This past weekend I met my dad and his girlfriend in Cappadocia! When I first arrived there they had spent the whole day (Thursday) exploring and getting used to the main Göreme area. It was around 8 pm and we had a dinner together at a place that they had already eaten at. I tried my first Testi Kebab! This is basically stew cooked in pottery and looks something like this:
I really enjoyed it and even ate two more Testi Kebabs over the weekend! They aren’t supposed to be cracked like the above one but it happened when the waiter was using the hammer-type tool to open it in front of me. I even felt like I was eating pieces of pottery at points… which was not so nice but I still really love the idea of this meal, considering pottery is one of the many main attractions of the Cappadocia region!
We then got back to our hotel and I got to see it. It was beautiful! I couldn’t get over how big the beds were and also how the walls were like a cave. It was super neat! We had to sleep quickly because we were getting up at 4:15 am… to go on a hot air ballon ride!!!
This was incredible! We got picked up from our hotel at 4:45 and they took us to their business building for Atmosfer Balloons. There was a bit of a breakfast for us there and when I next looked out the window it was not dark anymore and the sun was coming up into the sky. I think the three of us were a bit disappointed that we missed the sun rise by sitting in their building. But we were heading out to the location where they launch their balloons and I was taking pictures out of the dolmuş window of the landscape with balloons floating up into the sky. I sent a picture to my sister back in Canada and her response was “Is that real life?!?!!” Yes, it was real life. A very incredible experience even just driving up to the spot where we, too, would begin flying up into the sky by balloon.
When we got to the balloon it already had all the air in it holding it up in its balloon shape. It was attached to the basket (which was the hugest basket I have ever seen in my entire life, by the way!). They got us to organize ourselves so that five people where in each of the four sections of the basket. Then I looked up as they blasted fire into the balloon and after about one minute we slowly lifted off the ground. It was quite the sensation. We went up as high as 800 metres they said, and sometimes we were even as low as the trees and rocks. I think all of us were scared we were going to crash into them! But the driver of the balloon was very good 🙂
After just over an hour of floating in the sky over the Cappadocian landscape we landed safely onto a truck; quite the precision of both the truck and the balloon driver. Then we celebrated with champagne and a “şerefe” after we received certificates.
We then got back to the hotel and still had a couple hours until our tour dolmuş would come to pick us up at 9:30 am. The first place they would take us was a view spot of the Uchisar castle. This was a spot where there are more than 200 in cave settlements at one point. We climbed in some and around others.
The second spot we went to was a place called Çavuş Inn. This was a place where Greeks and Turks inhabited together since 1071 but the Greeks got kicked out of Turkey in 1924 and had to leave their lives behind due to the government. This was a big thing in Turkey’s history apparently. The whole event was called The Population Exchange.
This place was beautiful. We again went into some of the caves and one of them had been hollowed out so perfectly that it provided great acoustics. Our tour guide invited us to test it out and sing. I sang a few lines of the Learning Turkish song that I wrote. I encouraged the other members of our tour to repeat after me with it. It was actually really fun! 🙂
Our next stop was called Paşaba, in the north part of Cappadocia, where we got to see fairy chimneys. Because of the 3 volcanos in the Cappadocia region, I guess, 10 million year old rock was on the bottom of the Chimney structures and 2 million year old rock was on the top. Erosion by rain water and wind caused them to shape into the shapes that can be seen today. We were told that erosion still happens and that it will look different in the future over many thousands of years.
Our next destination on this tour was a place called Imagination Valley. Here there can be seen a Camel rock (which is actually bordered off – so that people can’t climb on it, I assume). Our shapes in the rocks can be seen too: a snail, shark, hand, penguin, crocodile, and bear. You are likely to find more shapes with your imagination if you go here! 🙂
We went to a buffet lunch place, which was the same place I went to with the International Students of METU the first time I went. For the most part I liked this place again. I definitely felt very full after.
Next we went to a Pottery place (this place was different than the one I went to the last time). The leader of the place looked like Albert Einstein but was called Galip. He has been working with clay for over 50 years, they said. He was a very friendly man and showed us how he makes clay pots. Then he preceded to show us all the pottery that they were selling. First he showed us a pot by throwing it onto the ground to prove it wouldn’t break and then pulling me out of the crowd as a volunteer to stand on the pot. Again, it didn’t break. He gave me a pottery coaster as a gift for being his volunteer, and he signed the back of it for me.
