If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you may be pretty familiar with Cappadochia. Although I’ve seen so much of Turkey’s beauty this summer, Cappadochia is still, by far, my absolute favorite place to visit. And I say that even though in the summer, every hour outside admiring the natural beauty comes with buckets of sweat and requires heavy sunscreen usage.
Since we drove right through Uchisar and were very hungry, we parked right outside the castle (Uchisar means third castle, or fortress) and had lunch. After eating, we climbed up the fortress for some amazing views of the area. It was my first time climbing up and seeing the entire region from above. I was thrilled to find an elephant hidden in the rocks – see if you can find it in my gallery below.
Next up was a trip to the Derinkuyu Cave, or Underground City. These tunnel cities are all over the region today. Some you can tour, some are private, some are “undiscovered,” and others are used for commercial storage. I can say it’s definitely cooler in the caves! They were used in ancient times to fell the various armies that advanced on the region.
I woke up our first morning in the valley to the sound of balloon firings. Excited like a kid on Christmas morning, I jumped out of bed and ran to the window to see the balloons. I also found Kim, who had spent the night outside our cave room and was the first to be awakened by the sound of the balloons. As awesome as it is to sleep in a cave room, it’s no place for allergy sufferers, as the rooms are full of dust and the bathrooms usually a bit mildewy. We spent the morning finding a non-cave hotel with a triple room, which actually required some work. The plus side is that everyone got the cave-room experience, and then we moved to another hotel in an old Greek mansion in Mustafapasa, which had a restaurant I’ve wanted to try for a year. As with almost everywhere we ate in Turkey, both the Old Greek House restaurant and our hotel’s food was amazing! I had the most amazing orange-honey of my life, and I’m not even really a honey fan.
The next morning we got picked up at 5 a.m. to finally go up in a balloon. Although I’m not in love with balloon rides, since they’re usually a lot hotter and noisier than I think they should be, I was excited to do it in Cappadochia because the scenery is so crazy and unique.
Besides the beauty from above, I was also able to scope an area that I had wanted to hike since I first saw pics of Cappadochia. It’s called the Love Valley, but it doesn’t take much time walking around for anybody’s eleven-year old boy sense of humor to come out. You’ll see what I mean in the pictures. Of course, even if most of the rocks look like a certain anatomy, it’s impossible not to see animals or other shapes in the formations, just like you would if you were watching clouds.
The best day of our really hot sojourn in Cappadochia was a hike and lunch in the Ihlara Valley. It’s a valley along a creek lined with trees, huge rocks, and occasional cave churches. But the best part is Aslan Cafe. You eat in little cabanas that are set right in the creek. If you get hot, just sit on the footbridge and soak your feet in the rushing water. All the while, you can check out the wildlife. We saw ducks, fish, fireflies, and a few cats.
Even in the crazy heat, Cappadochia is a vacation full of wonder! If you’re coming to Turkey, you’ve definitely got to check it out!