Winter Sleep

Posted by Marcus Falay on October 6, 2016

I’ve always wanted to write. I didn’t know what, but simply write.

I guess the timing was not right before. Let me start by admitting that, I am no blogger and do not intent to become one, I am fascinated by those who are talented and can put words together, like a composer’s beautiful notes to create a soothing symphony. I enjoy reading them like anyone else. What I really would like to do is, share my knowledge and experience in travel. Over the years, I have learnt to be an Aussie, as well as keeping my Turkish Heritage.

Here is a little about me. Born in Cappadocia, Turkey, I had the caves and fairy chimneys of Cappadocia as my play ground. What a place being a child, playing hide & seek, flying kites, playing in the snow, skiing of the slopes with your plastic flat bottom shoes and going to the orchards and vineyards with your grandparents on a donkey back. I remember playing out on the cobbled stone roads of Urgup until midnight-no gps tracking devices, mobile phones or having worried parents to where abouts you are. Those were the good old days. Cappadocia has changed a lot since. It has kept its beautiful scenery, but tourism has become so popular. Think about it, it is now recorded as the No 1 place on the planet for riding on a hot air balloon. The luxury cave hotels and the amazing art you see now. I had a beautiful childhood in this fairy tale land. My parents started a small B&B business with only 15 rooms-it was the 4th largest hotel in town. The small B&B still exists, but it no longer is one of the larger properties. I guess it has worked out to be a good thing now, everyone wants a small boutique hotel to stay at. Travel was in my blood from the moment I was playing out on the streets as a small boy. There were backpackers in those days who lost their way and somewhat passing through my playground, I remember going up to them saying “bon bon”,. Didn’t even know what that meant as a 5 year old, something I heard from other kids. I learnt that, it meant, “lollies”, I was asking a stranger to give a lolly. Those were my first words “conversing” with a foreigner. How strange, I now teach my kids not to speak to foreigners and accept anything from a stranger. This puts a big smile on the face, but they were the good old days. I am talking about the early 80’s here. From the words of bon bon, I had progressed to “hello, where are you from, bye bye” very quickly. There were many backpackers then. At primary schools in those days, there used to be captains of the school in various groups. Yep, you guessed it, I have been the captain of school trips from primary right through to the end of high school. I took my first serious tour guiding activity at age 13. A group of high school kids from France, around 30 of them were staying at the family hotel. It was school holidays, my dad pulled me by the arm from the kitchen where I was helping with breakfast, straight to the front door of the bus and I still remember the exact sentence he spoke with the driver “you were complaining about not having a tour guide for the day, now you have one! ” Throw someone who does not know how to swim in the middle of the ocean, they either make it or sink. I made it that day and never looked back. I have always been a confident public speaker, always enjoyed showing people around. It became a professional job at age 18, and when I migrated to Australia at age 21, I had already been a tour guide for 8 years. In 1996 I was in a new country, all I knew was travel and hospitality. I somehow found myself working for a large global firm in the financial services. What I thought to be a 3 month casual work has seen me 8 year there. I got bored and decided that, travel was where I belonged. I have started Fairy Chimneys Travel in 2001 in a bungalow at the backyard of a house. 15 years later, we have taken over 15 thousand Australians to Turkey. On the Anzac Centenary last year, I have chartered the entire Azamara Journey cruise ship and have taken over 1000 people to Gallipoli.

Marcus Falay

Back to my article here. Winter Sleep. It has been such a long time I have been waiting, waiting and waiting for Turkey to start appearing in the media with good news. I guess, that will not happen for sometime. I may be too naive expect the media to talk about good news. There is nothing in it for them, they are better off getting the sad and bad news to their audience. That’s where the money is for them, so I will not wait any longer. By the way Winter Sleep is a famous Turkish drama film which was selected “Best Foreign Language Film” at the 87th Academy Awards. It a great film to get a real feel of how Cappadocia is in Winter, how its people live in the cave houses. If you are ever visiting Cappadocia, make sure to visit a family who live in the cave houses. I do not mean the commercialised cave house visits, that’s horrible. It is a money making, false experience. I am talking about a genuine family life in a cave. It is hard to experience this if you are on a group travel, however your travel agent should be able to request this if your trip is tailor made.

