Cappadocia – worth it?

I had never heard of Cappadocia before traveling to Turkey. It is described on Google as

Cappadocia, a semi-arid region in central Turkey, is known for its distinctive “fairy chimneys,” tall, cone-shaped rock formations clustered in Monks Valley, Göreme and elsewhere. Other notables sites include Bronze Age homes carved into valley walls by troglodytes (cave dwellers) and later used as refuges by early Christians. The 100m-deep Ihlara Canyon houses numerous rock-face churches.

The description sounds.. meh. It isn’t until you google the pictures of Cappadocia, or that travel blog you follow does a story on it, that you realize how incredibly beautiful and unique this place really is!

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We went here before I had heard of it, so I was completely surprised when I got off the bus to this literal magical fairy land. I grew up in Drumheller, Alberta, Canada which is a hilly town that has tons of dinosaurs and stuff, and Cappadocia reminded me of a more put together Drumheller.

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This is Drumheller.

We went in May and found the weather was absolutely beautiful and I did not find it touristy at all. They had horse drawn carriages that would drive you around the streets, they had cute little diners and restaurants, they had tons of Turkish rug stores (I bought 2… on a whim! they were so nice). But the main attraction here is to go up in the hot air balloons.

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If you wake up in the morning in Cappadocia you will see a sky full of hot air balloons. We did this! We had to wake up at 3 am, when it was still super dark outside, and walk to the main street where we had to sign papers and give in our passports. They trucked us out to the boonies area of Cappadocia where we watched the hot air balloons fill before we stepped inside the baskets.

The baskets has separate compartments to make sure that not everyone moved to one area and flipped the basket. There was a man that was in the middle of the basket operating the flame that allowed us to go up and down. We went up in the air just as the sun was rising and it was absolutely worth the entire trip to do !

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The whole thing was about an hour long, and being someone that is terrified of heights, the beauty distracted me from the fact that we were extremely high up.

In addition to the hot air balloons you can go hiking and explore around caves.

Absolutely add Cappadocia to your bucket list.

IT IS A MUST SEE 

What colour are the beaches in Greece

Rice Terraces – Philippines

Traveling with a fear of heights & water

Paragliding

Swimming with sharks

Take the picture or enjoy

I always wonder if it is appropriate to take the picture.

I travel to explore, for an adventure. Sure taking pictures and uploading them to facebook is great, other people love to hear about your trips and sometimes the pictures help you remember all that you did. I love reminiscing on my trips when I am stuck at work or in a snowstorm and pictures are a great way to do that.

But..

Sometimes you see those people who hiked a huge mountain, or are watching fire works or a show and they insist on taking non stop pictures, and watching the view or performance through a screen. I wonder what those people have as motivation to even go? Can’t you just google a video or picture, do you really need to be there then? Maybe our generation is so enthralled with our phones or camera’s that we don’t even realize we are doing it… we see one thing that is cool and we automatically want to snapchat it.

Then you get to the places like war museums, Auschwitz, Pompeii, places where really horrible things have happened to people like genocide, or being sold as slaves, and you see people taking photos. I understand to a degree, you may want to go home and show people you know will never go what it looks like in Auschwitz. I myself have a photo of my friends and I in Pompeii where they sold the slaves.. I don’t think we planned it at the time “cool, they bought and sold people here.. let’s selfie” I think it was more like “finally we don’t have a crowd around us, let’s take a picture”. But looking back, was that really appropriate?

There was a man who wrote an article and attached photos he found online of young people posing, or taking “profile pictures” in these types of places. He then photo-shopped in the background pictures from history where the Jews were starving to death, skin and bones, with this girl in the front doing a yoga pose. It really surprised people I think. The overall reaction was “how could these kids take those kinds of pictures in a place like that”, but unless he put the historic pictures in the background would you have ever though twice before?

The tourists that pay money to the locals that have a monkey or a snake on their shoulders to hold that animal, take a quick photo then give it back drive me insane. A huge snake, a monkey, all these animals do not want to be held. They are not our photo props, they are wild animals. How do you think they are treated when they are used soley as a pay cheque? They are stolen from the wild, drugged, and forced to be passed around like stuffed animals so that tourists can have a profile picture of them holding a monkey. It’s not right. Again, most people would not even think these things, they would see an opportunity and take it.

