Spas & Nature for this Vegan in Pamukkale- Heading to Kusadasi!

Day#7 of my Turkey vacation was the only “Free Day” of my trip. Fortunately, guests can experience many amenities at my hotel in Pamukkale!

I started my day with a nice breakfast in the hotel dining room. A large simit(gotta LOVE those!) with strawberry jam, a plum, and dates comprised the sweet portion of my meal, while green and purple olives, sliced tomatoes, and cucumbers provided savory goodness!

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I decided to go for a walk in the hotel’s garden and pool area outside. My enjoyable morning relaxation began with swinging back and forth on a hammock within the beautiful, tree-lined garden. This was such a tranquil and lovely experience! Turkish pop music was being played on the poolside radio.
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Palm trees, various shrubs and some flowers graced the gorgeous area behind the hotel. I even saw different types of birds flying above in the skies and landing on the lamp posts beside me.
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Adjacent to the hammock area, a large pool and a smaller thermal pool are found. I dipped my legs into the healing, warm waters of the thermal pool. What a soothing and calming environment!
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Next on my day’s agenda was a visit to the hotel’s spa. In Pamukkale, spas offer a clay mask treatment using the clay from the bottom of the wonderful thermal pools in the region. That is what I just had to experience for myself! It was quite soothing and my face glowed afterwards with clean pores! The esthetician even gave me several packets of clay mask treatments to take home with me.
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My lunch options in the hotel were somewhat limited. However, I was able to have ‘apple’ potato large slices fried in veggie oil. They were not greasy and were indeed tasty. For a side dish, a nice salad filled my tummy. The food was fresh and well-prepared.
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My dessert was a plate of mixed fruit: watermelon, plum, sliced bananas, and cherries. This was a great treat!
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At approximately 3pm, my transportation had arrived to take me on a five hour ride to my next destination: the city of Kusadasi.

Along the way, the landscape provided changing vistas of hills and plains and various trees. We came across many fields of olive trees. Turkish olives are renowned worldwide and seem to be incorporated into every meal of the day.
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This region of Turkey is also known for its oranges. We drove past many fields of orange trees also. I really enjoyed drinking orange juice with many of my meals throughout my vacation in Turkey!
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After a couple of hours had elapsed, our bus driver stopped at a rest area for the obligatory restroom and snacks break. I found a wonderful beverage at the rest stop’s café. It was a delicious, freshly squeezed strawberry juice!
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I also purchased some Turkish figs to appease my hunger during the afternoon bus journey. They were really flavorful!
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Some lovely, purple flowers graced our window view from our bus seats, as we continued to make our way to Kusadasi.
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We finally arrived in the seaside resort town of Kusadasi. The sun was setting over the Aegean and provided such gorgeous views!
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After freshening up at my hotel, I headed to the Ladie’s Beach waterfront for dinner. Saray Restaurant(Saray Restaurant) is known to be one of the few vegan-friendly restaurants in the area. I dined on an entrée of Vegetable goulash containing various vegetables(cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, eggplant) with rice. The homestyle cooking entrée was filling and really tasty.
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Entertainers graced the walkway between the beach and the row of restaurants and shops.

Break dancers performed their fancy moves to old and new pop music.
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Restaurant waitstaff grabbed some diners to perform some Turkish line dances to local music. All in all, it was a fun night on the waterfront!
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As I headed back to my hotel, my thoughts turned to the interesting day ahead with my upcoming visit to the ancient ruins at Ephesus!

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My Visit to Pamukkale and Hieropoulos, Turkey as a Vegan Tourist!

When my overnight bus arrived in Pamukkale, Turkey; a representative from the tour company met me at the bus station. The tour company had arranged for its guests to stay at a temporary hotel room for a couple of hours to freshen up before the start of our local tour. The hotel not only provided sleeping quarters and a shower, but breakfast was included also.

My vegan breakfast option was some bread with jam, a slice of watermelon, and some olives, tomato slices, and cucumber.
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A quick nap was just what “the doctor ordered” to unwind after a lengthy overnight bus ride. Eventually the tour guide arrived and onward we went to our tour destination! The first stop was a spot where there were a few thermal pools. It was a sneak preview of what we would encounter later in the morning. The water rippled between the terraced stone pools. The waters were warm and soothing to the skin.
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Our time at the thermal pools had come to an end and we were next on our way to the ancient village ruins of Hieropoulos. The old city was located on hot springs in southwestern Anatolia. It was founded as a spa town in the 2nd century BC, used by doctors for patient medical treatments. A temple was built there during the 3rd century BC. In 133 BC, it became part of the Roman Empire.

