Lale Magazine featured my article titled Snowy Weekend in Cappadocia in their January/February 2018. The article covers a romantic weekend getaway to the snowy land of Cappadocia. The curved canyons of speckled volcanic rock jutting 2 to 3 stories into the chilled winter air were dusted with the recent fluffy snowfall!
The expat magazine, Lale Magazine, is produced by the IWI, International Women of Istanbul. The bi-monthly magazine is shipped to over 600 private home, as well as all advertisers and sponsors. The readers are comprised mostly of Turkish nationals married to foreigners, but also foreigners living in Istanbul. It is full of helpful information about local schools, exhibits for art and workshops, and experiences with IWI groups. There aren’t a lot of English print magazines in Turkey, so this is a fun magazine to have available!
Here is the start of the article:
While most tourists prefer to visit Cappadocia, in central Turkey, in the warmer summer temperatures, our winter travels there proved much more rewarding. Snow covers the usual brown facade and dresses the rocks in white, giving the area a beautiful, wintery glow.
The area prides itself on its carpet-weaving, wines, and the distinctive red pottery of Avanos. The snow and colder weather didn’t stop store owners or their warm rooms from inviting customers into their galleries.
Tour agencies in the region offer four tour routes labeled Green, Red, Blue, and Purple. To best explore Cappadocia you can choose a self-guided, well-traveled tour using a map in a rental car, or via a tour company. Private day guides are always available and cost less during the offseason. Your guided tour may or may not include the entrance tickets and lunch, so be sure to clarify this before agreeing on a price. Take the Green and Red Tours for the more popular sites or, the less-traveled, Blue and Purple Tours if you have been before.
Funny how a digital Christmas card can be just as delayed to get to you as the real ones. 😉 In fact, you probably wonder what the excuse would be when I don’t actually have to order, address, nor stamp them! BUT we were traveling, and then we didn’t have internet for a few days… then it was Christmas. Yada, yada, yada… do I have any sympathy from you yet?
Anyways, Christmas cards are one of my favorite things. If I don’t get to see you or talk to you often, it’s the one time of year I can send a card and let you know I do care. Thanks to modern technology, free labels from Shutterfly, a Groupon for Zazzle, the cash app, and a very helpful sister, we are still able to uphold that tradition from afar! And I am already thinking next year how we can add our Turkey friends to the tradition and deliver a special set of cards just to them.
Part of our cards is having a small little update on the back side of the card. Unfortunately, I usually have to keep it very short due to space. But here I can embellish a little more, and I hope you enjoy!
Without further ado:
Izmir, Turkey, has been our home for more than a year now and are so thankful to report no repairs needed this year! Finally settled in our home, I, Catie, have even gone through a few ‘cluttered’ drawers and piles (so was stuff others had left or given us) and rid them of unnecessary stuff. I am trying to keep our home somewhat minimal with only the necessary items and decor. When it becomes no longer useful, it is given away or thrown out. But for the most part, our space is comfortable, light, and spacious.
Turkey itself has had an interesting year and continued to renew its state of emergency. There has also been a series of earthquakes over the last year, and that is entirely new for both of us. Lira was down (which is great for us) and is now slowing returning. However, we are thankful for normal lives and new two year visas.
Our church is a huge support to us here, and we have enjoyed serving there (yep! It’s in Turkish!). As well, we have wonderfully welcoming neighbors and a mix of foreign and Turkey friends. It is interesting to learn that misunderstandings happen in both Turkish and English (because words even in English don’t always have the same meaning!). God has been faithful to continually supply new friendships, a cozy home, support, and love every step of the way.
I am studying language and conquering the grammar and vocabulary little by little. Moving from full-time to no-time work had its struggles, but this fall I feel like I have found my stride. I have loved writing about our experiences with travel, living in Izmir, and expat lives. Photo editing is a beast, but have always loved photography, I am finally learning and enjoying to edit photos. In June, I decided to finally take the leap to pursue a new what I hope to be, a part-time career in travel writing. Needless to say, it has been a year of learning!
