A Nile River Cruise has always been my mom's dream vacation, so when she spotted a packaged deal, she sent it our way as a not-so-subtle hint. The 8-Night "deal" cost $2200 per person and included round trip flights from Dallas, a couple of days in Cairo, and a 4 night Nile cruise. Sensing we could do better, Shane started looking into what it…

Before visiting Turkey, I knew very little about the Ottoman empire. The Sultan's Seal is a historical novel that served as a great introduction for my first trip to Turkey. This short and enjoyable read follows Kamil Pasha and his British sidekick Sybil as they investigate the death of the palace governess. It's a murder mystery with a little romance and politics that will teach…

Turkey has varied climates and seasons, from hot coastal summers to snowy winters. Even in the summer when temperatures soar, it may be quite cool at night in some parts. So the key is to dress in layers! Below you'll find our packing list for two weeks spent in Istanbul, Kusadasi, and Cappadocia during August/September. Iylana's list for the ladies is first,…

One of the things that draws thousands of visitors every year to Cappadocia in central Turkey is the prospect of staying a "cave hotel." These wind-carved structures have been hollowed out and lived in for centuries, and with the uptick in tourism, many are being converted into hotels. On our second trip to Cappadocia we stayed at Kelebek Hotel in…

We can't say enough good about the Anatolian region of Cappadocia in Turkey, so we thought we'd share some of our favorite moments and must-dos from our two visits to the town of Göreme: 1. Take an epic hot air balloon ride. There's no better way to see this volcanic and wind-eroded landscape than from the air! Enjoy the sunrise…

Göreme's Open Air Museum should be your first stop in Cappadocia (after a sunrise hot air balloon ride, of course). This monastic community complex is the best preserved example of the many Byzantine rock-cut churches that cover the region, and is a Unesco World Heritage site. The site encompasses 11 chapels and refectories all from the 10th–12th centuries. Expect to spend…

I got a taste of the hidden churches of the Cappadocia region on our first visit to Turkey in 2013 when we visited the Göreme Open Air Museum and the Selime Monastery. We returned the next year on a self-guided mission of Byzantine discovery, hiking the valleys for two days, admiring the surreal landscape and wandering into dozens of seventeen-hundred-year-old churches. Kapadokya…

A hot air balloon ride was on my 30x30 list, and Goreme was the perfect place to check it off. Hundreds of balloons take off nearly every day here, taking tourists on an unforgettable sunrise trip over the surreal fairy chimney landscape. Our host at Nostalji Cave Suites arranged our ride with Voyager Balloons. And when we returned to Goreme with my…

I'll never forget seeing photos as a kid of these crazy cave houses in Turkey. I thought there could not be a more distant, exotic place, and I never imagined I could one day visit them, much less stay the night in one! The landscape of Goreme is made of a very soft rock which has been artfully formed by centuries of…

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