Prior to the Hieropoulos agora entrance, one finds the Necropoulos. These ancient tombs are among the best preserved in Turkey.
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The entrance gate to the main street of Hieropoulos is still well-preserved, with its three exquisite arches.
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The Romans built these ancient latrines on the grounds.
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The Temple of Apollo was constructed here, since he was the main god of the town during the Hellinistic period. It sits behind the Nymphaeum, which was built as a shrine to nymphs in the 2nd century AD. The Nymphaeum fountain also distributed water to the homes of the city utilizing its network of pipes.
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The Apostle Philip was crucified here on the top of these hills.
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A large Roman theater was erected under the Roman leader Augustus.
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Relief sculptures of mythological figures adorned the stories of the stage area. During the 3rd century, the limestone seats were replaced with marble. The auditorium had a capacity of 15,00 seats. During its course, the orchestra was used for performing live plays, aquatic competitions, and chariot races.
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A museum on the grounds of Hieropoulos houses many items that had been excavated from the ancient city. Statues of ancient Greek and Roman political leaders and gods, Byzantine coins, and Greek and Roman Empire pottery are among the treasures.
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Adjacent to Hieropoulos are the calcium carbonate pools of Pamukkale:”The Cotton Castles”. The natural site in the Denizli province of southwestern Turkey contains hot springs and travertine terraces. The flowing waters left carbonate minerals in the terraces. Many terraces can be found here, each providing a warm and therapeutic environment for visiting tourists.
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The views of the calcium travertine terraces are absolutely breath-taking! Numerous shapes and sizes of these calcium travertines with aqua blue waters, make such stunning landscapes!
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After our time at Pamukkale had completed, we were given a surprise visit to a marble factory. A craftsman demonstrated how the marble is cut and polished by machine, then brought us to the showroom where sleek and polished marble pieces of statues and jewelry were available for purchase.

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Our lunch break took place at a local restaurant that our guide had pre-selected. White beans, red and green stewed peppers, and cauliflower in a tomato sauce was my lunch time meal. It was delicious!
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A salad accompanied my meal.
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We had completed our tour itinerary for the day and were back en route to our hotel.

Pamukkale is a small city so not many vegan-friendly restaurants exist there. A couple of local dining places are known to have some vegan options. One such a restaurant is the restaurant at the Kale Guesthouse Hotel(Kale Mh. Atatürk Cad. No:16, Pamukkale, Denizli, Denizli, 20280, Turkey, ‎866 539 8430‎ ) in the center of town. The owners and their son understand the concept of “Vegan”. That is where I chose to go for dinner. I dined on imam biyaldi(stuffed eggplant), fried zucchini chips, rice, and stewed greens with a side salad and olives. My food was really delicious! Homestyle cooking at its finest can be found here!
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It was time to call it a night and to look forward to the following day’s free time in town, before an afternoon minivan transport to my next destination: Ephesus!

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A Vegan on Tour of Cappadocia, Turkey -Part#2

