals): Agoda.com or Booking.com or Hotels.com

04 | Sultan Cave Suites

Sunrise view from Sultan Cave Suites, Göreme, Cappadocia

Sunrise view from Sultan Cave Suites, Göreme, Cappadocia

This place is really famous on Instagram because of its rooftop (and therefore expensive), but famous doesn’t always mean the best. Personally, I prefer Ottoman cave suites but you can have a look at Sultan Cave suites too.

Read reviews on TripAdvisor or Compare prices on Hotelscombined.com

Location: This hotel is on an elevated part of main Goreme town center, so wear comfortable shoes.

Price range: $95 – $120

Book Now (deals): Booking.com or Hotels.com

Ready to visit Cappadocia in Turkey?

If you want to lose touch with reality in a fairy tale destination, then Cappadocia is definitely for you. Which point about Cappadocia did you like the most? I’d love to know, so let me know in the comments. Please do me a favor, if you enjoyed this article, then please share it and spread the love.

An Unbelievably Stunning Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia, Turkey

An Unbelievably Stunning Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia, Turkey

No visit to Turkey is complete without experiencing a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia. After all, it’s one of the most beautiful hot air balloon ride locations in the world. After having seen so many pictures of Cappadocia’s surreal landscape with fairy chimneys and caves, I knew I had to visit this place. On an impulse, I booked my ticket to Turkey and there was no looking back.

Related Post: Why Cappadocia is the Most Magical Place on Earth

With Cappadocia on my mind, I researched for weeks to find the “right” balloon company to fly with. A month before my Turkey trip, after exchanging a few emails with Erdal Yaris, I finally decided to confirm my slot with Turkiye Balloons (Read reviews on TripAdvisor).

Why did I choose them? I will tell you at the bottom of my post, but first I want to share how it was to experience a Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia, Turkey.

Flying over Fairy Chimneys - Hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia

The View! Flying over Fairy Chimneys – Hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia

What it’s like to experience a Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia

Pre-Flight

A day before my flight, a staff member from Turkiye Balloons called up my Cave hotel to confirm if I was staying and to let them know that they will pick me up at 4:20 am. Normally it is me who double checks and confirms so it was a pleasant surprise to see that they did it before I did

The Pick Up

At 4:20 am I was picked up from right outside my hotel in a big car with “Turkiye Balloons” logo. I was given a name-tag with a code as I entered the car. The car drove us to Turkiye Balloons office where around 50-60 more people were enjoying their delicious Turkish breakfast.

The Open Buffet Breakfast

I was presently surprised when I entered the breakfast hall because it was as lavish as a star hotel. With a lot of variety of bread, cheese, olives, salami, eggs, cereal, juices, flavored tea, baklavas the breakfast spread here was expansive and had something for even the pickiest eaters. Even though I wasn’t so hungry at this time, I couldn’t help enjoying a big breakfast.

Pre-Briefing and Pre-Flight

Getting Ready to fly - Hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia

Getting Ready to fly – Hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia

After the breakfast, I finally understood the reason for the code on my name-tag. The code was an identifier because so that we could find out which group we were in. Our group was called out and soon we were driven from the breakfast hall to tan open field where several balloons were being inflated.

I saw a few massive balloons with the logo of Turkiye Balloons being inflated right in front of us as they gradually grew to their massive shape. Soon our balloon was ready and it was time to climb the basket. We also received a pre-briefing with safety instructions, but at this point, I was too excited to listen.

Rising Up

Flying around in Goreme - Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia, Turkey

Flying around in Goreme – Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia, Turkey

Our pilot made our basket feel as light as a feather because we rose up into the air gently. The pilot held on to the burner for the balloon to gain more height and soon we saw many other balloons flying under us. Soon it was time to enjoy Cappadocia’s epic sunrise.

Epic Sunrise, View, and the Flight

Cappadocia is one of the most beautiful places on earth, and to make things better, the sunrises here are phenomenal. It’s because the sky gets flooded by more than 100 hot air balloons in what looks like a celebration of a brand new day.

So many balloons - Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia, Turkey

So many balloons – Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia, Turkey

As we rose higher, I felt like one of the luckiest people on earth to be enjoying a stunning view both below and above me. The sunlight illuminated Cappadocia’s unique landscape under us.

