Selcuk, Ephesus, and Cappadocia are portals to the ancient world. Evidence of the earliest human inhabitants in these regions date back to over 9,000 B.C. Over thousands of years, empires have come and gone and people have migrated around and through the country. Turkey is positioned at the head of the ancient world and was an important focal point in this cradle of civilization. The towering of once-great civilizations and the subsequent rebuilding of new empires left a legacy of ancient ruins. Turkey is a seismologically active region and over time, earthquakes have assisted the elements in burying the physical remains of these once great empires. These factors have provided Turkey some of most well-preserved and oldest ruins observable in the world today. Researchers have just uncovered a buried civilization in the southern region of Turkey at Gobekli Tepe that looks to be 12,000 years old. Crazy. Our first stop after leaving Istanbul was the town of Selcuk, a coastal town that is lesser known for it’s coastline as it is for it’s adjacency to the ancient town of Ephesus. Ephesus was an ancient city that developed around the 10th century B.C. and it’s history is far too long for me to expand upon here, needless to say, walking through it’s painstakingly well-restored streets you feel pretty insignificant in the larger historical picture. The surrounding countryside is quietly breathtaking and the people here, as they were everywhere we travelled in Turkey, were warm, welcoming, and very proud of the ir country. We were only in Selcuk for a few day, then we were off again on the final leg of on this amazing journey. Cappadocia is only an hours drive from the airport at Kayseri and with every passing kilometer, the landscape became more sparse and otherworldly. This is a place where you do not need drugs…to feel as if you’re on drugs; there’s simply an ineffable feeling of being completely immersed in history – both anthropological and geological. Over millions of years, the countryside has been built up, only to be eroded back down, leaving behind the hardest of the residual minerals which upon contact with the elements, solidify into formations known as Tufa (this is a particularly technical and great link). These formations were later (possibly as early as 10,000 B.C.) carved out into caves where early inhabitants to the region could survive the harsh elements. Later, many were built into churches – some underground networks served as cities where early Christians could escape capture from the Ottomans ruling above ground and now – and now, many of these ancient caves are being re-purposed into inns and guest houses. We stayed in a beautiful place called the Sultan Cave Suites not expecting we’d be staying in an actual cave but that’s exactly what happened and it was great! Among other things, the town of Cappadocia is also the country’s top pick for hot air balloon rides because of the consistent mid-level wind patterns combined with the freakishly awesome scenery. It was also here that we ate dinner in a 350 year old restaurant that began our addiction to clay-pot cooking and where I had the best meatballs of the entire trip. Before this trip, only my most colorful of dreams could’ve prepared me for such a surreal experience; the history, landscape, rugs (yes we bought one…and it’s rad!), food, amazingly good wines, music, and people that were always so warm and willing to talk with us about their most beautiful country.