Cappadocia, Turkey

The bus system in Turkey is great. You can google that all you want and you will get the same response. Trying to organise outside of Turkey, however is a different story. We eventually found out that unless you have a Turkish credit card, it is a non starter. But once inside, book your ticket a day before directly at one of the Otogar Stations and you are good to go. And there are quite a few companies to go with. From Bodrum to Goreme (Cappadocia) we went for Kamil Koc. You soon learn it’s pronounced (Kah-mil Koch). Either way our bums were sore after sitting on it for 14 hours. But it was to become our bus company of choice. They are a bit more expensive but the service is brilliant and although no toilets on board, they stop every couple of hours. Top Tip: make friends with the steward on board, they look out for you all the time, love to practice their English, and when the time comes, the will wake you when you need to get off. Highly recommended.

When we drove into Cappadocia at dawn, it was incredible. There were over 50 hot air balloons floating through the valley surrounded by the unique rock formations. We were already in love with the place. We walked the 3 minutes from the bus stop to Emre’s Stone House, our abode for just one night. It was very early and we had not the best night night sleep so we had a quick shower, shared an omelette and we were on a tour for the day, organised by the hostel. Not just any tour, another special tour. We stopped for a quick photo of the three sisters before we adventured into an underground city, near Mazi, built by the Hittites. Most people go to another underground town but this was all ours and it ran 7 levels deep. We wondered how you get about the town, but our question was soon answered. A flashlight was handed over and we pretty much turned into Indiana Jones. The first doorway consisted of a rolling stone trap door. There were tunnels everywhere and after a description of the different rooms, including the Kings room that even had an escape tunnel for him to ride a horse through.

From there, the real tour started. We were told we would follow a path that the Hittites would have done if they were being attacked. We ran through a tunnel (it was at this point we realised these Hittite folk were a wee bit smaller than I) and as we made to next room, we were pointed out another trap door and a further tunnel that we climbed up to see a gap where we could of speared our attackers. Cooool. Next up, was up. Up a hole about 3 metres high. One at a time we clambered up using the footholes worn in from thousands of years ago. Then the hard part. Another cave, vertical and about 12 metres high. Sarah went first and I went last, which was an eerie experience being alone in the dark. We climbed and clambered until we made it back on the streets of a village. Nobody would have realised that through one small arch was an entire city. Happy and dusty, we sat down at a tea house for some apple tea.

Back into the van and while driving along a non descriptive road, we pulled up. Just off to the right were some steps into the rocks that had been carved into a monastery. Again, we got our clambering boots on and wandered up the mountain into all the rooms. As we wandered back down to the road, our guide said.

“Left is China. Right is Constantinople. That is the Spice Road.”

It was on this road where we had lunch in the small village of Soganli. The food was amazing and location was pretty nice, amongst an apple orchard alongside a river. From there we drove to Sobesso’s Ancient City, where only a few years ago, a farmer unearthed some ancient tiles that led to an entire ancient village. It was quite cool as you walked up as on the left was ruins of a bath house and the right was the farmers crops being irrigated. We then wandered through the Valley of Imagination to look at the different rock formations that resembled with a bit of imagination things like Snoopy’s Face, Napoleans Hat and a camel. It was quite rushed as halfway though, people in headsets told us to leave. We then stumbled upon 6 actors getting makeup as a small helicopter rose from the rocks and Bollywood music blasted from somewhere. We then saw the main actor, high up in a cave posing for his dance scene. Will keep an eye out for the one when it hits the box office.

We had just enough time for a quick meal before climbing the rocks above Goreme to see the sun set on a great day.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA4:30am was our start time this morning. We had walked only a couple minutes of our 15 minute walk to watch the hot air balloons and sunrise when a small dog noticed us, ran over and decided he wanted to watch the sun rise too. More dogs joined our team and by the time we reached our view point, seven dogs had joined team Balloon Watch. The other six dogs were big and weathered from their hard days on the street and didn’t really seam to like each other as the kept fighting around us. Our first friend (Baxter as she was now know) was the smallest but after Sarah mentioned she wasn’t comfortable with the other dogs, Baxter turned and yelled at the other dogs and chased them away. The three of us watched the seventy odd balloons float through the valley as the sun finally rose to warm us up. Baxter then made sure we got home safe by walking us to our front door before giving us a look to say goodbye before she trotted off for her next adventure.

There was enough time for a few hours sleep before we were picked up by Erhan from The Dalton Brothers Ranch for a 3 hour horse ride. (We knew we should have packed our Jodpurs) The ranch house was a former century church carved into the rocks, and it was here where we were given our amazing hairnets and helmets before meeting our horses, Ruzgar and Ceylon. Sarah was on Ceylon, an Arabian Grey that looked just like her old horse Magic, while I was on Ruzgar, a 5 year old Anotolian, native to the area. It turned out to be one the best rides we have ever done. We wandered through the different valleys, through canyons, up mountains, through vineyards below cave churches. The views were absolutely incredible. It was only on the way home where we broke from a walk to gallop through the valley towards the ranch. We finished with an apple tea amongst the chickens, geese and dogs, vowing to return to do one of the multiple day rides.

We had a traditional Turkish lunch of Manti, dumplings in chilli oil with yoghurt (amazing) from Emre’s House before throwing on our backpacks and jumping on another overnight Kamil Koc to Cannakale for our tour of Gallipoli.

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