Cappadocia's stunning landscape - Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia, Turkey

Cappadocia’s stunning landscape – Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia, Turkey

I’m not joking when I say that I felt I was a part of Star Wars and was flying over Planet Tatooine with Anakin Skywalker. After all, George Lucas did want to shoot Planet Tatooine’s scenes in Cappadocia but did not get the permit and he cloned the landscape in Tunisia where the shooting eventually happened.

View from the top - Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia, Turkey

View from the top – Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia, Turkey

Luckily, the morning was windy and we flew over some of Cappadocia’s most famous spots. Over the next hour, we gradually floated above the famous rose valley, love valley and around strangely shaped fairy chimneys. I wouldn’t have recognized these valleys but our pilot was nice enough to point them out to us.

Landing and Celebration Champagne

It’s funny how we normally don’t realize how fast the time is going when we are having fun. Even though the sun was shining brighter than before, I was surprised when the pilot told us it was time to land.

From up above, we could see a few cars that were lining up below us. These cars had trailers attached and it seemed we were going to land on one of them. How are we going to that? The trailers did not appear to be very big from up above.

This is how the balloons land on top of cars! - Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia, Turkey

This is how the balloons land on top of cars! – Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia, Turkey

To our surprise, our pilot gently guided our balloon and we floated above the trailer. We couldn’t help but clap at the pilot’s precision as we landed on top of one of those cars. It was time to celebrate!

Champagne ceremony - Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia, Turkey

Champagne ceremony – Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia, Turkey

With my flight completion certificate in one hand and a champagne glass in the other, I couldn’t stop smiling as I gazed skywards at the birds that flew above us. Yes, I was one of them a few minutes back. If you’re heading to Turkey (or near Turkey), please do yourself a favor and get on one of these flights. There is a reason why many famous travel magazines call this an “experience of a lifetime.”

Tips to make the most of your Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia

01 | Research and Pick the right balloon company

Do your research in advance and pick the right balloon company. I highly recommend Turkiye Balloons. A typical flight length is 60 minutes but some operators also provide 90 minute long flights for an additional cost. Turkiye Balloons charges 120 Euros for a 60-minute flight, while the other operators charge 150 Euros and can stretch to 250 Euros depending on the balloon company and the duration.

02 | Watch out for scammers.

There are many fake websites online which will charge your credit card without a flight. If you’re visiting Istanbul before Cappadocia, be careful of tour operators because some of them may try to sell you fake balloon flight tickets.

03 | Reserve your slot

Once you have picked the right balloon company, be sure to reserve your slot in advance because they usually fill out months in advance.

04 | Be Flexible with your schedule

Balloon flight depends on the weather conditions so do stay for a couple of extra days to avoid weather to mess up with your plans.

05 | Carry a jacket and stay warm

Yes, Cappadocia is usually warm during the day but it’s surprisingly cold at 4:30 am. Please do yourself a favor and carry a jacket if you don’t want to be uncomfortable during your flight.

That one time I flew over Mars - Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia, Turkey

That one time I flew over Mars – Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia, Turkey

06 | Planning your Cappadocia itinerary

Be flexible with your itinerary for Cappadocia, else you will be disappointed. The usual pick-up time a balloon ride is 4:30 am in the morning, so if you’re reaching Cappadocia early morning, don’t expect to go for a ride on the same day.

07 | Don’t forget to fully charge your camera

Make sure you fully charge all your gadgets because you’re going to want to click 100s of photos and videos! Carry extra battery if you can.

Why Did I Choose Turkiye Balloons?

If you search online, you will find at least 50+ tour operators and companies that offer hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia. Which one to pick and how? Simply reading TripAdvisor reviews was not enough for me, so I wrote to a few hot air balloon companies and decided to pick Turkiye Balloons because of the below reasons:

01 | Experienced Pilots and Company Reputation

Even though Turkiye Balloons is one of the newest hot air balloon ride companies in Cappadocia, they have some of the best pilots of Cappadocia and every pilot has minimum 2500 hours of flight experience.

This is an important point for me and should be for you as well because you obviously don’t want to put your life in danger by picking a wrong balloon tour operator. Oh, and by the way, the pilots speak very good English!

02 | Smaller Groups = Better Photos

Here’s the thing – I’m a loner and I don’t like group activities or tours. However, if I ever decide to go on a tour, I always pick up the smallest groups.

