We loved our winter stay in Cappadochia and Anitya Cave House was the perfect home base for us. Our family of three loved staying in quiet Ortahisar, rather than one of the more touristy towns in the region. And our family suite at Anitya Cave House was warm and welcoming: with a small kitchen, a great terrace with a spectacular view to eat at, a great hot shower, and even a towel warmer that did a great job drying our hand-washing.
Every morning we were served a diverse and delicious Turkish breakfast with many kinds of cheese, walnuts, bread, the best honey I’ve ever had, dried apricots, fresh raisins, fresh apricot jam, two kinds of olives, halvah, hot tea, and more. Our suite had an upstairs-downstairs format which worked great for us. Our adult daughter slept upstairs in a very comfortable fold-out bed and we slept in the beautiful stone downstairs room. The bathroom had to be accessed through our bedroom, but none of us minded.
We loved the place. It had everything we needed. (Though having a rental car was necessary—and we loved the freedom of movement and flexibility it gave us.)
All of this was enough for me to highly recommend Anitya Cave House for your stay in Cappadochia, but then something happened which made me realize just how exceptional the people at Anitya Cave House really were.
After four wonderful days exploring Cappadocia on foot and horseback, we set our alarms for 5:00 AM, so we could drive our rental car to the airport in time for our 7:55 AM flight to Izmir, our next destination. By 5:30, our bags were all packed by the door, and we were ready to head out to the car. I threw open the door and the world was white and the snow was coming down! Just a few hours late, we were getting a white Christmas.
“It’s so beautiful!” our daughter said, with all the joy and excitement of the little girl she had once been. And it was beautiful. It was white everywhere, and the snow was coming down. It had been years since I’d seen snow and I was thrilled. The travel Gods were with us! We’d gotten snow!
We dragged our suitcases down the steps and out into the alleyway that led to the street. The wheels of our suitcases dragged in the wet snow, making parallel tracks in the pristine white. We loaded our snowy suitcases into the trunk and I turned on the motor, flipped the defrost up to high as my wife scraped the windows free of snow using the hard edge of a map of Turkey she’d bought at a tourist shop.
I slowly drove down the narrow white road, curving down into a gully and around a big bend. I drove cautiously. The road had been plowed once, but the snow was coming down. As I made my way around the curve, we faced a large uphill that curved toward the main area of town. Halfway up the slope, the tires lost traction and I was forced to stop, losing any momentum we had. I knew from my dad that to drive in snow you need to get a running start to make it up the hill, and we had just lost that. I tried going backwards and I tried going forwards. We were stuck. I wasn’t going to risk crashing the rental car into one of the narrow stone walls by backing down the hill, so I put the car in first gear and yanked up the emergency brake.
“It looks like we’re missing our flight,” I said, wanting to state the obvious and eliminate the stress of trying to do the impossible.” My wife set out to search for help, but it was 5:40 in the morning and there was no one else crazy enough to be out except us. The whole town was shut up tight.
That’s when our daughter had the idea of calling the folks at Anitya Cave House. She made the call and Hayri, who had welcomed us when we first arrived, answered the phone—at 5:45 in the morning. He spoke minimal English, but understood that we were stuck and where we were. Ten minutes later, he showed up on foot, took over the driving, and backed our car all the way around that big curve to a safe place where we could park it.
Using a lot of gestures, including flapping arms in flight mode, I communicated that we had already missed our flight. And Hayri let us know he was going to get us some chains. He took off, running through the snow in a wide-legged gait.
Fifteen minutes later, Hayri returned with his own car and a narrow cardboard box. Inside the box were a dozen orange plastic ties. They certainly didn’t look like any chains I’ve ever seen before, but Hayri systematically began to wind them around the tires and tie them off tightly. I held my iPhone light so he could see what he was doing, as he knelt in the snow helping three absolute strangers for no reason other than his generous heart.
When Hayri secured the last tie and tucked in the final plastic end, we asked how much the chains cost. That, he understood.
“25 lira.” Five bucks.
I went back into the car. Karyn handed me a 50 lira note. Ten bucks. I gave him the bill and thanked him.
He gestured at the orange chains. “Ankara no. Istanbul no. Kayseri, yes,” he said with a big nod of his head. I understood. It was okay to use our orange ties to drive to the airport but nowhere else.
Then he waved us on, his smile framed in fat white flakes of snow.
I got back in the driver’s seat, slowly released the clutch and could feel the plastic-tied front tires engage. Success! I began inching forward up the hill, five feet, ten feet, fifteen feet….and then wheels starting spinning again. I tried going forward, backward, forward again, but I was stuck.
Luckily, Hayri hadn’t left yet. He’d been watching to be sure we got out safely. Maybe, we thought, being much more experienced driving in snow and on these particular roads, he could navigate the car to the top of the hill and I could take it from there.
Hayri came running up the hill in his wide-legged gait and when he was even with the driver’s door, he reached down toward the ground. When he stood up, he was holding one of the orange ties in his hand. They’d all come off. They were scattered all over the white snow.
We were back where we’d started.
I got out of the car and Hayri backed it down to a safe place, out of the road. We opted to leave all our things in the trunk of the car and started hoofing it through the snow back to our little family suite. Half an hour later, our luscious Turkish breakfast and hot tea arrived. And at 9:00, Hayri showed up so we could use his phone to rebook our flight, contact our next hotel to say we’d be late, delay our next rental car and handle all the logistics that go with missing a flight. Then he called a friend to check on road conditions and told us the roads were clear and that in another hour it would be safe for us to drive out—which we did. Never in my life have I experienced such kindness, generosity and service! The folks at Anitya Cave House are just incredible.