Jason continues to learn Turkish and has completed all lessons in the Duolingo App. Part of him language learning inspired him to make an app called Foreign Numbers! He is still working with his U.S. clients via his software consulting business, Tough Space. As well he has taken on a few extra projects here and there. He somehow makes it through more podcasts and books than I can in 3 years! We are thankful his work allows for remote work and flexibility.
2017 was our year of travel. Being nearby to lots of interesting places, we decided to take advantage of the easy travel while we can. We started our year in Prague and are ending it with our travels to Germany. In Turkey, we covered Cappadocia in the snow, the popular beach town of Bodrum during the offseason, the hot Adana in cooler months, an annual trip to Ephesus, and the last minute surprise of exploring Antalya. Izmir and the surrounding areas are bursting with places to explore, and even though we don’t own a car, we ventured out to some nearby cities called Urla, Alaçatı, and Pammukale.
Even more fun is traveling with friends! Our biggest trip last summer included traveling SouthEast Asia for a month. With our friends Eric and Ashley (you may remember them from sailing and Prague), we toured the countries of Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Malaysia, and Singapore. Ironically enough, we travel to Bangkok via Romania, where we met up with our other friends Kathryn and Brian and were able to meet their kiddos for the first time!
Since we were already heading to Asia, we decided to combine this travel with our trip back to the states to visit our families in both Louisiana and Iowa. Starting in New Orleans allowed us to not only meet up with friends along the way but also meet one of Jason’s clients in person for the first time as well! The coolest part of our travels was that we can now say we have literally flown around the world!
We are hoping that next year will mark a few more countries off our list: Iceland, UK, Ireland, Norway, and the Greek Islands(there are some just off the coast of Turkey) just to name a few. Mostly just dreams, but we drop one country for meeting up with friends in other ones in a heartbeat! Then there are always a few surprise trips that come our way instead! Jason will continue his work, and I have a new side project that I am slowly developing to be used in Turkey. We both are still studying Turkish. Our first scheduled trip for next year is to Dubai for Jason and me to run our first race together, a 10k!
While we continue to miss family, we have found a rhythm of communication, and that makes it a lot easier. Our nieces and nephews are learning that Turkey is another country and Turkish is another language. They always impress us with their smarts, new vocabulary, and just general cuteness. 2017 was the first year we have not gained a new niece or nephew, but we do have a new nephew on the way in 2018!
And then there are some random things we miss; we always try to find good ‘American’ Chinese and (Tex)Mexican food wherever we travel. Most of the time it is a complete letdown, but our time in the states and Germany provide fixes to our craving every six months. Good pork is hard to come by and super expensive. I miss the freedom of owning a car, the freedom of spontaneity that comes with it, the ease of ordering packages from Amazon,and convenience of being able to find what I want when I want and not having to think several seasons ahead (Thanksgiving decor bought in August while in the states and cupcake decorations bought for Valentines Day while in Germany in December).
But we love the conveniences of restaurant (and grocery from what I hear) delivery. And if we need to buy groceries, we have three within a 200-meter radius! We eat the best eggplant dishes, and the sea view, while I run, is something that would definitely make you jealous. We are literally living on top of the ancient city of Smryna. Even though it takes a little planning, flights to pop in and out of Europe are cheaper than flying from our home state of Iowa to my roots of Louisiana. Not to mention, Jason and I can travel to Istanbul and back for under $50 each.
As we live in Turkey, travel, work, and learn Turkish, I have learned that we just can’t do it all. I want to save AND travel. I want to live in the states AND overseas. I want to work on every project AND only do one! Jason thankfully continues to love and encourage me (as well as keep me grounded)! As I already knew but still have trouble implementing, slow living is the best way to live, and slow travel is the best way to travel. Thankfully we live a lifestyle that allows that, and I hope I can just do a better job of appreciating it.
Special thanks to though of you who follow along on our journey!
I can’t wait to share more with you this year!
Jason & Catie
PS. – If you have extra Christmas cards, we would LOVE to have you send them our way! We LOVE getting mail. Plus, if you mail from the states, it’s just 3 stamps, stick it in the mailbox, and BOOM, it’s at our place!
