We left Antalya on an overnight bus, bracing ourselves for another long, hot ride. The bus tried to drop us off before our ticketed destination – a warning I had read about – but luckily there were these two German girls on our bus who wouldn’t have any of it and forced the bus to drive to the proper stop. Nine hours later, we arrived bright and early in Goreme, a little town in Cappadocia known as the “cave city”. The town is built in and around high honey coloured rocks and cave formations that make up the Cappadocia landscape. The lunar topography is right out of a sci-fi movie and is made out of volcanic ash moulded by millenia of rain and flowing rivers.
We stayed in the Oriental Cave hotel (review on Trip Advisor), a spacious, cavernous historical hotel with a lovely rooftop terrace, many oriental rugs and a very cute kitten named Susu.
The hotel manager was super nice and arranged a bus tour for us. For 60TL we booked a full day tour with Insider Tours. We had such an amazing guide – he was so passionate, knowledgeable and hospitable – and he would address the tour by saying “dear friends” – I’ll always remember him!
Our first stop was the cave town of Selime, once used by the Selcuks as a check tower and refuge. We roamed around and explored the caves and saw how they had carved out various rooms and crevices for cooking, storing food and dining.
Most impressive were the domed churches, chapels and basilicas that were carved into the caves complete with columns and painted frescoes.
In the afternoon we hiked through the very pretty Ihlara Valley. Once a retreat for Byzantine monks, we saw how they had carved churches into the cliffs that lined the valley.
We rested on some tree stumps by the river and took a break, welcoming the freshly squeezed orange juice to quench our thirst.
The hike ended by these little tea huts where we had some delicious lamb stew for lunch. I love Turkish food so much! I don’t think I’ve had the same meal twice throughout our entire trip.
Our last stop of the day was the Underground City, which was SO cool. There are 7 levels of underground tunnels, but only a few accessible to the public. The network of tunnels were carved out by the Byzantine Christians during the 6th and 7th centuries. They acted as a refuge for the Christians from the Persian and Arab armies, and they would live in them for months at a time. We had fun clamouring through all the winding tunnels, imagining what it must have been like to live down below.
There was even a graveyard in the Underground City (so creepy!) and I sat in an empty grave for the full experience. We also passed through a baptism area where you had to circle through a tunnel seven times to cleanse yourself of the seven deadly sins. I’m all good to go!
We passed through little town of Uchisar where we stopped at a precious rock & jewel factory. I was more interested in the view then all the expensive stones.
That evening we had an absolutely amazing dinner – check out this leg of lamb! The meat just fell off the bone and into my mouth. I think we’ve consumed an entire lamb on our trip. Our delicious dinner was topped with a gorgeous view of Goreme at night.