Published: March 18th 2012March 17th 2012
Like my friend Nuno said, when you go to Turkey you must visit someother place beyond Istanbul - he actually stayed in Turkey during 20 days and had the chance to drive the whole western coast from Istanbul to Antalya and also got a flight to Central Anatolia.
From what I saw in his pictures Cappadocia seemed a very interesting and unusual place to visit after Istanbul. We didn't had many days in Turkey, but we managed to buy a bus ticket from Istanbul to Goreme - average round-trip costs 100 TL (less than 50 eur). There are lots of travel agencies in Otogar - Istanbul's main bus sation. We bought tickets from Suha and Nevsehir - it's a 12-hour journey during the night, both companies offered a snack (coffee, juice, crackers and a muffin) and the buses were equipped with individual screens with headphones for TV watching... If you want my opinion the service was better in Suha.
The bus arrives at Goreme station - be aware not to buy tickets to Nevsehir and if you do tell the driver you are leaving in Goreme! It's a bus station in the middle of almost nowhere, with
only a few restaurants and hostels nearby...
Goreme is kind of a lost ancient village in the middle of the desert. Surrounded by the famous fairy chimneys, there are a lot hitch hiking and open air activities you can do...
One of the most famous in all Cappadocia is an Hot Air Baloon ride through the valleys... It's quite expensive - between a 100 and 200 TL (don't bother yourself bargaining because it won't go lower than that) - but from what I heard (we didn't try it, but our friend Jon Weiner - Poverty Jet Set travel blog - tried it) it's a lifetime experience. They'll pick you up around 5 AM at your hotel when the sun is rising. You'll have breakfast in the lauching fields, take the journey - aprox. 30min. in the air - and then have a welcome drink and a toast at the landing.
We got up at 5:30 AM just to watch hundreds of balloons in the sky... It's really worth it if you don't want to spend that much...
There are also 4 by 4 moto rides through the mountains
with crazy guides that drive full speed - also a good experience from what I've heard (not so sure about the price).
We visited the Open Air Museum - wich obviously is paid like everything in Turkey (around 15 TL). It has lots of fairy chimneys and ancient cave houses dated 6th century BC, lots of churches and evidence from the Christian and Otoman influence in the region... It's a unique cultural and historical heritage, not only in the Open Air Museum, but also all over Cappadocia.
We saw a lot of valleys and beautifull green paths and hidden caves - strongly recommend the walk through the Love Valley (somewhere near the way to Zemi Valley) - we lost ourselves in the jungle, but it was quite a ride (2 portuguese, a rusian and an american walking in the jungle during almost 4 hours). Uçisar Castle is also worth visiting - paid, but you can see most of it from the outside.
In our last day in Cappadocia we bought a guided tour - this one is really worth buying for it's price - that took us to many places like
the Pidgeon Valley, Ilhara Valley - wich is said to be one of the world's largest natural canyons. We had lunch and saw a lot of other valleys, chimneys and interesting places - one of them is the Derinkuyu underground city.
Cappadocia has some ancient underground cities that people used to hide themselvs and fight the opponents during a war. There are many tunels and floors below the surface, some of them you can't reach and others you have to crawl on your knees...
It was an amazing experience with an excelent tour guide - actually studying medicine in Istanbul and working in the summer as a guide in a 12-hour drive city - that ended up showing us how is the Turquoise prepared (among other gems and precious stones) and also a turkish wine taste.
This entire day included all the sightseeing with the guide, the lunch in Ilhara Valley, the gem exhibit and the wine taste for only 80 TL (per person).
Cappadocia has some fruit stands and street sellers that have good and cheap melons and watermelon - must try!
not least... We've stayed at the Yuksel Hostel - family owned guesthouse managed by a little friendly mid-60s man and his family. Yuksel is an amazing person! Very helpfull - we didn't had breakfast included in the price but he arranged it for us everyday, let us use his kitchen, recommended the guided visit and got us good prices for it and for Jon's balloon ride. Is the one-man-show at the hotel and the only one that speaks english but at the same time was one of the most human and helpfull person I've met in the world... Defenitly recommended!!
See you soon!
There are more photos below