We just got back from our weeks in Turkey, and even with the tragic events that happened at the airport last week, I wish we were still there.
A wonderful thing about Turkey is how many incredible, diverse experiences one can have while traveling around the country. One of our absolute favorites is Cappadocia. Imagine the hoodoos of Utah, the red rocks of Sedona, the open vistas of the US West, but with countless warren-like caves burrowed into the rock formations. The "fairy chimneys" - or pointed spires of wind and water sculpted, soft volcanic rock - are strewn throughout this vast part of central Turkey. Thousands of years ago, as far back as the Hittites (1800 - 1200 BCE), people started to carve pockets into the rock, often to escape from precarious political situations that have always, it seems, roiled the area.
Some of the most famous caves were made during the dawn of the Christian era. Frescoes made by monks hiding from persecution as far back as the seventh century still survive in some of the most isolated caverns.
We spent three nights in Uchisar, and had two incredible days in a row of hiking. We hired a guide, wonderful Mustapha, at the recommendation of a friend who has spent a lot of time in the area. It was the best advice we received! Our first day we spent in the Red Valley, and the second in Dove Valley, each day we hiked about five miles. Led by Mustapha, we learned about the history of the area, about the topography itself, and most charmingly, about the life-long experiences of Mustapha and his family living in Uchisar. As we explored the trails, caves, and ancient monasteries, Mustapha told us about his childhood of finding deserted underground worlds, ancient books ensconced in hermit's boltholes high in fairy towers, and about how he cried the first time his growing teenage self could no longer fit through the tiny opening to one of his favorite hiding holes.
Cappadocia is a perfect place to travel with kids. Our ten year old and twin six year olds were in heaven - running free on the trails, climbing through caves, exploring hidden worlds dug into the mountainsides - what's not to love!