A Fabulous Trip to Cappadocia, Turkey Oct 20-Oct 24, 2021


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Middle East » Turkey » Central Anatolia » Cappadocia
October 27th 2021
Published: November 1st 2021
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A Map of Turkey - Red Circle is ApproximateA Map of Turkey - Red Circle is ApproximateA Map of Turkey - Red Circle is Approximate

for where the region Cappadocia is located
For those that have followed us over the years, you know that we enjoy exploring the country that we are in. With our birthday’s coming up we decided to plan a trip to Cappadocia, a place that had been highly recommended to us by many that have gone. First off, Cappadocia, is not a town, but a region in Turkey. It is a high plateau (1000 meters/3,280 ft) with hot dry summers and cold snowy winters so decided this was the perfect time to visit. Its name derives from the Hittite word “Katpatuka” which means land of the beautiful horses. When you do a search on Cappadocia you will see that the topography looks almost “out of this world” with what are called “fairy chimneys” scattered all over the area. This area was formed of soft layers of lava and ash from 3 nearby volcanoes. With erosion caused by wind and rain, these “chimneys” remain when the tops of them consist of denser rock that does not erode as quickly. The area also is known for the numerous cave houses, churches and underground cities in the region. It was first settled by the Hittites in the 2ndC. BC and then was
Traveled to Cappadocia by a 12 1/2 Hour Bus TripTraveled to Cappadocia by a 12 1/2 Hour Bus TripTraveled to Cappadocia by a 12 1/2 Hour Bus Trip

left at 6PM so didn't see too much on the way
by numerous other groups over the centuries. In 17 AD the area came under Roman rule when military and trade routes were established as part of the Silk Road. Once Asia Minor came under Christian rule, those that were being persecuted for their religious belief came to this area and gained refuge by building their homes in caves. This also expanded to the building of numerous churches and monasteries where they could worship with the protection from the caves. Between the topography of the area, the ancient history, the numerous cave dwellings and monasteries we knew we’d have plenty to keep us busy for a few days.

I started to research and found that we could either fly or take a bus. When checking the schedules for flying it appeared that it would take quite a bit of time with having to start with a 1 ½ hour road trip to the airport, getting there an hour before the flight, taking a flight to Istanbul where we would then have a 3-hour layover before flying out to the airport in Cappadocia. The other option was an overnight 12 ½ hour bus ride. I gave Bob the option and we
The Temperature Showing On the Bus Was 73FThe Temperature Showing On the Bus Was 73FThe Temperature Showing On the Bus Was 73F

went through the heavily wooded mountain passes
both agreed that we’d try the bus as we’ve taken that long a trip on a plane so why not a bus!

I found a travel agency to work with, Gorgeous Tours, and when talking to her she reminded me that the bus ride would be long, but we still went with that as our plan. Then we had to decide how long we wanted to go out for. It is an area that is known for taking hot air balloon rides and we both thought that we’d wouldn’t bother setting up for that as it would probably mean staying for an extra day as the bus would get there at 6:30AM and the pick-up times for the hot air balloon rides ranged from 4-5:30AM. We also figured it would be nice enough to enjoy watching the balloons. With that in mind we hooked up for a couple days of tours (the red and green tour which are 2 of the few “packaged” tours that are offered). We also saw that that we could sign up to see the Whirling Dervish and attend what was called Turkish Night. We were going to see the Whirling Dervish a couple of
Made 14 Stops on the Way, Going Through TownsMade 14 Stops on the Way, Going Through TownsMade 14 Stops on the Way, Going Through Towns

Picking Up, Dropping Off People and Packages
years ago in Istanbul, but didn’t so figured this would be a good opportunity. When reading the description for the Turkish night, it included dinner and watching various folk dances of Turkey. As we would be out there on my birthday, decided that would be a great way to celebrate. As we have been spending plenty of money on the boat, we didn’t want to break the bank with this trip, so waited patiently to find out what the tour operator would come back with. Fortunately, it was a great price for all the signed-up programs/tours including the bus, hotel room with breakfast and two lunches. That meant that we only had to have one dinner out while we were there so no other expense unless we wanted to buy items that “we just have to have”. With the total costs for both of us being $578 we booked it immediately!