P.P.S. – If you don’t already, we have a monthly newsletter that goes out every other podcast! Sign up here!
Thanksgiving celebrations in another country are NOT for the FAINT OF HEART. After celebrating 5 Thanksgiving in a foreign country, I have learned to be resourceful!
Last Thanksgiving we totally escaped up to Istanbul and celebrated with American friends. Don’t worry, I was not excluded from my share of the cooking, or eating, for that matter. In fact, I may have done MORE cooking because we were staying with the host of the Thanksgiving dinner.
This is what our actual Thanksgiving day dinner looked like… eating out and watching a movie at the nearby mall.
And unlike almost all events in my life, I actually started early with the planning, menus, recipes, and activities for kids. I was very impressed with myself, and if you know me well, you would be too.
Turkey and all the stuffings:
While the list looks ambitious, (and it was) we did NOT cook all that was on this list. ‘A’ was to assign out, the boxes were some I were to do… but of course, nothing happened like that. Almost everyone did bring something, but the Americans were the only ones I assigned a traditional Thanksgiving item too.
Jason was responsible for the turkey and gravy. I made a veggie tray and cheese tray for appetizers. My main course dishes were sweet potato casserole, corn casserole, and roasted veggies (which just collected juice from the turkey while it cooked).
We spent our weekly ‘Turkish’ cooking class prepping for the Thanksgiving party instead. I could not have made it through that week without my helpers that day! They cut up veggies, boiled sweet potatoes, made pie filling, and a list of other things I can’t remember right now. I had great ambitions to make green bean casserole, but unless you have those handy french onions or just a lot of time to fry your own… it just didn’t make the cut!
Our hardest prep work went into making the pie crusts. Yes, we made them from SCRATCH because Y’ALL, we can not get ready made pie crust here. It is just NOT A THING and it has yet to reach here. If you have ever made homemade pie crust, every stinking recipe calls for shortening, and well, yet again, it is not here in Turkey. Yet, somehow our brave American friends ordered a massive box of it from the local METRO (think SAM’S Club or COSCO) and they shared some with us!
Going to the store looks a little different here… I usually only buy what I can carry. If I know I am going to the weekly market or will buy a lot, then I bring my handy Pazar arabası or market car (no, I did not forget the ‘t’. The actual translation is ‘car.’)
Later that evening, I had a sweet friend take me to METRO to pick up our special ordered turkey. The people of METRO are my heros! I had given up on a whole turkey after asking several big stores, but METRO came through with a special order for us last minute. In Turkey, the stores do not start getting them in until the end of December to be used for New Year celebrations.
Our kilos of shortening: I stored the stuff on the left for later, and the right we used for the pie crust.
P.S. – It also makes great turkey pot pie crust with leftover turkey!
Pre-cooked! I never got an after picture! While we make our own pureed pumpkin, an Australian friend of ours picked up 2 canned of Libby’s canned pumpkin on a recent trip to Ireland for her American friends living in Turkey! Crazy, huh?
Jason did an AMAZING job with the turkey! I was so impressed. Everyone raved about the gravy he made from the turkey broth.
Having a 68 cm wide fridge means we had to be very creative with our storage!
Because of all the prep work, the day of our Thanksgiving party was actually calm and somewhat relaxed. I mixed up a few casseroles and my neighbors cooked them for me since our oven had the turkey cooking. Jason and I worked together to rearrange our furniture and prepare a kid area in one of the back rooms.
I love decorating for the seasons, and thanks to the internet and a printer, I already had prints hung up for the season. And thanks to $10 and a Dollar Tree in America, I decided to get plates, napkins, tablecloths, and a few other fallish items. The Dollar Store is one of the things I miss most here!
To seat 30 people, we had to be a little creative with our seating arrangement. And while it wasn’t ideal, everybody was great sports about it!
Thanks LB for letting me borrow the banner!
Our guests were amazing. With over 7 different countries and a mix of English and Turkish, I was a little anxious to see how it would turn out. Our friends were warm and open to one another and I was very thankful to see conversation flowing freely between groups of people.
