We spent several days in Cappadocia experiencing the fairy tale landscape of that region of Turkey. Cappadocia is rich with attractions:
- Great food and wonderful Turkish hospitality
- Cave Hotels: we stayed in Azure Cave Suites and later Fairyland Cave Hotel, where our rooms were carved from rock
- Balloon rides in Cappadocia across this “fairyland” landscape
- Churches and monasteries built into the stone walls and pillars
- Underground Cities: where up to 20,000 people lived for months at a time
We started our land trip by driving from Kas, where we had sailed Golden Glow, to Antalya on the southern coast of Turkey. From there, we took a 75 minute flight to Nevsehir. We shuttled to the town of Cavusin 30 minutes drive away which would be our base during our Cappadocia stay. At Azure, we were greeted by the hospitable owners with tea and snacks and an invitation to sit on the stone balcony that overlooked the entire valley.
In the morning, as we awoke in our cave-room to the rushing sound of a dragon breathing fire, we hurriedly got dressed and rushed outside to see where the noise was coming from and were greeted by the amazing sight of hot air balloons rising up over the valley floor. The dragon breath we had heard was the sound of gas jets being turned on to heat the air inside the balloon, allowing them to rise up over the valley. The valley is home to over 220 registered balloons and at every sunrise, you will see 100 flying at a time.
Watching the balloons from the ground was an excellent perspective for us because we would be taking our own balloon ride the next morning.
We chose Butterfly Balloons because it is ranked #1 of 40 outdoor adventures on Trip Advisor. Our pilot was Fatih and he did an excellent job of bringing us deep into several canyons as well has gaining amazing heights to watch the sunrise. Ellen had watched the weather and chose the optimal day during our stay when winds were calmest and the air was clearest, and we were rewarded with a stellar flight. Who knew that her climatalogical skills, honed for our sailing circumnavigation, could be put to such good use on land too. We took off with the many other balloons but were one of the very last to land and were optimally positioned for the best sights.
Cappadocia is most notable for its surreal landscape. There are spiked sandstone pillars, ant hill and phallus-shaped mounds of rock lining the hills and valleys of the region. These shapes are know as “fairy chimneys”, “hoodoos” or “pyramid rocks”. Starting in around 8th century BC, the volcanic rock was carved to make way for churches, wineries, homes and even cities.
There are over 200 such underground cities in the region with at least two floors under ground. Some of the cities are connected with tunnels, one such tunnel runs 5 km. The floors were protected by rolling doors, Indiana Jones style, to protect from invading hoards. We visited the Derinkuyu underground city. More on this in a later post.