My Top 5 Travel Videos From 2012

Alex Berger Year In Review

In 2012 I filmed a ton of HD video footage as part of my mission to do more videos.  A lot of that footage still needs to be edited.  My equipment has also improved a lot over the course of the year as has my understanding of how to create and edit a video.  Ultimately, I ended up uploading 22 videos that highlight everything from student life here in Copenhagen to polar bears waging fairly epic mock battles in Churchill, Canada.  I’ve gone through and picked 5 of my favorites, but you can see all of the videos over on youtube. I’ll also be adding a bunch of new ones over 2013 (already have the footage from Prague and Scotland lined up!) so make sure to subscribe.

1. The Great Polar Bear Migration

2. The Death of a Hippo (May make you cry)

3. A Video Tour of Cappadocia in the Snow

4. Tasting Olive Oil (watch to the end)

5. The South Luangwa Safari (Wildlife Footage)

These are just a few of the year’s videos and there are quite a few that just barely missed the list (underground cave cities and sleepy lion cubs to name a few).  Now that the year is winding down and i’m forced to pause for a breather and reflect on the past year, it’s amazing to recall just how different the start of the year which was spent in Turkey and Italy was from the summer which I spent in the heart of Africa and Northern Scotland and which was a stark contrast to end of the year which I rounded out in rural Canada.

Video was shot predominantly on my Canon Vixia HF200 and my Canon T3i (600D) dSLR. Voice overs used my iphoneor the built in microphone on the HF 200.

Thank you all so much for your support in 2012, your feedback, your kind words, your likes, your shares, and your attention.

Have special requests for 2012 or questions? Let me know!

Snow Covered Cappadocia – Weekly Travel Photo

Rock Formations in Cappadocia

In February of last year I found myself in the heart of one of Turkey’s worst cold spells in 25 years.  The bad news was that it was absolutely freezing (lows bottomed out at -21 C) but the upside was I had the chance to see the Cappadocia region covered in a layer of snow.  The stone spires that the area is famous for really looked magical as they stood against a partly cloudy but no less vivid blue sky.

Cappadocia is best known for its rock formations, underground cities and wines.  The soft but still solid nature of the stone has allowed people to build entire cities into, and beneath the area’s hills.  It is an incredible region and unlike anything I’ve encountered elsewhere in the world.  This photo was taken about 10 minutes drive outside of Goreme on the way to the Open Air Museum.

Would you like to see previous Friday Photos? View past travel pictures here. This photo was taken on a Canon T3i (600D) Camera using a Canon IS 55-250mm lens.

A Video Tour of Cappadocia’s Mesmerizing Rock Formations In The Snow

There are moments as a traveler when you find yourself running headlong into some of the world’s most inconvenient or forbidding weather. While my trip to Turkey didn’t leave me facing down a hurricane or braving a tornado, it did land me smack center of one of the worst cold spells to hit Europe in more than 25 years. As the front swept across Turkey and into the rest of Europe more than 200 people ended up losing their lives. The cold front brought with it below zero temperatures, snow, and a glimmer of opportunity.

While the storm front and loss of life was a profound tragedy, it also provided me with the opportunity to experience parts of Turkey in a rare and unusual fashion. After having to cut my time in Cappadocia in half due to the cancellation of my initial flight out of Istanbul, I eventually arrived at Kaysari Airport.  Once there I made my way, late at night and in below freezing weather, to the small town of Goreme in the Cappadocia region of central Turkey. With just 24 hours to see the region I threw on every warm piece of clothing I owned and set to the task of exploring what is normally a desert landscape but which was transformed by the snow into a strange winter wonderland. I hope you’ll enjoy this video sequence which I shot during my time exploring the above ground parts of Cappadocia.

The video contains footage from the Open Air Museum, Pasabag (Monks Valley), Devrent (Imagination Valley), Goreme, and of a very traditional Cappadocian meal cooked in sealed clay pots. You can see footage from my tour of the area’s underground cities in this video.

If you enjoy this video please consider subscribing both here on VirtualWayfarer and to my youtube channel. Your support and feedback is what makes these videos worth it!

Friday’s Weekly Travel Photo – Traditional Construction

Goreme at Night in Cappadocia

On a frozen winter night I found myself walking the streets of Goreme in the Cappadocia region of Turkey.  It’s an unusual place.  A city that has literally been carved into the rocks.  Built in a series of valleys, the rocks have formed natural spires. Some are small, many are not.  Over hundreds of years humanity has slowly hollowed many of those spires into homes, hotels, restaurants, storage buildings and even car garages.

As we walked the city just before midnight, the ice crunched loudly under our boots. It had to be at least -10 Celsius.  Luckily the wind had stopped and the clouds had parted offering us a wonderful view of the city in the moon’s pale white light.   This photo is of a small construction site on the outskirts of town.  It’s hard to know what they were building.  Perhaps a small storage facility.  Perhaps an expansion to the hotel located next door…or who knows, it might be nothing more than a place to store dog food.  Either way, the tools they used offered a special ambiance that was lost in time.

Would you like to see previous Friday Photos? View past travel pictures here.

A Video Tour of Cappadocia Turkey’s Underground City

Underground City of Yeralti Sehri

Located in the very heart of Turkey the Cappadocia region is a mysterious region full of strange mushroom shaped spires, rugged terrain, and a vast network of underground cities.  I invite you to join me in this quirky video as a friend and I leave the surface behind and descend into Yeralti Sehri – the largest of Cappadocia’s 17 underground cities. The city has 8 levels, though only 4 remain open, and descends to a depth of more than 40 meters. It can be found underneath a small Turkish city and is located in the heart of the Cappadocia region.

