Hot air ballooning, Goreme Open Air Museum, Love Valley, Uchisar Castle, Urgrup ... and I stayed in a cave hotel!!
27.10.2014 - 29.10.2014 20 °C
Cappadocia ... WOW! Its as awesome as I was hoping it would be! From hot air ballooning over the valley of hoodoos, to cave dwellings and underground cities ... such a unique place to explore!
I arrived in Neveshir in the Cappadocia region of Turkey via a 12hr night bus from Istanbul. The bus was $33CAD, did not have a toilet, and only stopped twice. So if you are like me and have a small bladder ... don't drink too much of anything or you'll never make it, lol! I arrived in Neveshir around 7:30am, and then had to wait about 30min for the free shuttle to Goreme.
I really wanted to stay in a cave hotel, but expected them to be expensive. But I found a great deal on Expedia the night before for Castle Cave House ... only $36 to sleep in a cave converted to a hotel!
It was very basic (there were definitely fancier ones once I walked around town, but this one was in my budget)
Communal living room area
The bathroom was great - hot shower with lots of pressure, and there was even a heater in the bathroom! I was here in Late October so evenings were chilly.
View from my bedroom window
View from the rooftop terrace
After checking in I walked around the town a bit. I came across this fancy cave hotel - I'm assuming it was way out of my budget, lol!
Souvenirs for sale
I tried some Turkish Delight, which was quite pricey. 4 little pieces for $2CAD. None were good enough to buy more. Its just basically flavored jelly candy. Two of them I couldn't figure out the flavor, another was green with a hazelnut on top but tasted like banana, and the other was rose water. That shouldn't even be allowed to be a flavor, bleh.
When I returned from my walk, the owner of my hotel asked if he could take me sightseeing on his scooter. He said I could pay him whatever I felt was fair. I ended up giving him 100L ($50CAD).I probably could have given less, but on my walk I had noticed tour agencies offering bus tours for that price. Except bus tours only go to a few places, and he took me to all the places I wanted to see! A full day of sightseeing, crossing everything off my list, staying at each place as long as I wanted rather than being stuck on a tour's itinerary, was worth $50 to me.
Our first stop was Goreme Open Air Museum. Admission was 20L ($10CAD). In all honesty, this place is a tad overrated and over priced. A lot of the cave dwellings were blocked off by chains or ropes, and the ones you were allowed into you could not take photos in. For $0 you can pull over on the side of the road at any other cave dwelling and climb all over it, taking as many photos as you want.
I was able to sneak a few photos inside one of the dwellings before being yelled at by a guard. A lot of the dwellings were ancient churches.
A tunnel I had to crouch down to get through
After about 30min here I asked my new friend to take me to more cave dwellings that I could climb on and explore better. So he took me to Urgrup ... which is free! Perfect price for me
Nearby were a few restaurants, ice cream stand, souvenir stands, a camel waiting to have his photo taken with tourists, and a cute little puppy
In the same area there is a hill to climb for great views over the area!
View over Urgrup
The next stop was Love Valley ... or "The Valley of Giant Penises" as I call it, LOL! Its definitely obvious how this place got its name!!
Look for our little scooter ... the hoodoos/fairy chimneys/giant penises are massive!
Then we headed over to Uchisar Castle. Ah-MAY-zing!! Its the biggest cave dwelling of them all! A whole city carved into it! Now there's a staircase built on one side so you can climb to the top for great views. Admission is 6L ($3CAD).
360 degree views!
People really still live in cave houses! Just like the Flintstones
Just outside of the castle a little market was set up selling all kinds of stuff. They let me sample stuff before buying it
My new friend also helped me book a hot air balloon ride for the next morning. It cost $190USD. Pickup & dropoff were included, as was a small breakfast.
Pickup was at 5am, while it was still dark. We were brought to the tour company's office where a small breakfast was served (just biscuits & coffee/tea). Then we were rounded up and driven out to where the balloons were being inflated. It was neat seeing 100s of balloons being illuminated in the dark as they were all being inflated!
My one complaint is that there were way too many people in the basket ... 28! The tall people (myself included) were stuck in the back, and the short people got to stand in front. So in order to see over the basket's edge I had to fight my way to the front each time Below: I'm the one in the toque.
Once we were all crammed inside and everyone had a photo op, it was lift off time! This was my first ever hot air balloon ride so I had no idea what to expect. It was a completely calm & smooth ride. I really couldn't feel anything at all! It was just like we were floating
The view over Goreme. We were 800m high!
The flight is timed perfectly with the sunrise. There is a 2nd flight that takes off after sunset which is cheaper, but I recommend splurging on the sunset!
I forgot to time how long it was, but if felt like an hour or so. We landed in Love Valley amongst all the giant penises, lol!
The hotel owner let me stay until 9pm before checking out at no extra charge! Probably cuz I over paid for the scooter tour. He also then scooted me to the otogar (bus station) for yet another night bus. This time I was headed to Pamukkale!