Sometimes travel is tough on the body. Your sleep patterns get messed up as you try to see as much as you can, or flights are at such ridiculous times that sleep isn’t even an option. Johnny and I had a tiring journey to Cappadocia which had began from Venice, where we were too cheap to pay for a bus to the airport, so we walked 2km with 25kg+ bags on our backs (these days I would just throw what little money I have at the problem and save the physical pain as I’m not that young and fit any more!). We then had a four-hour layover in a crowded Istanbul airport, and landed in Cappadocia at 12:30am – ready for our 4.30am wakeup call (ouch).
Now there are many people out there who question how you say ‘Cappadocia’, and everyone seems to say it differently. Lucky for me this is a blog and not a vlog so no one can have a go at my pronunciation. 😀
By the time we got to our hotel near Nevşehir it was roughly 2am, and by God it was one of the nicest hotels I have ever stayed in. This was not due to it being super expensive and luxurious, but because the room was built into the old rock formations that you see throughout the region. This isn’t a paid plug but Johnny and I stayed in the Fairyland Cave Hotel, which had a bath the size of a king sized bed and was made out the rock from the cave itself. This isn’t the only hotel that is designed in this manner across the region so if you do some research there are countless others, depending on what you are looking for, from simple and cheap to extravagant and expensive.
No one likes to wake up at 4:30am, even if you are a morning person, however, sometimes you can experience some remarkable adventures and be quite productive. From time to time I decide to revert back to this mentality (maybe not a crazy 4:30am but between 6 and 8 on a weekend) and try to be productive before the rest of the world opens their eyes for the rest of the day. You do also get to experience those who are still drunk from the night before stagger home.
So, after only two hours of sleep, and with our bodies trying to resist getting out of bed, we were back on the road to the head out to see the sunrise over the Cappadocia landscape. Why were we up so early you ask? Well we had a Hot Air Balloon experience.
I have a small fear of falling from large heights and a Hot Air balloon was certainly going to put that fear to the test.
It was bitterly cold up in the sky but it was all worth it to see the sunrise over fairy chimneys and mountainous terrain.
Words cannot describe how magical the scenic views we had that morning up in the sky in the hot air balloon. No one needed to say anything.
Everyone crammed into that tiny basket was mesmerized and was taking everything in, with the odd moment taking photos with a slightly scared look on their face while trying to not drop their phone/camera out of the hot air balloon.
One word of warning, they put quite a few of you in each of the baskets so you might be much closer then you ever imagined with your friend or a random stranger. 😛
If you ever decide to come to Turkey, I highly recommend coming out to Cappadocia and doing a balloon ride, as the experience is truly magical!
The only way to top an experience like that is CHAMPAGNE, CHAMPAGNE FOR EVERYBODY! It was a great to finish to an amazing morning, and perked us up on our two and a half hour sleep.
Back at the hotel, a traditional Turkish breakfast, called Kahvalti was served to us, containing eggs, cheeses, meats, jams, olives, honey and creams. I love a free breakfast and it really depends on my mood if I book accommodation based on if they serve breakfast as part of the room package. Sometimes if my holiday is more touristy I will if it’s only a few bucks more. However, if I feel it’s a rip off I am quite happy to go to a local supermarket or bakery and grab a few things to keep me going throughout the day. I find it economical and time savvy so you don’t waste any time sitting down for a meal whilst you are out exploring.
In Cappadocia you have some tour options across the region. Unless you have hired a car, I strongly suggest you take a tour as you get to see some of the historical sites with ease at a reasonable price, compared to doing it all yourself on the limited public transportation or in taxis (I have a personal vendetta against taxis as I find they love to rip of travellers/tourists). We decided to go on a green tour but you also have the options to go on a yellow or a red tour (exciting multiple options!). There are elements that cross over from each tour. No, I am not getting paid for this, I’m just being helpful :).
Our first stop was the Derinkuyu underground city, located in the Derinkuyu district (who would have thought). It is approximately 60 meters deep, and was first inhabited around the 8th – 7th century BC.
Throughout history it has been an epicenter for the region, having the potential for tens of thousands to live there as well as protect civilisations from oppressing armies. You are harrassed by many locals trying to sell small trinkets, like in many other places across the globe, and you can only go down with a tour group and they give you an in-depth history lesson on the region and the caves.
A very small percentage of the underground city is actually available for tourists to visit, but it still felt like we were walking under there for hours. We could have used a fan down there, as it was hot! I could only imagine how hot it must get when the cooking fires were lit!
We next ventured down to the village of Belisirma where we enjoyed a lovely lunch by the river. It was calm and beautiful.
We each sat on little wooden rafts on the river, on cushions on the floor with an abundance of food (well, I grabbed a lot of food). We felt like queens, or something along those lines.
Back on the road we went to the Selime Monastery. The sight of the cone-like structures was amazing, scattered across the side of the hills.
This region really opened my eyes to the sheer number of historic structures that were created from basic materials and have stood for hundreds or even thousands of years, back to the days of early human settlement.
Great masterpieces truly do stand the test of time.
Our final stop on the tour was pigeon valley. Again, we got to witness from the viewing point on Uchisar rock the unique rocky landscape that has been formed over thousands of years.
This valley was huge, and it was home to thousands of pigeons (hence the name) You could see little out groves against some of the rocks in the distance with pigeons nesting in them. Now, being from a relatively large city and now living in London, I am no fan of a pigeon.
They are everywhere, truly earn their nickname of ‘flying rats’, and they are annoying like that one friend that always wants free food from you, but you gotta hand it to them. They pick a great spot to live and it’s all about location, location, location.
And like that, the hectic day was over. We walked around the small town near our hotel, had a very authentic Turkish meal, and before we knew it, we were back at the airport. I didn’t realise when we landed at 2am that the airport was so tiny – the luggage carousel was basically the waiting room!
Overall this was one a spectacular place to visit and I always recommend it to friends who are visiting Turkey. I also recommend not rushing it like Johnny and I did. Take the time to enjoy the region at your own pace and don’t try to fit it all literally in the space of 24 hours. However, plan your holiday how you want to structure it and only use blogs like mine as a guide of what you may or may not want to experience and see. But certainly go visit Cappadocia at one point in your life – their tourist board didn’t pay me to say that!