Goreme, Cappadocia, Turkey – 2019 – Day 4

02/16/19

We had continental breakfast upstairs and it features an outdoor terrace with a lovely view. We aired out our clothes from last night on the balcony but alas, the smell of smoke fumes wouldn’t shake off. The weather was crisp settling around -1°C and maybe went up to 3°C. Having the sun out helped but when you weren’t in the sun, you could sure feel the chill in your bones.

We booked the Green tour for the day with pick up at 930AM. We had Rafiki aka Sunny as our tour guide. We booked with Woop Woop Travel. We paid 35 euros for this full day tour. The tour goes from 930AM-6PM that includes lunch, english speaking tour guide, hotel pick-up/drop-off. On the Green tour we visited:

Göreme Panorama – All the tour vans were here bright and early. The view was very nice as the sun peaked out. There are a few spots that are the best angles for shots including one on an almost round rock. The rock formations were great places to hide. These formations are formed similar to the sediment of the grand canyon and took millions of years to create the rich formations.

Onyx Jewelry Factory – I guess every tour has an obligatory stop at a factory that sells products the country is known for. We are obligated to purchase anything but we did look around. We left the factory and walked across the street to Pigeon Valley.

Pigeon Valley – Pigeons were used as messenger pigeons for the longest time. This valley is especially known to have them as they would fly between certain homes depending on the painted colour outside. Today, you can still see the huge amount of pigeons (and even feed them) but the valley is gorgeous to look upon.

Derikuyu Underground City – We went about 55M deep into the 80M deep tunnels. There are labyrinths of underground tunnels. They also have sliding doors and make the tunnels tight so enemies can only attack one by one if they break in but then they get kebaped. They only lived in the tunnels during dangerous times that could range from 1 week to a month or two. They would send signals to other cities of enemy attacks from the tunnels; they would set fire signals at the top of the castles. There are also no possible earthquakes in Turkey so theses tunnels remain. The tunnels are also quite temperate with a average temperature of 13°C and also was cooler in certain areas so no modern fridge was needed. We were able to go down 7 floors and at certain points, the tunnels were really tight and you had to be in a crouched position to walk through.

Ihlara Valley hike – It is the second largest to the Grand Canyon. It’s the deepest gorge in Turkey.

And last but not least Selime Monastery – It is a rock-cut monastery with the biggest religious buildings in Cappadocia. There are also monk and kitchen sections carved out in this into the rock. It also served as a fortress like structure and also inhabited camels at one point in time.

I have to say my favourite was the Selime Monastery because it was for the most part empty and climbing rock formations are always fun.

We got back to the hotel and just tried to recharge a bit and journal before we went for dinner. We went to One Way Cafe & Restaurant where you have the option to be seated lower to the ground on beanbag chairs and a low table. I ordered the Lamb pottery plate (35TL). It was actually very light and so good. We ordered some ice cream and banana with nutella crepes to end off the night.

 

Istanbul – Goreme, Cappadocia, Turkey – 2019 – Day 1-3

02/13-14/19

In Transit days – Toronto – Kyiv, Ukraine – Istanbul, Turkey.

We started with a 9-hour flight with Ukraine Airlines from Toronto to Kyiv, Ukraine as our 3-hour stopover before making it to Istanbul, Turkey. We didn’t realize there was no entertainment unit or plugs available so that was a bummer. We were talking to each other about what seat preference we like and I said aisle and she said window – we got neither. The plane was an older model but it was 2 seats, 4 seats, 2 seats layout.

It was a long flight (9-10 hours) but at least we had a 3-hour layover in Kyiv, Ukraine. We did however find the mobile plug charging station and setup camp with my Mogics power bar and from there, we made friends sharing outlets. Lukas (from Mississauga) & Glenn (from Bradford) became our instant friends. And it turned out they were seated right behind us for our flight to Istanbul. Our flight to Istanbul got delayed about 30 minutes. Super foggy in Kyiv.

