Around the world travel, Backpacking, Bucket List, long term travel, Travel, Turkey

Cappadocia – Land of a Thousand Phalluses

A few days in and I’m starting to get back into my backpacker’s groove. After parting ways with Marisa and jody, I headed to Istanbul’s main bus terminal and boarded my overnight bus to Cappadocia. I popped an ambien, and proceeded to faceplant directly on the shoulder of the older Turkish woman next to me. Thankfully, she didn’t seem to mind. I awoke around 8:30 to a balloon-filled sky. My first impressions of Cappadocia – bizarrely beautiful.

I found Dream Cave Pension, just outside of town and crawled into bed for 4 more hours sleep. I then ventured out for food and to see the surrounding landscape. I had a harder time getting my bearings in this little town than I did in Istanbul, due to this odd-shaped city center. I had a hearty lunch and made my way to the Open-Air Museum and then hiked up to a viewpoint for sunset. I ran into a few people from Istanbul that evening and we booked in on a tour of the surrounding villages for the following day.
I was up early for the traditional Turkish breakfast, which I have grown to love and then Kasim came to collect me for the daily tour. We headed first to the underground cave network. These caves are about 65-metres underground and were occupied by ancient civilizations, specifically so people could hide from their enemies. From here we drove to Ihlara Valley, where we hiked down into a deep valley, visiting Ottoman and Byzantine churches from the 10th Century. We stopped for apple tea and lunch in a little hut sitting directly on a river.
That afternoon, we visited Selime Monastery, a monastery literally built in a rock. The surrounding landscape is so unique and bizarre. I later found out it was where Star Wars 1 was filmed. From here, we sampled more Turkish Delight, made a quick stop at Pigeon Valley and then returned to Goreme. I ventured to Cafe Safak for their award-winning lentil soup and baklava. It was getting proper cold, so i retired to my cave hotel early.
The following morning, I took my time with breakfast and a couple of cups of coffee. I decided to blow off the museum and instead headed to Rose Valley for some hiking. I spent about 3 hours taking in the landscape and discovering little villages, and I only passed two other hikers the entire time. It was like I had the place to myself. I picked apples from an apple orchard and drank apple tea high up in the “fairy chimneys” next to a Byzantine church from circa 10th Century. It was already cooling off by early afternoon, so I headed back to Cafe Safak to warm up with some Selip, a hot, milky drink that tastes like a cross between chai and tapioca.
I camped out here for a while, warding off the cold and waiting for the next overnight bus to Pamukkale. I thought about Cappadocia, truly like no other place I have seen before. I felt a slight tinge of regret for not taking a hot air balloon ride. But someone once told me, it’s good to leave yourself with a few things you want to do in a place… it gives you a good reason to return.
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