My second and final day in the Cappadocia region started with breakfast at my cave hotel Dedeli Konak(Dedeli Konak Cave Hotel) in Urgup. Watermelon, local apricots, Turkish figs, golden rausins, Turkish orange slices, and Turkish olives comprised my morning meal. I love the local fruits and olives..plus very vegan-friendly and nutritious!
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The tour bus had arrived for today’s touring! Our morning agenda started with a visit to the Red Valley. Fruit trees and grapevines are abundant in this peaceful region. Purple and white flower patches appear along the walking trails, while colorful butterflies can be randomly seen hovering above.
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We reach the area where pidgeon caves abound! These sky high rock formations have ‘pidgeon holes’ carved into them, that attract multitudes of pidgeons. The sole purpose of these pidegeon caves was to gather the birds for their droppings, which were to be used as fertilizer.
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Our group continued to hike through this massive valley, walking through cavelike passageways.
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We stumbled upon a vendor selling various nuts and dried fruits. Figs, dried chickpeas and other snacks popular in Turkey were available for purchase.
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After a couple of miles, we had exited the Red Valley and had entered Rose Valley.
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The Rose Valley also is aesthetically captivating and home to a couple of rock cut churches. I enjoyed climbing up the rock to the inside of one of these Orthodox Christian churches in a cave! What a rush this was, looking out from the opening from inside of the rock formation at this high elevation!
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We completed our hiking tour of the two valleys after a three or four mile jaunt. The tour bus then took us to Cavusin Village. The village lies between Avanos and Goreme in the Cappadocia region.
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Cavusin is where Orthodox Christian families and clergy lived to protect themselves from invading enemy groups. St. John The Baptist church is at the top of the hill. It was built in the 5th century and contains many frescos of Christian biblical figures.
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Our tour group was given some free time to explore these cave dwellings. I wandered into several of them. The rock interiors were carved into nooks of various sizes to create sleeping quarters, dining areas, and storage spaces.
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For our lunch time meal, we headed to Asmali Konak Restaurant(Asmali Konak Restaurant). As always, my tour guide conveyed to the waitstaff that I am vegan. My lunch was a tomato and orzo soup and a veggie stew of green peas, carrots, and potatoes in a tomato broth, with a side of rice. It was quite good.
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After lunch, we arrived at the underground rock city of Kaymakli. The cave houses in the underground city were built to protect its residents from enemy invaders. The residents had other homes in the area, but lived in the underground houses when hiding for protection from their enemies. The underground city contains one hundred tunnels. Nine levels exist, but only four levels are open to tourists today. The underground city contains a church, storage spaces, kitchens, sleeping areas, and a winery. The tunnels connecting each level are very narrow and very low ceiling space. Giant round stone wheels were pressed against the tunnel exits so that enemies would not be able to enter. It is one of the largest underground cities in the region.

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The final room we entered in the underground city was known to be the winery. Spaces carved into the rock were used for storing the wine containers.
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What an exciting experience to have visited the underground cave city!

We drove past the natural castles at Orthahisar, similar to the ones we had seen the prior day at Uchisar, on our way back to our cave hotel.

The wife of one of the staff from my cave hotel(Dedeli Konak Cave Hotel Restaurant), was kind enough to prepare another scrumptious dinner for me, before my departure on the overnight bus to Pamukkale.

Lentil soup with crusty bread and olive oil was the first course.
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A wonderfully tasty mix of greens, mushrooms, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, and zucchini was my entrée. The homestyle cooking was incredibly delicious!
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For dessert, a refreshing watermelon and plum hit the spot!
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I was transported to the bus station for my connecting bus. A ten hour drive was in store on the overnight bus to Pamukkale. It was comfortable and air conditioned and provided some tv and music service, as well as wifi. After a couple of bathroom breaks, the bus pulled into a rest area that included a convenience store. I purchased a dark chocolate bar with pistachios. A local teenager who spoke good English read the ingredients and assured me that it was vegan. This yummy snack satisfied my hunger during the lengthy evening journey
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I reclined back in my comfy seat, while my thoughts were looking forward to the following day’s adventure in the Pamukkale region!

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A Vegan on Tour of Cappadocia, Turkey – Part#1