As Galen and I wound our way (nearly crawling in most places) through the underground city the acoustics were fairly curious. The city was mostly empty which left Galen with a strong urge to randomly break into song. I’ve captured a few of the songs and included them in the video. The songs are not professional or planned, just random fun in celebration of the adventure we were in the midst of. I hope you enjoy.

I took this footage in February 2012.  You may note that it looks quite cold. In fact, there is snow at the bottom of the well and the surface was covered in several inches of it.  My visit coincided with one of the worst cold fronts to hit Turkey in more than 25 years. The evening before we arrived in Cappadocia was -21 degrees Celsius and the days hovered between 0 and -10.

To learn more about my visit, see photos, and other videos from the trip please make sure to subscribe.

Tallying Up The Cost: 17 Days in Turkey


Turkey:  A country that spans two continents, has seen the rise and fall of numerous empires, and offers an amazing melting pot of contrasting cultures and geographic terrain.  When the time came to choose the destination for my winter break the choice was clear.  After years of dreaming about a visit, I was more than ready to pack my bags for Turkey.  After doing some research, perusing the excellent posts on the Turkish Travel Blog and talking to my brother, David Berger, who recently visited Turkey, I decided on three destinations. Choosing the three was a challenging task.  The rich history of Turkey, combined with its size and geographic location mean that Turkey has an amazing depth and richness which might initially surprise those not overly familiar with the country.  While I considered several popular destinations such as the ruins at Ephesus and the natural hot springs at Pamukkale, I ultimately decided to focus instead on Istanbul, the Cappadocia region, and Antalya.


Istanbul was a must.  The former location of Byzantium and Constantinople, it offered an incredible opportunity to visit one of the centers of modern civilization and the heart of some of history’s most captivating empires. The reports I had from friends and peers in the travel industry also suggested a city that was far more compelling and engaging than your standard capital city.


Cappadocia has captivated me for years.  Fairly unknown outside of Turkey, Cappadocia’s unusual cities are carved into the sides of the local hills and delve deep underground into  sprawling chambers. Ever since stumbling upon the first photos I’ve had it at the top of my list of unique and unusual places to visit.  However, it wasn’t until recently that I learned that Cappadocia is actually a rather large region, which encompasses a number of small towns and not a stand alone town.  After doing my research I eventually decided on the small town of Göreme to serve as my base while exploring the region.


The final city was Antalya.  I chose Antalya, which is situated at the heart of the Turkish Riviera in part due to climate and in part because I had a strong interest in seeing the unusual Lycian ruins at Myra.  Located along Turkey’s southern coast it offered the allure of significantly warmer weather and the chance to catch up on some time in the sun – something I’ve been sorely missing here in Copenhagen.  While far larger and more widely known, my concern about visiting the ruins at Ephesus stemmed from the belief that they are likely heavily stabilized to handle the number of visits they get annually.  I know it is necessary to protect the site but it diminishes the life of a place. The ruins of  Pompeii are another good example. Despite the small size of the ruins at Myra, and the excessive tourist infrastructure in the Antalya region, I still found them to be charming and well worth the visit. Antalya also offered the opportunity to see the Düden Falls which is located in the heart of the city. It is a picturesque waterfall which cascades over the side of the cliffs and into the Mediterranean below.

 Analyzing The Cost

One of the reasons I chose Turkey was the relatively cheap airfare to and from Istanbul from Copenhagen.  My round-trip ticket cost $245 USD. Even though it was slightly more than I might have paid using a budget airline within central Europe, it was still reasonable.  The three cities I selected are relatively far away from each other.  This posed a challenge from a transportation standpoint.  The cities are also connected by long-overnight buses, a viable option, but one which I hoped to avoid.  To my surprise Turkish Airlines and their subsidiary AnadoluJet were running specials which meant I could get airfare from Istanbul to Kayseri (Cappadocia), Kayseri to Antalya, and Antalya to Istanbul for virtually the same price as a bus ticket.  In total these in-country flights ran me $179 USD.  The combined cost of all airfare/long distance transportation, excluding regional tours, was $423 for the trip.

For the duration of my visit the US dollar was performing fairly well against the Turkish lira and was typically about 1.75 lira to the USD.  This gave me a significant amount of added buying power as most Turkish prices are structured at what would be 1:1 between the lira and the dollar.   My hostels were usually 20-30 lira per night.  After facing the brutal food prices here in Copenhagen for 6 months, I was eager to splurge on the relatively cheap food in Istanbul.  As a result, instead of opting for the 2-8 lira kebabs, I tended to seek out more filling meals which ranged anywhere from 10 Lira to 30 Lira a meal. I’ll do a more comprehensive post on food in Turkey at a later date. It is worth noting that the area around Sultan Ahmet Square in Istanbul and the old city in Antalya were significantly more expensive as they cater heavily to tourists.  Another item that was surprisingly expensive (but more available than expected) was alcohol.  Beer was typically priced between 6-10 lira per bottle.

Unfortunately, due to the need to use cash for many of my purchases, I don’t have an accurate breakdown of individual expenses by category (eg: food, lodging, etc.). However, the sum for all non-airfare costs over the 17 day period was $1,086. This includes approximately $100 in added expenses for unnecessary clothing purchases.

The total cost for the trip including all primary and secondary expenses, transportation, food, entertainment, etc. was $1509.55 or about $89 USD per day.  I suspect that a traveler operating on a tighter food budget, and doing fewer organized regional tours (I did two expensive day trips in Cappadocia and Antalya) could drop that fairly easily to $60 a day. Similarly, budget travelers moving at a slower speed and adding more legs to their trip could reduce or at least spread out a significant portion of the $179 USD in transportation costs I paid.

Turkey is a wonderful budget friendly destination that has a lot to offer.  Have a specific question not covered in this post?  Let me know and I’d be happy to answer it if I can.