Thursday, April 17, 2014
Cappadocia - Heaven on Earth
Even if you're new to my blog, you'd realize very quickly that I tend to love to use adjectives and throw around 'incredible' 'awesome' 'wonderful' 'amazing' and all those jazzy, cheesy, cliched words like there's no tomorrow.
I mean it when I say it though. Because I think it's so important to see magic in the mundane.
The problem comes when I experience something truly, truly spectacular that touches something deep in my heart. The words I always use seem to not be enough. And Cappadocia is one of those instances.
So, here, I'll post pictures. I'll give information. And I'll even throw in some tips. But this is one place so dear to me that describing it in words seems superfluous. And pictures just can't do it justice. Like true love, you have to experience it to know it.
But to help you in your journey if you do decide to make it, here's mine.
We traveled from Istanbul to Cappadocia via Turkish Airlines and arrived at the Nevsehir Airport where our hotel arranged for our transfer.
We arrived at 8am the first morning, stayed for three full days and two nights, and left on the last flight out at 10pm on our departure day.
I think 3 days/2 nights is the bare minimum to see what Cappadocia has to offer. I could have happily stayed for a week.
We stayed at the Kelebek Cave Hotel that is situated in Goreme, and which I recommend fully. Two thumbs up and even toes too. My girlfriend was raving about it, and seeing that she's gone back THREE times, I knew I was in for a treat.
It's a family run business, and I love how passionate the owner is, not only about his family home (the hotel), but also about the sustainability of the town and how active he is in its' preservation. You get to learn all this because he is always around. Service-wise, they are welcoming, friendly and helpful but never intrusive. Here is where I truly experienced the famed but not often forthcoming 'Turkish Hospitality'.
You get to pick your room when you make the reservation, and we chose Room 15, which I really loved because even though it was carved into a cave, it still had huge windows and sunlight. AND we got to use the fireplace because it was freezing at nights.
Breakfast was so yummy that the hubs and I couldn't stop ourselves from going for thirds and fourths. Their cafe/restaurant is available all day for you to order coffee and cay - for free! too. We spent many hours there petting the cats and soaking in the brisk, cold sun whilst enjoying the stunning view of Goreme town.
The owner of Kelebek is also co-owner of one of the most reputable hot air balloon rides in town, as well as day tours. If you stay here, you get a discount off the tour/ activity rates.
Hot air balloon ride
Obviously, one of the most recognized and photographed views of Cappadocia is the sight of hot air balloons at sunrise. We did it with Butterfly Balloons because it was affiliated with our hotel. Again, highly-highly-highly recommended. We were lucky to have Captain Mike, who's TRAINED most of the hot-air balloon pilots in Cappadocia. He's funny, experienced, a breeze to fly with (pun so intended). And though we'd only signed up for a one hour flight, we were blessed with such good weather that we cruised for another twenty minutes more.
The ride was magic. I can't say more because it makes me emotional about how lucky I am to have experienced it. Please go. Please try. Even if you have a fear of heights (which the hubby has), you get over it very quickly because it's breathtaking. And you forget your fear (according to the hubby, who speaks from experience because he almost chickened out at the very last minute, and only stayed on because his fear of being ridiculed far outweighed his fear of death).
History and Adventure tour
It's been too long, so I forgot the actual name of the company that we went with. But like I said, we made all the bookings and arrangements with our hotel and it was perfect. It was a small and cosy group. Our guide was knowledgeable and kind. We got to hike a bit, walk a lot, see sights, take photos, eat home-cooked organic lunch in a farm. All the good stuff, really.
I'm still not sure how I feel about tearing up the pristine roads of Cappadocia on an ATV, but we did it. And it was pretty fun. I highly suggest that you wear your most disgusting clothes to do it though, because somehow your hair and jacket and clothes and nose will trap all the sand in the world. Truly. Since it was done on a whim, on the spur of the moment, we just walked into one of the many offices which had these quad bikes outside, and signed up for one.
Goreme Open Air Museum
Must-see. Must-see. Must-see. That's all. MUST. I can't write anything more informational than what a million other people have done. So I won't. I'll just use my powers of persuasion to say 'JUST GO!!!' and rent the audio tour thingy. It's worth it. Pinky promise.
Uchisar is another village in Cappadocia. It houses the Uchisar Castle which can be seen from almost every angle we turned when we were in Goreme. So when we met up with our friends, who had driven into Cappadocia from Istanbul (9 hours drive!!!!, if I remember correctly), we caught a ride and went up the hill together. It was really, really nice.
1. Bring and wear hiking shoes. The real kind. Hubby and I were so proud of how we were wearing sneakers of the sports kind for the very first time in years. Still, ugly and rugged hiking shoes would have probably been better suited to Cappadocia's terrain. You will want to explore so much by foot.
2. Manage your dining expectations. Other than breakfast at the hotel - which was SUPER AWESOME! - all other restaurants we had lunch and dinner at were just ok. Nothing spectacular. Attempts at asking friends on Facebook for help were also met with nothing better. This is a place to be at one with nature and the world. Forget food for a bit.
3. GO! Just go.