Off topic: I am an animal lover, completely. I grew up with dogs and I want to cuddle and hold literally anything that has fur. The biggest lesson I learnt when it came to animals was when I bought a pet rabbit. Rabbits are prey animals that hate being cuddled and held. I had to learn that my rabbit shows me affection way differently than my dog does.. she just wants to be in the same room as me, maybe sit on my lap for a head pet, and that was good enough. We can’t just assume all animals are the same as our household pets. 

I have a love hate relationship with electronic devices and I am not sure where I stand all the time on it, I flip and I flop.. But I try to remind myself when I reach for my camera or phone… is this really necessary and appropriate?

Do we travel to take profile pictures ?

These views

Ping Pong shows – Travel mistake

Pets on holidays

Are we really travel savvy ?

Can you believe this beach

Paragliding

Don’t let your fears stop you from doing something amazing.

I am scared of heights, terrified. Ok, let’s clarify… I am terrified of falling. So when we traveled to Turkey and ended up in a city called Oludeniz where the sky was full of para-gliders… I was torn. This looked like a beautiful place to para glide, and the people all look like they were having the time of their lives when they were landing on the beach.

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After a few days of touring around the town, and hanging out on the beach (which by the way was voted in National Geographic magazine one year as the 2nd most beautiful beach in the world, AND FOR GOOD REASON), I decided I was going to give it a shot. I thought and worried about it all the night before, and had a hard time going to sleep that night.

We woke up pretty early in the morning, because that is when the best para-gliding is, and walked down to the beach. We signed our waivers and paid for our “jump” and they loaded a group of us into a small van. I was so scared I was going to back out that I volunteered to be in the first group to go up that day. The drive up the mountain took about 20 minutes and I refused to talk to really anyone the entire time… I was trying so hard to stay out of my own head and not think too hard about what I was about to do. I had my go pro strapped to my chest and was twiddling my thumbs.

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As soon as we reached the top of the mountain we all piled out of the van. We were on a cobblestone platform that looked like it went off into heaven… we were actually in the clouds. They had asked who was ready to go, and again, scared that I was going to back down I volunteered to be the first one to go out. I got all strapped in and before I knew it the guy attached to me told me to start running towards the clouds. I was running and running and running, even when my feet were no longer touching the ground. He finally told me “OK you can sit back now” and I looked down and saw us go over the mountain edge.

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I was really nervous so I was asking all sorts of questions, and taking pictures. The view was the most amazing thing I had seen, and I wanted to really enjoy it. The guy asked if I would like to “spin” or fall for a bit, and I said “no thank you!” No way I want to plummet to the ground dude ! Once we were in the air I realized… HEY WHERE ARE THE OTHER PARAGLIDERS. They usually have hundreds in the sky by this time of day. He told me that we were the very first ones out that day as it had been very windy and we were supposed to test the winds and let everyone else know how dangerous it was.

OMG! I didn’t sign up to be the guinea pig!

By the time I landed there were the hundreds of para-gliders in the sky again. The pictures and memories I made can’t be replaced. I would do it again in a heartbeat!

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I celebrated with an entire jug of sangria to myself! CHEERS

Just do it. 

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The most beautiful beach

Swimming with sharks

Are we really travel savvy ?

How do you not move ?

Happiness

Happiness is the consequence of personal effort.

You fight for it,

strive for it,

insist upon it,

and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it.

You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings.

And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it.

You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it….

I crossed the street to walk in the sunshine.

 

Photo: Patara Turkey at Sunset… Beautiful

What the media does to us

The media is a funny thing when it comes to traveling…

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I remember before I started traveling I would read, or hear things on the news, that made me terrified to travel to certain parts of the world. I started with the “safer” countries, then began exploring others around.

In 2013 my best friend and I went to Greece, because HELLO, I am pretty sure the beautiful Greece is on everyone’s bucket list. When we were exploring around Greece we figured out we could get a 45 min- 1 hour boat ride over to Turkey and explore there like many other backpackers around us had also done.

When we got to Turkey it was the most beautiful place I had ever been…

We started out at Oludeniz Turkey, which can take your breath away. The beach and scenery were to die for, and they even had paragliding. Each and every place we traveled around Turkey was more beautiful than the last until I finally decided that I was in love with Turkey. We were on our way to Istanbul to explore the city, check out the sites, and tour the Grand Bazaaar then fly home when I discovered what the media was all about..

We had heard non stop from friends back home who knew we were on our way to Istanbul to “not go” to change our flights, to stay where we were. We had been traveling around and not paying attention to the news or anything for that matter, but our family and friends back home had heard on the news non stop how there were mass riots in Istanbul, huge flights, political war… Danger..

