ISTANBUL

After being in Western Europe from the middle of July to the beginning of October, we were looking forward to heading east. We were also concerned that we’d weren’t going to be in the mood for the chaos of Istanbul having been in a lot of cities lately. When we arrived it was nighttime and we had to take a taxi to the only address we had been given for our Airbnb apartment. After a longer ride than we expected, we ended up in an area where hundreds of stray cats scattered from the piles of garbage they were eating as you walked down the street. Our host met us and was unbelievable friendly and helpful. Showing us our apartment he said, “It’s small, but clean” and laughed to himself. It was exactly that, which is all we could have hoped for at $35/night. As usual, waking up the next day put all our concerns to rest. Although our area was a little rough around the edges, the people were friendly and we were just minutes from the overcrowded tourist attractions. Sarah’s parents were going to be visiting in a couple days and we needed to figure out where to take them and where not to. The day before Sarah’s parents got there, we moved in to the Airbnb apartment that we’d be staying in with them. It was HUGE. A 3-bedroom duplex apartment with a bridge, flat screens, and it was located in the hippest part of the city. We took them to the Grand Bazaar and spent too much money, saw the Spice Bazaar and the poor animals for sale outside, and went to many incredible dinners. I don’t think any of us thought we’d ever be exploring Istanbul together so it was really exciting just to be there. It is certainly a crowded place though…almost twice the population of New York City! At the end of 3 days, we were all ready to move on but happy that we had experienced this place together.

WE RECOMMEND

CAPPADOCIA

You’ve probably had dreams about Cappadocia. Until you visit, you may not realize it actually exists in Turkey. Thanks to Sarah’s parents, we were able to experience this place in the best way possible. Layers of volcanic ash have been eroded away over thousands of years to make drip castle/sand dune formations (called fairy chimneys) that people started carving their homes/churches/storage barns out of. The volcanic rock is very soft, almost clay-like, so carving into it is easy. We based ourselves in a beautiful cave hotel in Goreme, a small village with local crafts and delicious food. During our stay we did a tour of an underground city carved into volcanic rock that literally goes 200 feet beneath the earth’s surface, not something you want to be doing if you have any form of claustrophobia! The natives had passageways that connected their homes to the underground city so that they could escape people coming to raid their villages. As we descended deeper underground we were able to see areas where the natives kept their food, animals and of course their wine. We visited the Open-Air Museum in Goreme where we saw many churches with original paintings on the walls that used natural dyes and have been preserved since B.C. We rented 4-wheelers and a dirt bike and went on a tour into the desert to explore more of the strange and beautiful fairy chimney villages. On top of all of this, we woke up at 5:30am to take a hot air balloon ride as the sun rose. Each one of us had to go outside of our comfort zone, but the result was truly epic and unlike anything we’ve ever experienced.

BODRUM

In contrast to the first two places we visited, we did not visit Bodrum to explore. Sarah’s parents put us up in a fancy resort so that we could stay put and relax for a few days before we headed off to Southeast Asia. So it was that simple, we spent our time between the beach and the infinity pools, having big breakfasts and fancy dinners. We were all very excited to take our first dip in the Aegean Sea! We did go into town for dinner one night, about 30mins from the resort. As expected, the town is a very touristy place. It has been called “the St. Tropez of Turkey” after all, but luckily we weren’t there for high season. Regardless, it was fun to walk through the harbor to check out all of the yachts and our dinner was one of the best we’d had in Turkey. We headed back to our resort and spent the last couple days getting sunburned. It was certainly hard to say goodbye to Sarah’s parents, but we were both excited for the next phase of our trip!

WE RECOMMEND

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