After a jet-lagged day and half whirlwind tour of Istanbul, Ev and I jetted off at 3:30 am the next morning to catch a short flight down to Kayseri, in central Turkey. We spent two days in the town of Goreme and touring the surrounding area, Cappadocia (or Kapadokya in Turkish), which seriously felt like a scene out of a Dr. Seuss book!
Cappadocia is a surreal desert wonderland –filled with rock formations, fairy chimneys, colorful valleys, and steeped in history, going all the way back to Alexander the Great’s reign. While it definitely feels like a tourist village, the commercialization isn’t oppressive and as obnoxious as I’ve seen in other towns. Small rock homes, laundry lines, and gossiping elderly ladies squatting around their front doors are interspersed between budget hostels, bus stops and cheap eats.
We took an ATV tour the first afternoon that had us zooming over and around Swords Valley, Rose Valley, Meskendir Valley and Zemi (Love) Valley. All of these sights were fairly close to Goreme, where we started, so it was feasible over the couple hours we had on the ATV’s.
The trip was definitely rushed though… I could have easily spent half a day at each area and still felt rushed. Fairy chimneys and oddly shaped stone structures dotted each region, houses and churches carved into the volcanic rock, squash patches and small vineyards dotting the scenery.
The walls of Rose Valley are the loveliest shade of pink and purple that melt to stronger and brighter pinks as the sun sets each evening – it’s seriously stunning. Zemi Valley is filled with ‘interestingly’ shaped rock towers… hence the “Love” name.
Hot air ballooning is very popular in Cappadocia –every morning before sunset dozens of hot air balloons take off across the various valleys. Ev and I decided to hang on to our $300 though… so I dragged him out of bed at 5am to hike up a look-out point. We held our breath and waited for the deflated air balloons in the distance to light their flame and slowly ascend up in the sky.
After half an hour the entire 360 degree landscape was dotted with colorful hot air balloons, scattered between the tall rock formations, drifting across the sky. It was so magical and literally (actually literally! Not new-Merriam-Webster-definition) breath-taking.
After that, a quick nap, and then part 2 of Cappadocia – to be continued…