I had seen too many photos and videos on the Internet of people who went with 20-ish other people on a single balloon ride. Imagine having to share a little standing spot with so many people and trying to fight for a good corner spot for a view! No, I did not want to do that.

In one of the emails, Erdal mentioned the group size and I knew I had found the right balloon company. From my experience, I found out that most of the balloon companies had different prices based on the number of people.

03 | Quick Response Time

If you’re wondering why response time matters in this case, I will try to explain in the best way possible. Have ever you decided to pick a brand based on their amazing customer service? Chances are, you have. If so, then why not in the case of your tour provider? More than the resolution, it’s usually the speed of response that makes any brand’s customer service awesome.

What if you need to cancel your balloon flight for some reason and you need your money to be refunded? Would you want to wait for weeks before someone acknowledges your email? I have burned my fingers in the past when I never got a refund canceling an expensive boat ride in Myanmar that was booked through a tour agent. I sent multiple emails, but never got a refund and eventually had to give up.

In this age of technology and automation, I really don’t understand why some companies take forever to respond to their prospective customers. While most of the balloon providers took a few days and some even weeks, my emails to Turkiye Balloons were usually answered within the same hour.

04 | Passenger and Flight Insurance

Let’s face it, accident CAN happen everywhere and it’s better to be insured before than to cry later. Luckily, Turkiye balloons also insures their passengers and flights to protect against unforeseeable circumstances.

How to Book:

If you want to have a similar hot air balloon ride experience as me, you can book yourself a slot with Turkiye Balloons. You can read other visitor’s reviews on Tripadvisor here or simply visit Turkiye Balloon’s website.

An Unbelievably Stunning Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia, Turkey
An Unbelievably Stunning Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia, Turkey
An Unbelievably Stunning Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia, Turkey

Disclaimer: A big thanks to Turkiye Balloons for the complimentary balloon ride. All opinions, as usual, are my own.

Have you ever experienced a hot air balloon flight? If so, I’d love to know where. Let me know in the comments.

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Sleeping in a cave in Goreme, Cappadocia

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A hippie travel writer with flowers in her hair, Sonal Kwatra Paladini should have been born in the 1960s! Bitten by the infamous travel bug, she has an itch to explore resort-free destinations, offbeat islands and small villages. Join her and her husband (Sandro) on their journey as they hop from one music festival to another and explore the beautiful world that they are in love with! Follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Sonal Kwatra Paladini

Sleeping in a Cave in Cappadocia – Ottoman Cave Suites, Göreme

Sleeping in a Cave in Cappadocia – Ottoman Cave Suites, Göreme

Fancy a trip to Mars but can’t afford it? Cappadocia is your answer.

Cappadocia in Turkey is the land of unusual rock formations that have further been carved into underground cities, churches and cave houses. Some of these rock formations look like mushrooms (or penises lol) and are called “Fairy Chimneys”.

Yes, and people actually live in these caves! Many of the cave houses have now turned into high-end boutique hotels. Hence, this is one of those few places on earth where you can actually sleep inside a cave.

Cappadocia's unique landscape caves carved in volcanic formations

Cappadocia’s unique landscape of caves carved in volcanic formations

So a few months back, I decided to visit Cappadocia and sleep in a cave. After weeks of research, I finally zeroed out on a hotel where I wanted to stay – Ottoman Cave Suites in Göreme (or Goreme). I came here to sleep in a cave but ended up having one of the most amazing hotel stays of my life. Here’s why:

Location

While Cappadocia is the most famous tourist area of Turkey, Göreme (or Goreme) is the most popular town of Cappadocia. I usually avoid staying at touristy places but I couldn’t stop obsessing over Göreme after seeing its pictures. Moreover, I was traveling alone and I wanted to stay in a lively area and this is the only part of Cappadocia where you can experience the nightlife.

Ottoman Cave Suites is a minute walk away from Göreme’s main shopping / restaurant area. Also, this hotel is right next to Göreme’s bus stop that makes is easy to reach here by walking if you reach Cappadocia by bus.

Suggested: 10 Reasons to Visit Egypt

Reception and Courtyard

The entry area of Ottoman Cave Suites, Göreme

The entry area of Ottoman Cave Suites, Göreme

I couldn’t help being wide-eyed as I walked into the reception of this boutique hotel. On my right was the reception desk and on my left was a massive dining area that overlooked the courtyard.

