Istanbul and Cappadocia, Turkey
For our first Baby-moon we didn't do your typical tropical destination. While I really wanted to, it was not a possibility for us for a few reasons, one of the biggest reasons being Zika. I still wanted to go somewhere warm but for travel in December avoiding Zika really limited our destination choices as most tropical places at that time were on the high risk level for Zika. But also since my husband was in India on a work trip we decided to meet up in London where I was visiting one of my best friends and maid of honour, also known as David's cousin :)
From London our first stop was Istanbul, Turkey. We stayed there for just a couple days, mostly to rest from all the travelling, before heading to Cappadocia. Since we knew we were going to be tired and we didn't have that much time to explore the city we decided to find a hotel with gorgeous views where we could unwind and quietly take in the city views.
We stayed at Witt Istanbul Suites which is located on a steep hill (make sure you have comfortable shoes) in a trendy neighbourhood and about 45 minutes away from Istanbul International Airport. We connected with the hotel to arrange our ride to and from the airport. Our room was the King Panoramic with Terrace suite, which I highly recommend upgrading to since the views are one of the best in the city! To book click here.
There are a lot of cafes , art stores, interior design stores, and boutiques all walking distance from the hotel. The hotel provides a pamphlet with all this information. We used the metro station to get to Blue Mosque and Taksim Square which can be overwhelming due to how busy the city is however if you have google maps it's pretty easy to navigate!
By the time we got to our room there was a bottle of wine, fresh fruit and traditional baklava waiting for us, and just in time for a beautiful sunset.
David and I love to learn about cultures, history, and a bit of the language everywhere we go. We woke up to the call to worship which was a beautiful welcome to the city.
This tower (Galata Tower) is actually a landmark with one of the best views of Istanbul, however lesser known is that our hotel provided the same exact view!
Explored a bit on ground.
Definitely recommend getting tickets in advance. There were very long line ups everywhere and we only managed to visit the Hagia Sophia - it was incredible to witness such detail in the architecture in and out.
We rushed back to our hotel to catch the sunset from the rooftop garden terrace!
The next day we flew to Cappadocia which took 1h15mins direct. We stayed at the Sultan Caves Suites which is known for their roof top view and trust me it does not disappoint! The rooms are in caves and many even had a small fireplace inside, definitely an experience to remember! The employees were so kind and helpful the whole trip. It was definitely an epic adventure!
They provided an amazing selection for breakfast, which you can take outside on the terrace and enjoy the panoramic views and stunning sunrise. This is also a gorgeous location to watch hot air balloons float by.
We roamed around the town a bit and then asked where the best place to catch the sunset is. We were told "Sunset Point", which based on the name seemed like a pretty good indication that its the spot to go! It took us about 25 minutes to get there casually walking from our hotel. Keep in mind we went during their low season (December) so if you are going during their busy season make sure to go earlier and find your spot!
So while visiting Cappadocia you cannot miss taking a hot air balloon ride, one of the most famous reasons people visit! We went with Butterfly Balloons which was recommended by our hotel staff. You are picked up at 5AM and taken to their office where breakfast is provided and at that same time assigned to groups. The balloon basket is divided into spots for about 4 people and the whole basket holds about 30 people. You are introduced to your pilot and then driven up to where they are setting up the balloon for the early morning ride.
At first, each balloon takes turns going up one by one.
And then all of a sudden you start seeing more and more pop up from different locations.
The pilots clearly have done this a lot - look how close we got to the rocks, it's insane!
This was the most magical experience. Aside from the periodical burst of flame keeping the balloon floating in the sky, there is absolutely no sound. And since you only take flight on mornings with no wind, its a calmness we really didn't expect!
Photos and videos just do not do it justice.
We ended off the experience with some champagne and juice after landing. Seriously an experience we'll never forget!
I highly recommend visiting Cappadocia in their low season so you can avoid big crowds. The town is laid back and quiet so the less crowds there are the more you will be able to appreciate this. Give yourself a few days but book your hot air balloon ride the first day as there is a chance they have to reschedule your flight due to winds or rain. It happened to us but we managed to re-book for the following day. It is a small city so I recommend taking it easy and exploring at a simple pace, chatting with locals, and enjoying some authentic tea. The locals do not have a sense of rush and neither should you.