We decided to “splurge” on a taxi to get to the bus station in Marmaris as didn’t want to miss the bus which cost us a whooping $6.75 for a 20 - 25-minute ride. We were pleasantly surprised to find that the bus had only 3 seats across
A Tip: Make Sure You Find Out the Length of StopsA Tip: Make Sure You Find Out the Length of StopsA Tip: Make Sure You Find Out the Length of Stops

due to not understanding Turkish announcements
instead of the normal 4 giving us much wider seats. We had assigned seats, the ability to plug in to charge our electronics, it had a video screen for movies but all in Turkish, a tray table, and it was supposed to have wi-fi, but after trying to get the password from the bus personnel we finally gave up on that idea as they weren’t sure either! Oh, well, no problem as we hoped to get some sleep on our way there. The one down side of taking an overnight bus is not being able to see the scenery but fortunately we did have a little bit of daylight when we started the trip.

One tip we definitely have for anyone taking the bus – make sure to look up the bus schedule online, take a screen shot of it so you know how long the stops are on the way. The buses do not have toilets onboard, so needless to say, wanted to be sure to know when stops were long enough to get off the bus and not miss getting back on! We were definitely surprised when a cart was pushed down the aisle with snacks and
We Were Surprised by Free Snacks & BeveragesWe Were Surprised by Free Snacks & BeveragesWe Were Surprised by Free Snacks & Beverages

which were served twice on the trip
beverages, all for free. This actually happened twice on the trip out and twice on the return trip.

The ride out was uneventful and worked out well. We arrived in the village of Goreme, our destination at 6:30AM. Fortunately, the hotel was only a short walk from the bus station. Our tour operator said that they couldn’t promise our room would be ready that early as check in is usually in the afternoon but we could check to see if the room was free. Lucky for us it was! The Dervish Cave Hotel turned out to be a great spot with a short walk to town and a buffet breakfast each morning. The room was very pleasant and we had a balcony that you could sit out on as well as a rooftop area that you could go out early in the morning to watch the balloons or enjoy the evenings after your full day of touring.

In planning our trip, we decided that we would not book anything that first day as we might need to take it easy after our long bus ride and would give us a chance to walk around Goreme. That in the
2 Stops On The Trip Long Enough to Get Out2 Stops On The Trip Long Enough to Get Out2 Stops On The Trip Long Enough to Get Out

just in case you haven't seen a squat toilet!
end worked out well giving us time to take a nap (not as much sleep as we would have liked on the bus) and time to explore on our own before the evening program.

One very pleasant surprise we had before finalizing on our trip was being contacted by Darren, who we had met years ago in Botswana. Fortunately, my last blog entry mentioned being in Fethiye and he was going to be heading there as he was in Turkey as well. In checking his timetable, it worked out that he could make it to Marmaris on Bob’s birthday, October 25th so that confirmed our dates for our trip getting us back in time to get together with him and Sue. They had been in Goreme recently and had ordered a ring that was being made. Darren asked if we would be willing to pick it up for them so we knew we could easily do that on our first day there as that was when we had plenty of free time. They had notified Mehmet at Point Jewellery (that is how he spells it) that we would be picking it up. As soon as we walked in to his shop, he knew why we were there and we had a lovely time talking to Mehmet. If you are ever in Mehmet and in the market for jewelry you’ll have be sure to stop in to see him as am sure he could help you out! After our visit with him we enjoyed just wandering through the Village.

When we arrived early in the morning, we had magnificent views of hundreds of hot air balloons. We knew there were numerous ones that fly here, but had no idea of how many – almost overwhelming. Before leaving on our trip, we had two couples tell us that we really should try to fit in a hot air balloon ride. As a result, I did do some online research and could not find any openings for the days we were there so we pretty much gave up on the idea. While walking around Goreme we passed by a travel agent (Rose’s Travel Agency) and Bob said, let’s just stop in and try. We are very glad we did as he made a call and found we could go on a hot air balloon ride the next morning, my birthday! We paid the 60 euros ($70) for each of us gladly as we decided this was a great opportunity and we’d probably kick ourselves later if we didn’t sign up. We told him that we had a tour lined up for the next day with a 9:30 AM pick up and he said that wouldn’t be a problem as the balloon companies are definitely used to that timing for the tours in the area.