Everything was reddish-beige in color… like the rest of Cappadocia. On that beige, a massive wall mural splashed a little color to liven up the aesthetics. Across this courtyard were a few ornate doors, which opened up into luxurious cave suites. One of them was mine for a few days!

Ottoman Cave Suites, Goreme, Reception

Ottoman Cave Suites, Goreme, Cappadocia

Cave Suite

My jaw fell as I entered my “cave” suite. It was massive and super luxurious! Was I in Queen Cersei’s chambers in King’s Landing?

My cave room at Ottoman Cave Suites, Goreme, Cappadocia, Turkey

My cave room at Ottoman Cave Suites, Goreme, Cappadocia, Turkey

A king size bed, many chairs, a desk, a teakettle, drawers – this room had more than everything that I needed. I quickly heated some water to brew some apple tea and sat on a plush chair at the corner of the room. I felt like a royalty.

My Cave room at Ottoman Cave Suites, Goreme, Cappadocia

My Cave room at Ottoman Cave Suites, Goreme, Cappadocia

Massive Bathroom and Twin Showers for Couples

Twin Showers at Ottoman Cave Suites, Göreme

Twin Showers at Ottoman Cave Suites, Göreme

This has got to be the biggest bathroom that I have ever stepped in. There were two rain showers next to each other – one square and one round. The shower was perfect for couples that like showering together without fighting for water. Oh, and thank God they had a hair dryer. I never travel with one but I always need to use one after I wash my hair.

Spectacular View from the Terrace

Ever seen pictures of legendary sunrise shots of Cappadocia with many hot air balloons around? Well, you can witness one of those sunrises on the terrace here.

Sunrise View from Ottoman Cave Suites, Goreme

Sunrise View from Ottoman Cave Suites, Goreme

Waking up early is not my favorite thing but I woke up at 4:30 am every morning just to see Cappadocia’s epic sunrises. Moreover, the terrace offers spectacular sights at sunset when a lot of caves and chimneys around start lighting up. The terrace also offers a view of the famous Uchisar castle and Kayseri’s Mount Erciyes.

Eat Breakfast Like a King

Turkish Breakfast at Ottoman Cave Suites

Turkish Breakfast at Ottoman Cave Suites

Do you like coffee, cheese, olives, and salami? You’re gonna love the breakfast here! To add the cherry on the icing, Ottoman Cave Suites offers delicious scrambled eggs, baklavas, juices, and apple tea along with Turkish coffee. I couldn’t help but take a second helping of everything because it was delicious.

Tours

Cappadocia is massive and I highly recommend you sign up for a tour while you’re here to learn more about history and geology of various sites. If you ask at the reception of Ottoman Cave Suites, they will help you pick the right tour for you with their own tour agency – New Göreme Tours.

I did a tour with them to check out the underground city with a highly knowledgeable tour guide – Masud. The tour includes free pick-up and drops, water and a lavish lunch. Want more details about my tour? I will write a separate post about it soon.

Staff Always Went an Extra Mile

No matter how fancy a hotel is, the experience can turn sour if the service is not up to the mark. Clearly, the staff at Ottoman Cave Suites was well trained because they always provided more than what I asked for to ensure my comfort.

Moreover, they also provided excellent recommendations for places to visit and one of the staff members also took me to a spectacular sunset spot. Being bad with directions, I would have never reached this spot on my own.

Who / What do I recommend this hotel for?

Destination Wedding – Cappadocia offers a perfect backdrop for wedding pictures. Ottoman Cave Suites is massive and can perhaps hold your entire wedding guest party.

Couples – with its charming rooms, views, and couple showers, this hotel is perfect for a honeymoon.

Families – the cave suites are big enough for an entire family.

A bachelorette / bachelor party group – An entire group can stay in a single suite by requesting extra beds.

Solo Flashpackers – If you travel solo and love your space and comfort, you’re gonna love this hotel. Moreover, the proximity to the bars and the restaurant area will keep you entertained. I don’t recommend this hotel if you’re traveling on a shoestring budget.

How to book?

