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A "Twice in a Lifetime" trip to Cappadocia (with a group digital friends!)

Back in March, I was “snowed-in” a cabin in the mountains of Georgia on a trip that had not quite gone to plan…


It was somehow full of unexpected surprises that made a trip ten times better than I could ever have planned for! We spent the day without electricity or wifi, had a hot tub that was cold AF by the time we got in it, had our rescue vehicle breakdown and we had to walk up the side of a mountain to get to our lodge site!


It was in those moments that my thoughts and my mind slowed down enough to make room for a new idea to rise to the surface.


It suddenly seemed like an absolute no-brainer for me to host an international trip! I wanted to take a bunch of people who, liked me, were itching to see more of the planet but felt that life, plans and grown up responsibilities would get in the way of them organising the kind of trip they wanted to experience with friends.


As I sat and watched the snow fall against the windows of the cosy cabin, I thought about the places that felt most sacred and special to me on my travels.


Cappadocia sprang to mind like a Jack-in-the-box!

Photos by Lois Goswell - Rustic Studios



The next few months was a blur of emailing, promoting, messaging, organising and thinking up ideas to make this a unique trip that really stood out. I wanted a small intimate group, a professional photographer, a nice balance of chill time and go-go-go activities and some experiences that most people tend to miss when they visit Cappadocia.


The last time I was there, I visited for ten days, so I knew for sure that there was plenty to do to keep the group busy and have their jaws dropping at the whole experience.


This is probably more of a personal diary entry than a blog so that I don’t forget the details and those magical moments that we shared on this trip, but I know there's some nuggets in here that you're going to love!


Prep Day

The longesttttt day in the world (for all the best reasons) My flight wasn’t until 11:10pm on Friday night and as much as I told myself I’d have a nap during the day or I’d sleep on the plane - I didn’t! Obviously I was riddled with excitement, and as soon as I met Lois the photographer (check out her blog interview here) at the airport, we pretty much stayed awake all the way to Cappadocia. The best way to get there is to change at Istanbul then take a domestic flight to Kayseri or Nevsehir airport and get a transfer for around 90 minutes to get to Goreme where most of the hotels are.


We got dropped off at Kelebek Hotel and from the moment we arrived I KNEW that I’d chosen the perfect hotel. Everywhere you looked was like the front page of a travel brochure. Lots of cute cubbies and terraces with oversized cushions to sit on, an abundance of viewpoints and really attentive and staff. We spent the morning indulging in the vast breakfast spread and I got to work with meeting our tour guides, finalising payments and meeting Halluk (the taxi driver from my last visit) so that he could take us all around Cappadocia for some great shots and a fun day out.


Day One

The tiredness and the nerves kicked in massively by the time I’d opened my eyes. But promise of balloons at sunrise had me up and out of bed and back in the taxi with Halluk and Lois to watch the balloons take off. There were big crowds in the valley in the darkness as we watched the balloons fill up with air. It was significantly busier than the last time I visited, with the spectator rows about 15 people deep. But Halluk assured me that the weekend crowds in September are extremely busy and that it was calm down during the week (which it did)


After a glorious morning chasing hot air balloons, being taken to the most spectacular viewpoints and living my once-in-a-lifetime dream AGAIN, we headed back to the hotel to grab some breakfast and wait for the rest of the guests to join us.


The transfer buses I’d organised had charging ports and wifi which was extremely handy for when the guests started to arrive and landed one by one at the tiny airport. Throughout the day our group got bigger and very soon, two became eight.


I can’t describe that feeling of meeting people who you have only ever spoken to online and gel with instantly! Everything felt so easy and relaxed yet bursting with excitement! We spent the day exploring the maze-like hotel grounds, having drinks on Seten Restaurant terrace and getting up to speed on the plan for the week.


That night, the group of us walked into the main part of Goreme. I had organised a private dinner through some friends that I met on my last trip and it was hosted on Blue Moon Cave Hotel’s terrace. The food was delicious and we all finally got to chat to the group and get to know each other in real life rather than just the Facebook group. We easily could have gotten carried away with late night strolls and wine-infused chats but we had a 5am wake-up call for our balloon ride and everyone was pretty tired after they journey getting to Cappadocia.


Day Two

Rolling out of the bed in the early hours of the morning is only easy when you’re travelling OR waking up for the hot air balloons in Cappadocia! So it’s a great job we were doing both!


We met in reception and were joined by our final member of the group! (There had been a few issues with flight delays) We flew with Turquaz balloons - it’s worth pointing out that the company you fly with makes a world of difference! They really went above and beyond with this experience which prompted many happy tears and special moments for our group. It goes without saying that the views were spectacular!


After we landed we had a champagne party with strawberries and cake and were even given a certificate at the end - which was the cherry on top.


After a quick pit-stop at the hotel for breakfast, we were picked up by our guide for the Red Tour, one of Cappadocia’s most popular tours. If you are visiting and only have a few days to play with - I recommend that this is the tour that you do - it covers a lot of sites and history of Cappadocia yet has plenty of free-time and stops so that you don’t feel like you’re just retaining information. The sites were incredible and gave so much more understanding as to how Cappadocia has become the interesting landscape that it is today. The pottery workshop we visited turned into the “accidental highlight” when one of the girls took part in the demonstration and (through no fault of her own) started to create a masterpiece that resembled something that we shouldn’t have been looking at! We were giggling like teenagers and it definitely was a part of the trip that I still burst out laughing about now!