When wandering around the first day we came across quite a few stalls with handmade jewelry and the women that made them. Of course, we had to take a look and talk to them. It is always great to have enjoyable interactions with people that you never “plan on”. With a few of the women we definitely weren’t speaking the same language, but body language always works well! We always like to support local handiwork so within minutes of stopping at one, the woman picked out about 4-6 bracelets and put them on my arm to see them closer! We of course had to buy a few! The next stand had a couple of women and they also showed me what they had to offer. Needless
Watch Your Head With the DoorwaysWatch Your Head With the DoorwaysWatch Your Head With the Doorways

but it opened up to a pleasant space to stay
to say, we picked up a few more from them. The funny thing was that as I was standing there all of a sudden one of them had picked up a scarf and started wrapping it around my head. They smiled at that and then decided to try to do to arrange the scarf another way on me – we definitely were having fun! What is amazing is how detailed the work is and how little they charge. There aren’t that many tourists this time of year, and with covid even less so, so we wish them well for the next season.

Our scheduled plan for the first night was to go to see the Whirling Dervish ceremony. It was held in a nearby village in a historic caravanserai. We had time before to look around but at that time we really were not sure of its original use. It looked somewhat like a fort with high, thick walls around the perimeter, but there were no signs to tell us for sure. Afterwards I looked it up and found it was actually built in 1249 and was a roadside inn for travelers on the Silk Road. As the traders needed protection from raiders trying to steal their goods, these inns were built strong and defensible.

For those that aren’t familiar with the Whirling Dervish they are a sect of Sufi Muslim and the ceremony started in the 13th C. In 1925, Turkey’s first president outlawed this as he introduced his secular policies. As with other religions that have been “banned”, it doesn’t die, but went underground. Finally in 1956 even though the Sufi sect was outlawed, the government decided that the ceremony of the Whirling Dervish was cultural and could be an asset to the country. There is much more detail about the symbolism of how they hold their hands, the hats they wear and many other details that if interested you can find by googling it. It was quite fascinating to witness and listen to the music performed. What really surprised us was that as the leader left the area, he stated that we could all now take photos. The dancers took the black capes that they had just put back on, off, and started to whirl. We were very fortunate to be able to take a video and as a result I did post it on my FB page as well as my YouTube page (Janice Waller) if you’d like to see it.

The next day was my birthday and we definitely packed a lot into it – it will be definitely one to remember! As mentioned earlier we added a hot air balloon ride to start the day off and we are so glad we did. We had a 5AM pickup which meant it was a little “chilly” – hadn’t really come completely prepared for how cool it got, but fortunately we had bought a very nice blanket type shawl that helped immensely. In the mornings all you see moving around Goreme are white vans as that is what is used to pick up everyone taking a balloon ride and this morning was no exception – when looking out, they almost looked like little white ants crawling all over town stopping and picking up at the numerous hotels. We finally got to the location where “our “Universal Balloon” was going to lift off from. Already there were plenty of balloons in the air so we all enjoyed just watching them lift off, lighting up from the burners and floating by us. The basket on
"Classic Cars" Are What These Are Called Here"Classic Cars" Are What These Are Called Here"Classic Cars" Are What These Are Called Here

to rent and drive around for photo shoots
our balloon holds 22, but there were approximately 16 in our group today. It took some time for the crew to get the balloon inflated while holding it down with lines to the trailer it was moved here on (and some lines were actually being moved around with by people (we wondered if they’d just lift off!) Finally, it was ready and the next thing was for us all to scramble into the basket. That was not a pretty sight for many of us. Those baskets are quite high and they do have a couple of holes in the side for your feet but we all agreed that they need at least one more. Oh, well, we all made it in and I was happy to be located in close to the pilot as that is where the burners are so got a little warmth from them – a real bonus! It was a real combination of people from all over – Mexico, Poland, Puerto Rico, Turkey, India, Lithuania and us. The one thing we all had in common was the excitement of the trip! The first thing the pilot does after welcoming us and giving us our instructions on how we are to position ourselves for the landing (squatting down and holding onto handles on the inside) he then clarifies to everyone that all he can control is the balloon going up, going down and spinning around – as he says the wind determines the rest! With that, we were let lose when the lines to the ground were unclipped and we were on our way. The timing was perfect as we were able to catch the sunrise on our way up – again, we were so thankful we listened to others and made the effort to book this trip – what a great opportunity! (a short video has been posted on my YouTube channel (Janice Waller)

As much as we have seen photos and videos of the area, it is definitely not the same as floating over it yourself. It was a very calm day so everything was gentle even to the point of landing. Many of us when we knew we were descending were waiting to be told to get into the landing position. We found out that it was so gentle we didn’t need to which was a nice plus. It was so gentle, we actually landed onto the trailer with a little help from the ground crew to get us situated correctly on it. Our final ride in the basket was when they moved the truck pulling the trailer with us in the basket on top of it! They needed to move to a flatter area for us to all get out of the basket (which was another very “graceful” trick) for our champagne toast! This will definitely be an adventure that we will both remember for a long time!

