Cappadocia – a magical place for a long weekend escape

Some places on the Earth are an absolute, unquestioned “yes!” for a visit. Cappadocia belongs to those places and definitely tops this list! Looking at the beautiful photos in the Internet and in Instagram, we were expecting some uniquely beautiful experience. But the reality surpassed our expectations!

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Magical sunrise in Cappadocia

Beware: this post contains plenty of photos!

Basically, this trip has only one disadvantage: there are no direct flights to the nearby airports (Kayseri, Nevşehir) from Europe. You have to fly over Istanbul. From Berlin, it took us about 6 hours to fly to Kayseri. Therefore, we didn’t drive directly to Göreme but had a night at a 5 star hotel in Kayseri for a very moderate price. Transfer from Kayseri airport to the city took 10 minutes and cost 10 TL.

We were surprised to discover that Kayseri in fact is a big industrial city. In the morning, before our bus to Göreme we took a walk in the city center and were surprised by its clean streets and hospitable people.

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On the road in Kayseri
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On the road in Kayseri

Actually, we were a little bit concerned about our timing to visit Turkey – it was the middle of Ramadan. Will be any restaurants open? Would it be polite to eat and to drink at day, when the locals are not allowed to do so? We asked ourselves these questions many times until we met a pleasant elderly Turkish couple talking German (they lived in Stuttgart for a while). We had a small talk and they explained us that fasting is voluntary and many people don’t do it, so we are allowed eating at the streets at day time.

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In one of the Kayseri shops

Nevertheless, we have seen completely different attitude to fasting. In the plane from Istanbul late in the evening, when we reached our seats, we realized that they were already occupied by two ladies. Probably, they entered the plane one of the first, because at the moment we met them, they were already savoring their food full speed and denied giving the seats back to us.

From Kayseri we took a bus to Göreme (it costs 15 TL and takes about 1h 15min with one change of cars). The buses start frequently from the Central Bus Station – you can go there either with a taxi or with a tram.

In Göreme, we were beyond happy to leave our luggage at the hotel and to start our Cappadocia discovery.

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Göreme ranch

First, we went to the Göreme Open Air museum. On our way to there we passed by the famous evil eye tree. Turkish people believe that those little blue eyes (“nazar”) hanging on it ward off harm…

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Nazar tree

In summer, the museum is open till 19 o’clock and the ticket costs 30 TL pp. One hour was enough to wander around and to visit every beautifully painted cave church there.

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Göreme Open-air museum
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Göreme Open-air museum
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Inside on of the Open-air museum churches

However, it is in our nature to be able to discover new places on our own. Therefore we felt a little bit restricted between all those touristic signs and pre-defined paths. If you are like us, I would advise you to skip the museum and climb the hill on the opposite side of the road and proceed in direction Göreme or any other direction you feel like to choose.

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On the road 

At the moment we crossed the road and climbed up, our adventure started. We were only two on the road (okey, not completely – a female photographer was following us in a short distance) and could choose any path we liked. We explored dark caves, climbed hills and descended in semi-dangerous places.

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Discovering Cappadocia
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Whom do you see?

This walk was absolutely incredible, hundreds of photos shoot, several scratches on the legs and arms left and dozens of “wow” exhaled.

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Two on the road
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Beautiful Cappadocia
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Wandering around

The next day we had to wake up very early, before four o’clock in the morning, one hour before the sunrise – enough time to be picked up by the agency and brought to the Tourist hotel for the breakfast (very simple, a coffee and biscuits). That was the starting point of our ride with a hot air balloon. The inflation of the balloon took about 20 minutes and we were about 25 guests onboard. After we took off, I was not even a bit scared when we were slowly flying higher and higher into the air.

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Hot air balloons

When we looked down, we could see the spectacular sites of Cappadocia, from Göreme to the Red Valley and the vineyards. When the sun went out, our captain turned the basket 360 degrees around so everyone can witness the magic of the sunrise.

