A continuation of my TopDeck Turkey diary. If you haven’t read the first post in the series yet go and start here.
As you already know, my full day in Cappadocia started incredibly early with a sunrise hot air balloon flight over the unique scenery of Goreme National Park. If you’ve not read my post or watched the video go here now!
After that awesome balloon ride we came back to hotel and had great breakfast – hooray for a Turkish hotel offering fresh omelette! We then spent an hour or more sat outside by the pool (a good choice of hotel for two nights) to chat, enjoy the sunshine, sort out some photos and chat with family and friends via the magic of the internet and social media.
Cappadocia in a Day
At first glance on the itinerary it might seem like a free day but Alex had arranged a day out for us so we could see some of the best sights Cappadocia has to offer – if the balloon flight hadn’t been enough! So at about 10am we all piled on the TopDeck coach and off we went; nothing was very far away from anything else so just a few short rides today while Alex gave us history lessons and explained everything we could see out of the windows.
The tour group listening to our hiking instructions. Yes Alex has an angry bird hat on his guide stick.
Like being sat on the moon. Or in an episode of Star Trek.
Our first stop was at Camel Rock, well actually not Camel Rock but rather at the top of the hill close to Camel Rock so we could do a mini hike through the weird and wonderful rock formations that make up this area of the world. It was an absolutely beautiful sunny day and I was clambering over and through the rocks exploring the terrain in my favourite way – I was happy! Underfoot it was rock and sand, there were lots of boulders to climb over, a little bit like being on the moon; obviously I know exactly what it’s like to be on the moon. Okay maybe it wasn’t like being on the moon but it was definitely like being in that scene from Galaxy Quest where they fight the rock monster thing. Although there was no monster. Shame. Some of the rocks are said to look like certain things, including Camel Rock itself. There was a lamb, a chair, a shoe and a ram. It’s a bit like thinking clouds look like things, not everyone can see the shapes.
The rocks and fairy chimneys were formed by volcanic activity.
Our next stop was for more rock formations, this time tall rocks with lids that looked like mushrooms. There were lots of caves here too, and I had a little bit of time to explore the area while some of my fellow TopDeckers had traditional Turkish ice cream. They seem to play with their ice cream in Turkey, whipping it around in the air before putting it in the cone, not sure about that to be honest!
Our main stop of the day was the Goreme Open Air Museum, a preserved rock village that has been there since the time of Jesus. There were churches and chapels, a much bigger cathedral type building, homes and kitchens, and a complete table that was supposed to be just like the one used in The Last Supper. The place was incredibly fascinating, and Alex told us plenty of stories to go with it. There were plenty of very well preserved frescos telling Christian stories, and lots of original features and potentially-2,000-year-old carvings that couldn’t fail to capture my imagination. The Christians would use the sign of the fish here and also the pizza slice, as they were being persecuted by the pagan Romans, to greet each other. We paid 20 Lira to get in and it was well worth it – I could have spent at least another hour there if not the whole afternoon.
One of the cave buildings at the Goreme Open Air Museum.
2,000 year old dining table.
Next was back to Goreme, where we were the previous day, with some time to explore the town and get some lunch. We went to a great little café called Nasman, the best of the trip despite the difficulty with the language (I resorted to pointing, sorry everyone!). I went for gozleme again but this time with lemon and sugar, it was freshly made and oh so good. I’m also really loving the traditional Turkish apple tea, which I think is made from a powder. It’s sweet and sharp and full of flavour, the perfect refreshing drink. My lunch cost 10 Lira which is less than £2.50; Turkey does offer great value for money. After lunch we marched off the calories by hiking up the hill in Goreme to Sunset Point, a view point high above the town with some stunning views across the valley. This place is going to be stuck in my dreams for a long time.
View from Sunset Point, Goreme.
There were two final stops on our whistle stop guided tour of Cappadocia. The first was Uchisar Castle in Goreme National Park, a strange and creepy looking castle dug out from the rock and surrounded by fairy chimneys. It was like a witch’s hat, or a weird haunted cave. Finally to Pigeon Valley where they used to house all the homing pigeons, and where they still look after a flock of pigeons now. The birds were flying around in a group so gracefully – nothing like the ones at home! I took a liking to the Evil Eye tree here too, although not really in keeping with my Christian faith, it’s a rather nice way to guard against ill feelings such as jealousy and be the better person.
The Evil Eye and Pigeon Valley.
Traditional Turkish Dinner and Dancing
I decided to sign up for the optional dinner as it promised to be a fun evening with great food and entertainment. I hadn’t really packed anything suitable to wear, and am not into dancing, but I really wanted to see the traditional Turkish dancing show and eat what I was told would be really great food. Happily I wasn’t disappointed… it was a really good night and I’m so glad I went!
The meal was served in a cave style restaurant with tiered seating all facing a central stage area, much like an amphitheatre. It was a bit of a strange set up really, I’ve never eaten a meal on tiered tables, but it did mean we could all see. Our starters were already on the tables when we arrived; bread, hummus, other dips, lentil balls, potato salad and the like. Then we were served meatballs and chorizo style sausage, and a cheese pasty thing. While we were eating a group of Turkish dancers were presenting a story in the centre, showing us various traditional dances. They did several costume changes and styles, and were very talented, although one particular bloke had the biggest cheesiest grin on his face the whole time which was a little disconcerting!
Traditional Turkish entertainment at the dinner and dance evening.
The main course was slow cooked lamb (half a plate full of meat – so much meat!) with flavoured bulgar wheat. It was really good; definitely a feast. A belly dancer did her thing, first with butterfly wings and then without – she was really amazing and very enjoyable to watch. She then started the audience participation off and that became the theme for the rest of the evening. More dancing presentations, with and without random members of the audience, baklava and watermelon, apple tea, and more dancing. The dance-off between the six male dancers was probably my favourite bit of the evening, lots of kicks and jumping and spinning. Although I admit the bloke who was jumping on his screwed up toes made me shudder and vow never to do that!
I think in all I was up for 22 hours on this particular day, which is a VERY long day for me (I like my sleep), but it was well worth it and the experiences I have had will stay with me for a very long time. If you ever get the chance to go to Cappadocia please do it, it’s an amazing place with unreal scenery and you will never forget it. One of those places you need to see with your own eyes rather than through someone else’s photographs.
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Thank you SO MUCH to TopDeck for inviting me to join them on the tour. TopDeck covered my flights and the tour itself in return for coverage here on Splodz Blogz, and I covered all other expenses (including food, entrance fees and excursions) myself. I definitely recommend this kind of travel to anyone who wants to explore somewhere new without any hassle. Take a look at the TopDeck website for the full range of tours available.