'Memory is the fourth dimension to any landscape.'- Janet FinchThis statement sums up the days one spends in CAPPADOCIA perfectly. Once you have been to this amazing place, you can never get it out of your head and the memory lasts with you for a long long time to come.I visited Cappadocia this year in the month of July and got to experience something which is just not easy to describe in words. I never thought i would get such an overwhelming feeling by looking at a place which has such rugged landscapes. Like the title states, it really looks like you have stepped out of the lunar lander. It has absolutely no resemblance to any other place on this planet and once there you feel like you just dont want to go back. Before visiting Cappadocia we had a brief idea of what to expect, but the magnitude of its beauty only becomes clear once you see it with your own eyes. No amount of words or pictures can do justice to the overwhelming feeling of being there in person.Cappadocia was the second city i visited on my trip to Turkey. The best way to reach there from Istanbul is to fly to either Kayseri or Nevsehir and the tickets are also pretty affordable. We had hired a self drive car with pickup from the airport so travelling and exploring the places becomes a cakewalk. The roads from Kayseri to Cappadocia are in amazing shape as are in all of Turkey and the views on the way are well spectacular to say the least. The landscape changes very quickly from plains to hills and then to the so called Lunar landscape.
A full day Green valley tour: Derinkuyu Underground City - Selime Monastery - Ihlara ValleyWe opted for a guided green valley tour as this was our last day in Capadoccia and we wanted to make the most of it. The tour started with a visit to the Derinkuyu Underground City which is a mind boggling structure. It is a multi level underground city extending about 60 m (200 feet) below ground and is said to have housed about 20,000 people complete with provisions for their prayers, livestock etc. Capadoccia has many such underground cities and this is the one open for tourists. It's fascinating to see how a full fledged city was constructed by the people who practiced Christianity back then and wanted to stay hidden.Next stop was the Selime Monastery which is one of the biggest in Capadoccia region and it once acted as a military headquarter for the region!Later during the day, we hiked in the beautiful Ihlara Valley. It's one of the most famous hiking route in the country and has 7, 14 and 25 km long hiking routes to offer. It was like a secluded hike through paradise. It is one of world's biggest canyons and has extremely scenic sights to offer. Throughout this 7 kilometre hike, we were accompanied by the sound of Melendiz stream, chapels and monasteries, lush green trees and magnificent canyons! Oh, not to forget the pitstops on the route where you can have a fresh brew of Turkish tea to make your hike even better!Our last stop was the Love Valley where we got a gorgeous panaromic view of Goreme town and the Green Valley. Oh, do not forget to get yourself clicked in front of the gorgeous Evil Eye (Nazar Bead) tree installed there!
Istanbul to Capadoccia, Exploring Red ValleySo our first leg of Instanbul trip had ended. Today we flew to Kayseri from Istanbul on an AnadoluJet flight. Kayseri or Nevsehir are the two airports to get to Capadoccia. I would suggest booking your flights to either of these destinations well in advance as there are a limited number of flights that might suit your time and cost as per your itinerary. After reaching Kayseri, which is about 80 Kms from Goreme, we took the 'Havas' Airport shuttle from the airport to reach Kayseri bus station at 12 TL per person. From Kayseri to Goreme bus station, we had to hop on to a Kamil Koç bus which costed us 27 TL per person. After reaching Goreme, taxis are easily available to reach your hotel or any other accommodation within the city. Shuttle and bus is the best way to travel as the cab drivers may demand an exorbitant price to get you to Goreme (unless, airport transfers are provided by your hotel).We reached our wonderful cave hotel, Elaa Cave Hotel which is situated in Ortahisar, about 5 Kms from Goreme town centre. It is a cute little place, with only 6 rooms but the hospitality and ambience are top-notch. The plus is the marvelous view of Ortahisar castle that you get right from the hotel terrace. We were beyond thrilled to see our cave rooms! But soon, this thrill turned into sadness. We got the news that the hot air balloon rides had been cancelled by the Civil Aviation Authority for the next 3 days! This was the highlight of our trip! But life teaches you to move on and we decided to make the most of this wonderful fairyland Capadoccia during our 3 day stint!We visited 'Mia Cafe' for lunch and had lovely Spinach and Cheese Gozleme. When in Turkey, you have to try their Gozleme!Post lunch and gathering the much needed energy, we were all set for a hike in the Goreme National Park with the oldest guide in Capadoccia (Mr. Mehmet) and explored the Red Valley / Rose Valley up close during this 5 hour trek. Our guide was extremely informative and gave us an unparalleled peek into the history of Capadoccia. We were lucky to even witness the most surreal sunset of our lives on this day. The walk through these valleys, witnessing fairy chimneys for real, enjoying a panoramic sunset view... It was a day of our dreams, for we'd been longing to explore the raw untouched beauty of Capadoccia like this since years.Now our stomachs were making loud rumbling noises out of hunger and we happily landed at the 'Capadoccia Pide house' in Goreme to feast on the yummiest Cheese pide in the region.
Place : CappadociaWe had our flight to Cappadocia from Istanbul Airport around 8.30 am. So we started from hotel around 5.30 am , took a taxi from outside which had costed us 120 Lira to reach airport. Remember there are two airport in Istanbul. Don’t get confused. Again there are over night Bus available from Istanbul to Cappadocia, that also a very good & cheaper option to opt for.We reached Kayseri Airport ( Around 85 Km from Cappadocia) around 10.00 am. We opted for shared cab which has been arranged by hotel only. Its very economical. They charged 8 Euro per person. Remember for Cappadocia also they have two airport, keep this in mind before booking. Eventually we reached hotel which is actually in Goreme city. Our Hotel name was “Kookaburra Pension”. We loved everything about this hotel.
Next day, we got up at 3 am as our hot air balloon ride was booked with capadoccia voyager balloons company. A guy from the company picked us up exactly at 3.45 am, picked other tourists on the way and dropped us at the facility where we paid for our ride and were comforted with early morning breakfast. Once all the formalities were done, we were sent to balloon ride facility where we waited for around 20-30 mins for inflation of the balloons. This early morning site with hundreds balloons being filled up and people waiting beside to step up on experiencing one of a lifetime adventures makes getting up at 3 am worth. Once the hot air is filled and the balloon is lifted, the passengers take a step-in inside the basket and the lifting starts. The ride lasts for an hour, tours around the city and finally ends at the other end of the city. Usually all the balloon companies ends the trip with a raising a toast of champagne to all the riders and providing a certificate of "Been There Done That". It is one of the must-do activities while being in capadoccia.