It’s pretty hard to travel around Turkey without seeing posters on every travel agency advertising trips to the Central Anatolian region of Cappadocia (Kah-pah-DOKE–ia) and no Turkey holiday would be complete without a visit. We decided to leave Turkey’s poster boy destination for the end of our trip through Turkey to spend ample time relaxing among the fantastic landscape after our foray along the Mediterranean coast. We reached Goreme, the main traveler town in the region at 6am after a 10 hour night bus from Antalya.
Even through half squinted eyes it was easy to see Goreme was going to be different from anywhere else and after a short walk we found a suitable guesthouse where we hid until mid afternoon. When we emerged from hibernation the sun was already high in the sky and we could finally take our surroundings in fully.
What makes Cappadocia so unique is the lunar landscape which penetrates the towns borders causing fairy chimneys as they are known to rise up all over the place. These cone like rocks have been chiseled into homes (and hotels) where village life goes on alongside the tourist industry.
The Goreme Open Air museum came highly recommended from our guidebook and so we set off after lunch to have a look at the rock churches and frescoes it is famous for. Our timing couldn’t have been worse for it was clear that the museum was on every package tour groups itinerary as well and we found it difficult to enjoy the small cave churches when we were sandwiched like sardines among the tour groups. Despite paying the entrance fees we left soon after. Perhaps earlier in the day would have been better.
Various valleys and a network of trails connect the few towns and settlements and throughout our days we found this was the best way to take in what Cappadocia has to offer.
Our favourite walk was through the magnificent Pigeon valley which offers views of a completely alien surrounding while walking from Uchisar to Goreme. Most of the walks only require a 1-2 hours walking but with extremely primitive maps provided by the hotels it seems that just about everyone ends up completely lost or turned around at some point.
We visited the Castle in Uchisar and after climbing to the stop we were able to take in the unimpeded view of the sun setting among one of the most strange and unique landscapes the earth has to offer. Uchisar has a decidedly French atmosphere and with a lot of French tourists comes delicious food. After eating only Turkish food for the past weeks it was nice to tuck into a beautiful meal at Elai for some steak gorgonzola and mashed potatoes before heading back to Goreme.
It is very popular in Cappadocia for tourists to take a hot air balloon over the landscape at sunrise when conditions are more favourable than sunset. The sky is filled with balloons which coupled with the golden hued topography is a completely surreal sight to behold. Costing upwards of 200 Euro per person for an hour trip our feet were planted on the ground and were content viewing the balloons at sunrise from the main view point over Goreme.
Goreme is exactly the kind of place I like to visit while traveling with a far and away atmosphere and plenty of walks and day trips possible it would be very difficult to become bored. We boarded a bus for another famous site, the Kaymakli underground city. The city housed up to 3,000 people during the 6th and 7th centuries and was a place of safe refuge from Persian invaders. We descended far below the ground and when the walls began to narrow and the air began to thin, Lianna’s claustrophobia kicked in and she was out of there in a hurry. While passing through more tunnels and small cave rooms it was an interesting experience to imagine living such an unusual life underground. With fresh air back in my lungs we headed off for some lunch.
Cappadocia is a gem among destinations, offering a unique setting and plenty to do. While the various sites seem to attract the bus loads of foreign and domestic tour groups, it was walking the valleys and trails that Cappdocia showed its true colours and will remain a truly odd and unique place we will always remember.