Some time ago, I saw a picture of a magical place that seemed to exist only in fairy tales, or on a different planet. Hundreds of hot air balloons flew in the sky, people built their homes in the caves and decorated them with colorful hand-woven carpets. They spent their evenings by a fireplace listening to the sound of crackling fire and drank red wine. Every morning with the first rays of burning red sun they took herds of lambs to the pasture in the fields and rocky mountains. They lived in valleys surrounded by stones of ethereal conical shapes. I could never imagine that this place is real and that someday I will come to visit it.
This place exists and it is called Cappadocia. So a few weeks ago my husband Vitaliy and I booked our flights to Turkey. Then we didn’t know that our journey to this magical place would be the best one of our lives.
When we came to Cappadocia, I felt that I was carried away to a different epoch of some hundreds of years ago. It seemed that everything remained the same, except for some minor changes that are required for any town in a modern country.
After we landed at Nevsehir airport, we went to the most beautiful town, called Goreme right away. This is where one can watch dozens of hot air balloons flying high up in the sky during the sunrise.
We stayed in a hotel that had the most scenic terrace on its rooftop, which was lined with carpets hand-woven with ancient patterns. This was a perfect place to have breakfast watching the balloons in the sky.
Cappadocia was love at first sight, and I found at least 15 reasons to fall in love with this region.
Days in Cappadocia begin early. Everyone wakes up between 4 to 5 am to see the miracle of the balloons flying up in the sky and the first rays of the sun coming out from behind the mountains. Grey shades of the earth and the mountains become colorful as if the sun has painted them in beige, pink, terracotta and golden yellow. The new day full of emotions and adventures begins.
Hot air balloons
One after another giant and colorful hot air balloons take off to the still dark sky and start flying above the valleys. They fill up with air and fly up very high. And then they go down and fly above Goreme almost touching the rooftops. Sometimes they fly so low that it seems that one could stretch out his hand and touch the hand of the person who is flying above in the basket. The round giants appear from behind the houses, hissing like snakes and inhaling burning hot air to continue their journey to another valley.
The history of Cappadocia begins earlier than 5000 BC. Throughout the centuries this region was influenced by different civilizations. It was a part of Hittite, Persian, Roman and Osman empires and was a battlefield during numerous wars. Every period of the region’s history left an imprint on its culture.
Over thousands of years, water and wind were shaping Cappadocia’s rocky landscape, which created the natural canyons, and mountains resembling chimneys, columns, pyramids, and towers out of the earth. The landscape was used to build monasteries, dovecotes, and houses. During the period of early Christianity, underground cities were that went down to eight storeys.
Cappadocia is a perfect place for travelers who love hiking, extreme motorbike and ATV rides, and romantic horse back riding. You will be impressed with every valley’s beautiful and surreal landscapes.
Love Valley is Cappadocia’s landmark. As a result of a volcanic eruption, soft rocks crumbled and the hard ones remained standing. The eruption formed the rocks that resemble giant phallic symbols.
Red and Pink Valleys appear like Martian landscapes in shades of red and pink, and are known for their monasteries carved in the rocks.
Another valley is called Pigeon Valley and it has become the home of hundreds of pigeons from several centuries ago.
A journey to Cappadocia will make your Instagram look amazing. Every house, street, wall, bench, tree, cave, rock, watermelon is created to make your Instagram feed look unique and trendy.
Cappadocia is a land of magic carpets. They serve as a decoration in interiors and exteriors and can be seen everywhere. Some of the carpets are 250 and more years old and they were brought from all over the country. Every carpet has a hidden message embedded in its patterns that resembles beliefs, hopes, joys and sorrows of the women who weaved them.
Cappadocian cuisine mainly consists of meat, vegetables, and bread. This region is also well-known for pottery, therefore many dishes are baked crock pots. The most famous dish is Pottery Kebab that is made of lamb, pearl onions, garlic, pepper, tomatoes with local spices all cooked in Cappadocian pottery.
Cappadocia is a winemaking region and its history goes back more than 7,000 years. Shiraz, Cabernet, Chardonnay, Merlot and many other wines are produced here.
Local people in Cappadocia are very nice, friendly and hospitable. Although English is not widely spoken, they are very willing to communicate and help to get around. Everyone who works in tourism speaks very good English.
I could really feel that people who live in Goreme truly care about their little town. They keep it very clean and decorate streets and exteriors, making it look very authentic.
Goreme is a place where one can meet the most stylish and creative travelers, who come there for inspiration and aesthetics. The most famous travelers like Leahliyah, Jack Morris from @doyoutravel, Lauren Bullen from @Gypsealust, Tuulavintage have also visited Cappadocia.
There are two hammams (Turkish bath) in Goreme. One of them is stylish, luxurious, perfectly serviced and the second one is public. I chose to attend the public hammam, hoping to meet local people and experience the culture. It is divided into two parts – for men and for women.
This hammam is not fancy, but I was able to meet some girls from Saudi Arabia. We were talking about families, jobs, traveling while we enjoyed a cup of apple tea together. Where else could this possibly happen?
Cappadocia is a very romantic place. Couples from all over the world come here to spend the most adventurous, romantic and unforgettable holiday in their life. Some couples come here to celebrate their wedding.
Cappadocian nights are cold, dark, quiet and calm. It seems that the black sky descends at night and one could touch millions of stars.
Useful travel tips:
How to get there: There are two airports in Cappadocia – Nevsehir and Kayseri. You can fly there from Istanbul with Turkish Airlines or Anadolujet. It is best if you order a shuttle bus directly to your hotel. Usually, hotels take care of this upon request.
Where to stay: There are many traditional hotels built in the caves. I loved Sultan Cave Suites the most. It is a wonderful boutique hotel with a beautiful terrace on its rooftop, great breakfasts, amazing staff and wonderful traditional rooms. The room we stayed in was over a thousand years old.
Swimming pools: There are swimming pools in these hotels: Celebek Cave Hotel (near Sultan Cave Suites), Local Cave House Hotel, Goreme Anatolian Houses, Doors of Cappadocia Hotel, Shoestring Cave House.
Scooter and ATV rental: Hitchhiker
Best restaurant: Seten Anatolian Restaurant
Hot air balloon flight: The best company that operates hot air balloon flights is Butterfly Balloons. This is a boutique company, they have smaller baskets and British pilots.
The best carpets are Sultan Carpets
And the best place to take photos with carpets is Galerie Ikman
Wearing: Natasha Fishchenko
Location: Goreme, Cappadocia, Turkey. Sultan Cave Suites hotel.