WOW! Just wow!
Of course we’re all different, we have our own likes and dislikes, but I think if you were to add visiting this place to your bucket list, especially having a trip in a hot air balloon, and made it happen, we don’t think anyone would be disappointed!
This could make many a person’s Top Ten, and as overused as the word may be, we think it’s awesome! A 7-hour bus ride from our previous destination, Eğirdir, for a fiver each (50tl), we found the long journey to be totally worth it. A unique landscape, and I don’t think I have the vocabulary to do it justice; so I’ll let the pictures do the talking. Below however is a summary of our experiences here.
Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Ride
Over the years I had seen many pictures of Cappadocia and the balloons at dawn without actually knowing exactly where it was. It always looked amazing and I was delighted to find out that it was somewhere in reach from our previous destinations in Turkey. Nigel had previously been on a hot air balloon ride and didn’t enjoy it too much, but I had never been on one; and was very nervous about the prospect as I am not a fan of heights. I need not have worried however it was perfectly safe and was a magical experience!
The trip was organised by Levent at our hotel, with Kapadokya Balloons; we were picked up from the hotel at 6am and taken to the field where we watched all the balloons, including ours, being inflated. After our balloon was inflated we climbed into the basket; the one we had had 6 sections for 4 people in each pod. Nigel was very relieved that unlike his previous experience there was a heat shield to protect his bald head from getting burnt. The flight itself lasted about an hour and we saw the sunrise over the mountains. The landing itself was expertly done; with the balloon being landed directly onto the trailer. We were presented with certificates and taken back to our hotel in time for breakfast. – What a great way to start a morning and a truly once in a lifetime experience. A few short videos can be found on our Instagram page.
The Unique Landscape
Cappadocia is an area encompassing half a dozen or so towns. We stayed in Goreme. The landscape of the region is unlike anything we had seen before, nor probably will see anywhere else. According to a local, it was formed by lava from a volvanic eruption 25 million years ago shaped by wind and rain since then into ‘fairy chimneys’. Below are some of the areas we visited:
Love Valley (Aşıklar vadisi)
We visited Love Valley at sunset and could not help but childishly giggle at the shape of the rocks here (look at the pictures you will see what we mean). The Valley is apparently so called because it is popular for marriage proposals although we were not so sure; personally I think it’s more to do with the phallic rock shapes 😉 either way it was a lovely spot to watch the sun go down.
Goreme National Park
Just a short distance away from Goreme, within walking distance, you can reach some of the rock formations and climb amongst them on the way to the Goreme Open Air Museum. We had some fun here and it was good to be able to explore at our own pace. We particularly liked the ‘scooby doo’ rock.
We never managed to visit the Goreme Open Air Museum due to sheer number of visitors and COVID concerns also. From what we understand however it is definitely worth a visit in quieter times such as early morning.
Zelve Open Air Museum
Zelve once housed one of the largest communities in the region, and is an amazing cave town! We visited here as part of a taxi/personal tour. It cost 20tl (£2) for a ticket which also included Mushroom Valley. The site consisted of 3 diferent valleys you could walk through including a winery (alas much to my disappointment there was no wine!) and a church. The town was habited until the 1950’s when erosion became so bad that the town was evacuated. It was a fascinating place and you could easily spend a few hours here.
Yabba Dabba Doo! – In Goreme!
The Flintstones, you’ll be pleased to know, are alive and well in Goreme. Our driver for the day, Yonas, showed us a cave where his aunty and her family lived! The man of the house started chiselling out some space in a rock 25 years ago, meaning to keep his animals there. The rock was so hard his hammer would bounce back off the granite-like rock. It took him a year to create the first room, but he was so pleased with the results he decided to move his wife in rather than his sheep. It now has double-glazing and a satellite dish, but it’s still essentially a cave, and people really do live in it! We were also shown pigeon houses (pigeons are very important suppliers of fertiliser for anything grown in the area!) and an ancient church, all in the rocks.
Çavuşin Old Greek Village & The Church of St John
Çavuşin is located approximately 5 kilometres north of Goreme and is often overlooked due to the popularity of other towns in the area. It is on the entrance to Rose Valley and consists of both an old town and a new town. In the 1960’s the town was evacuated due to a large rockfall which killed several residents. It was deemed unsafe and people moved into the newer part of the town. The old town however was an interesting insight into the ancient town it once was and the church, whilst not as impressive as others was certainly majestic in its own right. Additionally there were great panoramic views from the top of the hill.
Rose Valley at Sunset
Rose Valley is so called due to the colour of the rocks in the area and sunset especially its a great time to see the colours vividly. We went to Rose Valley but got a little lost to the viewing point and looking at it we were glad we did as it was packed! We found our own hill with just the two of us! A great place to wind down after a busy day!
Sunset Point, Goreme
We discovered this during the day and quite by accident; we saw people stood on a hill overlooking Goreme and decided to see how you got up there. It turns out you can either walk up or take a taxi with a small fee of 3 Turkish lira or 30p each and the small fee is definitely worth it. We spent quite a bit of time at the top of the hill just chilling out taking in the views. It is apparently great for seeing balloons in the morning and for sunset as the name suggests.
We arrived in Cappadocia without any booked accommodation; due to a wifi failure the previous day we were unable to get on the internet; therefore arriving tired around 6.30pm we found a restaurant with wifi and set about trying to find somewhere. Many places were ridiculously priced or fully booked but we found Apollo Cappadocia Village Hotel had availability and for a reasonable price for the next few days. We were little concerned that there were no reviews but we needn’t have been. We arrived tired and hungry and were warmly greeted by Levent and his wife; who despite our late booking were happy to accommodate us. Whilst they got our room ready we were shown where we could get something to eat.
It turns out the reason for no reviews is because the hotel is under new management. Levent and his wife are very lovely people, very hard working, and consistently went out of their way to help us enjoy our stay. There are some much needed building upgrades in the pipeline, but we had a lovely, relaxed stay for a few days. We particularly enjoyed the communal areas where we could mix with other guests, giving it a kind of a hostel feel, but our room was spacious, away from other guests and we were able to keep ourselves to ourselves when the mood took us. Breakfast was plentiful with a wide variety of different dishes and tea and coffee available all the time. We even had our laundry done for a small fee..
Although it is early days for them I do feel that they have the right personal skills to make the hotel a great success next season and thank them for making us feel so at home. We wish them all the best for the future.
Tours and Transport
There are a variety of tours available in Cappadocia; the green tour, the red tour, ATV tours, even sunset horse riding. We are not fans of organised tours and do prefer to take our time seeing places at our own pace; especially in light of the Covid situation. We ended up one day having a taxi tour which compared to the organised tours worked out more personalised for us and cheaper. We were able to set a schedule of what we wanted to see and how long for. Our driver approached us by the Goreme Open Air Museum and seeing the queues decided to give him a try and it worked out well for us; we paid the agreed fee at the end of day and there were no added extras. We were grateful for the Balloon trip being organised through our accommodation (actually for the morning after we arrived) but for the majority of the time we did our own thing.
In summary Just Do It! Get yourself to Cappadocia and have the time of your life! If you have one hot air balloon ride in your life, do it here. I genuinely feel this should be in everyone’s bucket list, and I am sure that if you do, you’ll love it!
Next stop – Istanbul
Carol & Nigel xx