At 6AM, the first things you notice when you arrive in Goreme (in the heart of the Cappadocia region) are the tens of balloons hoovering over the city and the valley. It is so much magical that I have decided to follow the advice of many people I have met on my trip and go for a ride before leaving from here.
The second thing you notice, and you cannot really miss it, are the hundreds of houses carved in rock mushrooms spotted with doors and windows around which the town has developed, albeit in a more traditional architectural style.
And as Petra should not be reduced to the Treasury (what you saw in Indiana Jones), Cappadocia is not just Goreme but a very large region with great landscape, interesting architecture and a very interesting history. Cool rock formations, fairy chimneys, cave houses, churches and even whole villages carved in the mountain, underground cities, valleys and canyons are scattered over the region and offer countless hours of exploration for hikers and sightseers.
Some tourists think it can be visited in one day. That is true you can see a lot in a day but you are merely brushing the surface if you do so. This place definitely deserves more time.
But as a start, the day tour providing an overview of the region is perfect and it is what I did today with Stewart that I had joined as planned this morning at the hotel. He had booked the tour yesterday evening and I just tagged along ;).
The most interesting part of the tour was definitely when we explored the largest underground city. It is eight floor deep! It has very narrow passageways equipped with large rolling stones that were used to shut close the city in time of raid.
It is quite mind boggling to learn that the two first floors were dug by the Hittites around the XIIth century BC and that the city was extended by the Christians that used it to protect themselves against the Romans and then against the Army of Islam. There were up to 30 of these underground cities! And the one we visited was linked to another main one by a 9kms tunnel!
An added value to keep in mind is that joining an organized tour is always a good way to meet other backpackers that just arrived in town too. I have kicked myself for not doing it more often earlier in my trip – especially in Egypt but I guess I was also more courageous then 8). Of course, it sometimes does not work out and you do not meet anybody you get along with.
This time though, it worked out quite well and we met a bunch of nice people: Jess and Hana (Aussies), Sandy (Kiwi) and Sivan (Israeli). Jess and Hana are leaving tomorrow so we just hung out tonight. We had dinner and found a cool pub called Flintstones Cave. Like most, make it all, of the Aussies I have met on this trip, they worked in England for a while as part of a long trip.
Cappadocia seems like a wonderful place to linger and explore, I plan on staying for several days.