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Published: October 25th 2015
Our flight from Şanlıurfa to Istanbul landed on time so given all our other flights haven’t started boarding until the scheduled departure time we figured we had time to grab some dinner before heading to our gate for our second flight to Kayseri in Cappadocia. After finishing our gourmet dinner of McDonalds, we checked the status of our flight which read “Final Call” hmm… About 5 seconds later over the PA system we heard our flight number and the words “final call” so proceeded to run through the airport to our gate (using elbows to clear a path through all the mindless wanderers). We made it to the gate in time, hopped on the bus and the stood there for about 5 minutes before it ferried us over to the plane.
The flight to Kayseri was uneventful and we landed about an hour after taking off in Istanbul. On arrival at airport we collected our bags and met up with the prearranged shuttle to Göreme. After about an hours drive we were dropped at our hotel where we checked in to our lovely cave style room and hopped into bed.
The following morning we awoke to a lovely view
over Göreme. We had a lovely relaxed (huge) breakfast on the terrace at our hotel before setting off towards the UNESCO World Heritage listed Göreme Open Air Museum which was about a 20 minute walk uphill from our hotel.
Göreme Open Air Museum encapsulates a complex of religions buildings (churches, chapels, nunneries, monasteries and supporting infrastructure such as kitchens) which were hollowed out into the hills by Greek Christians between the 10th
century and 13th
century. The buildings were abandoned in 1923 when the Greeks were expelled from Turkey during the population exchange, but have since been rediscovered and restored and now form one of the major tourist attractions in the area.
We timed our arrival perfectly, and by perfectly I mean just in time to meet up with the busloads of tour groups who flood the site every morning which was a bit of a change from having Mount Nemrut all to ourselves. Nevertheless we spent about an hour and a half exploring the various churches and considering the best way to get away with murdering all the tourists who blocked the narrow steps whilst posing for selfies. The caves were impressive and some of the frescos
inside the churches were quite beautiful (no photos allowed), but we both preferred admiring the site from outside.
From the Open Air Museum we continued our climb uphill towards the start (we think) of the Meskendir Valley trail. I suspect we took a slightly less popular route to get down from the top of the hill into the valley as we part walked part slid down the hillside. Eventually we made it to the bottom without having any serious falls and started walking.
Once down in the valley we were pretty much alone so could wander along at our own pace and admire the scenery. We passed through numerous caves, past grape vines and apple trees admiring the surrounding cliffs, rock formations and caves before the path opened out and we entered the Red Valley.
The spectacular views continued in the Red Valley and after a while (not sure exactly when as the signage is not that wonderful) we entered the Rose Valley. The trails in the Rose Valley were wide again, and we took a few short detours to admire the various rock formations. Eventually we found ourselves at the end of the trail so headed
back from Çavuşin towards Göreme.
By the time we arrived in Göreme it was about 2pm so we grabbed some lunch (kebaps of course) before making our way back to our hotel where we spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing, reading and admiring the view.
For dinner we went to the Topdeck Cave Restaurant which gets excellent reviews on Trip Advisor. We took the scenic route from our hotel to the restaurant but eventually made it and were seated at an actual table (rather than on the floor) to Scott’s relief.
Dinner was delicious; we ordered a mixed mezze plate to start which had stuffed vine leaves, various different eggplant / bean / zucchini dishes and a yoghurt dip. For main I ordered the chicken and Scot ordered a lamb dish. Both were delicious and had been slow cooked for hours. The meat was incredibly tender and the sauces were wonderful. Both were served with rice and a shared green salad. By the time we were done I was incredibly full and didn’t have room for dessert. Though food is much more expensive here than it was in Van and Urfa, our dinner only cost us
105TL (~50AUD) including two drinks.
After dinner we headed back to the hotel where we made the most of the free tea (apple and regular) available from the kitchen while we read our books and planned our activities for the following day. We had an early night as we had our name down for a balloon flight the following morning.
The following morning we woke up at 5am (before the Call to Prayer!) and got dressed in the hope that the weather would be good enough for our balloon ride. We headed out to our hotel reception at about 5:20 and were informed that the balloons wouldn’t be flying due to the weather. We put our names down for a flight the following morning and headed back to bed to sleep a little more.
