There is more to travelling Turkey than just exploring Istanbul, and a visit to Cappadocia will be one of your most unique if not memorable trips of your life. It is a quick flight of 1:15 minutes from Istanbul to Kayseri Airport, and then an hours drive from the airport to Goreme. (PS. We loved Turkish Airlines plus they were part of Star Alliance so we racked up miles!) We were only in Turkey for 7 days so we planned just 1.5 days in Cappadocia.
First, you have to stay in a cave hotel to get the full experience, and we had a wonderful time at the Hezen Cave Hotel.
We hired a driver to take us around all the sights around the Goreme region and the Goreme Open Air Museum was first on the tour. It was a great introduction to rock hewn architecture and fresco techniques shown throughout the complex of churches and chapels, and a nunnery that showed the living quarters and kitchens.
We then stopped at a lookout over the Valleys. Despite it being a very touristy spot, with little shops and lots of people, the expansive view of the homes carved into the valley walls was impressive.
We stopped at a spot overlooking Pigeon Valley where we learned about pigeon poop. Yes, you read that right. It is called Pigeon Valley because the rocky peaks have been turned into pigeon houses. Pigeons were very important in Cappadocia, because they provided fertilizer for farmer’s crops.
We had noticed these glass pendants hanging from all the cars’ rear view mirrors and had wondered what they were. So when we visited Pigeon Valley we found out that it was a representation of “pigeon poop” which acts as a good luck charm.
Our fourth stop was to explore the Fairy Chimneys that are a product of millions of years in the making from volcanic eruptions to multi layer erosions. A quick read from Smithsonian explains it in simple terms that even we could understand.
Unfortunately, the heat got to me so we only were able to make one more quick stop before heading back to the hotel. That quick stop was Imagination Valley, AKA Pink Valley, which was a fun end to the tour. We picked out rock formations that resembled everything from rabbits, to Mother Mary to camels. What was disappointing was the fact that tourists didn’t respect the space, so they had to put up fences to keep people from climbing on to the structures.
At the hotel, we relaxed and enjoyed the late afternoon sun view of Ortahisar Castle.
We booked a trip to the Kaymakli Underground City, one of 36 underground cities in Cappadocia, for the next day. We booked with great hesitation as I had discovered on an earlier trip to Aruba that I am claustrophobic in caves. There are 4 floors that are open to the public, with the stables being on the first floor, church on the second, storage and kitchens on the third, and living quarters on the fourth. In some places, the tunnels were less than 5 feet high, so for my 6ft husband it was a little tight. Myself, on the other hand, broke out in a cold sweat, and started to panic on the way down, so had to really exercise mind over matter, as I hadn’t come all that way across the world to give up.
We got dropped off in the town of Goreme, so that we could explore and find a restaurant for lunch. There were little shops to buy handmade goods and other tourist knick knacks. There were a ton of restaurants to choose from, and we chose one that had really fun furniture and decor. I could not take my eyes off this detailed and vibrant cloth ceiling above our table.
My biggest regret, is that we did not plan to do the early morning hot air balloon ride to see the sun rise over the surreal landscape. So don’t be disappointed, and make sure you book your tour.
From Cappadocia we hopped on a flight to spend our last few days relaxing on the coast in a town called Bodrum.
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