WOW. I would say that’s all I can say about this trip, but I’m about to write a whole blog post, so that is obviously NOT all I can say haha.
My parents flew into Ankara last Friday as a surprise for my 32nd birthday! Sean knocked it out of the PARK and helped them arrange the trip, and managed to keep it a surprise!! I am so, so lucky and can’t believe they were here for our first, but ABSOLUTELY not last, trip to Cappadocia.
We arrived Saturday evening and checked in at the Kelebek Special Cave Hotel around 4:30 – it was SOO beautiful arriving an hour or two before sunset! We stayed in one of their bigger suites with two cave rooms! The cave room Sean and i slept in had another separate dug out cave that they set up a bed in for the kiddos; Grady called it “da bear house” and it was the greatest thing ever.
Sunday morning we woke up about 6:30 to head to the rooftop at the hotel for Kahvalti, and to watch the sun AND balloons rise. I mean… magical doesn’t even begin to describe! Below are the photos as the sun was rising, both from my phone and my Nikon Z6ii.
You can also head to my Instagram and see videos of this whole experience under the Cappadocia Highlight!
Since we were up bright and early, and now fed and ready to go, we headed Sunday morning to the Goreme Open Air Museum – which was such an awesome area to check out the caves you see all over the region. It is definitely pretty touristy, and we didn’t spend more than an hour here, but it was perfect to get some history and let the kids run around.
Next, we headed to lunch! I wanted to go to the neighboring town of Avanos, which is about 15 minutes from Goreme and a very, very beautiful drive. I literally just googled lunch in Avenos, and we headed to Fatima’nin Sofrasi, which was delicious, but what was SO amazing about it was the family atmosphere! Their family runs the restaurant and we were able to get to know them… and their friends!
Through this lunch, and Sean being Sean and making friends with legit everyone, we found Erkaya Seramik!! The reason I wanted to head to Avanos was because I heard it is famous for pottery-making… but this was an experience I was NOTTTT expecting.
We drove over to the general area our friends at lunch told us about, and as soon as we got out of the car, they were waiting for us! Our friends at lunch gave them a heads up we were coming, and we were whisked into their shop, offered tea and juice, and got us all set up for some pottery making lessons! I mean… Just… How is this real life. We spent the next couple of hours making pottery and getting a full tour of their shop, including lots of history behind why the items are shaped and painted as they are.
This is a fully family-run operation, and we feel so fortunate to have stumbled upon it. I cannot recommend going there highly enough! You can absolutely just shoot them a message on whatsapp (+90 545 954 27 12) to get all set up for a visit! I think this was my mom’s favorite part of our trip – it was truly so special!
We came back to the hotel for resting time for the kids before dinner, and Sean and I took advantage of my parents being here! We ran out and had drinks and an appetizer, and explored the city a bit, before coming back to get everyone and head to dinner. It was such a nice refresher!
Sunday night was filled with my dad and Sean’s first Turkish Hamam experience at the Kelebek Turkish Bath & Hamam, which they are both still talking about HAHA. The service was excellent, and the accommodations (being in a freaking CAVE spa!!) were absolutely stunning. They both came back to the cave hotel rooms raving about the experience, and my mom and I ended up going the following night!
Monday morning came quickly, but we didn’t get up as early for the balloon launch since we knew on a weekday in the winter there would be less balloons. I will say, if you go during the winter, make sure you have one weekend day to see the balloons launch. This isn’t a problem in the summer, but it’s definitely less popular on the weekdays in the colder months.
We still had Kahvalti up on the terrace and it was just as gorgeous! We checked out of our rooms, but one thing I REALLY wanted to do for Blakeslee was get her on a horse. She has been obsessed with the show Spirit, and I knew she would just love doing this with her grandparents in such an amazing place.
Soooo we did the normal thing, and texted our new friends at Erkaya Seramik (the pottery place from the day before) and asked if they had any recommendations to let her ride a horse! And of course, they pulled through in a HUGE way for us! An hour and a half later, all six of us (including 3 year old Grady) were on horseback.
I have to admit, I was thinking maybe we’d just let Blakeslee ride around a horse in a corral… nothing fancy… Let’s just say we got the opposite experience to that!
Saffet Ates gave us the COOLEST experience we could have ever dreamt of; we rode through the most beautiful landscape you’ve EVERY seen! Grady led the way on his horse, and never once complained or asked to get off. He was so mesmerized that he almost fell asleep at one point HAHA. We are so grateful and highly recommend reaching out if you plan to visit! You can send him a message on Whatsapp at +90 545 314 48 28 – and then thank me later haha.
All in all this was an incredible trip and we are SO excited to go back (likely many times) while we’re living in Ankara. If ANYONE wants to visit, we will more than happily head to Cappadocia every single time.
Have a question or need a recommendation?! Leave a comment below or shoot me an email!
FAQ’s (from my IG – you can also head to my Cappadocia highlight!)
Is Cappadocia better in the summer or winter?
We were keeping expectations low because we know Cappadocia is a preferred summer vs winter destination, but we are almost two months past the shortest day of the year, so it was a great in-between time to come. Yes, it’s colder to watch the sunrise, but the sunrises at around 7:30 as opposed to before 6am in the summer haha. It was also much less crowded than “normal”, and we could have stayed in any number of places with no issue.
Where should I stay?
There are SOOO many cave hotels to stay at in Cappadocia! We are going to check out several and I will report back, but you really can’t go wrong. It’s a beautiful town with so many different options. We did want one with Kahvalti included, and a Spa to take advantage of. Kelebek was perfect for us on this trip!
Do I need a car?
If you fly into Cappadocia (there are two small airports nearby) there are lots of shuttles to get you to Goreme. Once you’re there, the town is small enough that you can very easily navigate your way around on foot. There is also an abundance of taxis, so it really shouldn’t be an issue! We drove from Ankara and liked having our car to head to Avanos, but it wasn’t mandatory for sure.