Read reviews on TripAdvisor or Compare prices on Hotelscombined.com

Price range: $60 – $80

Book Now (deals): Agoda.com or Booking.com or Hotels.com

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Sleeping in a Cave in Cappadocia - Ottoman Cave Suites, Göreme

Sleeping in a Cave in Cappadocia – Ottoman Cave Suites, Göreme

A hippie travel writer with flowers in her hair, Sonal Kwatra Paladini should have been born in the 1960s! Bitten by the infamous travel bug, she has an itch to explore resort-free destinations, offbeat islands and small villages. Join her and her husband (Sandro) on their journey as they hop from one music festival to another and explore the beautiful world that they are in love with! Follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sonal Kwatra Paladini

Being Stranded in Istanbul During the Military Coup

Being Stranded in Istanbul During the Military Coup

They said it is unsafe and they said I should not visit it. “It” in this case is Istanbul and there was no way I was going to cancel my ticket.

Did I just prove them wrong?

I smiled to myself as I walked around Istanbul’s Sultanahmet Square. I was glad I was here! I felt safer here than I did in my hometown. At least, no one was staring at me and there was excessive security everywhere. I even saw a military chopper a few hours back while I was cruising the Bosphorus Sea. That’s how serious they are about security.

My feet were tired but curiosity got better of me because everything around was too pretty. The spikey minarets, the domed mosques, the sweet sound of Turkish language, and the smell of Turkish coffee – it was breathtaking!

While common sense told me I should stay at the area around my hostel, my curiosity kept pulling me away to just “one more block” to see what it was like. It was my last night in Turkey and tomorrow I was going to fly to Germany. I wanted to make the most of it. I looked at the time – it was 9:30 pm.

Should I go back to my room now?

They all said I shouldn’t walk around in Istanbul at night but I was hungry! I had not had any food all day and it felt completely safe. I was not going to let people’s paranoia get to me. With that thought, I found a corner table and decided to eat kebab.

Something was not right.

This is what I told myself as I hurriedly finished my food. I had a funny feeling in my stomach. Was it because I had heard too many people’s opinion about what I should not do in Istanbul? Anyway, it was time to pay the bill and go.

I unlocked my phone and saw there was a massage from my mentor blogger – Sab from Just One Way Ticket. “Where are you? Don’t go to Istanbul”. Hmm? I was already in Istanbul! Her reply – “Shit”.

Shit. Bad? Scary? Am I in danger?

She said go back to your hotel right now. The military has taken control and the bridges are shut. The tanks are on the road.

Why was she saying that? Everything was normal in Sultanahmet Square – the heart of Istanbul. Maybe because she has a Turkish boyfriend and she’s worried about his safety?

“The military has taken over”.

What the hell does that even mean? How and why would that happen?

It took me a moment to realize that I was walking so fast that it did not appear normal. People were looking at me curiously.

Wait – why am I the only one running back to my room? Why is everything normal here?

With that thought, I crossed the blue mosque. Just next to the mosque, I saw a jeep full of men in uniform and guns. These were not the usual black clothed Turkish policemen that I saw during the day. These men were wearing army green and had big guns. Oh and these were many in number – not the twos or threes that I saw earlier this evening. And then it stuck me that I had seen a chopper during the day, which I had assumed, was for security.

Maybe that was a military chopper.

Maybe Sab was right.

SHIT.

Without realizing, I broke into a jog, as I got closer to my hotel.

I should get to my room and check the Internet.

I met a few people on the road near my hostel that had helped me earlier that day with the directions. I panted and narrated what I heard. They shrugged and said – “don’t worry lady, the media overhypes everything. Nothing is happening!”

I hope they are right.

On my way to my hostel, I messaged San (my husband) to tell him what’s happening. To my horror, he checked the news and confirmed its true.

Still unsure of what it meant and the possible implications, I entered my hostel and see a little “party”. Apparently, my room mate from France – Gabrielle (name changed) didn’t have a key and she was waiting for me at the reception. Our receptionist had a few friends over and they were all devouring baklavas and drinking tea.

Did they not know about it yet?

To my surprise, their reaction was also the same – “don’t believe it, it’s the media that’s overhyping things.”

They were all laughing.

All of them except Gabrielle.

She was the only one apart from me who had heard about this military coup. I made them change to a news channel. The news was in Turkish but we could see images of many military people everywhere. Tanks on the street, choppers and uniformed men everywhere – apparently there was total chaos in Istanbul and Ankara.

We didn’t even need to understand the language to sense what was going on. The smiles gradually disappeared from everyone’s faces as the consequences hit in.

Thank God I’m flying out at 8 am!

Oh, am I going to be able to fly out tomorrow?

Just at that moment my suspicion was confirmed and the receptionist said – lady, no flight for you tomorrow.