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A flight with a hot air balloon
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Into the sunrise

We booked this trip through our hotel with the Skyway Balloons agency (http://www.skywayballoons.com/flight/) and can recommend it to you. I was impressed by the professionalism of our captain: he was flying up in the sky and down in the valley and between the trees in an absolutely controlled way and after about one hour flying managed to land smoothly (wait for it) onto the car pendant!

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Beautiful Cappadocia
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Celebrating the smooth landing

After landing, we were welcomed with the (nonalcoholic) Champagne toast and brought back to the hotels, back to the cozy beds and long-anticipated nap. In the afternoon, the second part of our hiking through the Cappadocian Hills started.

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Rose Valley
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Exploring the surroundings

This time we headed direction Paşabağ through the Rose Valley and drinking a coffee in the old village Çavuşin.

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On the road

Again, we were only two of us on the road in the Land of beautiful horses (this is the real name of Cappadocia), witnessing the cosmic views and breathtaking nature: a paradise for an explorer who avoids touristic crowds!

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On the road
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Cosmic landscape
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Someone missed a beach?

We were approaching the Zelve open air museum, when several alarming drops fell on us. Accelerating, we already started looking around for a suitable cave to hide from the rain… However, that day we had a perfect timing while playing hide-and-sick with the rain and reached the shelter before the shower started.

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The country of beautiful horses

We had an hour-long rest at the Sengül büfe and enjoyed homemade Turkish cuisine: manti- Turkish ravioli and mixed Turkish pancakes. Add the Turkish coffee and you will not be disappointed.

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Sengül büfe
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One very proud bird

From Zelva, you can go back to Göreme with a local bus which comes every hour and costs 4TL.

After the rain stopped, we were looking for a restaurant with a decent view to the city serving wine. Randomly we went to the Nostalji restaurant & Amber suits hotel. The conversation with the waiters standing outside went like:

  • -Do you have wine? -Yes
  • -Do you have WiFi? -Yes (short laughter)
  • -Can we sit on the rooftop terrace? -Yes (laughter is getting more distinct)
  • -Can we pay with a card? Yes (loud laughter)
  • -So we go in!

I still cherish the memories about our last evening in Cappadocia, when we were sitting alone on the terrace, drinking tasty wine for 15 TL with an amazing view, reminiscing about our two days of adventures and discovering in this magical place and dreaming about the next trips…

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Cappadocia from above

The last morning, we climbed the Göreme Sunset View Hill to enjoy the beautifully bizarre landscape last time before the departure. Probably, the view would have been even better during the sundown, as indicated by the viewpoint name. The viewpoint is situated here (we couldn’t find it on teh Google maps). However, Google could capture our two-half-days hiking tour:

To go back to the Kayseri airport, we took the shuttle bus organized by our hotel (25 TL pp). We were picked up timely and after 1,5h drive we were at the airport.

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Maccan Cave Hotel

A good hint for the gifts-shopping is Otantik Bazaar, , an authentic embroidery shop owned by a lady who creates all the beautiful jewelry pieces herself… I couldn’t resist and bought several sophisticated knitted handmade earrings! She has even an Internet page where everyone can order the handmade jewelry online: http://www.otantikbazaar.com/index.php.

And as a recap, here are some quick hints for you when you plan your travel to Cappadocia:

Currency Turkish lira (TL) = 0,25 €
Closest city Göreme
Closest airports Nevşehir Kapadokya Airport

Kayseri Erkilet Airport

40 min from Göreme

1 h 15 min from Göreme

Transfer to and from Organized by the hotel 25 TL pp
Where to stay Cave hotels From 30€/night
How much time to plan? 2-3 days
To do Hot air balloon tour 1 hour, from 80€/pp
To visit Çavuşin

Paşabag

Göreme Open air museum

Rose valley

Red valley

Love valley

Free

Free

30 TL/pp

Free

Free

Free

To drink Wine, ayran, turnip juice, fresh orange juice 5-15 TL
To eat Shish kebab, manti (Turkish ravioli), Turkish pancakes 15-40 TL
To say “Thank you!” Teşekkürler (written) [Teshekkurler] (spoken)
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