Devorah Lev-Tov

Writing ⋅ Editing ⋅ Consulting

Devorah Lev-Tov is a writer and editor with 12 years' experience. She writes about food, travel, luxury, and lifestyle for multiple publications including The New York Times, Saveur, Travel + Leisure, and National Geographic. An ex-pat from the publishing world, she is also an illustrated nonfiction book editor, with expertise in developmental editing and cookbook/recipe editing. In addition, she has several years' experience in event marketing and nonprofit copywriting. She's eaten her way through Central and South America, Europe, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Oceania, and much of the United States.

Filtering by Category: Hike

Turkey: Kirazli Köy

When we decided to go to Ephesus, I began to look for places to stay. There are a few surrounding towns with accommodations in the area: Kusadasi, which is on the water and popular with the cruise crowd; Selçuk which is the town where Ephesus is actually located but lacks character; and Şirince, a charming town that is famous for it's fruit wines, and apparently, expensive hotels. After poking around lots of hotel websites I decided to check out AirBnB. For those who have never used it, AirBnB is a site that lets home owners rent out all our part of their homes for as little as one night or as long as they wish. The owners have the power to accept or reject any guest applicant and can decide how much to charge.

On there, I found the adorable and affordable Artists Studio in the village of Kirazli, about 15 minutes away from Ephesus. I liked this option because we would have our own studio, completely separate form the owners' house next door so we would have complete privacy, and at $60 a night it was the cheapest thing I'd seen that wasn't a hostel. Plus, Kirazli looked like a very interesting and traditional village, which was more along the lines of what we were interested in.

As we approached Kirazli (which is accessible by a Dolmus that drives from Selçuk to Kusadasi, but we had rented a car), after driving through it's neighbor-village, Gokcealan, we could hardly contain our excitement. This seemed to be the real deal: a traditional Turkish village complete with stone houses and tractors. Not only is Kirazli a traditional Köy, or village, but it is an organic one at that. All the farms are organic and the village has begun working together to market their cottage industry products of jams, preserves, and oils.

There is a farmer's market every Sunday and a small stand set up everyday (where we bought some homemade pasta that we later cooked in India, which was fabulous), and several excellent restaurants serving traditional village food, like koftë (meatballs), manti (meat-stuffed pasta triangles in a tomato sauce and topped with yogurt), and gözleme (thin pancakes with cheese filling).

The most popular restaurant is the Köy Sofrasi, right on the main road as you enter the village, and it did not disappoint.

Our other favorite meal was at what appeared to be someone's home. We sat outside as the wife/mother worked away in the kitchen right inside, serving up possibly the best köfte in Turkey.

Not to mention, everyone in the village is incredibly friendly. The village itself is beautiful. Kirazli means cherry in Turkish and the surrounding mountains are filled with cherry and pine trees, although it wasn't cherry season when we were there, unfortunately. (Although I'm pretty sure it was grape season) There are several hiking trails leading out from the village and it's very easy to be outdoorsy there.

Our hosts at the Artist's Studio were wonderful. Karyn, originally from Wales, built the stone house in the traditional village style five years ago and has become a real part of the community. You can read her blog here. She and her friend Nick know everything about Kirazli and the surrounding area, and they also serve excellent breakfasts and snacks, of course using mostly local ingredients. The Studio was the perfect base for us to explore Ephesus and beyond and we were sad to leave after only two nights.

Israel: The Dead Sea

During the holiday of Sukkot, which is 7 days long in Israel, schools are still on vacation and many offices are closed fully or partially. It's a popular time for many people and families to take a tiyul, or trip, often to the north or south. My sister decided to take off a few days from work and the four of us rented a car and headed down south, to the Dead Sea. Manor and I both hadn't been there in many years so it was a real treat.

It's very beautiful there, and aside from taking a dip in the mud and water of the Dead Sea, there are also several hikes in the area. Lucky for us, Dudu is a certified guide and knows a ton about hundreds of hikes throughout the country. He also knew about a semi-secret beach on the Dead Sea, away from the main "Mineral Beach," which is usually packed.

We weren't completely alone, but there were very few others with us, some of whom felt isolated enough to be nude. Seeing the cliffs of Jordan on the other side of the sea is pretty majestic, and we went close to sunset so the rocks got nice and pink.

The water was, of course, very salty. It's pretty fun to float in, but it does get burn-y pretty quickly. Putting the mud on was really fun, and it does feel super smooth. And when we washed it off our skin did feel really soft.

Adina and Dudu also picked a great place for us to stay the night, Metzoke Dragot, which is perched on a high cliff, overlooking the Dead Sea.

Aside from regular rooms, they also have large family tents, that actually looked like large sukkahs, in keeping with the theme. They came equipped with mattresses so we brought sleeping bags and were good to go. However, we still woke up with the sunrise, which happened to be beautiful.

After sunrise we went back to sleep for  a few hours, but while we were snoring Adina woke up and got to see a bunch of ibex (type of wild mountain goat common to the Middle East) right by our tent! Luckily, she took pictures.

We finally made it out to Wadi Amog for a 2-3 hour hike. It was definitely hot, but Dudu chose this hike because it has some shady spots, in the form of large cliffs overhead. That was certainly appreciated! There is also some fun climbing and great views at the end.

Powered by Squarespace. Background image by Devorah Lev-Tov.