Goreme (Cappadochia) The Land Of Fairy Chimneys And Hot Air Balloons

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September 20th 2011
Published: October 3rd 2011
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Today was a day of making bus connections. To get to Goreme we had to travel via Kayseri a six hour trip 35 Turkish Lira each, about 21 NZ dollars then a connection to Goreme that took about an hour. Arrived in at about 6.30 pm and picked the closest accommodtion, Walnut House, it turned out to be a good choice

Only just off the square where all the transport is and also close to the Hot Air Balloon companies
The staff at Walnut House were very helpful, our room was a deluxe room ( NZ $45 )and even though it wasn't in a cave as some are in Goreme, the walls were made of carved local stone.
The room hade a huge bed and the floor was covered in Turkish carpets and cushions.

Filled in the evening with a walk around town, most of the shops were still open, found a quaint restaurant up a side alley, ordered Turkish Pizza and a Sutlac (Rice pudding) all up NZ $24. We enjoyed the food here we came back 3 times.

The following morning we got up to a nice Turkish breakfast and then tried to book a Hot Air Balloon ride, this was to be one of the highlights of our trip as it is one of those things you probably only do once in your life.

I was a bit concerned that Sheryll mak chicken out at the last minute, as those of you who know her well will recall that she has a fear of heights, something that has stopped her being able to do some things, like crossing a swingbridge when out tramping, walking along bush tracks high above rivers etc. So I had done lots of soft talking and buttering up that she didn't really have to look down at all and that it wouldn't be any worse that walking up Hargrave Street to Fuji.

Proved a little difficult getting the flight that day as they were booked out, so we crossed our fingers and made a booking for the following day. It is hard to imagine that they could ever be booked out as every sunrise when in Goreme the sky is filled with balloons, I mean hundreds of them, all shapes and sizes. We booked with Kappadokia Balloons one of the oldest and original companies, our balloon basket only held 10 people where as some of then had 24 passengers.

Once we had got a confirmed booking (though there was a thunder storm expected) we set off to explore some of Goreme, it is a unique landscape and I would imagine nothing else quite like it in the world. THe landscape is the result of weathered rock after a volcanic eruption, they volcanic ash leaving a hard cap on the soft limestone type soils.

The erosion has left these chimney type columns with hard waterproof caps on them. Over the ages various peoples have hollowed them out and lived in them. So there are churches and homes in caves, thousands of years old

Caught the Dolmus for TL2 to Urchisar and walked to the Castle there, it is high up on a cliff, Sheryll chose to wait halfway for me to explore and return. We have been amazed that how little there is in the way of guard rails or fenced off viewing platforms in these high places. I walked to the top of the castle and it was just a rock platform nothing at all to stop you from falling off he top and in fact we were told that a photographer had stepped back to get a better shot recently and fell to his death, probably 300 meters or more.
That being said at least it's not like New Zealand where the Department of Conservation have gone so far in the opposite direction.

Caught the Dolmus back to the village and had dinner at out favourite little restaurant, this time tried the cheese pancake which is a circular flat bread stuffed with cheese and other goodies and baked in the oven, these only cost TL5 each and were quite filling. Yum.

The next day we had booked a tour as there is just so much to do in Cappadochia and to try to get to all these places idependantly would have been difficult.
There was 12 people on the tour so not too bad, The first stop was at the Underground City at Derinkuye this is tunnel/cave thirteen stories deep underground, though only 8 are able to be viewed. The inhabitants of this area would hide underground for up to 3-4 months at a time as their lands were being raided.

Both livestock and villagers would live underground to avoid capture, rooms underground included churches, schools, wine press, dungeons, graves and living quarters. The Underground City was also connected to similar cities with tunnels up to 9km long and were able to house 30.000 people. Sheryll chickened out after 1 level, the cramped narrow tunnels got to her and she had to go up top for air.

Being over 6 feet tall for me made it difficult for me as well as in places I was hunched right over to get through. Knocked my head several times on the ceilings and had blood over me. The disadvantages of being a baldie

Next stop was the Ihlara Valley where we were to see running water for the first time apart from dams. This valley has a lovely Church carved into the rocks and we were also to stop at a restaurant that has its tables in the stream and serves trout from the river.

On the way there Sheryll twisted her ankle and hobbled most of the way to the end of the valley.

The valley is also used by locals as somewhere to grow their vegetables close to a water source and we came across an elderly couple who were loading produce on a donkey.

Everyone was noticing that Sheryll was struggling and kept asking were we OK. We sure could of done with that donkey ourselves right now.

The return trip to Goreme gave us an opportunity to view the village from a high point at sunset.

Yeah tomorrow is "B" day if that thunder storm stays away.

Additional photos below
Photos: 16, Displayed: 16


Church carved in the walls of the valley floorChurch carved in the walls of the valley floor
Church carved in the walls of the valley floor

Coloured Frescoes still visible

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