Cappadocia – a different planet?

After our lazy vacation along the mediterrean coast, Scott and I were recharged and ready to explore the unknown in Turkey! Our next stop was the historical region of Cappadocia, a land that…well… we didn’t know anything about and were simply mezmerized by.

To give a very brief history, Cappadocia is located in the very center of Turkey and has the craziest terrain that I have ever seen. Basically, volanic eruptions occurred millions of years ago, resulting in white ash, mud and lava spewing all over a plateau, creating mounds of sedimentary rock. After years and years of weathering as well as a river that once cut through the mounds/mountains/whatever you call it, you get something that looks like this:
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crazy right? yup. here’s more:
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INSANE! what are these things? When you see it in person, you just think that you are on another planet. Which only makes it fitting that George Lucas filmed a scene from Star Wars here! More on that later =)

Okay, it get’s even crazier. PEOPLE LIVED HERE. In caves. There were kitchens, dining rooms and even wineries. They also cut churches out of rock.
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Oh and yes, at times they lived UNDERGROUND. I’m talking 60 meters underground with sophisicated defense systems, air vents and tunnel connections. I see remnants of buildings, temples, cities, etc in every country we visit that were built hundreds and hundreds of years ago and I just am in awe of human intellect.

Feel free to call us the flintstones from now on because we stayed in a “cave hotel” which was really cool! This was our hotel:
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And this was the view from our hotel:
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We stayed in Goreme, around the corner from their open-air museum. This place was great because it gave you an authentic representation of what life was like in the 10th, 11th and 12th century.

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We saw preserved frescos
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And um, yeah preserved skeletons…?

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Cappadocia is full of hiking trails. We often went for long hikes, just exploring the valleys and plateaus all around us. Our minds couldn’t comprehend the crazy nature all around us!
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One day Scott and I did our usual routine – rent a scooter and explore the town.
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Our first stop was Derinkuyu, the largest underground city in Cappadocia. This city went down as far as 13 levels and housed over 20,000 Christians that were hiding from Roman persecution in the 5th century.
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Now, I will admit that I am slightly claustrophobic. It isn’t so much being in a small place, it is the fear of feeling/being trapped. If there is an exit available to me then I don’t panic. But In order to see this city, we had to go far underground. To make things worse, the exit and entrance was one very confined tunnel and I had to follow a line of mass tourists that took their sweet time getting through. Nonetheless, I was determined put aside my fears and went in…
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Boy was that a mistake! I got through it but I will admit that I had minor panic attacks going through the tunnels. Finally when we were 5 stories underground and tourists were shouting at each other in a confined room, I panicked completely had to get of of there ASAP. I felt bad depriving Scott of real time to explore Derinkuyu, but he did a great job of supporting me the whole way through. Even though the experience was terrifying, I don’t regret doing it at all.

We then drove to Ilhara Valley, one of the most beautiful valleys in the Cappadocia region. You can spend a whole day exploring beautiful nature entrapped in this Valley.
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While the day started out beautiful and sunny, the weather turned nasty in our time at Ilhara. Before we knew it, we were taking shelter in a rock-cut church to avoid a massive downpour.
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It finally stopped raining for 20 minutes and we took the window of opportunity to hike out of the valley quickly. We didn’t even have jackets and knew we would have a miserable 1.5 hour drive home if it was raining the whole time! We spent 20 minutes driving around in the pouring rain going to markets and asking if they had large trash bags. They had never even heard of such a thing.

So, we decided to outrun the clouds. Scott rode as fast as he could and soon enough the grey clouds were behind us and we dried off eventually.
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It felt good to be back in the sun.
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We took different roads coming back and ended up at the location where a scene from Star Wars was filmed. Don’t ask me which episode… Maybe episode 3?
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Scott was driving down a dirt road and we noticed a big “rock” in the middle of the road. Turns out it was a tortoise trying to cross. Scott decided to help it by picking it up and placing it on the road divider. The turtle promptly, turned around, got back on the dirt road and even walked around Scott’s bike to make a point. Apparently he was doing just fine on his own.
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We ended our time in Cappadocia with a bang – a hot air balloon ride! Neither of us had done it and were a little terrified, but it is one of the most memorable things I have done on this trip:
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There are multiple hot air balloon companies in Cappadocia that offer rides at sunrise. I have never seen so many balloons in the air at the same time. I still can’t decide if it was the balloons that impressed me more or the terrain. What I do know is that the combination is something you only see in Turkey…

I learned quickly that Turkey is brimming with rich history in any city you visit. I would like to return to Turkey and visit a few more cities because if they are anything like the Cappadocia region, they are definitely worth the visit.
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4 responses to “Cappadocia – a different planet?”

  1. Anonymous says :

    So amazing! I am in awe of all the travel you have done and all the amazing history you have experienced. To touch the world as you have done is a gift.

  2. Nancy Everson says :

    Incredible. You two continue to look amazing. Stay safe.

  3. Anonymous says :

    OHG, 7 Months in and the two of you look happier than ever. How cool is that. And on top of that, major cute!!!!! Love from the “77” Dad and Pam

  4. TAN says :

    I know where I want to go hot air ballooning now!

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