We arrived at 1130PM and our plan was to purchase a sim card at the airport because we wouldn’t have enough time to purchase one before we had to get back to the airport the following morning. The only place open at that time was Vodafone and we ended up purchasing 1 sim card that had 100 minutes, 100 SMS and 7GB data for 280TL ($70.50CAD) which was more expensive than we thought it would be. This was the cheapest option and all the other phone places were closed. We purchased one and would hotspot it. The only thing is we purchased it so late and we wanted to go to our hostel but activation took over an hour and half. We walked around and walked to the metro to see if we could purchase and Istanbulkart but also learned the metro closes at midnight. We finally caved and got into a cab where they guy wanted to charge us 40TL ($10CAD) but we talked him down to 30TL to later realize the ride should have cost around 19-25TL.

We stayed at Han Hostel North for the night. A very simple yet secure hostel about a 10 minute drive from the airport. We had a flight the following day around 115PM so we didn’t bother going further than we needed to for the one night.

02/15/19

We went to bed around 130AM and I thought I would sleep through the night but I was wide awake by 4AM and tried to sleep a bit longer. Woke up, showered, had breakfast at the hotel – continental breakfast – lots of cheeses, meats and dried fruit. We walked around a bit and stopped by Reisoğlu Börek and picked up something that resembled cheese and lasagna like sheets of pasta for 7TL. The person serving us didn’t speak English so they kept saying yedi which means 8. We should really know the numbers for pricing.

We walked back to the hostel to eat it and then walked around the hostel during the day to see what it offers. There is laundry, a fitness area and balconies on all floors. We took some photos on the 4th floor then packed up and called for a cab using the Bitaksi App. We made it to the airport where we had to line up to even get through the entrance where we had to go through security and then walk through again to domestic where we went through security 1-2 more times before making it to our gate. The line to even get into the airport entrance was out the door.

We flew with Turkish Airlines and the flight just felt so much better than it was with Ukraine Airlines. The flight lasted about 1.5 hours and we also got a meal on it. We arrived at Kayseri Airport where we had already arranged for a picked up by our airport transfer van that took us another hour to get to Göreme. We stayed at Heybe Hotel. It is not a cave hotel but it is still a wonderful hotel on the main street and because it was down season, we were able to reserve a suite room for only $70CAD/night. We really enjoyed having that extra space which technically could accommodate a third person. We spent majority of our time in the living room area as our hangout spot.

When we arrived, we met with Omer at the front desk and booked our Green Tour for 35 euro and Red Tour for 30 euro as well as booked our return airport transfer. . Our airport shuttles were booked paying in euros. 6 euros each way per person.

We put down our things and walked around. We didn’t get far when a gentleman named Ikrim stopped us on the street and asked us to come see his new store – Kervan Carpet which we agreed to see. He had just moved a few stores down and wanted to show us his work. You will notice that people will be inviting you into see their stores and they will offer free tea and whatnot. You are not obligated to purchase anything.

We continued walking around and ended up at Galerie Ikman – a Carpet shop that is a very famous spot for people to take their instagram photos with all the rugs. PLEASE PLEASE BE RESPECTFUL. This is a working establishment and you must pay to take photos inside (or purchase something). If you are alone and ask one of the staff to take your photos, please make sure you tip them – it is not their jobs to take your photos.

*Quick photo tip – If you come when the sun goes down, the no-roof carpet room will be all green coloured due to their lights and not optimal.

We ended up meeting Sergio who is 5th generation and his father Süleyman who introduced us to the rich history of carpets and the many techniques. Each carpet has a story behind it. The people who are looming or weaving the carpets put their emotions/feelings and all that energy into each carpet, which can take a short period of time to 5-6 months to make one carpet. In the end, Amanda ended up purchasing a lovely carpet. Since we went in down season, they lower their prices so they are still able to sell carpets to make ends meet and cover the electricity bill and employee wages.

Sergio had told us that the cafe beside called Pasha’s Cafe has a live band Friday-Sunday and we should check it out so we had dinner there. We got the Pasha’s Kebap – fries with beef, peppers and sour cream with some salad on the side (60TL) and some local wine (25TL). And I have to say; the staff there and the live band were all beautiful to look at. Turkish people just have amazing facial structures and very symmetrical. The food was good. The music was good with performers using electric drums, keyboard, violin and another instrument that looks like a zither.

It was this night that we realized that everywhere we went in Cappadocia and especially in this restaurant, all our clothing smelled like smoke and fumes.