Choosing the right travel agency can sometimes make or break a vacation. Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of ways to weed out the poor ones except by word of mouth, since they all tend to have the same postcard pictures and catchy slogans. When you plan a vacation abroad, you want a travel guide you can live with for more than a few days, and preferably one who shares your interests, gives good advice and has a sense of humor.
I was invited by the Medraft Nature and Adventure Company, which is offering a variety of package tours to different locations in Europe and the Mediterranean.
Highlighting the cultural character and regional customs, Medraft is putting together some attractive tours on which travelers can actually meet the locals and get familiar with their day-to-day life.
"Flexibility is the name of the game in our tours," says Asaf Ferber, our knowledgeable guide, who has worked with Medraft for more than three years. "We try to tailor a suitable tour to satisfy each group of travelers. From family-oriented tours to adventurous jeep trips, and from bike tours to a luxury vacation in boutique hotels."
Cappadocia has a lot of attractions to offer, and though we felt getting around the main areas was easy, having an experienced guide kept us looking forward to the next adventure on our itinerary.
If it was choosing the right restaurant at which traditional Turkish cuisine is served, and dancers dressed like warriors juggle with fire; or visiting one of the families that still live in an authentic cave home and sipping tea while seated in their living room, Ferber made sure we enjoyed a truly memorable experience.
Another highlight of our trip was staying at the Yunak Evlery, one of Cappadocia's boutique hotels. Excavated out of the soft rock, the hotel boasts 30 cave rooms dating back to the fifth century. The original shape of the rooms has been exactly preserved during its restoration, while each room is different, offering a unique atmosphere. We felt like we were living in a local house.
For those who plan on visiting Cappadocia, the Medraft Nature and Adventure Company offers a variety of four-, five- and eight-day tours during April, May and June, including a new 11â„2 hours direct flight to Cappadocia on Turkish Airlines. Trips are available during the rest of the year, but one must travel via Istanbul and board a one-hour domestic flight to Kayseri.
Prices for the Cappadocia packages start at $705 per person for a four-day adventure tour, including a direct flight from Tel Aviv. Medraft's tours include a stay at a four-star hotel, meals, tour guide and entrance fees to the sites visited, but do not include extras, such as balloon rides. The flight and a three-night stay alone is $680.
For more information on package tours to Cappadocia, call Medraft (03) 578-0555, or www.med-cap.co.il.