The overnight bus from Istanbul arrived in Urgup, a village of the Cappadocia region, during the early morning hours of my fourth day in Turkey. When I arrived at my cave hotel “Dedeli Konak”, I was giddy with excitement that I would be staying at this absolutely gorgeous cave hotel! Colorful bedspreads and pillows, plush exquisite sofas, fancy bathrooms with jacuzzis, and a private ‘cave room’ were the amenities of these luxurious accommodations! The Cappadocia region in central Anatolia is known for rock churches, underground cave cities, houses carved into the rocks, and rock mushroom formations in it’s landscape. Visitors can find cave hotels in the villages that make up the Cappadocia region. Their guests stay in cave rooms carved out of the local volcanic rock.
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The cave hotel provided breakfast as part of my tour package. Watermelon, purple and green olives, cucumbers, various fruit jams, apricots, strawberries melons, and oranges comprised my morning meal. Of course, my beverage was the amazing Turkish orange juice.
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I noticed that a blue eye plaque that wards off the “evil eye”, was hanging on the hotel entrance wall, as is typical in many Turkish homes and businesses.
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Our day’s Cappadocia tour started with a visit to the Imaginary Valley.
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Some of the rock formations resemble animals such as a camel. Hence it’s nickname “Imaginary Valley”.
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In the photo below, the rock formation in the center background resembles The Virgin Mary.
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Our next stop was the Devrent Valley. This is where one finds rock formations known as “fairy-chimneys”. These fairy chimneys form a moonlike landscape: a “moonscape”. Giant fair chimneys stood alone, in pairs, and in groups of many. It was quite an impressive sight to behold!
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Our next drive took us to Monk’s Valley where we viewed some quite fascinating rock formations with mushroom-shaped pinnacles.
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A hermitage for monk’s and a church was built here into the rock formations. This Pasabag valley region of Cappadocia really is home to some of the most striking mushroom rock formations!
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Our guide surprised us with a visit to a pottery-making shop in Avanos. This is one of the pottery and craft centers of Turkey. A local craftsman showed us how he creates his pieces. Colorful plates and bowls with raised etchings were proudly displayed for the guests to admire.
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Lunchtime had arrived. Our guide had arrived for us to dine at Aydede Restaurant in Avanos. The restaurant is actually a cave restaurant made of the local volcanic rock. What a fun dining experience!
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My luncheon consisted of tomato soup, hummus with chili sauce, breads with olive oil for dipping, hummus, and veggie casserole, with a side of rice. Watermelon was the day’s dessert. It was a filling and good homestyle meal.
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After our lunch, the guide had a surprise in store for us! He brought to a nearby jewelry factory and shop! The staff informed us of the mining process involved in rare local jewels. We then were free to wander about the showroom to view the various jewelry pieces available for purchase. Black onyx is a gem that is mined locally in Turkey.
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Our afternoon tour was about to commence! The Goreme Open Air Museum is a tourist hot spot in the Cappadocia region! This medieval painted, rock cut churches were carved by Orthodox monks. The complex contains many monasteries, with unique looking churches adjacent to each other. Many of the churches contain gorgeous frescos, still beaming with vibrant colors! Tourists are free to roam about and climb inside the nooks and crannies and small spaces within the churches. Some are actually quite large.
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A couple of the churches require visitors to climb up quite a few steps to the high perched cave entrance.
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The church of St. Basil is the first of the rock cave churches that we counter. He was a theologian who was monumental in developing Christian monasticism. The huge complex of rock cave monasteries was carved between the years 900 and 1200 AD. The complex includes ten churches, houses, and a religious school.
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Crosses bordered with orange paint display over the entrances, on sides of the churches, and within the interior walls of some of the churches.
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The frescos within these Orthodox Christian church walls depict various Christian scenes, Christ, the Virgin Mary, and other church figures such as John The Baptist.
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Our tour bus then made a stop at a scenic overlook where we could have a panoramic view of the Goreme area and Pidgeon Valley below us. This landscape of fairy chimneys and pidgeon houses carved out of the rocks is quite stunning!
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Uchisar Castle was next on our agenda. This massive rock on top of the hill in Uchisar is quite impressive. Multiple rooms are carved into its sides. It is the region’s tallest fairy chimney.
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Dinner time had arrived when we returned back to our lovely cave hotel. The hotel staff prepared a wonderful vegan meal. The Turkish homestyle cooking made for an amazing dinner! The appetizer was the Turkish Spinach Gozeleme or spinach in a thin, crispy pastry crust(photo from Turkey somehow got erased from camera, so instead I’ve posted this photo of spinach gozeleme in a flatbread, from local restaurant near my hometown.). My meal included sautéed local fresh veggie such as eggplant, zucchini, greens, and tomatoes in a tomato sauce, with a side of rice. My dessert was a slice of tasty watermelon with apricots. Everything tasted absolutely delicious! Tourists can typically get great homestyle cooking, local dishes at their cave hotels.
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I opted for the evening entertainment tour. Our group attended a Turkish music and dance performance nearby in Cappadocia region. Our table was provided with mixed nuts and dried chickpeas, a popular snack in Turkey. Refreshing watermelon was also served to us.
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The evening started with Whirling Dervish dances! They perform ritualistic dances to arrive at a state of trans, as a mystical or ecstatic experience of their spirituality, as followers of Rumi.
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The remainder of the evening showcased various regional Turkish dances, some of which included waving of colorful handkerchiefs in the air.
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What a glorious day this had been! The rock cave churches and formations were absolutely magnificent and stunning! I went to sleep in excited anticipation of what the next day’s adventures in the Cappadocia region would bring!