Lastly we went to the Open Air Museum in Göreme. I had been there before with METU the last time but this time was good too. There sure is a lot to see there. I even saw some things this time that I missed seeing last time!
By this point we were all pretty tired. We had been up since 4:15 am so it was definitely starting to get at us. When we got back to the hotel I had a short and unexpected nap. Then we sought out together to find some live music. It didn’t start until a few hours later so we first spent some time shopping around looking mostly for this Cappadocian fabric material. I bought it in pillowcase form and my dad bought it in a few different sizes to use as a table cloth or bed cover. We then found the live music and I ate another Testi Kebab. 🙂
The next day we began another tour with the same company. My dad was saying that this was a very good thing that we did two of the same company because we never saw any repeats across the two tours. This tour had underground cave adventuring as the afternoon activity, and, likely, the highlight. There were many highlights actually though.
Firstly we went to a place to see the “family” of Cap Chimneys in Cappadocia. The three of us were the only people to hike down below them instead of hiking up towards them. This gave us a great view 🙂
Next we went to a different old Greek town called Mustafapaşa. We adventured here after we learned about how to tell the difference between Greek and Turkish buildings. Greek buildings have more blues and green colours on them and in the roof, and their buildings are more likely to have arches on them. We also learned that if you can turn the columns of the building that building can greater withstand an earthquake because it has more balance.
After this Greek town visit we were driven to a place called Sobesos where we saw a Roman Bath and also an Agora. This place was actually closed but our tour guide made an exception to our group and we could see most of it 🙂
Then we went on a hike through the Soanli Valley and I learned more about the Fresco paintings that can be seen in the Göreme Open Air Museum. The people of that time used Pigeon eggs to smear on the rock first and then they painted on it before it was dry. This type of art is really common in the Cappadocia region actually and is still very apparent in many of the caves.
This is an example of a Cappadocian Fresco painting:
Next we went for lunch at a place called the Hidden Apple Garden. Here I had another Pottery Kebab. 🙂
Lastly we did the Underground cave. I was lucky that this cave was also different to the one I did the first time. The one that I did the first time was the largest underground city. The one we did this weekend was the deepest. It was 80 metres deep and is called the Derinkuyu underground city. I wouldn’t say that I had a favourite between the two but if you ever go to Cappadocia I highly suggest visiting an underground city!!
That evening we went to a Turkish Night. This is also something I highly recommend doing if you ever come to Turkey! It is basically a big party with bits of Turkish foods and alcohol (Raki), Turkish dancing and acting, and Turkish music. They were showing us how a traditional Turkish wedding worked (or maybe still does work in some cases) and chose me as a volunteer. There was maybe 300 of us there in that cave room where it happened and they wanted me to be the volunteer. So I sat on their stool in the middle of the room, they put a red scarf over my head, and they arranged a marriage for me. I got my choice in the matter though. I said no to the guys at first and then got to choose one to get married to and the whole audience cheered. I was very thankful to be chosen as their volunteer. What an opportunity! 🙂
We got to sleep around midnight and woke up the next morning around 5:30 am to watch the balloons rise into the sky. Our hotel was actually the perfect place for this because it has an open roof and from there it is possible to see in all directions. A very great view actually! If you don’t do a balloon ride in Cappadocia make sure you get up to see the balloons in the sky. This was something I really really missed out on my first trip! We drank some tea and did some yoga on the roof top watching those balloons in the sky. 🙂 There was at least 100 balloons all around us!!
Our last morning together we spent hiking up to Uchisar castle from Göreme. There was a very nice hiking trail here called Güvercinlik! We were going to rent bikes but, I am sad to
say, bikes would not have been suitable for many parts of this trail. I did enjoy walking it though! Very much so actually! And we found our way to the castle relatively easily. On the way back though… we got so lost and I think the three of us were concerned we weren’t going to be back in time. I had to be at the bus station at 1:50 and they were being picked up from our hotel at 2:30 to go the airport and fly to Istanbul. We got so turned around on the way back! Thankfully this man was up there with his dog and told us it was too dangerous to keep going the way we were. He led us through a cave to the other side of the rock mountain thing we were on. Thankfully we trusted him and he lead us to a point we had crossed on our way up. Feewf. We were able to get back down to Göreme with an hour for me to spare. 🙂
It was yet another very memorable and incredible weekend! I can’t believe how many places within the Cappadocia area we saw (and that I have now seen)! We really made good use of the weekend! 😀