Caution, this might be lengthy. Peace. =)
We only had 2 days to go around Ephesus and Pamukkale (linked post). As it was quite a tight schedule, after touring Pamukkale and getting acquainted with Hierapolis, ancient city we had to meet our tour company for our bus tickets. We took the bus night trip to Cappadocia to save on hotel stay for at least one night. Pamukkale to Cappadocia is about 530km or 330 miles and it takes about roughly 10 hours for the night bus trip. The bus was quite properly heated (we traveled winter time so imagine my tropically acquianted self with much elation) the trip came with free snacks too.
We arrived around 7:00AM in Nevsehir Bus Station and at this rate it was about -10o degrees outside and it was snowing. I have lived my whole life in a tropical country and I grew up in a province with a 15 minute bike ride to the beach so it was my first time seeing snow covering the entire place. It was also my first time to experience a snow fall because I totally missed it when I was in Seoul, Korea back in 2016 – more on that on my South Korea trip blog post.
While on our way to our cave hotel, we passed by a few hot air balloons that put such excitement on my face. I only appreciate them on my google searches about Cappadocia Hot Air Balloons but to see them up close was something else. It wasn’t as many because of the scarcity of tourists as well as the weather.
As much as everyone wanted to rest we had to just eat breakfast and wash up because our day was packed. We were bound for Goreme Open Air Museum and see the Fairy Chimmeys as well as the Pigeon Valley and Uchisar Castle.
Nature is such a great story teller. If only it could show you what it has gone through and tell you what it has witnessed – it would tell you so much more than what the books have had. I could wander and at the same time stand still to hear its echoes, feel how the wind blows and look in wonder what it has created in front of me. I am lucky enough to have seen this with my own eyes.
Our first stop was at Paşabağ Valley which is known for Cappadocia’s “fairy chimneys,” or cone-shaped rock formations. It was a bit eerie as there were very few tourists but at the same time peaceful. This was also the first time we got acquainted with the beloved street dogs of Turkey (we’ve seen more when we arrived in Istanbul a few days later). We had to stay a bit to pet him and were perplexed on how gentle they were. We kind of wondered what these dogs eat and why were they that big but no I am not about to research why.
Fairy Chimneys are also hoodoo or earth pyramids, protruding from the bottom of arid drainage basin or badland which generally form within sedimentary rocks and volcanic rock formations. People who are avid fans of rocks formations will have a feast here. This is the first time I have seen such formations, though I’ve seen a few eroded rocks near the beach or when I used to climb but not really Hoodoos. I got a bit scared standing near one thinking one would fall smack on my face. Ha! But just look at how beautiful time, weather/nature has crafted these. I am looking forward to visiting Yehliu, Taiwan sometime soon for its own version.
The second destination for the day is Göreme, a town in the Cappadocia for its Open Air Museum with cave churches and frescoes from the 10th to 12th centuries. While the cave churches were being preserved, we also tried to preserve our own body heat. It was so cold I could not feel my fingers and I think I have already experienced snow / winter that could last me a lifetime. At this time, my cough has gotten worse that I was wheezing the entire time we were walking.
After strolling and learning how people lived in the caves, the kinds of cave – kitchen, food storage, rooms, dining hall and churches, we headed to the Southwest part which is Uçhisar Castle, “a fortification carved into a large rock, with panoramic views from the top”. We tried to shout a bit to see how the echoes would sound like and it was chilling and beautiful at the same time with the birds flying around.
The next day was for Rose Valley and Kaymakli Underground City. You may probably ask how the hell we gathered all the strength and sanity to walk around in the open Rose Valley covered in snow in the morning. Well, for the scenic view and a promise of hot tea at the end of the road. I would let the pictures speak for itself. I have a video too for your viewing pleasure but I still have to edit – sorry my day job is taking a toll on me really.
Kaymakli Underground City is contained within the citadel of Kaymakli in the Central Anatolia Region of Turkey. First opened to tourists in 1964, the village is about 19 km from Nevşehir, on the Nevşehir-Niğde road. The houses in the village are constructed around the nearly one hundred tunnels of the underground city. This is probably not for those who are claustrophobic but honestly, it is well ventilated. Engineering this kind of tunnel is a marvel. Our guide mentioned, as far as I remember, that it is that only about 45% of the underground city was uncovered and there are still explorations on going to see how far it goes.
Cappadocia has its own charm during winter. Most people would travel during summer to fully enjoy what it could offer to truly experience looking at the formations from a hot air balloon but I guess I have made the right decision to see it for my first time during winter. We never had the chance to take the hot air balloon because of the weather as it all depends on flight clearance and we were also too tired and did not have enough cash with us. But missing that became a promise to return – in summertime, perhaps.
Being in Turkey for 5 days was a relief despite the news going around. It is so rich in culture and history, and the people are wonderful to talk to despite a bit of language barrier. If you would put it in your travel bucket list, you will not be disappointed.