Hi, guys. Sorry if this blog entry came in a bit late. I’ve gotten too preoccupied lately with work, and I’ve been busy preparing for my next travels. Nonetheless, I think that sharing my experience in Cappadocia, Turkey is something that I’m sure you wouldn’t want to miss. So, here goes.
Just right after my Greek getaway, where I spent most of my time island hopping and beach bumming, I immediately set sail on yet another adventure – this time, to an entirely different destination. CAPPADOCIA!!! Wow… that is all I can say when we finally see Cappadocia with our own eyes.. the crowning jewel of Turkey.
Cappadocia is among the few parts of Turkey that are very famous to hardcore travelers and celebrities alike. It is well-known for their fairy chimneys, breath-taking rock formations, underground caves, and valleys that resemble an artistic painting in motion. But more than the astonishing glamour of Cappadocia, what truly attracted me into visiting this place was their world-renowned hot air balloon flights – a feat that has long been entered in my bucket list. Just in case you want to know why, these vibrant air giants are flown daily throughout the year by the hundreds, ranging between 150 – 300 depending on the weather. They are simply jaw-droppingly delightful to watch both from the ground and in the air. TRULY MAGICAL – and this is why you need to visit Cappadocia!
I am very excited to share my many memories of Cappadocia and the many firsts for me during this Turkish getaway. And if you want to know how to get the most out of a 5-day trip, keep reading for more…
HOW TO GET THERE
If you’re a Filipino traveling to Turkey, you will need a Visa prior to your arrival in Istanbul. But, worry no more! It’s very easy to apply for a Turkish e-visa online if you have active Schengen, US or UK visas. It only takes two minutes to fill out the application form and you’re guaranteed to receive your e-Visa within hours. You may check the link below to learn more about e-visa application: https://www.turkeyvisagov.com
The best way to get to Cappadocia is through Istanbul. And while there are many airlines to choose from, my airline of choice would have to be Turkish Airlines. The flight from Istanbul to Kayseri was just a brief 1 hour 15 minutes; and the flight package ranging between 4,000 to 7,000 pesos roundtrip was all worth the comfort.
From Kayseri, I took a cab that cost me around 2,000 pesos one-way going to Cappadocia. It’s a surreal 1 hour and 10 minutes ride from Kayseri Airport, with no traffic congestions, and you get to enjoy the view of the town while on the road.
But here’s a tip if you’re working on a budget. Taking a bus would normally cost only around 500 to 600 pesos per passenger per way same if you’d take a shared van. Or for your convenience, you may also contact your hotel to arrange your transfers.
WHERE TO STAY
As you may have already known, I’m a bit picky when it comes to making my selection of hotel accommodations. Before making any booking, I always see to it that I do my research first to see the best hotels and spots to stay where ever I go, only to make sure that I’d be staying in a clean, cozy and opulent space all throughout my vacay. To put it simply, the hotel should fit my taste at the very least.
There are two good places to stay in Cappadocia. UCHISAR, which is less crowded, offers the best view of the landscapes and rock formations of Cappadocia. It is also there where you will find the famous Pigeon Valley, the Open Air Museum and the prestigious Uchisar Castle. And then, there’s the main tourist spot, GOREME. Here, you can enjoy the wide selection of shops, restaurants, cave hotels, activities and many more. It is also in Goreme where you will find the splendid Love Valley and Rose Valley, among many others.
For me, the best hotel in Uchisar would have to be Taskonaklar Hotel (www.taskonaklar.com), which was awarded/included as one of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World. The hotel boast of its great view of the remarkable landscapes of Cappadocia; and, if that would not be enough, their traditional Turkish Breakfast is nothing less than amazing and is a definite must-try.
The most lavish and best room in Taskonaklar is their King Suite. It is a totally legit cave suite with jacuzi at the balcony. It offers an unobstructed view of the Cappadocia terrains; and even the suite, in itself, is already Instagram-worthy.
I spent three days in Taskonaklar; most of the time, either enjoying the astonishing view of the hot air balloons during sunrise, or bumming around my king-size bed, or taking a brisk walk to Pigeon Valley, which is, by the way, just a few minutes away from the hotel. Taskonaklar offers nothing but pure relaxation at its finest to all their ever-deserving guests. For rates and booking, please visit their website at www.taskonaklar.com.
My accommodation in Goreme was, just like in Uchisar, nothing less than EXCELLENT.