Due to the amount of food (people are so generous), we had 2 rounds of eating just like any good Thanksgiving. After Jason made a short speech and prayed over the food, I explained how it works (buffet style complete with Thanksgiving decor paper plates). Everyone enjoyed the first round of ‘savory’ foods and then we pulled out the sweets!
Finished turkey. We also had some extra turkey breast cooked for extra meat.
Overall, our first time hosting Thanksgiving was a huge success. Yes, it was work, but we LOVED sharing this experience with our friends. Thanks to all our friends who came and made this a special time we will ALWAYS remember!
For a verbal account of our Thanksgiving party, listen into Episode042!
Tire’s market has been around for more than 600 years, and up to 30 thousand people visit every. More than 1700 sellers display their goods from nearby villages, including fresh produce, herbs, flowers, cheeses, and oils. The handmade textiles produced by Tire’s village ladies are also beautiful.
90 kilometers away from Izmir (just 60 from Kusadasi), Tire holds a farmers market held in the downtown area every Tuesday. This market carries the distinction of being one of Turkey’s largest outdoor market and it’s fame brings day tours like our to see what there is to offer. Alongside the local vegetables and fruits, visitors can find clothes, houseware, blankets/sheets, and even electronics. Farmers come from several villages nearby selling their products.
Different than other farmers market you would also see:
Handmade goods such as scarves and tablecloths
Dainty jewellery made from Point Lace
Felt Makers and clothing products that use a blend of silk and felt.
Handmade saddle for horses and donkeys. (Probably we are the last generation who would see this)
If time, visit the Tire Museum:
While we did not visit, the Tire Museum founded in 1935 is said to be well curated and informative. Two halls display earthware, coins, and other artifacts from 3500 BC and 1100 AD as well as jewelry, carpets, clothing, war items and other everyday wear from Ottoman times. If time allows, visit the museum for a quick look through to learn more about the history of Tire. The museum is open every day except Monday from 8:30-5:30 (closed for lunch between 12:30-1:30).
Lunch at Kaplan Restaurant:
Like most cities in Turkey, Tire boasts about it’s special ‘Kofte’ (meat patty made of beef and lamb). After our time at Tire Market, our IWAI group traveled up to the top of the mountain to eat at a well-known local restaurant, Kaplan Hill Restaurant. The meal started with mezes, appetizers which included their well-know greens, some cooked with garlic then chilled. Another carrot based meze stood out as my favorite. For the main course, we enjoyed the area’s famous Tire Kofte. If you prefer not to eat meat, as for their local dish of greens and eggs, served hot. Dessert in Tire uses a special Lor Cheese (soft, uncured cheese like Ricotta) topped with black mulberry jam.
In short, the Tuesday Market gives an excellent guide for Turkish shopping, culture, and history.
How to travel to Tire Market:
Tire is also accessible by train from Izmir Basmane Train Station. It takes 1.5 hours for the train to go to Tire from Izmir through several villages and towns.
Questions for you:
Have you been to Tire, Turkey?
Have you visit the Tire Tuesday Market (Salı Pazarı)?
If, so what did you like about it? What did you buy?
Glamping is a new term to Turkey and one I hope that catches on! Glamping is the slang word for ‘glamorous camping’ and it’s a great alternative to being in nature without the nature being on you! This fall we used Glamping Hub and booked a weekend at Saklı Göl Evleri. (Listen in to our podcast episode041 to hear about this experience as well!)
I had considered some glamping locations forour travels through SouthEast Asia but camping in another country can mean different rules and would have to figure out where to even camp. Sometimes the culture of camping can definitely be foreign. Choosing to stay with a glamping hub location meant someone else knows the rules and takes care of the details.
Don’t misunderstand, I am a camping girl! I love the campfire, morning smells of tree and dew, and the sounds of nature. However, when we left the states to move to Turkey, we left all our camping equipment behind. Maybe one day we will bring it over, but even then it would be hard to transport it since we do not own a car. So what do you do when you want to go camping but don’t have the convenience of it?
Our new solution is glamping of course!
Here are a few reasons we loved Glamping over camping:
We don’t have to buy all the equipment!
We don’t have to bring all the equipment!
