I have already left Turkey and I’m in Cork now for a bit. Here are some impressions from Cappadocia, the last part of my 4-week trip in May. I guess it wouldn’t be exaggerated to say that out of all the places I’ve been to Cappadocia is the most beautiful and magic one. The landscape is just too unreal, and the thought that some people were crazy enough to carve houses, churches and even whole underground cities out of the rock even more.
I also wrote a separate post for those who are interested in the question: Was I safe in Turkey?
Garden Cave Hotel
Yes, I stayed in a real cave house and I think I couldn’t have made a better choice. The people at Garden Cave Hotel were like a family and the view from the terrace is amazing. Even if I checked in early/late I could have breakfast and a shower. I couldn’t take quite as good pictures as the ones on their website… It really looks like this. I didn’t have to walk down to the travel agency to book my tour, they just called for me.
Güllüdere (Rose Valley) and Kızılçukur Vadisi (Red Valley)
I figured that t I should be able to visit these valleys by foot from Göreme without a plan, and indeed, following the signs and my nose in the absence of signs I found my way through and back, even if it seems that I mostly walked in Güllüdere and only saw Kızılçukur Vadisi from the top. The landscape is so surreal that I couldn’t stop saying exclamations to myself in awe. It took me 6 hours of walking to get up to Aktepe viewpoint and back. A faithful companion, the tourist dog, joined me on the way. When he tried to catch the chicken close to one of the carved cave churches unfortunately the owners of the cafe next to it (who were also the owners of the chicken) chased the dog away and we couldn’t find each other anymore. I don’t know how you have dinner with a dog, but that had been the plan up to that point.
On my way back I came across tons of quad customers who I figured must have been quite disappointed of their ride, once I sat down in Fırın Express enjoying a Pide just as rain started pouring down. The valley is much more enjoyable when walking inside anyway. That’s what is called Schadenfreude in German.
This website has a nice collection of Göreme hiking maps, but I’m quite sure that getting lost a bit is inevitable.
Whaaat, pick up at 4 in the morning! Well, there was nothing to be done about it since I had already booked my ticket in Fethiye. They have to leave early because the winds get too strong later during the day. Not the best day to look good in selfies, but the landscape is too amazing anyway to waste time on that. The flight takes about an hour and I paid 100€ which were really worth it
Green tour (South Cappadocia)
For the part that is hard to do on your own by public transport I booked a tour through the hotel. I can really recommend the tour provider Inside travel. The pick-up was on time and the tour guide fun and knowledgeable (helpful when you visit historical sites). The green tour brought me to the main attractions in the south of Göreme: climbing down into the underground city Derinkuyu, climbing up Selime monastery carved into the rock, several view points (Pigeon Valley and Esentepe), walking through the scenic Ihlara valley, lunch in a relaxing place in Belisirma, and two product demonstration + shopping stops at the beginning and at the end of the tour (Onyx production and Turkish organic products).
The soil around Göreme is basically ash from several volcanic eruptions that happened a looong time ago. This explains that some of the rock formations have a line somewhere in the middle, and also that the soil is good for agriculture. Until I heard that I was surprised to see vineyards in what I thought is dust.
Lots of views, lots of green, some chimneys (ok, let’s be honest, phallic shaped rocks), breathtaking views (literally in some places), adventure.
I started in Görkündere (the path for both valleys starts on the right when heading out towards the openair museum, just after the Tourist Hotel) and realized later that it would probably be easier to find the way from one valley into the other when starting from Zemi Vadisi. Getting lost is expected in any case. Not only because sign posts are not everywhere, but also because I thought I could get into Zemi Vadisi down a hill where it basically wasn’t possible without dying at arrival. At least I had an enjoyable visit to what seemed to be a secluded garden. Bees, birds, a hawk, a rabbit… Just listening to nature.
At the end I visited Nazar Kilesi and had tea with the ticket office employee who showed me pictures of his kids and grand children and gave me a lift to the main street on the bus that picks up the museum employees after closure at 5pm.
Open Air Museum+Zelve
I went to the Open Air Museum in Göreme and to the one in Zelve the day before I did the Green tour. If I had mentioned that I bought the Cappadocia pass (45TL, valid for 72 hours) when booking the green tour I probably would have been able to get a reduction equivalent to the respective entrance fees.
Unfortunately it’s forbidden to take pictures inside any of the churches in the Göreme Open Air Museum, which had been built and used by early Christians. From the museum in Göreme Zelve is easily reachable by bus. It leaves opposite the Göreme Open Air Museum car park. The valley used to be inhabited until 1952, but the villagers where evacuated due to the erosion. Now it’s a nice place for a walk and … eat Gözleme! Which brings us to the next chapter:
When I came back to the hotel Malia – who intended to stay in Cappadocia for a few days and is still there one year later – told me that she actually goes to Zelve only for the food. I happened to go to the same place that makes the best Gözleme (a sort of savory pancake), but I ate mantı (Turkish ravioli) there. They were homemade and really good, too.
There a few things that made us realize that the world is small. For example Malia is a food and travel blogger and she had seen one of my posts on Turkey is for life‘s page. So she had basically seen me before I even arrived in Cappadocia. Her blog Shoyu Sugar gives a good list of recommendations what to eat and drink in Turkey.
After we talked I figured that I have to try testi kebab. It’s boiled in a ceramic pot, if you eat it in a place that does it the real way, such as Fırın Express. I was a bit surprised when the waitress brought a sword along with the food and then realized that I have to use it to open the pot!
My trip in Turkey didn’t end in Cappadocia, but I basically decided I’m on writing holidays after that and simply wanted to spend some more time with friends before leaving. Which is what I did for a week, in Kuşadası and Istanbul. And which is what I will be doing for the next few weeks in Ireland and Germany before going back to a sedentary life.
Will I continue writing? Who knows. I have some general topics in mind about how I organized my trip, how much it cost, … I also suspect that there are many interesting places I haven’t seen yet and that are worth visiting and writing about, and that they are not so far from where I grew up.