Day 8: Woke up in the morning to some gorgeous anatolian landscape, huge plateau,villages,grasslands with snow covered peaks in the background. Reached Goreme, the guy at the Tourist centre called up my hostel(Dorm Cave) and I was picked up. Never seen anything so efficient and quick(for free). The cave dormitory was very well maintained, and it looked perfect. After breakfast I set out for the Open air museum,but it was getting really hot and I could see too many buses go inside,so I just dropped the plan and came back and relaxed at my hostel . I booked a hiking tour for the evening. Lunch was at Cafe Safak, potato gozleme and baklava(10TL total). The trekking tour started at 5PM, we drove towards the entrance of the Rose Valley and hiked for about 2 hours till sunset. The views were absolutely fabulous,infact the best I was to see in the coming 3 days,the guide was pretty good too. Dinner was at one of the Pide salonu’s, Pide for 10TL and ayran.
Woke up early the next morning for the balloon ride, had booked a balloon with AirKappadokya for 230TL, there were people charging upto 270TL, I dont think you really need to pay anything more than 100EU/230TL. The balloon ride was absolutely great, with plenty of photo ops throughout the ride, right from the beginning. The ride was totally worth the price, but I wish we had some more sunlight coming in( ride before sunset would have been amazing when the rose red valleys become red because light falls on them).
I joined a “Green tour” for the day ,an Ihlara canyon tour, paid 120TL. Again, worth the price, we got a good guide and it would have been difficult visiting so many far flung places on my own. The landscape changed as we moved away from Goreme, and it was quite spectacular, with plenty of grasslands and mountains . I realized Cappadocia isn’t all about the rocks and caves. Our first stop was at the Selime monastery, which was a good climb up with spectacular views all over. Everything looked so different, it was so green(As compared to Goreme). The views on the rear side of the monastery were something to look out for,a and the rocks had got a perfect conical shape. I wish we had the time to walk inside the valley, this is what happens when you come on a tour. We proceeded towards the Ihlara canyon, which again was breathtaking,a good change of scenery. The 4-5 km walk was a pleasant one along the river, I never expected this kind of landscape in Turkey. Lunch was at Guzeylurt village, lentil soup, bulgur and mushroom curry and icecream.PErfect for the cold and windy weather.
The next stop was at Derinkyuyu underground city. Must say it was an amazing place,despite the crowds. Loved the long staircases that went down several storeys,but taking pictures was a little difficult because of the crowds. And even then it was supposed to be less crowded, later afternoon is supposed to be a better time to visit the underground cities,I was told.
We then stopped at Uchisar, and since it was only 5PM, I decided to hike down the Pigeon valley instead of going back with the tour. And this is where I went wrong, I took a wrong turn somewhere and I bumped into the canyon area. Everything seemed normal till I realized there was no road ahead and there was a pretty big canyon lying infront of me!! Beautiful that it was, I was beginning to get a little scared.And there were no people to ask..I retraced my steps back till I found a local guy with a dog,I eaved a sign of relief ,I guess he was the caretaker. But for the 20 minutes I couldnt find anyone, I was quite scared,and I was already far away from Uchisar. Finally I managed to get on the right track,and took more than 1.5hours to reach.
Dinner was early at 7 PM at Topdeck restaurant, had it prebooked. If you book in Goreme, you’ll have to settle for an earlier timing,like 6-7 PM. Ordered a mezze(20TL), which was the tastiest mezze I’ve ever had, and this was the most expensive meal I had in my trip. So wondering if expensive food=good food holds true. But ofcourse not all the time. So it was a long day, went to bed early.
Day 10: Took an early morning bus(8.15) to Zelve. The bus stopped in Avanos for about 20-25minutes, so I got to see a bit of the chramong riverside town. Reached Zelve at about 9.15. Again, I was overwhelmed by Zelve, even after spending 2 days in Cappadocia I was amazed by the rock shapes and caves.Zelve was nothing like I had seen before. The landscape was brilliant, and rock churches and houses too looked great. And everything was so big and tall. And staircases along the route added to it’s charm.
Left for Pasabagi at about 10.30,it was a 1-2km road along vineries. I was a little diappointed with Pasabagi, or maybe I just came at the wrong time, with a lot of group tours and the sun beating down relenlessly. Took a small walk around and caught the 11.15 bus back to Goreme. Luch was at Nazar Borek, a Spinach-peynir borek and then a spinach-cheese gozleme(both for about 7TL). I got addicted to the spinach-cheese combo.
Left for Cavusin(Javusin) in the afternoon,walked along the main road,and then took a turn and walked through the country road into the town(had to pass a graveyard,which was very photogenic).Walked up the church..and well,what a view it was. Spent quite sometime up there,later came down,and the rock structure of the Cavusin cave houses look spectacular bathing in the orange sunlight and the setting sun. Walked back to Goreme,about 3 kms, to save on taxi fare. Dinner was at the Anatolain Restaurant, had vegetarian ravioli,which was really ok(the only okish meal I had), a little too sour for my taste.
Took a late night tour to Saruhan/Sarihan caravanserai. Paid 50TL for the trip. Was more than impressed with the building.A lot more atmospheric than I imagined it would be,loved the courtyard. The music was great, the dervishes too were great,albeit monotonous,and I felt relaxed and refreshed after the show,expecially after having several cups of kahve(herbal spiced tea). And I found the whole experience very evocative,wish I could have stayed there.
Day 11: The morning was meant for relaxation, had a leisurely lunch at Nazar Borek, this time I had Aside,a flour based dessert,made with grape syrup,didn’t really appreciate the taste because it was a little too dry for me. Post lunch went to the Open air museum, loved all the paintings,and I did go a pretty good time,there weren’t too many visitors. Definitely worth a visit,but if you’re on a budget,then you could do without it. And the Tokali church outside the museum is the best of all,and I suspect you don’t need a ticket to go in. And such a shame photographs aren’t allowed inside the churches,I mean not even without flash? Later,took a bus to Uchisar,walked upto the castle,went up the castle,must say the view was among the best I’ve seen in Cappadocia. I wish I had more time to spend around the castle.
I walked down(towards the main road,from the rear part of the castle) till the main road, you get beautiful views of the castle all along. It’s a pretty safe descent,but you need to be a little careful. You shouldnt miss the rear part of the castle at around sunset. Caught a bus to Goreme at about 6, took my bags and caught the bus to Gaziantep at 7(bus from Nevsehir at 8PM),ticket: 50 TL. Had booked the ticket from Nevsehir bus company’s office at Goreme.
The Nevsehir otogar seemed to be in a different mood. Farewell seems to be a big part of turkish culture. Families and friends came in big groups to see off with big fanfare,with drums and music and cheering and hugs and kisses. Reminded me of mumbai airport where similar(but less dramatic) farewells happen.
A brief summary of my Trip to Turkey.
Being Vegetarian in Turkey
4 Days in Istanbul.
Selcuk and Ephesus.
Afrodisias:The Best Graeco Roman Ruins
4 Days in Cappadocia.