Never worry about getting cold. Glamping locations usually come with comfy, warm linens and a heater!
Rain? Stay inside your nice warm cabin and enjoy the view… or TV.
Food is provided or available for purchase. Well… at least ours was!
Glamping Hub is the perfect blend of comfort in the middle of nature.
Staying with Glamping Hub was not just a place to sleep, but an experience. Jason and I wanted to experience the Glamping sites that Turkey had to offer! The booking process is easy and the website is user-friendly. Sign up, search a location or country for a glamping host, and message the guide to check for availability if needed. Or if you prefer, just book right away. You can save properties you find interesting at a later date.
Just an hour drive north of the popular summer destination of Antalya lies several man-made lakes created by a few electrical dams. For years,the place we stayed at was only used as a daytime getaway for those wanting to spend a day outside of the city in the mountains, enjoy a breakfast or lunch with family, or relax the whole day with friends. Within the last 5 years, the owner has slowly created a weekend retreat by building tents and cabins into the side of the mountain above the restaurant. It has such a modern feel to it that you forget you are staying in a tent!
The tents and cabins are equipped with private bathroom with a waterfall shower (some even have a personal jacuzzi!), a LED TV, a minibar, self-regulated air-conditioning/heating, a hairdryer, a sofa, and 2 armchairs, and a closet to store your belongings. Daily cleaning services are available as well. The best part about the tents and cabins is the balcony because each comes with a panoramic view of the lake where you can watch the colors of sunrise and sunset!
Activities are easy to come by here. Bicycles and canoes are available to rent at an hourly or day rate. Ask for a map of the area from the manager and pick one of the walking/hiking paths and go by foot or bike. If you have a larger group, the owner can organize a boat tour for fishing or one that takes you through the small river connecting 2 of the lakes. For history lovers, Sagalassos, Kremna, and the Ancient city of Milyos are some of the historical places you can visit nearby.
Enjoy ordering Turkish food from the barbecue restaurant. On a hot summer day, the natural spring water infinity pool is the perfect place to sunbathe. The facilities are family-friendly, providing a playground and shallow pool area for children. Multiple sitting areas mean you can enjoy different views of the lake or find solitude away from other guests.
Our time at the Saklı Gol Evleri was amazing. From the friendly greetings and tea offered upon our arrival to the beautifully designed rooms with a view, we loved everything about our stay here. Our room had a panoramic view of the lake where we enjoyed the mornings while our drinking coffee. The self-regulated heater and down comforters on the beds allowed us to always be at a comfortable temperature.
Breakfast was provided for us (although it may not be included with all rooms) but it looks as if it could feed more than just the 2 of us! The gozleme, or Turkish quesadilla, filled with cheese and parsley came to us hot and fresh. We definitely started craving it by the time we left! Lunch and dinner are on your own but there is always a cook on hand to take orders. We found that the delicious Turkish breakfast filled us up until dinner time.
Nature walks and relaxing filled our time here. One day we drove to Sagalassos, the ancient ruins of a city dating back to the Hellenistic period and Roman Empire situated at an altitude of 1450–1700 meters. Another time, we joined the boat tours that weaved through the small river connecting the lakes. The last morning we woke up early and watched the sunrise on the top of the Karacaören mountain!
Our weekend glamping was such a wonderful experience for us. With a unique resource of hand-picked destinations around the world, I’ll definitely be booking with Glamping Hub again! Not only did we find a new place to visit, we found a new way to travel. We suggest that if you want to see the true beauty of Turkey and enjoy the quiet, serene nature, stay at Saklı Göl Evleri!
If you want to see more pictures from different Glamping trips others went on, then go check out the Glamping Hub Instagram. This is where I first went to get some inspiration and became curious about locations near us.
[DISCLAIMER: *This post was in collaboration with a brand.* I was not paid for this post. However, I did receive a complimentary voucher from Glamping Hub and a stay from Saklı Göl Evleri a travel writer and expat blogger. One of the purposes of our website is to highlight tours and services for travelers like ourselves. At the same time, we will not recommend businesses/activities we do not think our readers will enjoy regardless of the friendship we create along the way.]