This was not good.

I look at my phone again and see close to 30 unread messages. It seemed the whole world knew what was happening and they were messaging me to check if I was safe. Every single one of those messages had a sense of urgency. The last thing I wanted was to get people worried about me!

I replied to every single one of them and then there were more messages. These were coming in faster than I could reply. Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter – every damn notification on my phone was on. People were writing on my timeline!

Soon there was a WhatsApp group that was made by my ex colleagues (RateGain) and included the entire Turkish team. I was surprised to see this kind of support because I was not working with them anymore. They did not have to do this. But they did. They saw the news and thought of me.

I was too much in shock to fathom what was going on and they were doing thinking for me.

Go to the ATM and withdraw enough local currency to last you for a few days – one of them said. The ATMs may be out of cash by tomorrow and you may get stranded.

It sounded reasonable to me. Gabrielle and I went to the ATM that was 20 steps away from our hostel and withdrew the cash. It seemed people now knew what was happening.

A man came to us and said we should go back to our room. He offered to walk us to the ATM and back to the hostel to make sure we were ok. The street had fewer people but it felt everyone was watching out for each other.

Do my parents know what’s happening? I thought to myself as I walked back from the ATM. I looked at the time; it was around 1 am in India. No, they would be fast asleep in India and I did not want to wake them up and worry them.

Maybe my sister is still awake? No, she has a busy job and her son to take care of.

By now, we’re back in the hostel and the three of us sat silently. We spent several minutes sitting silently and replying to several messages on our phone before one of us talks.

You girls should sleep, he said to both of us – no flight for you so just go and sleep. And you don’t secretly go to the airport.

How was he able to read my mind? Yes, I was actually stupid enough to be considering it.

Too lost for words, Gabrielle and I walked to our dorm room. Shin (name changed), our roommate of China was sleeping soundly on her bunk bed. Maybe she did not know what was happening.

For a few minutes, Gabrielle and I discussed the consequences of what was happening. She had lived in Istanbul for a few years and said it’s the first time she was seeing something like this.

By now, my phone battery was very low because of the number of messages. College friends, ex colleagues, bloggers – everyone was messaging to check if I was ok.

How am I going to reply to everyone?

I did not want to do this but I realized the easiest way was to update my Facebook status to let everyone know I was ok. Within a few minutes I realized that move was like opening a can of worms! The frequency of messages increased where as I wanted the opposite.

BANG!

What was that? A bomb?

Gabrielle and I looked at each other. Then we looked at Shin with a little envy because she was sleeping peacefully through everything.

Another bang!

This time it was followed by extremely loud airplane sound. Except, it must not be an airplane because it was a little too loud and was moving very fast.

Was that a fighter jet? Shit, what the fuck was happening? Were we going to be safe?

Gabrielle said her Facebook had stopped working. Thank God mine was working! What would I do if mine stopped too? I wanted to be connected to my husband through this app.

I’m going to sleep and so should you, she declared as she climbed on the top bunk bed. We both knew that no one was going to sleep.

Am I not flying to Germany? I looked at the watch. Soon it would be time for my shuttle. On the Internet it showed the flight was still going to depart. Maybe they had not updated the status but I really wanted to go! I called my hotel manager to check if it was all right to go and he pleaded me not to do so. I wanted to see my husband really bad. I had not seen him for two months and this had to happen just a day before my flight. Just my luck!

It was 4 am when my cousin from New York messaged on our family WhatsApp group to make sure I was safe. He even tried calling but I did not want to wake up Gabrielle even though I wasn’t sure if she was sleeping.

I could still hear loud bangs and jets from time to time. At 4 am, I heard the morning prayer from the nearby mosque. It sounded comforting in the backdrop of ominous sounds of that fateful dawn.

My ex colleagues from RateGain were still awake and that WhatsApp group was active. A few of them even offered me a place to sleep if I didn’t have one. People from all over the world were messaging me their friends’ or relatives’ contact details in Istanbul.

Someone instructed me to call the embassy. I called the general number and heard a recorded voice that said the business hours were 9 am to 6 pm. In my daze, it took me a few hours to realize that the embassy website also mentioned the emergency number. This realization came when a friend shared a screenshot of embassy’s phone number on my Facebook wall.

