Friday, November 27, 2015

Cappadocia: The land of fairy chimneys

During my AIESEC volunteer camp in Turkey, I got a golden chance to visit Cappadocia -- the very reason I went to Turkey, the top destination on my travel bucket list. After two days of preparing the trip and booking everything we could (while juggled between teaching schedules and other dorm activities i.e. long sahr chit chats), few of us took the midnight bus and ventured to Kapadokya, the land of fairy chimneys. Oh excitement.

The bus ride from Izmit (Kocaeli) to Goreme (Cappadocia) takes 12 hours with few stops in between. It was not that bad, because we were so tired and just slept the way through. Also, Turkish bus service is quite good with free snacks, hot/cold drinks, and (some) wifi. I took so many intercity bus rides when I was there and did not disappoint at all. For the record, I mostly used Efetur just because their office was near to the dorm.

Rose Valley
The moment the bus entered Goreme I thought I was lost in an ancient world--Cappadocia is formed of fairy chimney-shaped stones which also works as shelter for the locals. No wonder one of the must try(s) in Goreme is to stay at the cave hotels (an interesting take, but we got a more exciting deal from a normal hotel, so long cave hotel). After we arrived in Goreme Bus Station, we split into groups as we booked different hotels. I stayed with Di, Venus, and Anelya in Royal Stone Houses--a very nice, best, hotel I have ever stayed in Turkey with air conditioners, large beds and huge bathroom. I know I'm such a city brat but all of us came from big cities and decided we deserved some luxury after few weeks of living in the dorm.

I got this Royal Map from our Royal Hotel lol and due to time constraint (3 days) we decided to go to Goreme Open Air Museum on the first day, do the Green Tour the next day, and go back to Izmit on the last day. There are lots to see, but I didn't want to rush everything so we picked the most cliche activities. So, here is what we did on the first day!

Goreme Open Air Museum

See that tanned thumb? Turkey's sun is no joke!
This is one of the most popular open air museums in TripAdvisor Turkey. Why? because it is huge and has a close proximity to Goreme town center (if you can call it a 'town' at all). If you stay at a local hotel ask whether they have shuttle service to the museum (or other attraction spots), most won't charge you as they are generally very friendly to tourists. To optimise the 'experience' I rented the digital guide which gives explanation of each spot in..English! God bless touristy places (FYI, the Turkish are so fond of their language).

The current site of the museum used to be a village of a devoted Christian community back in the days. You will see their houses, chapels, and churches. I was trying so hard to remember that 9 years of Catholic lessons as some of the histories and local legends were related to the bible. Too bad I have a weak long term memory :p The Christian fellows in Cappadoccia are interesting because they were kind of secluded from other Christian communities in the Mediterranean areas, hence, they have a unique touch to their religion. For example some of the churches in the Museum and Goreme were built for Saint Basil of Ceasarea (one of Cappadocian fathers).

They also have an additional section called "The Dark Church" for 8TL. If you don't have much time it's okay to skip this because it is indeed dark and not much to see. Unless, you are interested in learning more about Christianity and history of this place.

The girls I miss the most!

As you see, this picture only covers a tiny part of it. The place is so huge! A must visit for sure. After spending almost 2 hours in the open air museum, we decided to have lunch and book a day tour for the next day. The girls opted for ice cream because it was waaaay to hot.

Turkish ice cream booths are everywhere!

Random display near the museum 
Feels like we were being watched the entire time
There was not many restaurants in Goreme so we randomly walked into the more crowded one, Cafe Safak, it was kind of expensive compared to the food we had in Izmit but was so delicioso! If I have chance to go back to Cappadocia I wanna go back there and stuff myself with all those cheesy and meaty goodness. We also tried the Goreme-style vegetable pottery kebab. Not my favorite type of kebab but fun to try!

After lunch we go back to hotel to book the day tour for tomorrow. Cappadocia has 3 day tour options which covers different parts of the region: Red Tour (Central), Blue Tour (South) and Green Tour (South West). We opted for the Green Tour as it covers most attractions we wanted to see. The unique point is all of the tours are centrally managed by the local government so it does not matter where you book your tour, even at those random travel shops in the city area.

Will talk more about this on the next post!

All photos are taken with Canon 450D


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