Day Three

The morning sunrises just never get old! It was totally my intention to sleep in and catch up on some rest after a busy few days - but I just couldn’t resist throwing on my slippers and wandering around the hotel grounds to look at the balloons. Our hotel had the most beautiful up-close-and-personal views of the balloons and breathtaking views of the valley and was nowhere near as busy as the famous Sultan Cave Suites. The balloons got so close, they practically went for a swim in the pool!


I had given the group the choice of doing a horse riding tour of an ATV quad bike tour. Organising the tours during the daytime rather than going at sunrise or sunset worked to our advantage because we were the only people on the tours! This meant that we had plenty of time to stop for photos, chat to the guide and go “off route” for a bit of a hair-raising adventure!


When we got back to the hotel, it turned out that the downside of the horse tour was that a couple of the horses were quite difficult for inexperienced riders, so it was pretty terrifying at times!


We spent the afternoon having drinks with some new friends that we’d met in the hotel and relaxing by the pool. We couldn’t stop chatting away to each other and it was so nice to see new friendships blossoming as a result of this trip.


Later that night, we went to the Turkish dinner show at Evranos. If you're looking for a fun way to spend an evening in Cappadocia, this is it! I ended up on the dance-floor with the bellydancer at one point and of the girls in our group celebrated her birthday there which was super fun!


Something to note: The food is okay, but not great, so don't expect it to be quite up to restaurant standard - it's more about the show and the entertainment than anything else. But all in all, a great night!


Day Four

This was the most special day of the trip! We were picked up by a tractor with a whisky barrel as the trailer and were taken to Kelebek's Hidden Valley for a breakfast tour. The owner of the hotel gave us details of his family history and how the region came about and we descended down into the hidden valley where there was a beautiful breakfast set up for us. The food was fresh and delicious and we were able to see the farm animals onsite. The wasps unfortunately wanted the breakfast as much as we did, however the staff would burn ground coffee at the table which really worked to make them go away.

We had a mini wine tasting class, were taken in jeeps to the main farm area and given baskets so that we could pick our own fruit and vegetables for our cooking class. This was one of those moments that I wanted to capture forever. It was charming in every way! The cooking class was so authentic and was easily one of the highlights of the trip! The food that we produced made us so proud and tasted incredible.

Our hotel organised for us to go and watch an open air movie under the stars at their sister hotel (Aza Cave Hotel). Randomly it was The Truman Show, but honestly it was such a great experience. We had Hookahs, warm popcorn and could order any food and drinks we wanted to our seat.

Walking back to the hotel that night wrapped in big blankets, reflecting on the day was a BIG pinch-me moment!


Day Five

Our final day started at the early hours of the morning. A group of six of us were picked up by my taxi driver and taken into the valley to watch the balloons take off. Somethings that’s really unexpected is that watching the balloons from the valleys is in some ways much more magical than going up in them. The freedom of wondering from viewpoint to viewpoint and watching the landscape change right before your eyes - there’s nothing like it!


The rest of the day was spent relaxing by the pool, souvenir shopping and lazing around the hotel playing with the dogs that had become part of our gang throughout the week.


That night we wrapped up the trip with a delicious private group dinner back where it all started on the rooftop terrace of Blue Moon Cave Hotel. We asked each other about the highs and lows of our trip, shared funny stories and memories that we’d captured and I revealed the next destination that I’ll be hosting the next group trip!


And in case you haven't heard...We’re going to Morocco!!!

 

There’s a couple of lessons that I’ll hold onto as a result of putting this trip together and I think you might be able to apply these to your own ideas and experiences!

  • Follow those little “niggles” that you can’t stop thinking about

  • Travel connects us in the most unexpected ways

  • The ripple effect of you following your passion goes WAY beyond what you could imagine

If you haven’t experienced Cappadocia yet, I hope that this has helped you to bump it up a couple of notches on your Bucket List. As with any hidden gem, it eventually gets discovered and it’s getting busier and more expensive over time, so don’t keep putting it off.


If you’d love to experience solo travel without all of the fears that come with it, it might be worth looking into this style of travel. Meeting new people who you already have common ground with, being part of a private Facebook group where you can get to know each other before you get there, having a trip host (me) who does all of the research and organisation for you and experiences the trip with you. Travelling in this way can be the difference between you experiencing the far-flung destinations you want to, or not going at all.


I know what it feels like to keep putting trips off, or having friends let you down year after year or not having people understand why it’s so important to you to see new places and have these kind of experiences.


Together in Morocco we’ll get a taste of the hustle and bustle of Marrakech whilst staying in a stunning Riad that's completely exclusive to our group!


We’ll explore the quirky and chilled-vibe of the port town - Essaouira. Explore the artsy medina without the overwhelm of Marrakech and sample some of the most delicious and fresh fish from the Atlantic.

And we’ll spend the last part of our trip having the most luxurious glamping experience in the Agafay desert. I’m talking infinity pool, quad biking, stunning glamping suites overlooking the desert and late-night fire pit drinks underneath the stars!

If this sounds like it’s got your name written all over it, check out details of our Morocco trip today! There are just three spots left (one spot in a twin room - best for solo travellers. And two spots in a double room - best for friends or couples). This could be the trip of a lifetime if you’re ready to take the leap!


Also, if you’re not already part of my Facebook travel community then I'm not sure what you're waiting for...


Be sure to join us to get all the tips and inspiration you need for your upcoming adventures!


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