Friday, 25 March 2016

Memorable short stay in Cappadocia

Cappadocia needs no introduction as one of top tourist spots in the world. Our trip to this unique place helped us understand why. Volcanic eruptions created this surreal moonscape: the lava flows formed tuff rock, which wind and rain sculpted into sinuous valleys with curvy cliff faces and pointy fairy chimneys
It was our first stop in our trip to Turkey and was a great curtain raiser to our 3 week trip to Turkey and Greece.

We travelled to Cappadocia through a connecting flight from Istanbul. The closest airport is 41 km from airport to Goreme , a town in Cappadocia. Once you outside the airport you are surprised by the lack of stereotypical buzz you associate with an airport, especially of a  famous tourist destination. We struggled to understand the options available to us to reach Goereme. Taxi drivers approach you with an offer and there are buses that run from the airport too. We opted for a taxi and were poorer by 200 Turkish liras. Negotiate harder than we did and I am sure you can get a better deal. Arming yourself with the info on options available at the airport will help you further. There is death of info offices, information leaflets etc. on the airport.

You are likely to enjoy your ride from airport to Goreme. The roads are good for most of the journey and flanked by some sprawling plains with mountains in the background; painting a pretty picture.The quintessential chimneys showed themselves us as we approached Goreme.

Stay in a Cave Hotel- Its not surprising that this makes up for a good spot for hotels to set themselves us because the rooms are literally carved out from solid stones. Cave hotels, as they are called, are famous in this part of the world. We stayed at Divan Cave House. The hotel does offer a unique experience because as oppose to artificially created thematic rooms this one is authentic to the core.

ATV tours- Our first activity of the trip was ATV tour of the chimneys and boy did we enjoy it. There are many tour operators in the main market and offer around the same packages.

Word of advice : your ATV ride will take you through dusty tracks and you want to make sure that you have something to cover your nose and eyes with - handkerchief and shades respectively. It seemed our clothes got heavier from the amount of the dust it accumulated :)
We were fortunate to see a spectacular sunset against a unique landscape.

Try A Pottery Kebab-After the tour, late evening was spent  strolling the markets and feasting on  an authentic Turkish dinner.

Goreme Open Air Museum.- A World Heritage site, has the best collection of chapels and living quarters, most dating to around the11th century.

The quintessential nazar trinklets ( Evil eye pendants) are everywhere to be found in Turkey. And here is a tree that had these for leaves and fruits. It is almost a tradition to visit this tree if you are in town. Hope our visit to his place will ward off the evil.

Take a Green Tour-The beautiful Ihlara Canyon, also known as the "Valley of the Sky", which lies about 100km distant is the main destination of this tour.

Special thanks to our driver and guide, Ilmaz, who made this half day trip so memorable for us. We hired his taxi for 300 Lira for a trip to and back from Ilhara Valley. Hardly did we know we are getting such a colorful personality to join us on this trip. What is most surprising is that he could not speak our language but his spirit lifted ours too.  He made multiple stops on the way, we handpicked strawberries and apples made random stops to take pictures- all in all money and time worth spending. 
There are one day tours by bus,taxi will cost you more but if you believe journey is more fun than the destination, then hire a cab. Try looking for Ilmaz in the taxi stand in the central market of the Goreme :)
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We strongly recommend having a meal in  restaurant in the picture below purely for its unique setting. We liked what we ate and the price was reasonable too.
Underground City
Entry fee of 20 Lira per person will take you to this famous tourist attraction. No offense to the place but we went in and came out within 10 minutes. We were offered a guided tour for 60 Turkish Liras which we refused. I guess without the tour you will not make much sense of the place. If you are into such things, i suggest that you take the tour.

Good start to the trip so far. Looking forward to the hot air balloon ride next morning- should be fun :). 
Update- Read about the hot air balloon ride here .

Wednesday, 9 March 2016


Karaköy is the modern name given to a portion of the old Galata neighbourhood.It is now the  trendiest part of Istanbul , dotted with cafes, art galleries, and hotels. It has also been Istanbul's all time favourite musical instrument shop district. Hundreds of colorful graffiti, vintage shops,art all around make Karakoy a really cool place. 
We stayed at Karakoy at an apartment booked through Airbinb - you can check out the rooms here.
A stroll in this area,followed by Turkish breakfast at a cafe with grapes hanging on meshes that covered some narrow lanes; all making it an incredibly cool start of the day.