We got back to the hotel about 9AM, grabbed a quick breakfast at the hotel and we were on our way again on the “Red Tour” being picked up at 9:30. Our tour guide, Alper, spoke very clearly with enough volume so we were very pleased to have someone that we would not have a problem understanding. It also is nice that right now with covid, they are keeping the group size small. As we took in quite a bit and this blog is already getting quite long, I am hoping that the photos will tell the story as much as possible. One of the main attractions we did take in today was the Goreme Open Air Museum. This is actually is the site of a monastery. It had been quite a large complex including numerous 10th & 11th C. churches with many painted frescoes with Biblical scenes. We were not permitted to take photos in the churches, but could other areas surrounding the churches. The Monks used these caves to retreat from the influence of others and to be able to continue their religious beliefs. It was fascinating to see the various symbols, paintings and architectural features that showed the impact of Western Christianity on these cave dwellings. Quite fascinating to ponder how this area has changed over the centuries with the impact on numerous peoples with their beliefs. The Romans took control of the area in 17 AD. When the Christians arrived in the 3rd C. AD, that is when they took shelter in the amazing topography here giving them protection from the Romans. This also is why many of the churches still survive with colorful frescoes showing scenes from the Bible.

One unscheduled stop the guide made was to a local winery where we were able to have a tasting of a few of their offerings. Alper knew it
We Resisted the Carpets Here!We Resisted the Carpets Here!We Resisted the Carpets Here!

and a few interesting modes of transportation
was my birthday so as we were “tasting” he led everyone in singing happy birthday to me – a very nice surprise (and we enjoyed the wine tasting as well)

In the afternoon we went to the village of Avanos which is known for its pottery production in an underground cave. The red clay in this area has been used for pottery production since the Hitities lived here prior to 1700 BC. They gave a talk about the production of the handmade/designed pieces, then a potter gave a demonstration on a kick wheel before handing it over to one from the tour group to try her hand at it. Of course, these visits never end before a walk through the sales portion where you could admire the workmanship and of course purchase if desired. There were items that we fell in love with but with the amount of $ we have been putting into Tsamaya lately, we curbed our desires some, but did walk out of there with a beautiful tile. As Bob says, at least we haven’t gotten another Turkish carpet on this trip!

We made a couple of more stops with one being called Imagination Valley where you could try to determine what the shapes reminded you of – the most obvious one here is the one that looks like a camel so that was easy to pick out.

The day was not over as that evening, we had booked what is called “Turkish Night” which includes dinner and watching numerous traditional folk dances. That didn’t start until 8PM and ran until about 11PM so needless to say we had celebrated most of the hours of my birthday! The dinner was very nice with free-flowing beverages all night (and I do mean free flowing which some parties definitely took advantage of!) There were traditional folk dancers with beautiful outfits, a demonstration of a knife thrower, an enactment of a wedding and of course it would not be complete without belly dancers. What was interesting was that the belly dancer actually got a few people up from the audience to “copy her movements’ – surprisingly many did an excellent job and everyone seemed to have lots of fun. During a break of the traditional dancing, a group from the audience got up and did line dancing to the music – that was a real surprise to
Wandering The Streets Met Many WomenWandering The Streets Met Many WomenWandering The Streets Met Many Women

making very intricate jewelry
see! The formal program ended and just as we were leaving, we went out with listening to “YMCA” – that we never expected but you hear plenty of “popular” songs” here. We talked to the driver afterwards and he gave us a run down of the music he likes as a 50-year-old and you’d think you were talking to a person from the US!

The last day in Goreme included another day tour – “The Green Tour”. When we got on the van in the morning it was nice to see familiar faces as two of the couples that were with us previously were on this one as well. Today we lucked out with only 7 people on the tour with the same guide.

The two big highlights of this tour are visiting the Derinkuyu Underground City and the Selime Cathedral, the largest rock monastery in the area. The afternoon slowed down some at the end with having a lovely walk along a river in the Ihiara Valley (once you climbed down ALL the stairs into the valley). There seems to be conflicting opinions about the underground cities here. There are approximately 50 known cities but the real
These Women Had Fun Wrapping A Scarf On Me!These Women Had Fun Wrapping A Scarf On Me!These Women Had Fun Wrapping A Scarf On Me!

