My time started here after an eight hour bus trip from Egirdir. I easily found my hotel after asking someone for directions. Pretty much everyone here seems to know English as it is a very touristy area. I checked in to the hostel and was quickly invited for drinks at the local pub along with three German guests. An Australia, a Scotsman and three Germans walk in to a bar, it is obviously going to be hilarious. I tried a vegetable stew in a clay pot which is cracked open on serving. This was really delicious, although my research tells me that it isn’t strictly traditional but more of a tourist crowd pleaser. I later learnt how to play a Russian card game which I kicked ass at and was told I must be cheating. It was unusually nice to hang out with Europeans and just be a tourist for the night.
Much of Turkey has unpredictable weather and Cappadocia is no exception. My first full day was supposed to be snowing and raining. I refused to stay at the hostel and really wanted to get some trekking in before my friends were going to meet me the next day. One of the German guys joined me and we set off north along the Göreme Yolu and in to the National Park on the right. It was a little muddy, but nowhere near as bad as I expected. The walking around the park is amazing and constantly varying.
Attraction: Göreme National Park
Getting there: The town of Göreme is surrounded by the national park, so walking in any direction will bring you to some part of the park. I walked North East, up Göreme Yolu and past a cemetery.
The fairy chimney’s were created by erosion and it is obvious where the rock was softer as these areas have eroded a lot more than the hard areas. I learnt to love rocks during my environmental science degree after a professor insisted we ‘be at one’ with the rocks. It was a strange and hilarious part of my university life, but nonetheless my interest for rocks stands. After a few wrong turns trying to a find a café we ended up on top of a ridge which had an amazing view of the valley. We also found numerous churches which were beautifully sculptured and easy to access. We finally found the café and I had my first pomegranate juice which was ridiculously expensive. The view was worth it though.
I was meeting up with my friend’s the next day so I decided to take it easy and have a salep with my new German friend. I enjoyed relaxing a little too much and left it to the last minute to take my bags to the new accommodation. Even a normal hotel would have been nice after backpacking, however we were upgraded to a suite and it felt like the nicest thing ever. I met a whole bunch of new Turkish friends, allowing me to learn more Turkish and try more food that I didn’t know about before asking them what vegetarian food I could eat. My favourite was a white bean soup/stew which became my new go to food while in Turkey.
We hired a car and visited some well organised and very interesting tourist attractions. Our first step was a pottery workshop, where a man showed us how to make a clay pot. We were then shown through the workshop and taught about the culture. Traditionally the men in the village must be able to make beautiful pottery and the women must make carpets. A person who cannot make the wares that is required of them would historically mean that they would not be married. The Zelve open air museum was interesting, with many churches from different era’s all housed in caves, as well as houses and eating places. The art work in the churches was incredible, especially considering it was all painted on rock which had stood the test of time against constant erosion. I loved that there was a church adorned with maltese cross’s, as I am a quarter Maltese and have grown to love anything displaying the symbol.
Attraction: Zelve Open Air Museum
Getting there: Walk (about 5km through the National Park)/ join a tour/ hire a car and drive North up Göreme Yolu and turn at Zelve Yolu
Cost: 20 TL (entry, car hire/tour extra)
The underground city felt like it was out of a fairy tale. The entrance was spacious and inviting, although many guides surrounded us to tell us to scare us into thinking we would need a guide. It is one of the most popular attractions in Cappadocia, so I was sure we wouldn’t get lost. Upon entry it is obvious that to go down you follow the red arrows and blue to get out. Most rooms were sign posted in English so I was happy we didn’t spend the extra money to get a guide. Some areas we had to bend over to get down, and I misjudged the rock in one place and hit my head. It was a lot harder on my head than I expected, ouch! The area was used to escape attacks and included everything one needs to survive as well as a wine cellar and even a stable.
Attraction: Derinkuyu Underground city
Getting there: Hire a car and drive (about 35km), or join the Green tour
Cost: 20 TL (entry, car hire/tour extra)
I was introduced to a small tea place where you basically sit in a lounge room for hours on end while sipping tea and coffee. It reminded me of how Australian’s sit and drink beer for hours, except no-one was drunk. Catching up with friends from around the world is a luxury which many solo travellers don’t get to experience and that I am extremely grateful for. We all head back to Istanbul after our never ending tea drinking session and I remembered why I love my friends so much. They are so hilariously funny, loving and the worst people I have ever flown with. It was so lovely to get another perspective of travel. I think I understand the other side a little better now. It is less about the place and more about the relationship building with fellow friends.