Mongolia Rally Diary: Cappadocia

October 28, 2012 in Adventures, Countries, Mongolia Charity Rally, Turkey

Day 24 and 25. We understood that it had to be something special on the mountain plateau – it was just too many Japanese with big cameras hanging on their chest, and the buses was lined up next to the small stalls selling colorful nips to the tourists. The heat was almost unbearable when I stepped out of the car. Here, on the edge of the mountain plateau, I saw the most amazing view I have ever seen: I had panorama view over Göreme and the special landscape with the fairy chimneys and the housed carved in stone.

We arrived early, and took some time to drive around the city before we decided where to stay. We passed by two camping sites, had a nice lunch, and we were invited for tea by an eager carpet seller. He was friendly, but persistent in his mission of selling us carpets. He told us about ancient traditions and weaving techniques, and showed us heaps of carpets which he honestly meant we really needed. A carpet in the ambulance? We resisted his offer.

We decided to stay at Panorama camping. There was a pool, lots of space and a wonderful view over Göreme. The guy who run the place was quite a character – he entertained his guests day and night, popping around and apparently never went out of energy or topics to discuss. It is a great place to relax for a few days and do everything that is supposed to already be done: write, edit photos, answer emails, and plan the next step of the route…. Things are always more time consuming than expected!

One of the most fascinating things to do in Cappadocia is the hot air balloon ride over this stone landscape which seems to be taken directly out from a fairytale. Everything in me screamed NO when the alarm clock rang four in the night – but it was all worth it! Our balloon driver Toro took us high up in the sky, where we watched the sunset rising over the mountains – with a hundred balloons in the air. A truly memorable moment! You can read more about my balloon ride and see more photos here.

The old underground cities are also well worth a visit. There are lines of tourists outside and some places you have to walk in line due to the large and countless groups that visit the deep stone caves – but it is still fascinating to see. The special stone formations here were formed by volcanic activity in ancient times, and due to rough weather conditions people in Cappadocia carved their homes in the tufa rocks, which is easily carved. They did not just build into the stone, but deep down as well. The underground city I visited went eight floors down, and the largest ones reached down to 85 meters and could house 30 000 people.

Off course I also had great food in Göreme – as everywhere else. I found a great restaurant just down the hill from the camping, it was pricy compared to what you can get in Turkey – but it had a magical ambience and tasty food including vegetarian dishes. Perfect, lazy days before heading for the next destination:  Iran – the country I was most excited to visit on this trip.

What do you think of these fascinating stone formations – would you like to visit Cappadocia?

 

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