Solo Female Experience of Turkey

I’ve always been fascinated about Turkey, a land filled with so much history and its influences on the culture, food, people and politics. Turkey may be a predominantly muslim country, it also has a huge Christian community but more interesting is its place in the Christian story, with many archeological sites that bare witness to the birth of Christianity and other civilizations (Hittites, Persian,Greco-Roman,etc)

I visited Turkey as part of a two country trip, Turkey and Morocco in two weeks. My booked two flight itineraries , an international booking for the trip from Washington -Turkey-Morocco – washington and a national itinerary for flights from Istanbul -Goreme-Izmir. I sectioned my trip into three regions:

  • Goreme (Cappadocia)
  • İzmir
  • İstanbul

My flight from Washington landed at the new Istanbul airport (Ataturk Airport) on of the largest in the world at 5:20PM on November 2nd 2019, 20 minutes later than scheduled which resulted in me missing my connecting flight to Goreme and had to book a new flight. Though it was with the same Turkish Airlines whose policy states they’ll reschedule a missed connection if it was due to their delay they refused to reschedule mine because both flights were not on the same booking/ itinerary 🤦‍♀️ .Not how I wanted to start my trip.

Subsequently I arrived the Kayseri Airport 2 hours late but fortunately the ride that was arranged by Bekir the owner of my Cave Bed and Breakfast in Goreme was there to pick me up. Booking my stay here was one of the best decisions, Bekir arranged for my transportation, scheduled my hot air balloon rides, tours and was always available plus his Bed and Breakfast offered an immersive experience into the Goreme life complete with a cave stay which is a must when visiting this region.

Early next morning I set out to explore the city, my prefered way to know places is to lace up and go for a run which I did but if you’re visiting in the month of November, be advised; its cold and morning temperatures can did down to the single digits. I returned to the B&B for breakfast, a sumptuous feast to delight any palette then went out to explore the cave dwellings, archeological sites then went off the beaten path to hike the chimney rocks.

On day two I had scheduled a hot a balloon ride and the driver came to pick me up at 5 am, it was dark and cold but I was so excited I barely paid attention. Hot air balloon rides are dependent on weather and there are so many companies operating these rides but you need to book ahead of time to guarantee your place and fortunately Bekir took care of this for me. The vans, buses and cars all congregate to this take off locations/fields were you find the vans carrying the balloons and baskets, then it becomes a waiting game as the pilots await the green light from the methodological institution because though the skies may be clear and calm at ground level, up in the air is what matters and unfortunately for us, on this day it was a no go. So at 7 am, we were all huddled back into our cars and driven back. Bekir had to scramble to get me another spot for the next day but he worked his magic and also booked a Green tour for me to visit some ancient underground dwellings, the canyon valley , pigeon valley and much more, lunch inclusive.

On the third day, it was an early morning rise once more to attempt the hot air balloon ride again and this time around we got the green light and the balloon inflation started at 6:30 am and by 7 we were in the air. Word of advice, dress warm, temperatures are frigid up there but its a memorable experience.

The baskets carry between 6-12 people depending on size and this like flying any aircraft is a very technical skill that requires lots of training and coordination with the ground crews. The most skilled pilots actually get the baskets to land unto the back of the transporting pickup trucks. After the ride we were all treated to champagne, then transferred back to our hotels by the company vans that followed the balloon to its landing place.

After breakfast, I spent some time at my hotel eating grapes of the terrace vines, drinking coffee with the owner and his friends and later went out to explore. The people were very friendly but as a female travelling alone I got a few cat calls but nothing over whelming.

I walked around Goreme center were I sampled some street food and got to chat with some locals. I departed the next day for Izmir.

Goreme Tips and Resources
> Best time to visit Cappadocia is from March- June (Wet ) or September – November(Colder) which are low seasons.
> If you plan on doing a balloon ride, book in advance.
>The best places for pictures in Cappadocia are:
*Sultan Cave suites (rooftop for balloon views)
*Red Valley (panoramic views)
*Galleri Ikman (carpet shop)
* Uchisar Castle (Views)
*Pigeon Valley/ evil eye tree (Chimney views)
*Open air museum (landscape)
*Ariana Sustainable Luxury lodge (Balloon flights)
* Sultan carpets (Carpet shop and photo-ops )
> Book a cave room for a unique stay.

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