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A Vegan Sightseeing Tour in Istanbul, Turkey – Part#2(Cruising The Bosphorus)

Day three of my holidays started with an early breakfast at my hotel. Watermelon, green and purple olives, and raisins rounded out my morning meal. I washed it down with some awesome pomegranate juice. Between the wonderful orange and pomegranate juices plentiful in Turkey, I was never at a loss for a luscious and refreshing beverage!
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Another day of interesting sights and tastes was about to begin! First on our agenda was a drive to the boat docks for our morning cruise along the Bosphorus Sea! Our spacious ferry had several passenger decks for easy viewing, so our group chose the upper level. boscruiseferry

We were served watermelon slices prior to the ferry’s departure.
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One of the first noticeable landmarks on our journey was the grand palace to our left, on the European side of Istanbul. Its size was quite expansive.
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On the hill beyond were perched homes and businesses.
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We came upon a massive fort, also on the European side to our left. This is “Rumeli Castle and Fortress”. It was built by an Ottoman sultan in the mid-15th century, before the conquer of Constantinople. The sultan Mehmed II had the fortress built to control sea traffic and to block intruders against the conquering Ottoman Empire.
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The Bosphorus Bridge which was now directly in front of us, is a lengthy suspension bridge that joins the European and Asian sides of Istanbul.
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We had now cruised closer to the Asian side of the city. The first landmark of significance was a military academy.
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Wealthy homes came into our view.
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Yet another palace graced our presence, this time on the Asian side of the city.
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One of the wealthiest businessmen in the country resides in a mansion here on the Asian side.
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More spectacular houses on another hill greeted us once again. The one and a half hour cruise had completed. It was really enjoyable and a great way to see the city’s perimeter, while enjoying a refreshing breeze on the Bosphorus Sea!
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Our tour group headed to Istanbul’s famous Spice Market. Many vendors shops within could be found selling a wide variety of spices. I purchased cumin, coriander, spicy chili pepper, and a small jar of Turkish saffron.
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Now we were all famished! Our guide brought us back to Tamara Restaurant(Tamara Restaurant) in Istanbul, where we dined yesterday.

Lentil soup with lavish bread and a side salad with lemon juice was the starter to our meal. The Turkish lavish bread is REALLY good!
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For my entrée(after guide translated to waitstaff and chef), I dined on stewed veggies. The selection was a bit different than the prior day. The plate included a luncheon of stewed green beans, carrots, tomatoes, peas, and mushrooms. Again, it was a really great, homestyle cooking meal. You find this type of “homestyle cooking” comfort food popular in Turkish restaurants and in bed and breakfast hotels.
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Our lunch time was done and we were off on another adventure! This time, a spectacular palace was in store! Dolmabahce Palace was constructed from orders of the Ottoman Empire’s 31st Sultan, Abdülmecid I. Construction started in the year 1843 and was completed in 1856. The sultan had wanted the palace built to rival its European counterparts in style, elegance, and comfort.
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The lengthy walkway to the palace entrance is lined with colorful flowers.
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The swan water fountain leading to the palace building, is surrounded by beautiful flowers also.
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The grandeur of the palace is evident upon reaching it’s front entrance!
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Although no photos were allowed inside the palace, I can assure you that its rooms are absolutely stunning! It is THE most magnificent palace I have ever encountered! Within its walls, you will notice massive crystal chandeliers, gold leaf ceilings, intricate engravings, and beautiful furniture and carpets. The palace always had up to date, contemporary technology on its premises. Gas lighting and water closets were installed in their day and later elevators and a central heating system were put in place.

From the Great Meeting Hall inside the palace, the sultan could dreamily glance through the large window onto the splendid view of the winding Bosphorus Sea.
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As we made our way to the outside, the enormous and ornate back gate of the palace grounds met us.
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Our final day’s tour of Istanbul had come to an end. I was picked up shortly thereafter at my hotel and brought to the bus that would take me on a ten hour, overnight journey to my next destination: Cappadocia.
During the previous night, I had paid a visit to a local restaurant Karadeniz(Karadeniz Restaurant) near my hotel to purchase a “Pide”(Turkish pizza), so that I could save it for dinner this night. The waiter understood English well, so he conveyed to the cook that I required this pide to be made without any cheese.

The pide crust is shaped like a boat and topped with tomatoes, corn, peppers, and mushrooms. It was delicious! I was thrilled to try a local Turkish food that had been veganized! I ate it at my Istanbul hotel prior to getting the overnight bus heading to Cappadocia.
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At some point during the overnight bus trip, I was hungry for an early morning snack. The leftover simit in my tote bag satisfied this hunger!
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I relaxed on the bus, while eagerly looking forward to my next day’s adventures in the rock cave region of Cappadocia!

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