Welcome to this week’s Postcard From – the feature where I chat to some lucky explorer about their recent travels.
This week, I’ve been chatting to Wanderlust Chloe from www.wanderlustchloe.com. Wanderlust Chloe is a girl who loves adventures. Last year she visited 12 countries, including spending three months travelling around Mexico, Cuba and Central America. She launched her blog Wanderlust Chloe to share her stories, tips and photos with the world. Alongside this, she also blogs for The Huffington Post about travel, food and lifestyle. In particular, she loves to travel on her own and has written extensively on the topic of solo female travel. She’s a former radio producer and music manager but is now enjoying the freedom that travel and the digital world brings! She’s just returned from a week in Turkey, so let’s hear about the highlights…
Hi Chloe! What inspired you to take your latest trip – and where did you go?
I’ll admit it, I’m a sucker for beautiful travel photos on Instagram. A few months ago there was one in particular which struck a chord. It was of a place called Cappadocia in Turkey and showed a landscape of strange rock formations, and a sky filled with hot air balloons. I simply had to go. I travelled from London to Istanbul and spent a few days there enjoying the history, culture and plenty of delicious Turkish food! It was as vibrant and exciting as I expected. From there, I took a flight to Kayseri, the largest city in Cappadocia and transferred to a tiny village perched on top of rock called Uçhisar. On the way from the airport we passed some of the magical rock formations I had been so excited to see.
Ooh – so was it lovely and hot when you travelled?
I travelled there in mid-April 2015, and unlucky for me, Cappadocia was experiencing some freak weather for the time of year. We experienced snow flurries and highs of 8 degrees, while the following week the forecast was sun and highs of 23 degrees!
Ah, that’s annoying! Were you staying somewhere nice to shelter from all that crazy weather?
The region is dotted with caves, which have been converted into incredible boutique hotels and hostels. The first hotel I stayed in was Kale Konak Cave Hotel which was an incredible building nestled underneath Uçhisar Castle. Some of the rooms are in the original cave dwelling, but the hotel has been fitted out with all the modern fixtures you would expect (TV, shower, Wifi etc). There were so many nik naks and details from the history of the cave. What made it extra special was the owner, Abdullah, who is a man with a big heart. He has taken in lots of stray and sick cats and dogs and nursed them back to health. The second hotel I stayed in was Osmanli Manor, on the outskirts of Göreme. This was a totally different experience, as the hotel is a new build, but it was beautifully decorated and had amazing views from the terrace on the top floor.
What did you get up to?
While in Cappadocia I visited the underground city at Kaymakli, trekked to see the Fairy Chimneys, Pigeon Valley, Love Valley, Imagination Valley, Çavuşin village, Göreme Open Air Museum and more. There is so much history in the area, but it’s not dry textbook history – it’s the type of history that is so real you can touch it!
That all sounds so incredible. I think I can probably guess your highlight…
My highlight was the hot air balloon trip on the first day. Finally I ticked it off the bucket list! Cappadocia is the most popular place in the world to go ballooning. It’s partly because the landscape is incredible, but also because around 100 balloons take the skies every morning (weather permitting). It was also the first time I’d been in a balloon, and I loved how peaceful it was.
How did you find the food?
I’m a big fan of Turkish food, and had some delicious meals while in Cappadocia! One lunchtime, I had a large plate of meze with a giant balloon bread. In the evening I sampled a local delicacy – the testi kepab (pottery kebab). Don’t worry, I wasn’t crunching down on plant pots… it’s a type of meat and vegetable stew that is cooked inside a sealed pot. To eat, the waiter brings a large knife to the table, and you crack it open yourself!
Cappadocia is quite touristy from what I hear. Can you recommend anything off the beaten track for people to do when they visit?
While in Cappadocia there are plenty of ‘must dos’… but one of the things I loved most was chilling out in the garden at Kale Konak with a glass of tea, while watching the cats playing against the incredible red rock backdrop. I felt like I was miles from anywhere!
Amazing! Do you have any other tips for travellers?
Definitely try the testi kebap at Sedef Restaurant, and the meze plate at Anatolian Kitchen. Avoid getting the bus from Istanbul to Cappadocia as it takes a very long time and flights are relatively cheap. For around £50 return you can fly from Istanbul to Kayseri, then many hotels offer free or cheap shuttle buses to and from the airport.
And finally: what do you love most about travelling?
I love the feeling of freedom I get from travelling the world and exploring new places. It’s very addictive! I also love being able to recommend new places to friends, family, and the wider world via my blog.
NB – all images are owned by Wanderlust Chloe