Cappadocia means ‘land of the beautiful horses’ but I would say it is a dreamy slice of central Turkey dotted with ‘fairy chimneys’. It was the volcanic eruptions that created this surreal moonscape: the lava flows formed tuff rock which wind and rain sculpted into sinuous valleys with curvy cliff faces and pointy fairy chimneys. Unfortunately, now every year they become much smaller (1 cm each year) because of erosion.
After this trip I finally decided it’s my last guided trip. I can’t take anymore of those boring stories. Before a trip I always look info historical and religious backgrounds. But in my opinion it’d more interesting to take a map and get lost instead of listening to a guide who is always looking for the right word and pushing to see as much as possible.
The most popular word in this trip was frescoes. There are a lot of them in Göreme Open Air Museum. The best for a stroll is Ihlara Valley – filled with riverside greenery, birdsong and a string of churches cut into the base of towering cliffs. Despite centuries of vandalism, many of the frescoes (or more accurately seccos, painted on dry rather than wet plaster) are still colourful, but of course paintings are not full.
What really makes you take a deep breath is underground cities. I visited Kaymakli Underground City. in Cappadocia that is seven floors deep, although, it is only allowed to go down to the fourth floor due to the risk of collapse in the lower floors. Our guide told that there were 200 of such settlements in Cappadocia and it is thought that they were used by the Christians to escape persecution from incoming civilizations. Each cave housed up to 10,000 people. The largest discovered settlements are almost ten levels deep, with narrow passages connecting the floors like hamster tunnels.
People could live underground for up to three months without seeing any sunlight. Surprisingly, they had really good communication system based on tunnels. Moreover, their main job was to make wine and cook meal. Fair enough, what else would you do when it is so dark, hm? J Plus they had no privacy as their bedrooms were without doors.
I have read one interesting fact in an article saying that the pigeon houses riddling the rock faces are now mostly vacant, whereas they traditionally used to collect the birds’ droppings used as fertiliser. But I saw many pigeon holes carved into the rocks that used to harvest the pigeon droppings. Our guide told us that it sells for $12-15 per kilo. It’s time for business.
Moreover, Capadocia is popular for local wine. I went to Turasan winery which is dates back 1943. Unfortunately, I suddenly become very nagging when it comes to the wines. The quality seemed bad and actually nobody bought it. Of course, I guess they gave us to try wine of low quality and this was not the right decision. Anyway, Cappadocia has one of the world’s oldest wine industries dating back 4000 years.
Another entertainment for the tourists is a trip on an air balloon. Well, it costs 190 euros for each person, so maybe I will come back for it after 10 years?
It is really worth visiting Pasabag Valley. The best way to cut off your expenses is to buy “Museum Kart”.
Devrent Valley is known as Imaginary Valley. Interestingly, the animals and figures you will spot depends on your imagination. Some of the most important, or the easiest seen animal shapes are camel, snake, seals, and dolphin. If you let your imagination run free you will find many others. It is like looking at clouds and seeing a dragon. There is even a rock pillar which looks like Virgin Mary holding Jesus Christ.
Fortunately, there are no churches, so you can just enjoy exploring new type of nature and do a little of climbing and trekking.
Later we relaxed in Turkish night. Well, we saw a lot of Turkish dancing. The most attractive was belly dancing. Also, you can drink whatever you want all night long which makes the whole thing much more touristic and a bit boring.
Zelve Valley churches are not as impressive as those at the more famous Göreme Open Air Museum, but Zelve (ZEHL-veh) has its own attractions: the topography is even more dramatic, with crags and pinnacles and steep valleys, and there's more freedom to climb around and look at all the caves, nooks and crannies.
Ihlara Valley is 14 kilometre-long valley. The very steep sides of the valley have many churches and chapels. Also, rich fauna and flora. For a rest break generally the restaurants in Belisirma are preferred. After lunch the walk continues to the end of the valley where worth-seeing villages are located. On the return leg you can make a stop at the crater lake and, if it is a season, you can enjoy a swim there.
Furthermore, Cappadocia is famous for Çavuşin Greek Village. It was time when the Greek were forced to leave and after sometime were allowed to get back. As our guide said, ‘People can live together in peace despite their nationality; it’s always problems for politicians.’ It is his opinion; but you can never know what the truth is.
This city is also popular for special local cuisine. I tasted dinner which provided lots of different tastes. Tender meat slowly baked in tandir (traditional wood burning ovens), hot or cold soups of buglar (cracked wheat), and comlek fasulye (dried haricot beans and chopped meat braised in pots) with linger on your taste buds for a long time. In addition, Cappadocia offers yaprak sarmasi (stuffed leaves), patates salatasi (potato salad), dolma mantra (ravioli-style minced meat parcels), sulukofte (boiled meatballs in a tomato sauce), bamya (okra) and many other tastes.
To sum up walking tours are the ideal option for being together with nature, roaming around freey and enjoying the environment. The fairy chimneys that are said to change their colours according to the time of day, the footpaths that disappear in horizon, the blossoms on the trees, the natural life, and the historic settlements all make Cappadocia an attractive destination.