Turkey

A taste of Cappadocia

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Welcome to Cappadocia

Last week I spent a fantastic few days in Cappadocia, central Turkey. I’ve already written a couple of posts on what I did there – notably staying in a cave hotel, taking a flight in a hot air balloon, and eating a fair amount of Cappadocian food – but since it’s not an area of the world that a huge amount of people go and visit, I thought I would write a little bit more about it.

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Getting home

I got back from Turkey last night after a fabulous ten days there. But it’s reminded me of how mixed my feelings can be whenever I come home to London. On the one hand, there’s the sadness that you’re leaving – but on the other hand, the excitement of seeing people you’ve missed, and happiness if the trip that you had been planning for months has gone successfully for the most part. Or by converse, in the unlikely event that a trip abroad hasn’t gone as expected, there’s the relief that you won’t have to see X ever again – whether X be a disliked fellow traveller, a destination that didn’t live up to your dreams, or a particularly unpleasant restaurant owner. Anyway, here’s a roundup of some of the things that struck me this morning. (more…)

Hot air ballooning in Cappadocia: Third Time Lucky!

The reason why most tourists come to Cappadocia is to ride on one of its magnificent hot air balloons over the stunning volcanic rock formations. We weren’t sure when we arrived whether we would choose to go in one as there are other ways to explore the surrounding countryside, and the hot air balloons are both expensive and potentially dangerous. However, on our first morning I set my alarm for 6am and dragged my tired self out of my cave room and out onto the hotel terrace to be greeted with the truly extraordinary sight of around one hundred balloons gently drifting through the valley, in silence. It was a majestic sight as the balloons floated along, occassionally peeping in and out of the rocks without a sound, and I made my mind up to get onto a balloon in some way, leaving aside all niggles about safety and cost.

Dawn balloons on day 1

Dawn balloons on day 1

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Cave Hotels: Interesting places to stay (#1)

In Cappadocia, we stayed for three days in a cave hotel. This isn’t in itself surprising as the town of Goreme is entirely made up of cave hotels, but it is the first time that I have stayed in such a place – and to be honest, I haven’t seen any other ‘cave hotels’ advertised anywhere else in the world. The town is built on a hillside with many natural caves: some of the hotels make use of these, others have carved their own rooms out, and some of the cheaper places have built cave-lookalike rooms out of stone. Because of the steep slope of the hillside, most of the hotels end up looking as though they have several stories – our hotel (Turquaz Hotel) was fairly small but still had three levels, with a couple of rooms on each level. The rooms were a mixture of real cave and imitation cave, but even so it was a real experience to sleep – and even shower – in a cave!

Turquaz Cave Hotel

Turquaz Cave Hotel

Have you ever stayed in a cave hotel, Cappadocian or otherwise?

Turkish Food 2: Cappadocia

As we get to the end of our stay in Cappadocia, I have discovered some more Turkish cuisine specialities…

1) Pide

Also known as “Turkish Pizza”, this fast food is sold in cafes and restaurants all round Turkey. Its shape is different to Italian pizza – instead of being round it is long and thin, and shaped like a boat. I’m actually not a big fan, as I find them rather greasy, and the toppings are uninspiring – melted cheese and minced meat are the norm. They’re a bit like a bad Dominoes pizza (the dough texture is similar), but they are good for a quick snack when you’re peckish. However, I’d pick an Italian style pizza over them any day!

2) Testi Kebab (more…)