We had to buy some of their handiwork!
question is the idea of if whole cities of people lived underground, or as our guide states they were used at times when protection was needed, but that a large population did not live underground at one time. Over the years, the spaces have changed in purpose – there were areas used as wineries, food storage areas and animal stalls were found, and a large kitchen area where providing food for others was common. There are numerous layers down with winding, narrow walkways and staircases connecting them. Numerous air vents were built into the plan where you could see “daylight” when looking up (thankfully). Fortunately, the place was not packed with tourists but occasionally a couple of tour groups would get “caught” in one room making it what we might call “cozy”. You definitely do not want to be claustrophobic and come here. Also, as Bob advises, be sure to wear a hat to protect your head from bumping the ceilings of some of these small tunnels/passageways! Even with that, Bob got his share of bumps on the noggin!

As beautiful as the area is to view, we found there was so much history to try to absorb as
Enjoyed Our Time Visiting With MehmetEnjoyed Our Time Visiting With MehmetEnjoyed Our Time Visiting With Mehmet

of Point Jewellery - stop by to see him if you are there!
we have found in so many places we have visited. With the numerous groups that controlled this area over the centuries, the various religious outlooks, numerous leaders from Persia and Rome to name only a couple, each had its impact on the design of the structures, the types of designs seen in the frescoes and the various uses made of the spaces. When looking at a map of Turkey and the location of Cappadocia, it truly was on the crossroads connecting Asia and Europe, making it important in so many ways.

At the end of the tour, we were dropped off at our hotel to pick up our luggage, walk into town to find something to eat before boarding our 8PM bus for another 12 ½ hour ride back to Marmaris. We were both definitely tired enough that we got in more sleep on the return trip. With our departure being later at night, the bonus was that we had a chance to see more of the scenery on the way back with our return being 9:30AM. It was a packed 3 days, but ones that we would not miss – they were definitely memorable in many ways –
Entrance & Details of the CarevanseraiEntrance & Details of the CarevanseraiEntrance & Details of the Carevanserai

built on the trade route in 1249
now we will definitely have to come up with something unique for our birthday’s next year! Now, we were ready to get some rest before moving on to Bob’s actual birthday on the 25th and more time in Marmaris.


Additional photos below
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One of the Drums Played for the Whirling DervishOne of the Drums Played for the Whirling Dervish
One of the Drums Played for the Whirling Dervish

and more of the inside of the Carevanserai
The Historical Carevanserai  (inn) built in 1249 The Historical Carevanserai  (inn) built in 1249
The Historical Carevanserai (inn) built in 1249

where the Dervish ceremony was held
The Black Cape is Removed The Black Cape is Removed
The Black Cape is Removed

to start his spiritual journey, arms crossed to start
We Could Not Photograph During the CeremonyWe Could Not Photograph During the Ceremony
We Could Not Photograph During the Ceremony

but were given permission afterwards as they whirled
Our First Night We Stopped for Hot Local WineOur First Night We Stopped for Hot Local Wine
Our First Night We Stopped for Hot Local Wine

at this outdoor location - a cool evening but nice
Buses Stop at Hotels Picking Up Early in the Morning, Buses Stop at Hotels Picking Up Early in the Morning,
Buses Stop at Hotels Picking Up Early in the Morning,

Many gather in 1 location, then off to the balloon!
Our Balloon Is Just Starting to Be FilledOur Balloon Is Just Starting to Be Filled
Our Balloon Is Just Starting to Be Filled

while many others near by were aloft
Many Balloons Aloft While Ours Was InflatingMany Balloons Aloft While Ours Was Inflating
Many Balloons Aloft While Ours Was Inflating

still cold at 6:30AM, but beautiful to see!
Now in the Basket & Floating Over CappadociaNow in the Basket & Floating Over Cappadocia
Now in the Basket & Floating Over Cappadocia

with loads of other balloons - what a sight!
A Great Way to Celebrate Janice's BirthdayA Great Way to Celebrate Janice's Birthday
A Great Way to Celebrate Janice's Birthday

as Bob says it works for his as well!
We Are Able to View Many of the Cave HomesWe Are Able to View Many of the Cave Homes
We Are Able to View Many of the Cave Homes

and view the amazing topography here
With So Many Balloons They Stagger the StartsWith So Many Balloons They Stagger the Starts
With So Many Balloons They Stagger the Starts

some landing, while others just going up


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