As much as I try, it is impossible for me to describe Cappadocia and do justice to its beauty, so I'll just say that if you ever have the chance to visit there, don't even think twice. Just go. Or better yet, fly. Although the night bus experience wasn't too bad, I can't really recommend it, unless you're really cramped for time (or money).
Cappadocia is known for its unique rock formations and landscape, and it's unlike any other place I've visited so far.
We arrived in Urgup around 8 AM, and we were soon checking in at the wonderful Serinn hotel, which, as it turned out, was the best hotel experience we've had in a long time. I'll be raving a lot about some of the hotels we stayed in during this trip, but the Serinn was definitely at the top of the list. It is a small boutique cave hotel (meaning that the rooms are carved inside the rocks, which is typical in Cappadocia) and decorated with excellent taste and comfort in modern design. More importantly, Eren and her staff will receive you like family and you'll feel like you're at home from the first minute (Hi Eren, hope all is well and again thank you so much for everything)
Oh, and Findick as well, of course (how could I forget you, Findick ?). You all know how partial I am to cats (and I haven't even told you about the cats in Turkey) but if I had a dog, I'd want one just like Findick (pronounced Fun-duk, and that means "hazelnut").
So we arrived quite tired from the bus ride, but a nice breakfast in the terrace with a lovely view restored our energies and were were ready for our first day in Cappadocia. We had decided to rent a car in Urgup, drive all the way down to the Antalya region and then up to Izmir where we would drop it off. I researched a few options but in the end decided to make the reservation through the Argeus agency in Urgup. Their service is very good and reliable, they will take care of everything and have the car delivered to the hotel as well.
Despite all the warnings about driving in Turkey, and having survived the experience, I think it's the best way to travel (outside of the great cities) and if you follow a few rules there won't be any problems. Red lights and stop signs are often disregarded, so look carefully both ways whenever you're at a junction. Also, it's common for cars to signal to the right when in fact they will turn left, and they frequently use the road shoulder to let you pass (which is actually a good thing). Here's a good page with an accurate summary of Turkish driving habits but don't let it scare you too much. We found it very safe to travel in Cappadocia, Antalya, Pamukkale and even Izmir (which is as big as Lisbon and with quite a lot of traffic). The only deterrent to renting a car in Turkey might be the gas cost. It is very expensive (more than in Portugal, and here it's considered quite expensive) but having a car will enable you to reach places you would otherwise find difficult to get to.
All that said, our first stop that day was the Goreme Open Air Museum. It was not very crowded so we were able to enjoy the caves and frescoes inside the churches. It's a must visit, and it took us a couple of hours to explore everything.
After that we went to Goreme (the village) in search of the Alaturca restaurant, famous for its anatolian cuisine.
It's located right there in the centre, with very inviting puffs to sit in the garden and lovely views of the village from the terrace. The mixed mezes were delicious, A. tried the traditional manti (ravioli with yogurt sauce) and I asked for the anatolian kofte (meatball).
After such a hearty meal, we were more ready for a nap than anything else, but before that we drove to nearby Uchisar which has great views all around.
We were dead tired by then, so we went for that nap (zzzzzz). Before going out again we chatted more with Eren and her friend from Istanbul (Eren, I can't remember her name, but please tell her we said 'hi'), and it was the first of many times that I felt we should've stayed longer. Two days was definitely not enough, I think not even one week would be enough to enjoy it properly.
It was almost sunset, so we drove to Pasabagi valley, home of the fairy chimneys and an amazing place to watch the sun going down (the chimneys are on the left side, but for the sunset show climb up the ridge on the right side ... take a seat on the floor and then just wait)
After that magic, we took Eren's suggestion and headed down to Mustafapasa (known as 'Sinasos' in Greek) for dinner. It is one of many Greek villages in Turkey that was abandoned at the time of the population exchange between Turkey and Greece. We didn't have time to visit the village properly, but I wish we could've seen the old churches and the hidden valley (oh well, I guess this means we'll have to return soon).
Eren had recommended the Old Greek House and I'm so glad we followed her advice. This restaurant/hotel served us one of the best meals of our trip, and we enjoyed it so much that we returned the following night. A word of advice: they have several fixed menus, but each one is just way too much food for only one person. So for two people, for example, it's better to ask for one menu and another side or main dish. Trust me, it will be enough. Our favorites were the lentil soup (deliciously spicy) and the guvec (stew with eggplant and meat, so tender that just about melts in your mouth). And for dessert, their special baklava. Also here at the Old Greek House I met the most adorable kitty of all, but I'll make a separate post about that next.
- all Cappadocia photos
- Goreme Open Air Museum