Winter Sleep

Finally, here is what everyone asks: Is it safe to travel to Turkey now?

I always answer such a question by a couple of measures. First, the question I ask myself is “Would I travel to Turkey either on my own or with my family, I have 2 young children at the ages of 12 & 10?”. The answer is “yes”, obviously I keep it away from the borders of Iraq, Syria and Iran. The next measure is, what do my family living in Turkey tell me. At the end of the day, family is where you can rely and trust the most. They have always reported back positively other than complaining about the low numbers in travel this year. In the last 10 months, I have heard of so many business closing down due to slow business. Last week, one of the couples who visited Turkey 2 weeks after the attempted failed coup has given us their feedback:

First_Name --- Philip
Heard_About_Us_Other --- Travel Agent, Megan GARNER at Eastern Hill Travel, Melbourne. (family friend)
Easy_To_Arrange --- Excellent
Easy_To_Arrange_Comments --- Megan facilitated all arrangements. Our initial travel company withdrew their Turkey tour. Megan did a lot of work behind the scenes and located Fairy Chimney's Travel.
Quality_Service_Delivery --- Excellent
Quality_Service_Delivery_Comments --- Obviously parts of our trip / tour were sub-contracted but everything was excellent.
How_Was_Turkey --- Excellent
How_Was_Turkey_Comments --- Amazing place. We will be returning to explore more of this wonderful country and its people. Our time on this occasion was not long enough.
How_Were_Tours --- Excellent
How_Were_Tours_Comments --- In Istanbul we did a day tour with Esin. She was very informative, knowledgeable and friendly. The team at Ecebat were very welcoming and friendly with nothing was too much trouble for them. Our guide for the Gallipoli tour/s was Bullant. Similarly, he was fantastic. Informative and knowledgeable.
How_Were_Hotels --- Above Standard
How_Were_Hotels_Comments --- We stayed at the Yasmak Sultan in Istanbul. Great accomodation. The Helen Hotel in Canakkale I could only describe as average. We had a very old room and it was 'tired.'
Best_Hotel --- Yasmak Sultan (Istanbul) - by far. Modern rooms, more than friendly staff. Very relaxing.
Worst_Hotel --- Helen Hotel (Canakkale) - Average. Old room and facilities. Staff hospitality, average also.
Best_Thing_About_Holiday --- Everything. Istanbul was great. The people friendly and welcoming. The Gallipoli tour (the reason for our visit to Turkey) was amazing. We weren't sure what to expect and were a little apprehensive with the recent unrest (terrorism threats / attempted coup) and media hype / reporting about city lock downs, curfews, civil unrest, food shortages and money accessibility. However, we certainly saw none of this and the locals did not appear to be comprimised in any way - other than the fact they were suffering from a decline in tourist trade.
Worst_Thing_About_Holiday --- Nothing. Everything was great. Great people, great scenery, great food, great time.
Would_You_Recommend_Us --- Absolutely
Would_You_Recommend_Us_Comments --- We are already telling our friends of the fabulous time we had in Turkey and your company. Certainly dispelling any concerns re terroism / unrest and/or what the media are reporting
Can_Do_Better --- I'm not sure, we thoroughly enjoyed the experience. We intend to visit Turkey again (perhaps in the next couple of years.)
Comments_Enquiries --- As mentioned, we were apprehensive about the tour because of the terrorist attack at Ataturk airport, then the attempted government coup two weeks prior to our visit. This was heightened by DFAT warnings, media reporting and our friends advising Turkey was not a safe place. This certainly turned out not to be the case during our visit. The Turkish people we met were wonderful and most amiable. Loved the lifestyle. I can only recommend you / the Turkish tourism industry and other associated parties (hotels, airlines, shipping, etc.) promote your assests to the rest of the world in a positve way.
Permission_To_Publish_Comments --- Yes

I guess, at the end of the common sense and logic prevails in any destination you go to. In this article, I wanted to share with you the current situation in Turkey. I intend to write at least once a month and bring out the many insider information. If you have enjoyed this article and wish to follow more, get onto our facebook page. I will be sharing all these articles in facebook, however you are always welcome to visit our website to reach to our blogs.

Marcus Falay
Managing Director
Melbourne, 6 October 2016