The best decision we made during our trip to Turkey was to visit Cappadocia – although it didn’t seem that way on the drive from the Kayseyi airport to Goreme. On a freezing winter morning, the outskirts of Kayseri took on a depressingly Soviet feel. Empty streets, save for the odd hunched over old lady walking to who knows where. But an hour later, as we approached the town of Goreme, we realised we were in a pretty magical place. Part lunar moonscape, part star wars. Rocky barren hills covered with thousands of the most striking large rock formations, looking like something out of a Doctor Seuss book.
These crazy “fairy chimneys”, the products of limestone, volcanic ash and erosion, are what makes this part of turkey famous. For thousands of years people have lived, eaten and worshiped inside caves hollowed out of cliffs and rocky spires.
We spent Christmas day in a cave hotel, a fantastic hotel called Kelebek. As it was a special occasion we splashed out and got a cave suite – a lovely three rooms, including a sitting room with working fire place, and a bathroom with a spa. It was bitterly cold at night, well below freezing, so sitting around the fire i our snug cave was perfect.
The highlight of the trip to Cappadocia was an early morning balloon ride on christmas day (also my birthday). Silently floating above the snow covered rocky landscape was one of those things you’ll always remember. I thought it would be mildy terrifying, but it was the opposite, graceful and calm. To top it off, champagne, mulled wine and birthday cake greeted us on our disappointingly easy landing a local field.
The balloon ride wasn’t cheap – $200 for 60 minutes in the air (or somewhere around that), but even if you are backpacking, I’d recommend as a highly worthy indulgence.