Cappadocia is a place that has to be seen to be believed. Words cannot explain this spectacular moonscape with history dating back to the 6th century. Just about an hour flight from Istanbul, Cappadocia is a must see as part of a Turkish vacation.
We flew into Nevsehir, and took a cab to Goreme where we stayed. One of the most unforgettable part of this trip is the hotel we stayed at- Cappadoccia Caves and Suites. Yes, it is an actual cave artistically designed into a boutique hotel. We had not seen all the pictures while booking the place, and were pleasantly surprised to find a whirlpool spa and a turkish hamam. The rocks in the region are soft and easy to carve into, and thousands of years ago were home to people fleeing religious persecution. While the idea of people seeking shelter in caves is not a foreign one, the level of sophistication of underground cities in Cappadocia is startling.
The hotel staff was very helpful and arranged a car with a driver who took us to all the places we wanted to see. Our first stop was the underground city of Derinkuyu. I just could not believe how they constructed such a well planned city with 8 stories underground at that day and age. There were cathedrals, wells, ventilation, kitchen and specific areas for cattle. Over 10,000 people lived there. They designed escape routes and each story had a large stone wheel lock that was put in place in case of an attack. This city is also connected by an underground passageway to another underground city about 10 Kms away. Caves also protected from weather conditions by providing cooling in the summer and warmth in the winter.
We walked around the fairy chimneys that are made out of volcanic ash carved by wind and water. Similar formations, also called Hoodos, can be seen across Southwest USA.
I learned pottery at Avanos from the experts! They teach you for free but get all your money in the next room where they sell some of the most beautiful handcrafted souvenirs.
I cannot think of a better location for a hot air balloon ride than Cappadocia. Soaring slowly over the pink landscape with hundreds of colorful balloons around you while the sun rose, was just magical! They take you in a van to the area where you can see the set up and the balloon being inflated. There are many hot air balloon companies in the area. Hotels usually call and make a reservation for you. The hard part for us was waking up at 4:30 am, but the experience was well worth the effort:)