I finally called the emergency number of the Indian Embassy in Istanbul and was surprised when an actual person answered it. He sounded tired on the phone, he must have answered 100s of calls like mine. He listened to me patiently and told me to stay in. He said I should call him every few hours to check the situation. I should go to the airport only when he confirms it was ok to go. He also told me that I should expect the Internet to be down sporadically.

It was now early morning in India and my family had woken up. My WhatsApp received a new message every single minute telling me what to do. It was just what I needed because my mind was not working. They urged me to call Turkish Airlines, the embassy and what not. They discussed various options of what all I should do.

By now, everyone was asking me the same questions on WhatsApp and I was literally copying and pasting the same messages to everyone. Surprisingly, the owner of Turkiey Balloons was also concerned and checking to see if I was ok. Without me asking, he took my flight number and airline PNR and called the customer service.

He somehow managed to speak with Turkish Airlines. He told me that I needed to rebook through Yatra.com since my ticket was booked through them. Hmm, I needed time to figure that out.

Hours went by as I continuously answered the messages. I somehow managed to sleep for one hour and woke up again to more messages. Some of them said that the situation was better and the military coup had failed.

Did that mean I could finally fly to Germany?

No it’s still now safe and I cannot let you go, my hostel manager said to me. He said he needed to go out for some work for one hour and I should not attempt to secretly take a taxi to the airport.

What do I do with my flight? What if there are too many people like me at the airport and they do not let me board? I had still not been able to rebook my flight through Yatra.com and my sister offered to call the customer service from India. Minutes felt like hours because I felt like I was wasting time if I was not at the airport if the situation had improved.

I decided to call Yatra.com myself and hold for a long time as they figureed out what they should do. Obviously it took them a while because they were not able to contact Turkish Airlines. I asked them if I really needed to book considering I had a ticket and the flight did not go? The rep suggests that I should just go to the airport and request the ground staff and in this case they should be able to put me on their 7 pm flight. Yes, I wanted to be on that flight.

Fully convinced, I knew I had to get to the airport. I called the hostel manager again and he finally confirmed the situation was better. He offers to book a shuttle for me so that I could arrive 5 hours before the 7 pm flight.

I hope I’m doing the right thing.

I hope the streets to the airport are actually safe now. Apparently there was an army tank on it last night.

I tell my husband and family and they sound relieved. This gives me a little more confidence that I was doing the right thing.

The streets looked normal because all the cafes and shops were open. The people on the street were a mix of locals and tourists. I saw one man with a massive flag of Turkey and several small ones. He was distributing the smaller flags. Were they celebrating the failed attempt of military coup attempt had failed? I speak to a few of them and realized that many of them thought the military rule was what Turkey needed..

Mentally crossing my fingers, I boarded my airport shuttle when it arrived an hour later. Some people looked nervous and unsure if they were going to be able to fly out.

As we reach closer to the airport, we saw an abandoned military tank on the road. Towards the entry of the airport, many civilians and policemen were standing. The civilians were waving Turkish flag and showing a victory sign to all the people that were entering the airport.

I entered the airport and witnessed total chaos. The queues were longer than the ones outside Indian passport application center. I saw some people yelling at overworked Turkish Airlines’ staff members.

At the check in counter, a woman with two daughters started yelling like a mad person and crying loudly. The airline staff tried to calm her down but she hurled some insults at them. I could not understand the language but it was obvious what was happening.

What if they ask me to rebook? Will I also lose my mind like this woman?

I could hear announcements that all Turkish Airline ticket holders needed to call the customer service or visit the city office to get their tickets rebooked. If this was the case, I was going to be in trouble because I had done neither.

Just at that instant, my husband called. He had magically rebooked me for the 7 pm flight while he was in Germany! I LOVE HIM. I’m so lucky to have him.

The check in queue took extremely long but after one hour, an exhausted looking airline staff member finally handed me my boarding pass. He tiredly smiled at me and wished me a safe flight.

I finally had my boarding pass.

I decided to celebrate by eating my first meal of the day.

I finally sighed with relief after three hours when my aircraft flew over Bosphorus. I couldn’t help shedding a tear as I gazed at Istanbul’s beautiful architecture, the distinctive curved mosques with their minarets, the European architecture and Rumelihisarı Castle.

Turkey, you are a beautiful country. I love your culture, language, food, hospitality and the people. Please stay the same. I’m lucky to have visited you. I pray for your peace.

Would I revisit Turkey if I got another chance?

Yes.

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