Yesterday morning we awoke in Antalya and quickly looked at some ruins that were a few minutes walk from our hotel. We ended up taking longer than scheduled, which is typical for us it seems, so we didn’t leave till around 11am. Then it was on the road for seven and a half hours to Göreme in the Cappadocia region.
At first, I though the drive would be awful and long, but it ended up being one of my favorite days. During the drive I was able to process everything we have done so far and really appreciate it all. Plus, the scenery seemed to change every half hour, from beaches to snowy mountains (it actually started to snow) to rolling hills to flat plains.
We arrived in Göreme around 7:00pm and we checked into the Guven Cave Hotel, one of the many hotels in the town that are built into the surrounding cave walls. It’s pretty cozy. After getting some tips from Mustafa, the hotel manager, we grabbed a bite to eat and hit the hay to prepare for the next morning.
This morning we ate our traditional Turkish breakfasts, which all of our hostels have provided and consists of bread, yoghurt, fruit, fresh cheeses, homemade jams, local honey, tea, and coffee (if I haven’t explained that already). Then we drove a few miles out of town to a place called Love Valley and did some morning hiking. Göreme is known for “fairy chimneys”, which are funky looking rock formations, and for the plentiful painted cave dwellings. We climbed all over the ash-drenched hills, crawling into thousands-year old cave homes and sliding down hillsides. It was really awesome to shimmy into an abandoned room dug inside of a giant rock. But, my favorite part was when I got to visit with some local sheep and found my new best friend.
After grabbing a quick doner for lunch, we walked a few miles to the top of Rose Valley, and begun our 4 hour hike where we ducked into cave houses and crawled through rock tunnels and heaved and lifted and tugged ourselves through narrow passes and ancient doorways and prickly bushes. It was lots of fun and adventurous and all the things. We ended our hike with a great view of the sunset, which is said to be the prettiest in all of Turkey.
For dinner, Mustafa recommended a restaurant owned by his friend and we took him up on the offer to make us a reservation. We were picked up by the owner himself and driven to the location — because they said it was hard to find. The restraint was called Nostalji and it was delightful. We all opted for the set menu, which was five courses including classic Turkish dips and fresh bread, a creamy soup, salad, Turkish beans, kafta (meatballs), and, of course, baklava. Epic.
Now, I’m relaxing back in my cave. Tomorrow we spend the morning in Göreme and then drive back to Istanbul where our journey will end. I can’t believe this trip is almost over! It has truly been amazing!