Sunday, August 21, 2011

Hiking in Cappadocia

(Basically, I could blog about our trip to Turkey indefinitely. Have you noticed? But don't worry, only a few more posts about Turkey are forthcoming: one about Ramadan/food, one about another overnight train ride, and one about the fiasco that was our return flight home.)

When we were deciding where to go for our summer trip, somehow the sentence "I want to go somewhere where we can just go hiking every day" was uttered by one of us. People, GÖREME IS THAT PLACE. We were there for five days and we went hiking at least once a day, sometimes twice. Some of the hikes we walked round-trip from our hotel. For a few of them, we bummed a drop-off or pick-up off the hotel minions. All of them were fabulous.

Maybe you already know this, but the Cappadocia region of Turkey is known for its "fairy chimneys" - exotic rock formations that pepper the landscape and have been carved out and used as churches and houses for centuries. When you go hiking, you hike through the fairy chimneys and explore all of the ancient houses and churches you want.

The first night, we hiked around the back of the bluff behind Göreme and then up and over it to have a view of the town at sunset.

The next night, we did Pigeon Valley. Some of these fairy chimneys appeared to still be inhabited, and there were active gardens, orchards, and vineyards all throughout the area.

You can see Uçhisar Castle in the left background of this picture. Miriam and I climbed that a few days later.

There were a few hikes we couldn't do (or couldn't do as adventurously) because of the kids, but most of them were well suited to people of all ages. It was so much fun to be outside and running around during the summer!

This hike - through the Rose/Red Valley - reminded me a lot of Petra in southern Jordan.

This is at the base of Uçhisar Castle, which reminded me so much of Syria. As well it should, since Syria is not that far away from here. I had flashbacks of exploring Saladin Castle near Lattakia. Very good flashbacks.

This is Uçhisar Castle, seen from outside Göreme. The formation is completely natural - the insides were hollowed out to make extensive warrens of rooms and passages. It was quite a neat place, and when we explored it, Miriam and I may or may not have pretended to be people from the olden days who lived in the castle.

Another night, another hike. We were laid-back about the pace on this one and just explored any of the caves we took a fancy to.

Uçhisar Castle, again. I really like castles.

So yes, Göreme was a great success, filled with just the activities we wanted for our summer travels. The town was small enough that we got to know our way around very quickly, and you've already heard about the fantastic cave hotels. We were hoping to go horseback riding, which is another popular activity there, but they told us the kids wouldn't be allowed to ride, so that will have to wait a few years. Hot air ballooning is another big draw, but we were on the fence about doing it and then spent that hypothetical budget on our unexpected hotel upgrade, anyway.

If I have any complaints about Göreme - and I do - they are nothing too serious. I mentioned it was a small town, and as a result, it doesn't absorb the number of tourists it attracts very well. There were a ton of foreigners there, and it was obvious. Also since it's such a small town, it was difficult to get past that touristy facade. What services there were catered to the foreign crowd, to the point that I had to pay the equivalent of $4 for a small bunch of bananas - at the local greengrocer! They must have tiered pricing, or else the locals drive elsewhere to do their shopping. It was the same at all the shops - $1 for a single can of pop, $2 for a bottle of water, $8 for any kind of decent (and sometimes not decent) restaurant meal - and there was no escaping it, because that's all there was, and there was nowhere else to go. That grated on me by the end, but bleeding cash is the nature of a family vacation, I suppose.

Anyway, we loved Göreme, loved the hikes, loved the scenery, loved our cave hotel - Cappadocia WIN.


Kathy Haynie said...

Wow. This is amazing to me. I always think of hikes as having rushing streams and Douglas fir trees. Thank you for the wonderful photos - what a great way to spend some vacation time!

Anonymous said...

I love that second to last photo, beautiful! I would love to travel to see such old castles and caves.

Linda said...

Yes, thank you! I have never seen such formations! I love that people have and do live in the natural castles! wow.

Sarah Familia said...

What a beautiful place. And fascinating. It totally looks like the kind of place that ought to appear on some planet in a Star Wars movie.

MoiraGallaga said...

Fantastic place, definitely going into our list of places to visit. Thanks for sharing this and for the very useful information you have provided.


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