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The region of Cappadocia in Turkey, has an incredibly strong sense of place.  By this, I mean that yo never really forget that you are in Cappadocia, and this is a good thing.  It is basically like being in the town of Bedrock from the Flinstones.  You are surrounded by stone spires or “Fairy Chimneys” of various sizes jutting out of the ground and mountainsides.  Most of the larger of these contain caves that are or were at one time inhabited.  Most of the hotels, including ours, are build inside of caves.  One of the first recorded uses for the caves though, was for early Christians to hide in, in order to avoid persecution.

On Nejat’s recommendation, we stopped at the Ihlara Valley on our way into town and we were glad we did.  It is a huge gorge on the outskirts of Cappadocia proper.  We spent an afternoon hiking down down into the gorge and along the river, visiting caves that contained ancient churches, many of which were painted with beautifully preserved murals.

One of the most popular things to in the region is hot air balloon flights and after some deliberation, we decided that we really didn’t want to miss the opportunity to do something that we probably would never have a chance to do again.  So we woke up at 4:30am and were picked up by a van that took us to get some breakfast at their ballooning headquarters.  We went with three other couples out into the desert to our ballon where we met our amazing mustachioed pilot Ecrument.  We gently took off just before sunrise and Amanda who was slightly terrified at first, thought that the whole ride was remarkably smooth.  We went up to 2500ft and flew over many different landscapes, rock formations, and cave homes.  The pilot was so skilled that he was able to take us almost within touching distance of the tops of the rock formations, before gently floating over them.  After a magical hour we descended and then had a champagne which is apparently a tradition after all hot air balloon flights.

As luck would have it, our friends Bryant and Mary from San Francisco were visiting Turkey at the same time and there would be a day of overlap in Cappadocia!   We decided to go explore the underground cave city of Kaymakli together.  We were amazed to learn that the city was 8 levels deep and up to 3500 early Christians lived there in hiding!  They built ingenious systems of ventilation shafts that helped bring in fresh air and vent out cooking smoke without giving away their location.  We crawled through kitchens, living spaces, wine making rooms, storage rooms, and chapels.  We had a fun time climbing through the windows, ramps and tunnels that connected all of the different chambers.

After the cave city we went with Bryant and Mary to a winery, then to the Goereme Open Air museum which has several large cave churches and murals, and a hike through “Love Valley” to see rock formations with interesting shapes.  Then we went back to their beautiful hotel in a cave overlooking the town.  We drank the bottle of wine we had bought earlier and watched the sun set over the rock formations in the valley.  After grabbing a delicious dinner,  we went down into town to get some raki (Turkish version of anise flavored liquor) and an apple flavored Hookah.  We were sad to say our goodbyes, and we wished we had another day to explore, but we felt like we had crammed a lot into two and a half days.  We headed back up to our cave and went to sleep.  The next morning we were up at 5:45 am so we could catch our flight to Istanbul.

  • Enormous Flock of Birds on the way to Cappadocia
  • Driving to Cappadocia
  • Mosques in the Foothills of Cappadocia
  • Turkish Cell Phone Tower
  • Romantic Couple in Turkey
  • Hike Through Ihlara
  • Cave Church
  • Spooky Amanda
  • Stuck in Turkish Traffic
  • Cappadocia-10
  • Cave Hotel in Cappadocia
  • Early Morning Start
  • Getting Ready to Launch
  • Lasy Minute Preparations
  • Getting Ready for Takeoff
  • Balloons at Sunrise
  • Sky Full of Balloons
  • Flying Over Cappadocia Caves
  • Higher!
  • Must Climb!
  • Sky Full of Balloons
  • Sun and Balloon in Cappadocia
  • Balloon Sunrise in Cappadocia
  • Adam and Amanda in Cappadocia
  • Sunrise in Cappadocia
  • Balloons at Sunrise
  • Amanda in her Basket
  • Close Call
  • Adam and Amanda in Balloon
  • Balloon and Sunburst
  • There's Something on My Camera
  • Cappadocia Rock Formations
  • Balloon From Above
  • Getting Ready to Land
  • Flattening Out the Balloon
  • Champagne With the Hot Air Balloon Pilot
  • Cave Cities in Cappadocia
  • Amanda in a Hole
  • Bryant at the Cave City
  • !!!
  • Exploring the Caves with Bryant and Mary
  • Statue Amanda
  • Amanda in the Caves
  • Adam in the Caves
  • Bryant in the Caves
  • Amanda in Another Hole
  • Ancient Air Conditioning
  • Ready for Sacrifice
  • Rock Formations with Bryant and Mary
  • Rock Formations in Cappadocia
  • Delicious Salad in Cappadocia
  • Satellite Dish in Cappadocia
  • Sunset in Cappadocia
  • Cave Stucture
  • Rock Formations in Cappadocia
  • Sunset in Cappadocia
  • Glass Windows
  • Cappadocia at Night
  • Cappadocia at Night
  • Hanging out in the Cave Kitchen
  • Coffee With Balloons in Cappadocia
  • View From Our Hotel Restaurant

Posted: December 6, 2012

Author: Adam and Amanda

Category: Blog, Continents, Middle East, Turkey

  1. dylan says:

    The balloon trip in Cappadocia was definitely one of my all-time travel highlights! I had been to Cappadocia a few weeks before my girlfriend came to meet me in Turkey. We took a late night bus to the area so she couldn’t really see what the area looked like. I had already booked a balloon trip before we got there without telling her, and she was pretty surprised to hear knocking at the door at 4:30am, and was more surprised when she actually saw the landscape from the balloon! What an awesome, awesome place!!! (I also picked up a fantabulous Persian carpet there)

  2. Adam and Amanda says:

    Very cool! Glad you had such a good time there too! I had no idea there was a UFO museum there. Did you go? Oh wait… maybe I did. Was it just a cave with a tree in front with a bunch of weird alien things hanging from it?

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