Capadoccia has been one of our ‘bucket list’ destinations for quite some time so of course when we booked our long weekend away in Turkey we had to plan a trip here too. This region of Turkey is known for its unusual cone-shaped rock formations which are best seen on a hot air balloon. Getting here was surprisingly very cheap costing a mere £9 for the flight from Istanbul. The land in the area is very barren and it is what I would imagine the Middle East to look like.
When we arrived at our hotel in the town of Goreme, we met up with our friend Joan who had arrived the night earlier. The hotel was originally a cave which a family lived in for hundreds of years. It was repurposed into a hotel approximately 7 years ago and is now run by a father and son who have got to be the most welcoming people we have ever met. Osman, the son, made sure that we were always comfortable and explained to us the many options we had to explore the sites. With half a day left, we walked to the Open Air Museum which took about 30 minutes. It is an area full of caves which had been carved out of the rock formations to form several little churches and chapels. This area became a large community for Christians and has been well kept with many of the Christian murals inside the caves still visible.
In the evening we were joined by the rest of our friends who had arrived from Istanbul, in total there were 8 of us Aussies. We headed out for a delicious Turkish dinner, with most people ordering the ‘Testi Kebab’ (Pottery Kebab) which is usually a combination of meat chunks and vegetables slow cooked in a sealed clay pot which is then cracked open with the back of a meat cleaver in front of you. Everyone was pretty impressed with their meals and the low price.
The next morning we were all up nice and early for our 5.20am pick up from the hot air balloon company, Kapadokya Balloons. Everyone was surprisingly quite awake at this time mainly due to the build-up of excitement. The driver took us to the office for us to pay for the flight (125 euros each) then invited us to enjoy a light breakfast. We were quickly briefed over a few safety matters with the instructor impressively also able to explain the instructions fluently in Chinese. Not long after this, we hopped on a mini-van and drove approximately 20 minutes outside the town. When we got out of the van, our balloon was already mostly inflated and we could see the dozens of other balloons already in flight. It was a spectacular sight and we couldn’t wait to get on board. The balloon had 13 people on board which didn’t actually feel crowded at all. As we ascended with the sunrise, the view of the undulating rock formations came into view and we were left speechless. It was absolutely spectacular and the site of all the other colourful balloons made it all the better. Everyone was taking hundreds of photos as you can imagine. The weather was perfect with hardly any wind which meant the entire ride was smooth. The journey lasted just under an hour but felt like a lot less. As we descended, the pilot told us he was planning to land on the back of the trailer attatched to a ute. This seemed absolutely impossible, but with the help of the crew on ground they managed to pull it off in spectacular fashion. We celebrated our journey with champagne, which is traditional for hot air balloon flights all over the world.
After a couple of hours rest and another breakfast back at the hotel, we were off again on a private tour with Hassan, the owner of the hotel. Hassan grew up in a cave in Goreme, so he is literally a caveman. He took us on mini hikes through the national park to get up close to the caves and the rock formations. We often saw little square holes carved into the rocks which he explained were for pigeons to come through and poop. The locals would then collect this poop and use it as fertilizer. We also visited an underground city which was set up for use in times of bad weather or conflict. It’s actually amazing that they managed to carve out rooms through the rocks back in the day with no modern equipment. Hassan took us to many vantage points where would could truly appreciate how grand the valleys were, and of course we managed to spot the rocks shaped like giant penises.
It was a fantastic day for all of us, and we definitely felt we made the most of the short time we had here. This has been one of our favourite destinations so far and it is highly recommended to anyone who loves nature.
Til next time
Ann & Jason xo.