Being a little scared we asked around the locals

and discovered that the people of Turkey were just protesting something to their government with signs and marches around a square, and that there was no violence from the people.

After touring around the city for a few days and not hearing anything negative about these riots we decided to take the metro downtown to see what it was all about. It was, like the locals had said, a peaceful protest where people with mega phones were chanting something, others had signs up, there were live bands, people were selling food and drinks, and it was not scary at all.

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We spent our afternoon there not seeing any violence, no mad yelling, no police brutality, and no… no cars burning or exploding.

Yet back home my parents were glued to the TV screen watching bits and pieces of video put together to display a political war, and to keep fear in people from joining in…

Here we are, putting our entire lives at risk at this extremely scary riot in Istanbul. 

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Are we really travel savvy ?

How do you not move ?

Swimming with sharks

Massaaaaaagggeee !?

Massages are one of the best parts of traveling, especially in SEA.

In thailand they have the “thai massage”, which will run you about 8-10$ CAD. So worth it!. If you can get over the fact that you are most likely going to be in the same room with numerous other tourists also getting a massage you should be fine. I have had many different massages, some where I had to tell the women to not touch me there, others they just stick to your arms, legs, head and back and you are good. One of my friends had a woman massage her chest… she thought “when in Rome…” ha, JK… THAILAND.

The best way to describe a thai massage is a mix between the chiropractor and a massage therapist. They crack you all around, your back, your toes, fingers, neck, and they also massage all your muscles. These massages are well worth it, especially after hiking or just a time to relax.

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Aloe Vera massages cost a little more, because they use aloe instead of just massage oil, but they are the best after you got too much sun on the beach.

The massages in the Philippines were the same as in Thailand, but less of the “thai” chiropractic massage and more of the muscle/ tissue massage. They also have some places that are very fancy spa like places you would find back home.

I was going to get a Turkish massage, and go for a Turkish bath when I was in Turkey… but I chickened out.. so let me know if you have had one and how it was !

The women in the main picture came to us at the beach and gave us massages… this was in the Philippines. very cool !

 

Meeting acquaintances half way across the world

What is it about traveling that makes us so open minded? So ready to take on whatever is thrown at us with a smile on our faces and adventure pumping through our veins. When we fly to another country to explore does our mind switch from our regular routine, regular friends, regular personality to one of pure openness and excitement that makes us seem more attractive to others? What about the people that we meet? Have you ever met someone traveling that you automatically didn’t give a chance to, like we might do at home?

The backpacking community seems to be one that is tight, like an unspoken friendship between everybody, new and old. You walk into a hostel and instead of being greeted by other guests with dirty looks or just being plain ignored, you are invited into their card game, asked if you want a drink, where you are from and where you are going. Why is this? Do we travel to make friends? Are we scared that we will be alone in another country with no one to watch our backs? Are we excited that other people around our age are doing the exact same thing we are, traveling the same places and trying to find themselves as well?

I traveled to Greece in 2013 with my best friend since junior high. We both had a lot of different friend groups, and got along with almost everyone. When we arrived in Santorini Greece, we were walking down to the beach one night when someone called out to us by name from another hostel… it was 3 people from our home town. The same age and grade as us, that went the same schools we did… except we had never really talked or hung out before. We knew who they all were and they knew who we were, but that was about it. So why when they saw us across the world did they feel they needed to call out to us to hangout when at home if they saw us in the grocery store they would have just walked on by?

We ended up having a lot in common, obviously, we grew up in the same town, knew the same people, went to the same school, and as fate would have it, traveled to the exact same place at the exact same time staying only a few minutes away from each other. We spent the next few days together, going to the bars, having beach days, eating lunch and dinner together, hanging out by the pool, introducing them to the other people we were traveling with, and we even rented quads for an entire day with them. It seemed like we found old friends and just picked up where we left off, it didn’t seem like we had never talked before in our entire lives…

We added each other on social media (if we didn’t already have them) and they continued to follow the rest of our adventure, as we did theirs. We would “like” each others posts, and maybe comment here and there, and then we got home. Back to the same town we both grew up in, the same lives we led before. We stopped liking and commenting on each others posts about every day life, and we never kept in contact or asked the other to hangout at home. It was like our few day adventures where we spent almost every waking minute together never happened.

Why are we so open when traveling, but then close off when we get into our comfort zones? Do we secretly enjoy our daily routine, our regular friends? Then why do we yearn to travel again so soon… why does the travel bug take over our everyday thoughts when we could have the same mentality as traveling at home?