Cappadocia - Home Of Fairy Chimneys

May 4, 2012

The flight from Istanbul to Kayseri was just an hour long, pretty much the same as the shuttle from the airport to Göreme (Cappadocia). From the airport you could see the mountain range behind the town (peaks almost 4km high), but arriving to Göreme was different because you’re on a high plateau and you don’t see it coming the same way. But there we were, in the center of Turkey, area known as Anatolia. You think you’ve seen mountains, rock formations and all that, but what you realize upon arrival is that you haven’t seen anything just like this before. The entire village is basically made of stone and more than half of the houses are actual cave houses, and so was our little adorable guesthouse- The Sunset Cave. Who would’ve known this was going to be the meeting point for many new friendships.

It was a hot, beautiful day. Even the fatigue couldn’t keep us from going out and explore this out of ordinary place*. We decided to check out The Göreme Open Air Museum, which was just a stone's throw away. It’s a monastic community with many churches, little chapels and temples that are carved inside the rock formations. The downside of this place was that it was packed with tourists (tour buses coming and going the whole day), which resulted in queuing and crowding. Although the frescoes were really impressive and nice to see, we didn’t think it was really the best of Cappadocia. As we got out of the museum area, we climbed the surrounding hills to get a view on the area, before heading back to our cave

This is when we met Donna and Craig from South-Africa. They were our cave neighbors. We chilled on our shared balcony as they got back from somewhere and we all got into talking. We found out they were on a 6 month trip and one story lead to another. Well, there wasn’t really any end to this conversation and we seemed to have so much in common. What a wonderful people, we thought! Little did we know that we would be seeing them a whole lot more in the upcoming months, and that they would even come to stay with us in Paris ;). I must say, these moments are what makes travel so fantastic; the unexpected things, like crossing paths with people from all over the world sharing similar interests. We chatted the night away with our new friends and then crawled into our cave for a goodnight sleep.

Early next morning we woke up to this strange sound. For a minute I wasn’t quite sure what it was but we kept hearing it over and over repeatedly. The hot air balloons! We hurried out to our balcony and saw them literally all around us- above, in front, everywhere. We got dressed quickly and climbed on the hill just behind our cave, to get a panoramic view around. We could count up to 70 balloons all over the sky! As it turned out, we weren’t the only ones wanting to capture it all on camera- the hills were full of early risers admiring the colorful balloons.

Ten thousand photos later we got back to our place and went down for breakfast. In almost all the places in Turkey, the breakfast buffet is included in accommodation. They usually have everything from different cheeses, olives, eggs, tomatoes, cucumber, breads to sweeter stuff like honey and jams- all in all really tasty, comprehensive breakfasts. Donna and Craig were back from their balloon ride, and they were chatting with another couple who had also gone for it. We all started talking and this is how we met Stacey and Alan- an awesome couple from New Zealand (who were also on a longer trip around Europe). Again, not knowing it back then, but we made great friends with them as well (and there’s more to come as I just learned the other day that they have decided to come over to France for six months this year). The Sunset Cave turned out to be our best bet ever .

This was going to be our first day going around the valleys with mountain bikes. Riding between the fairy chimneys and other rock formations was absolutely outrageous! Past Rose- and Red valleys we accidentally ran into this small organic hobby farm, and the friendly owner showed us around on his property. He had all kinds of plantations on his land and produced small amounts of wine, too. We sat down for some tea, and he got very talkative in French and apparently you could have a barbeque night with him on his farm with food, wine, music etc. under the stars..

We ended up making a huge loop all the way to Ürgüp (a nearby town) with the bikes, as we misjudged the route slightly, and got nearly caught up in a storm. After all we made it back and had even time to chill in a hammock with a fresh Efes before the first rain drops reached us...

In the evening we had a delicious traditional Anatolian dish testi kebabi (pottery kebab); a meal that cooks inside a ceramic pot and when served, they break the pot with a long stick in order to get the food out to your plate. Pretty interesting and tasty choice of meal.

The next day we had the same early wake-up call as the balloons passed us by. It was actually good to be up early, because it was our last day before taking the night bus towards the coast. Stacey and Alan were sweet enough to let us leave our luggage in their room and even use their shower after all day mountain biking. This time we went around Love valley and its surroundings (lets just say we made our own theory of why it's called that way...;)).

After all day outdoors, we still had time before our bus would leave and we went for a relaxing dinner to this really nice restaurant (thanks to their recommendations!) where we could enjoy a bottle of local wine with our food. After dinner we lounged on the cushions around the low table with a cup of tea and some water pipe.

It was time to leave Göreme. We would always remember it as the most wondrous place; the terrain, the people, the food, the balloons and most of all the new friendships. We were now sitting comfortably in a bus headed to another adventure.



- really cute & comfy cave hotel, we loved staying on the top 'floor' as we had a big terrace


Göreme center is full of little restaurants and cafes- try Anatolian Kitchen (local cuisine) + breads served with meals are fresh from oven and delicious!

Rentals & Tours

The center has lots of rental places for bikes, ATVs, and even for booking a hot air balloon tour. But you can book in advance online, there are multiple companies offering tours. 

Here you can find almost any expedition & tour you need + plenty of information about hiking in different valleys:

* Did you know Cappadocia was created by massive eruption of three volcanoes? Mt Erciyes (3917m), Mt Hasan (3263m) and Mt Melendiz (2963m).

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