Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Turkey - Part III - Cappadocia

I left Selçuk in a dolmus, thankfully arranged by Osman.  He took me out to the road to help me catch it.  An hour ride for 4 bucks isn't a bad deal at all.  Then the bus stopped on the side of a highway near Izmir and I got out to notice a taxi stand right in the middle of the major highway.  A man ran across towards me to grab my bag, and I ran after him and got in his car.  He didn't speak English and I finally figured out how to indicate 'domestic terminal' in Turkish.

I had to settle on Burger King for lunch (somehow, still my travel food of choice - gross, I know).  I landed in Istanbul with an hour before my flight to Kayseri, but after deplaning on a bus, running through a terminal, hitting a bathroom, going through security again, almost leaving my precious carpet on a bench, and realizing that my next flight boarded 50 minutes in advance because we had to bus to the plane - eek!  I almost didn't make it.  I jumped on that bus right in front of MCB, who'd just come in from Serbia.  Usually I'm the one thinking he's not going to make the flight.

We landed in Kayseri, where the temperature was 0 degrees Celsius.  I could've worn a tank top in Ephesus - double eeek!  Our hotel was offering a free shuttle arrangement from the airport, so once again I got to feel important as I got off the plane and saw a dude with my name on a sign. This time they got the gender correct - I was Mr. Lauren in Istanbul.  All is forgiven, since I can't figure out the gender of Turkish names either. 

An hour later we were in Urgup.  Let's try that with umlauts. Ürgüp.

I'd picked a cave hotel, because that's what you do when you're in Cappadocia - stay in a cave.  We stayed here in the Roman Cave.  Collen runs the place, and she welcomed us into the cold night with tea and a cozy, spacious cave to sleep in.  With heated bathroom floors and towel racks, dual showers, and an upstairs room.  Yeah, not too cave-like.  It was lovely.

Apparently I only took room photos with my phone, not my real camera.  Ah, well.  

I had done zero planning for the Cappadocia portion of the trip, so when Colleen asked what our plans were, we gave her blank stares.  Thankfully she had lots of maps, car rental suggestions, and offered to make calls in the morning to find us a tour if we wanted. The only thing I had arranged in advance was a hot air balloon ride, because that is also the thing you do in Cappadocia.  We'd be picked up at 5:20am, so it was off to bed right away.

Waking up at an hour that starts with a number lower than an 8 really isn't my thing, especially not with freezing temperatures, but this was an adventure!   Wool socks and capilene, check. 

We jumped into a van that looked like a disco inside, picked up a few other people, and got dropped off in the dark middle of nowhere.
Pretty soon balloons began to fill, while we had hot apple tea and biscuits. 

Our pilot. There were ten other people in the basket, btw.  It was sectioned off so that 2-3 people were in each section. 
Slowly floating upwards....

Down in a valley. 

Above them all....
Cold, but happy.
Enjoying some cherry juice and cookies, just after we got a signed certificate saying we completed a balloon ride.  It's official. This is one of the coolest things I've done on the planet.  Definitely worth waking up and spending some $$.
Back to the hotel, where MCB pretended that the door was really small.  Except that it's not. 
We were back by 8am.  Mmmmm, breakfast.
No time to rest, it was off to a tour that Colleen was able to find and book for us.  All day tour around part of the region with lunch for fairly cheap was a much easier option than renting a car and trying to figure out crazy Turkish roads over a very large area.  After getting up at 5am, I wasn't much in the mood for that.  We used this company and had an enjoyable day. 

First stop, Mustafapasa, which is pretty fun to say.  It's a little Greek town with some traditional stone houses. 

See the black area over the hole in the middle of the photo?  That was some lady's kitchen, up until pretty recently.  That house/cave is livable!
 This was a traditional Greek house that's now a hotel, I think.
 And there's a cat.  Because they're everywhere in Turkey.
 Back to the Greek house.

 Down the road was Keslik Monastery, in another cave, of course.  The area below is where you sit and eat.  Looong tables. 
 And some old mosaics.

 One of 3 words I remember in Turkish. 
 We made a couple other stops at small ruins, then our bus dropped us off for a 2 mile hike in the Soğanlı Valley.  We wandered up to the Church With Snakes. Doesn't really sound like a church I'd want to join, but they had cool frescoes. 


Miraculously, when we got down off the mountainside, there was a restaurant to greet us!  Good thing, cause there is absolutely nothing else around.  It's pretty much the middle of nowhere. 
Lunch was delicious. 

Our last stop (well, almost) was at the underground city of Kaymakli.  The region is full of them, so you can have your pick.  Or spend a few days going to several of them.  They're layers deep, miles wide and full of crazy tunnels.  People who couldn't fight in the battles going on outside would stay in these caves for months.  They had stables, kitchens, living spaces, churches, wine presses, storage areas and ventilation shafts. 
We crawled around in there for a couple hours. 
Our very last stop was at a jewelry/pottery/craft vendor place, of course, but no one bought anything except for maybe the really cute young Turkish couple on the tour who was on their honeymoon.  They took adorable, ridiculous pics all day while the guide was explaining things to the English speakers. 

Finally at 5pm we were on the way home.  We drove through Goreme to drop people off at their hotels, and I think next time I'd stay in there over Urgup.  They're close, but it's cooler scenery. 

After a nap, MCB and I ventured out for dinner.  It was pretty late at this point, in a very small town in low season, and not too many options.  We settled on one place that was open, with a weird fish tank built into the corner.  And terrible lighting.  And no menu.  MCB was intent on trying Iskender kebap while in Turkey, so that's what he ordered.  There are entire restaurants devoted to Iskender throughout the country. 
It was terrible. I hated it.  The only bad thing I ate in Turkey. 
The next morning we had a couple hours to kill before catching the airport shuttle.  Not a whole lot to do in that amount of time without a car, so we walked up the big hill in Urgup to see what we could see. 

Cold weather and dogs, mostly.  I wanted to do some souvenir shopping but didn't really find anything worthwhile.  Low season = not much going on.  Next time I'm in Cappadocia, I'll plan on 3 days, warmer weather, rental car, and hiking. 

Airport shuttle finally came, we beat a bunch of Japanese tourists in line to check in for our flight, got emergency row seats, and made it back to Istanbul.  Final chapter, coming up!

1 comment:

Regal CarHire said...

You have shared such a nice story here, you visited all beautiful places in turkey and I also want to go there once for visiting. It's a good idea to rent a car for traveling purpose because anyone can easily Rent A Car Dalaman at nominal rates and save the time.

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