Artemis Cave Suites (www.artemiscavesuites.com) may not be the most elegant of hotels in Goreme; but, I liked everything about the place, most especially the personal touch of the entire hotel staff to their guests. I even personally met the owner MetMet, who made sure that my stay in Artemis was made comfortable, and that their hotel exceeded every expectations of all their guests.
Everyday was magical in Artemis because anywhere around the hotel’s aerial view, you’ll get to see hundreds of balloons flying almost everywhere. Among these air floaters were Artemis’ own hot air balloons, which are the most colourful and most beautiful of all – the Butterfly Balloons. And since the hotel is strategically located at the heart of Goreme, any guest may wander around the town at their most convenient time, and find themselves in nearby shops, cafes and restaurants.
What made it even more special was that the hotel arranged everything for me to help me maximize my time and total experience. Not only did they provide me with a list of top activities to do, and guided me on the best dining and tourist spots in Goreme, they also arranged my transport back to Kayseri Airport. They even own some of the most Instagrammable places in Cappadocia like the Sultan Cave Suites and the Sultan Carpets, where you can take photos to your heart’s desire at no extra charge.
It’s a bonus that the hotel was not too expensive, and they even generously serve their guests authentic Turkish breakfast buffets daily, which were embedded in their rates. For booking and inquiry, you may check their website at www.artemiscavesuites.com.
As i mentioned earlier in the introduction, an escape to Turkey will never be complete without the actual hot air balloon ride, which costs around 180 to 200 USD per person. This may be the only thing in Cappadocia where you’ll be compelled to spend much; but, trust me, the adrenalin rush was guiltlessly worth every penny spent.
Should you wish to take on this extreme challenge, you will need to wake up first as early as 3AM. This should be enough to get you set before the tour guide picks you up at 4 in the morning to take you to where your balloon will take off.
You don’t even have to worry about your morning meals as light breakfast, free flowing coffee, biscuits, candies and some local treats were already prepared for you as included in the package. And just in case you worry about your safety, the balloon ride is 100% safe. Plus, not only have all their pilots undergone intensive training and certification, they have been practically doing these for decades. Trust me, you are in better hands with these fellas, more than your ex, hahaha.
And once the balloons take off before sunrise, between 5:15 to 5:20 in the morning, everything that your eyes will see across the horizon will leave you speechless. You’ll even forget that you’re hungry, or that you’re heartbroken or single for that matter… haha…
Another activity that I enjoyed in Cappadocia was getting lost by foot in Goreme’s UNESCO-protected heritage sites. There, I was able to try on a wide selection of local restaurants and cafes, go window shopping in their vintage carpet and lamp shops, and even enjoy people-watching while sipping on my favourite cup of coffee.
They also have their very funny ice cream vendors, who are now YouTube sensations in their own rights. Not only were their antics worthy of capturing on video for your personal Vlog, their traditional Turkish ice cream can surely sweep any sweet-tooth’s feet off and make them crave for more. My personal favourite is the Pistachio flavor – yummy!!
Aside from strolling around the streets of Goreme, another activity I enjoyed was the half day ATV tour. For just 40USD per person, you may get to visit all 7 valleys of Cappadocia; including my personal favourites and the most Instagrammable valleys of all – the Love and Rose Valleys.
You may also consider venturing on a camel ride at the Monks Valley and taking photos with the camels. This will definitely give a different flavour to your IG portfolio, especially if you are willing to shell out extra cash for that perfect instagram shot. This was not among my favourite activities, though, as I found this quite boring and exhausting.
But if there’s anything that I would truly recommend, should you wish to simply bum around in your hotel, that would be to enjoy your Turkish breakfast every sunrise and indulge yourself with the spectacular view of the hot-air balloons while relaxing at the comfort of your own balcony and enjoying the feels of being in quite a different world or dimension.
There’s a limitless variety of activities and places to visit in Cappadocia; unfortunately, I didn’t have that much time to do everything. I heard that the horseback riding, a visit to the underground city and Uchisar Castle were a definite must-do in Cappadocia; too bad, i missed them. At least I have something to look forward to on my next visit.
It was very hard for me to leave this magical place and I had an immediate sepanx the moment I stepped in my cab going to the airport. It’s like leaving someone whom I have fallen so strongly in love with. But, I’m planning on visiting Turkey again in the winter to experience the country on an entirely different color and season, and then completely fall in love with it over and over. But for now, I’m proud to say that, with my amazing week-long Turkey adventure, another tick-box on my bucket list has been checked.
Thanks for reading. Till my next trip