The Hot Air Balloon: Remember how I mentioned in my last post about your trip to Cappadocia being considered incomplete unless and until you have seen it from all three levels- above, below and on the ground? I visited the city undergrounds with the Green tour and a lot of on-ground sightseeing within the two days of my stay and it was finally time for the over ground experience i.e. , experiencing the beauty of Cappadocia from the sky. One of the most famous things to do in Cappadocia is to take a Hot Air Balloon ride. Cappadocia is famous for having the highest average of Hot Air Balloon flights in the world. The regular rides start as early as about 4 am and the average duration of the rides is about an hour. The scenic beauty of the landscape is indisputably enchanting and provides a stunning view from the top. The most enthralling part of the ride was when I got to witness the sun rise. The sun light rose bathed in the colours of dawn and the light slowly spread across the land, uncovering it’s beauty and marking the beginning of a new day. The moment was incredibly satisfying and the feeling of being so small as I watched the giant sun rise high and mighty is something I will never forget. Due to low season and Ayse’s contact, I got a cheaper deal of 120 euro (90 £) for the morning ride. It is quite expensive for a backpacker but totally worth every penny. A must to do for when you are there.
The Sightseeing Tours: Cappadocia has a way of making its visitors feel extremely welcome. The city has made it tremendously convenient for the sightseers to enjoy its wonders even with almost no prior planning. A purely touristic area at heart; it has managed to do so in such a professional manner that one can make the most of their time with or without former planning or even in the presence of other limitations. There are various predefined tours (with mostly the same pricing) conducted by all local tours operators. I have already spoken about the ‘Green’ and the ‘Red’ tour in detail over here. A ‘Blue’ tour covers various attractions in another part of the city just like many others. Sightseeing tours are a comparatively cheaper but efficient way to explore the best parts of the city within a day. The Green tour cost me 120 TL (30 £) while the Red tour costed 100TL (25£).
The Magical ‘Turkish Night’: As I have mentioned earlier, Goreme and Cappadocia are not places to expect a great nightlife in- especially not Goreme since it’s a really small town. Ayse suggested me to attend an event called the ‘Turkish Night’ held in Avanos town. On the second evening (also my last night in Cappadocia), I planned to go there with Emma (the girl I had met at the bar the previous evening). She was joined by two of her friends. A pick up and drop service form Goreme, along with the show and dinner was a complete package of 100TL (25£). Luckily, we got a table at the front of the hall and delicious Turkish food was served to us on a fancy platter. Traditional Turkish dances, music and the famous act of ‘belly dancing’ made the evening an absolute delight. Halfway across the performance, Emma and I were pulled onto perform by one of dancers. The act ended with everybody dancing along with the performers. It was just unexpected which added to the spontaneity of the moment and made it much more fun. The 3.5hours show along with the scrumptious dinner was the best farewell I could have received from the divine city of Cappadocia.
Experiencing the Whirling Dervishes: The Whirling Dervishes is a Turkish experience which can take you to an entirely different celestial world. It’s a dance form which is good not only for the eyes but affects the heart too. It is more than just a dance form. The Whirling Dervishes is a type of prayer meditation which involves the connection of the two different spiritual worlds. Witnessing it leaves the mark of a different sort of an experience in the head as well as the heart. These performances were also a part of the Turkish night experience. Dedicated Whirling Dervish performances are performed in an ancient Caravanserai that was once used along the Silk Road. You will be left mesmerised by its location and the Dervishes as they share their religious enlightenment ceremony with you. It’s due to the beauty of these dances that they have been heavily adapted in Bollywood films as background choreography. The Whirling Dervishes is one of those things which is so ‘Turkish’ that it has to be on the list of everyone who travels to Turkey.
Hiking: For those who like to wander in the mountains, Cappadocia has a lot to offer to them. There are many valleys to choose one’s hiking destination from. Just get the food amenities and you can start exploring the endless trails of ancient caves within the valleys and get lost in time. The landscape is the biggest USP of the region and trekking in the woods with hardly any plain ground beneath you has a wild taste of its own.
Turkish Tea Drinking: Another thing which I found to be incredibly interesting among the Turkish were their Tea drinking habits. People in Cappadocia and all over Turkey tend to drink a lot of tea. A special type of ‘Golden tea’ is served in a tulip-shaped glass with the tea leaves left to settle at the bottom and two sugar cubes placed next to it which makes the entire setup pretty unique and a truly Turk Tea drinking is one of the striking similarities I noticed between Turkey and my country, India. The only difference is the tea making process which includes Indians having milk in their tea. The Turkish tea is something you just can’t ignore even if you are not the tea drinker.
Wheeler (ATV)/Motorcycle Adventures: The vibrant landscapes of Cappadocia open up a lot of opportunities for the people who love adventure sports and especially ATV driving. One can rent a scooter, cycle, ATV etc and go wander the area on their own. The safety concerns tend to being minimal but alertness is advised. There is the option of guided tours available for ATV driving but Cappadocia can easily be explored on your own unless you are short of time.
Having the Turkish Beer: After all the tiring tours and sightseeing, one deserves to be able to relax with a chilled beer at a funky local pub. Efes Pilsen is the local Turkish beer which is available almost everywhere in the country. I had the chance to have some at a small pub in Goreme on my first evening there. Efes is brewed in Izmir (another major city in Turkey). The same company is reknown for brewing International brands such as Becks, Miller, and Tubourg. Definitely worth a shot when you travel Turkey.