After a brutal 10 (or 11 or 12? It was all a blur of Tylenol PM, melatonin, and discomfort…) hour bus ride, we finally arrive to the small, dusty town of Goreme in the early morning light. Our nearby hostel, the Shoestring Cave, was actually in a cave, with rooms carved into the rock surrounding a central courtyard. We managed to settle in before getting ready for our 9am tour. Usually I’m not one for tours, but in such a large and spread out area such as Cappadoccia Valley, with a lot to see in little time, we decided the best plan of action would be to sign up for a tour package that would let us see and experience the highlights. I’ve heard from other people that with more time, renting a bike to get around is a really nice option.
Day One: Green Tour and Goreme’s sunset point
First stop: a panoramic view of Goreme.
Then, we made our way to the Derinkuyu Underground City. It was freezing down there! And people in the past must have been tiny, I’m super short and I barely fit through some of those tunnels and stairways.
Followed by a nice, 2 hour walk through the beautiful (and warm!) Ilhara Valley, seeing some rock-carved churches and old frescos along the Melendiz river, with lunch at the end in the village of Bellsirma.
We then climbed around the carved-out monasteries of Selime for a bit.
Finally, overlooking Pigeon Valley (all those holes carved in rocks are entrances to pigeon homes). And then on to an onyx factory, where I won an onyx egg by remembering the meaning of Capadoccia (The Land of Beautiful Horses, even though I don’t think I even saw one horse while I was there…)
We returned to Goreme at the end of the tour and met up with our tour guide after grabbing some snacks to see a gorgeous view and sunset from Goreme’s own sunset point on the edge of town. (Seriously, iPhones take hands-down the best sunset pictures)
Day Two: Red Tour, Turkish Dinner
Day two begins with Uchisar Castle and Cavusin Village, a old Greek-style village half carved in the rock and half built up.
Goreme Open Air Museum, and the loss of a dear friend. I’m sorry for dropping you off a cliff, sheep. My pain was so great I neglected to take any photos of the Museum, or lost them, or something. I’m not sure… This Japanese man on our tour practically died when sheep fell and I tried to climb down to get him, he was laughing so hard.
Lunch, more pottery kebop! And a big sheep.
In Avanos we visit a ceramics workship where we watch this skilled pottery expert create the body of a traditional wine serving jug in less than 5 minutes.
Pasabagi holds the best examples of Cappadoccia’s famed fairy chimneys.
And then we have Imagination Valley (or Devrent Valley), where imaginations run wild guessing what all the different rock shapes can be.
In Urgup we make a quick stop at a winery, Turasan, to taste the local Cappadoccian wines.
The Red Tour is finished with a stop at a famous rock formation that looks like a family of 3 with many different stories behind it.
Sheep is reborn! Sheep I will never be forgotten, but Sheep II will carry on his legacy.
Finally, a fantastic Turkish dinner with whirling dervishes and a belly dancer, enjoyed in the company of the hilarious family visiting from India we were sitting with.
Day Three: Hot Air Balloon, Chillin’
Waking up at the ungodly hour of 5:00am was completely worth it for what was to come. Getting to the hot air balloon site and we are immediately thrust into a world of color and gigantic balloons.
Take-off, everyone’s leaving the ground at once and balloons get close.
We float around for a little over an hour before touching down and celebrating our victorious flight with a champagne toast.
For the rest of the day, we relax in style (after going back to sleep for a few hours), by exploring the town a bit and hula hooping on the roof of the hostel before boarding our next overnight bus to Pamukkale.