Following another large and very delicious breakfast we set out towards the start of the Love Valley trail near Uçhisar which is the next town over from Göreme. We walked uphill along the main road until we saw the Art Centre which is near the start of the trail. We started making our way down what appeared to be the right track, however
as the trail disappeared we checked the map and discovered we’d taken the wrong route so headed back uphill..
Upon finding the correct route we began to descend into the valley again. Fortunately the descent was a lot less slippery than the previous day so we both made it down without falling on our butts once.
The first few kilometres of the trail was quite up and down; with a few moments where we thought we might fall over. Once again we had the path largely to ourselves so were able to enjoy the peace and quiet and fantastic scenery as we walked (and occasionally slipped) along.
As we were walking we came across two Canadian guys who were picking apples from one of the trees in the valley. They threw us down a couple of apples and we had a bit of a chat before continuing our walk. The apples were very sweet and delicious.
Eventually we made it to the part of the Love Valley which is most famous. We continued walking while admiring the scenery and taking photos before we eventually made it to the road which marks the end of the Valley.
Rather than walk back to Göreme along the road we chose the more difficult but more scenic route along the cliff tops.
Once back at our hotel we spent a couple of hours reading in our room before relocating to the terrace at the restaurant so I could befriend the resident cat.
Eventually we decided it was time for dinner so we headed down the hill and chose from one of the many restaurants. We both ordered the Testi Kebap which is a dish from the Central Anatolian region (which Cappadocia is situated in). More like a stew than a kebap, the meat and vegetables are cooked in a clay pot which is sealed closed with bread dough and baked. Once cooked, the pot is broken open and the contents are eaten with rice of bread. It was quite nice, though a little bland. I probably wouldn’t order it again but it was good to try it once.
Once we got back to our hotel room we noticed that there was wood in the fireplace. Despite our room already being quite warm we decided to light the fire. Scott opened a window so we wouldn’t roast ourselves…
The following morning we again got up at 5am with the hope of doing the balloon ride, but once again the weather decided it wouldn’t cooperate so we headed back to bed. When we woke up again it was raining steadily so the organic farm breakfast trip we had signed up for was also cancelled. Instead we prepared ourselves for a day of reading books as it didn’t look like the rain would let up anytime soon.
We ended up chatting to Tom and Grace, an Aussie couple who are on a three and a half month tour of Europe for a while. Whilst we were talking the rain cleared up and the sun came out so we decided we’d do a walk together. We got our stuff ready and headed off towards the Zemi Valley.
I was sure I had seen a sign to the start point on the day we walked to the Meskendir, Rose and Red Valleys so headed up the big hill past the Open Air Museum. By the time we got to the top I realised we’d gone too far so we turned around and walked back down the hill…and spotted the
sign which marks the start of the trail near the bottom.
The Zemi Valley was quite wet from the rain that morning so we walked through mud in sections and had to avoid puddles. Nevertheless the scenery was lovely. Eventually we came to a fork in the path which wasn’t particularly well signed. We chose the way we thought looked the most well-trodden and continued walking. We clambered up slippery slopes, through mud, around prickly bushes and across rocks before reaching a dead end. With no easy way to continue (scaling the cliff faces didn’t appeal to any of us) we retraced our steps (with a slight detour and backtrack..) and made it back to the fork where we took the other trail.
This path was much easier and didn’t come to a dead end which was excellent. Eventually we reached the end of the walk through the Valley and chose to head back to Göreme by walking along the top of the cliffs. The views from the top of the cliffs were spectacular and we were able to see not only the Zemi Valley but the Meskendir, Rose and Red Valleys as well.
By the time
we got back to Göreme, the boys had decided it was time for a beer so picked one up at a shop in the town and drank them while we walked back to our hotel. We were able to have a shower and wash away the mud at the hotel despite having checked out earlier that day. After showering we met up with Tom and Grace again and headed to a bar to chat and watch the rugby (well…Tom and Grace watched the rugby).
After the game finished we ventured to another restaurant to get some dinner. Scott and Tom had a mixed grill each, Grace had some kebaps and I had a pide. The food was quite delicious.
After dinner we headed back to our hotel, said goodnight to Tom and Grace and waited until it was time to head to the bus stop to catch our overnight bus to our next stop Antalya.
We had a really good time in Göreme, I think we could have spent an extra week or so and still not run out of walks to do and things to see. We’ll have to go back another time so we can
explore some more and do a balloon ride!
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