Travelers: Leah and Mark and Jonah
Type: Modern nomadic journey through Turkey
Budget: Midrange ($1000-$5000)
Where did you go? We’ve been wedding photographers for almost six years. In January we decided we need to change our lives… drastically. So we sold everything we own, moved out of our house, my photography studio, Leah’s meditation center, and pulled Jonah out of preschool.
By the end of February we were free. Free of our stuff and very free to go anywhere we wanted to go. Our plan is to travel and world school our son for the foreseeable future. We decided that Turkey would be a great place to kick off our latest and greatest family adventure.
What did you do? We knew that Turkey was more than just the city of Istanbul so we wanted to make sure we visited as much as we could. Of course we didn’t want to binge and travel so fast between locations that we would end up not experiencing anything. Leah and I quickly realized that we needed to really learn more about the culture and history if we were going to answer all of the questions our three-year-old son was throwing at us.
- Why do so many women wear scarves on their heads?
- What is all that singing and why is it so loud (the call to prayer)?
- What is this food?
We spent four days in Istanbul and then took a domestic flight to Cappadocia right in the center of the country. The landscape there was formed by intense volcanic activity mixed with rain and climate that created rock formations literally unlike anything else in the world.
Our family slept in a converted cave! We explored an ancient underground city! We hiked through a beautiful canyon! Hiking on our own through the ‘fairy chimneys’ was like being in an odd magical kingdom… on Mars. We also visited a neolithic settlement — Catalhoyuk — arguably one of the earliest human settlements ever found.
We finished up our trip with a few days on the Mediterranean in the city of Antalya. We met up with a fellow blogger and expat from the UK who has lived there for over a decade. It was exactly how you imagine a beach town on the Mediterranean — relaxed and easy-going.
Of course you can’t throw a stone without hitting an ancient ruin from antiquity — and experienced that when all of a sudden in the middle of a shopping district we ran right into Hadrian’s Gate, built in the 2nd century! We only had enough time to visit one set of proper ruins so we hiked up high into the mountains and visited the ancient city of Termessos. The only city Alexander the Great could never conquer. During that hike I could see why!
What would you have done differently? I can’t say it enough: Take a food tour at the beginning of your trip. We wasted far too much time defaulting to the easy, brightly lit tourist food. If you’re going to take a food tour in Istanbul, make that one of the first things you do. You’ll learn where all the good local spots are early in your trip and not waste too much time eating at the tourists traps.
What’s your best advice for other offbeat travelers? Take the bus if you’re traveling between major cities. Seriously. Buying a bus ticket is almost too easy. The buses are better than some domestic flights in the US. Free wifi and TV screens. We traveled about 10 hours total by bus between cities and honestly the time flew by — even with a three-year old.