30 Nov Cappadocia, Kapadokya, Tomato, TomAto
I can only assume I lived the dream of every geologist with my visit to Cappadocia (locally known as Kapadokya). This illusionary land that looks like a postcard from Mars was the sole reason I ever wanted to visit Turkey.
There are several ways to arrive at this tiny town in central Turkey, but I recommend taking a short 60 min flight from Istanbul to Nevsehir. All of the flights I found were very reasonable, I flew Turkish Airlines on my way down and Andalou Jet on my way out for about $60 each way.
Ask your hotel to arrange shuttle service for you, for 20 Turkish Lira (about $8) there will be a person waiting with your name at pickup to take you to the door of your hotel. There were two other Americans in my shuttle and it was nice to chat with them about their travel plans.
Where to stay
There are a few towns to stay within Nevsehir, but I stayed in Göreme, this really is in the epicenter of the rock formations and within walking distance to the UNESCO world heritage outdoor museum.
Wherever you choose to stay, stay in a cave hotel, what an experience! These hotels are built directly into the rocks and it is unlike any place I have ever stayed. I found hotels to be very reasonable in price, I opted to stay in the Kaya Göreme hotel. For about $45 a night I had a great room, excellent front desk service, tour booking help, and free breakfast. Carved right into nature, it is a nice feeling to be nestled away in a cave.
How to see Cappadocia
The best way, without a doubt is to splurge on the hot air balloon ride. The scene of hundreds of balloons floating over cappadocia at sunrise is one you have probably seen before in some exotic travel magazine, but it is even more extraordinary in person. Ranging from about $150 – $200, it is absolutely worth every penny.
As discussed previously, I am not a morning person, but I gladly woke up at 4am to take a sunrise balloon ride. It is something so spectacular that it is almost inadequately conveyed in writing.
A driver arrives in the dark early morning hours to collect you and drives around to pick everyone else up as well. Once you arrive at your takeoff site, you climb into the basket while the pilot torches the hot air so loudly it’s roaring in your ears.
Cappadocia has a desert climate, so it is absolutely freezing in the dark. The bellows of the hot air feel nice as they burst into the ballon. Once the basket is loaded and everyone is balanced, a few men release the cables and push you off to your flight.
You just start floating up into the air, it is nothing like an airplane or a helicopter ride. You can look down and know you are high up but just high enough to let the beauty of the landscape envelope your vision. You float quietly and listlessly just taking in every sight. It is peaceful and from that particular location, gently just above ground, the whole world feels pure, beautiful, and calm. All that of the current problems slip away and all there is are the delicate views of hills that were carved out over millions of years prior to your existence.
If you decide to come to this tiny, magical place on earth, plan to stay at least three days to enjoy a balloon ride. Cappadocia is quite windy and two of the three days I was there all of the rides were cancelled.
Göreme National Park and the Fairy Chimneys
It’s hard to believe that in the years around 700-800 AD these stones were carved into monasteries. Christians gathered here and made a life in these strongly shaped soft boulders. In each of these structures are frescos of the iconoclastic period depicting Jesus Christ and various scenes from his life – nativity, the last supper, etc. Photos of these frescos inside are prohibited to preserve them so you have to imagine 🙂
The fairy chimneys are nicknamed for their tall stature, but also the slight whistling sound they make when the wind blows through them.
They also look like something from a fairy tale. If you are visiting Turkey, I would unequivocally recommend a visit to Kapdokya.
To see more photos, click here!