I arrived at Kayseri airport at about 10pm on a domestic flight from Istanbul. It’s quite a small airport so I got through quickly and found the transfer bus that my hostel ‘Stay in Peace’ had arranged for me. It was a bit less than an hour drive to Goreme in Cappadocia, where the majority of tourism for the area is centred, and where my hostel was. Along the way I was surprised to see snow-capped mountains on the horizon.
I checked in fairly quickly despite a slight discrepancy in the quoted price of the bus, but they eventually gave me the rate they had quoted – 25 lira. By this time it was almost 11:30pm and the entire town looked very dead. It was off-season so it was very cold and nobody was around. I hadn’t eaten since lunch so I was starving and could really use a beer.
Walking down the deserted streets I eventually heard some music coming from down the road. On further inspection I discovered a restaurant called ‘One Way’ that was still open and had a live band playing! What a God-send! I settled in at a table on my own and warmed up while having a beer, then ordered some Turkish cheese pancakes that were only 10 lira. The restaurant was quite busy but it seemed to all be local Turkish families and I couldn’t hear anyone speaking English, so I decided to keep to myself rather than disturb a family dinner. I had another beer and listened to the band for about an hour before heading to bed.
After the free breakfast in the morning I embarked on the ‘Green Tour’, for 100 lira which includes lunch and all entrance fees. There are two main tours in Cappadocia, referred to as the Green and Red tours, each covering 5 or 6 popular activities. I mainly wanted to see the underground city of Derinkuyu and the ancient monastery that inspired scenes in the first Star Wars movie, which were both included in the green tour. Firstly we headed to Pigeon valley viewpoint to take photos, and then to Derinkuyu. The entrance goes down some stairs from a small square building with a single door that gives no indication of the 12-storey deep caverns that lie below. One Pakistani couple stayed behind as the claustrophobia scared them, but the rest of our group, consisting of a few Turkish couples, a Russian couple and a Sri lankan, all went in.
Our guide explained in both Turkish and English the history of the caves and tunnels and how they were originally just accommodation, living space and storage but were eventually used to hide from enemies during war in 2000BC. We went down as deep as the 8th level, exploring kitchens, churches and even underground cemeteries. I pretended to be dead in the cemetery and asked a Russian girl to take a photo of me but it didn’t come out very well on my rubbish phone.
After about an hour underground we headed out into the sunlight and drove off to see Selime cathedral, which is the oldest cathedral in Turkey and the inspiration for scenes in the first Star Wars movie. It’s absolutely incredible how the people back then managed to carve an entire cavernous complex into the mountain side and it’s lasted all this time. While some of it is admittedly crumbling, most of it remains almost perfectly intact. There are lots of hidden dark passages to explore and secret pieces which I loved. After an hour or so of exploring those we left to go get lunch at a nice Turkish restaurant which had the most amazing coffee and great traditional food and then did a short walk through a beautiful canyon.
We headed home soon after that and me and a Sri Lankan guy on the trip went for a beer at ‘One Way’ before getting dinner and watching the live band.
In the morning me, the Sri lankan and a Malaysian guy headed up the hill to check out the balloons but for some reason there were none. We stood around for ages waiting for them to come up but eventually someone told us they had supposed to be on one but they were cancelled because of too much wind. Still, we got some nice photos from the hill and then headed back to the hostel for breakfast. After breakfast my new friends said their goodbyes and headed off on the red tour and I stayed behind at the hostel as I had to get to the airport at 2pm. Around 11am I walked up to a nice restaurant with a beautiful view over the whole of Goreme, where I had a coffee and a beer before walking to a nearby food stall for a ‘Gigkofte’ – a type of vegetarian kebab.
Around 2pm I left for Kayseri airport to fly to Istanbul and get my connecting flight to Dubai.