When planning our trip to Turkey, Cappadocia was a must-see. Cappadocia is a province and not a city. We chose to stay in the town of Goreme as it is close to all the sites we wanted to see and it gave us the opportunity to stay in a cave hotel (Who doesn’t want to stay in Bedrock ala Flintstones?).
After a total of 4 flights and 36 hours of travel; we arrived at the small (boring and overpriced) Kayseri airport. The first thing to greet you as you leave the airport is the beautiful snow-capped volcanic mountain. Goreme is a 90min drive from the airport. Our transfer was organised by the hotel. The usual price for a shuttle transfer between Goreme and Kayseri airport is 25TL (R125). Be sure to prebook as if your name is not on the shuttle list, you will need to take a cab which is far more expensive.
On the drive to Goreme, we noticed the landscape changing from lush green to rocky as you approach Goreme. We stayed at Eren-Bey hotel (will be reviewed in another post). We only had 3 nights and 3 full days in the area. Day 1 was a full day tour. Day 2 was a very early morning hot air balloon flight and Day 3 was a visit to the Goreme open air museum.
Since we arrived quite late in the day ( +-6pm) , we took a walk to the main road which had various restaurants and shops. We had our first introduction to Turkish pizza (pide) that night at Pide Salonu (the first of many!- so much for banting in Turkey!). The Pide was about 10TL (R50) and comfortably fed the two of us. Its a good, tasty and affordable meal in Turkey.
Day one- Full day tour
Our tour started at 9am with Sa-haad. It was meant to be a group tour but it ended up being a private tour for my husband and I. Our first stop was Love Valley (so named due to the fallace shaped rocks aka fairy chimneys) just for a few pics.
Next we went to Pasabagi. Pasabagi was a great place to run up the hills and take some great pics. However the rock church was not as spectacular as I imagined. The morning started off a bit chilly in spite of it being the beginning of summer but it heated up pretty nicely throughout the day. Pasabagi filled up quite quickly with locals and tourists (and selfy-sticks!) so its a good idea to get there before 10am for some great landscape shots.
After Pasabagi we went to Devrent valley where the rocks (using much imagination) resembled different things including a chicken, a camel, Napoleans hat and Jesus and the Virgin Mary. I must admit, my imagination isn’t great. At least I could identify the camel/ chicken thing. Devrent Valley is a popular hike but you need a car to get there from the town and then back again.
Next stop was a walk through Avanos which is known for carpet weaving and pottery. Definitely not the highlight of the tour. Its a quaint little town with not much to see. You can get some Turkish ice-cream at Mado’s along the banks of the river. We were taken to a pottery factory/ shop where I tried my hand at pottery making which was quite a fail as my vase lacked a base. Tours could really do without these stops. I felt forced into buying something, so I just bought the smallest little vase I could find. I’m not much of an ornament person. My view is that the photos are the best memorabilia. The ceramics are beautiful though so if you want to splurge on authentic, hand-made ceramics, Avanos is the place to go.
We then had lunch at a restaurant called Caydede which takes big tour groups. We tried our first testi kebap which was okay, nothing amazing (with all those spices they should really use more masala!). Testi Kebaps are a Turkish specialty meal where a dish is slow cooked in a sealed clay pot. The meat is supposed to come out succulent and soft and generally takes hours to make. When served, the pot is broken which is quite fun. The Testi Kebap we had at Kale restaurant was better but I swear my mom makes way better curry (your’s probably does too!). Note that the food is included in the tour price but the drinks are not. A small tin of coke was 7Tl/ R35- be warned!
Derinkuyu underground city
After Lunch we made our way to Derinkuyu underground city. This is the deepest of the more than 250 underground settlements that have been excavated in Cappadocia thus far. We thought the tour guide was kidding when he said they discovered a new underground city every year but on further reading, its absolutely true. The one discovered in 2014 is said to eclipse any other discovered (read here).
It is estimated that construction of these cities may have begun in 7-8th century BC but not much is known. Derinkuyu has 6 levels and may have housed up to 20000 people. (Read more about the underground cities here)
The concept of the underground city is pretty mindblowing and is a definite must see when in the region. However without a tour guide or a guide book its hard to make out what anything is as it mostly looks like stairs and rooms. Our guide really added value to this experience.
On our last stop of the full day tour we made a stop in Pigeon Valley to take some awesome panoramic pics. Those who lived in the caves used pigeons to communicate and used there wonderful pigeon poo for something (can’t remember what- building maybe?). You can hear the birds singing. Note- be careful when trying to get to the cliff edge- I almost fell a few times (It was a long Day!). Pigeon Valley is also a popular hike from Goreme.
We were more than happy to call the tour quits as it was a long, tiring and thoroughly enjoyable day. We loved it!
On the advice of our tour guide, we took a walk to the sunset point. Our sore feet made the short walk feel like miles away. It was up-hill okay! I didn’t regret it at all. The sunset over Goreme was amazing. I have rarely, if ever, been so awestruck by a view.
We had a relatively early night as the next day was an early wake up call for the hot-air balloon ride.
Part 2 coming soon!