Once I got Cappadocia into my head, it was very difficult to get it out. The fact that our travel dates kept moving for one reason or the other did nothing to keep me calm. But to contain my excitement, anxiety and whatever other feelings I had, I spent one too many evenings finetuning our itinerary and daydreaming about visiting this place.
I could hardly contain my excitement as our travel dates drew nearer. We had planned to spend 5 full days in Cappadocia and I planned to make each day count! I read up as many travel posts as I could find and eventually drew up an itinerary I was pleased with.
Fast forward to a lovely September day, we descended into the gateway city of Nevşehir, after a long travel day from Nairobi.
Day 1 | Arrival in Cappadocia
The flight to Istanbul from Nairobi currently leaves at 4:25 am which meant that we had to be at the airport sometime past midnight. Needless to say, when we finally arrived in Turkey, we were both spent! We passed through immigration quickly since the domestic transfer line was much shorter than arrivals into Istanbul and got to Cappadocia after a one hour flight.
After picking up our rental car from the airport, we drove for another hour to Goreme and checked into the Osmanli Cappadocia hotel for our first two nights. Then we took a walk to see some parts of the town and grab dinner at the Topdeck restaurant.
While researching places to eat in Cappadocia, this restaurant came highly recommended and we enjoyed dining here. Our appetizer was something called Meze – this didn’t sit right with my taste buds, however, our main dish was good and the price was very affordable.
We ended our first night in Cappadocia shortly after, tired but excited for what the next few days had to offer.
Day 2 | Balloon Watching, Galerie Ikman, Pigeon & Love Valleys Hike
For our first full day in Göreme, we woke up early to watch the hot air balloons fly from the terrace of our hotel. When the dawn began to light up with orange sparks, I lost all composure! It was all I could do to contain my excitement at the sight of the first balloon taking off into the sky!
Shortly after, a hundred others followed suit and it was a truly magical sight to watch them float so gracefully as the sun rose.
This was the first flight in three days and we were fortunate to enjoy the views on our very first morning. I also remember commenting to Mark about how gracious all the guests who came out to the terrace were. Everyone was having a good time, watching the balloons, taking photos and just chilling. It was a really great experience!
After breakfast, we left the hotel for the next stop on our itinerary which was a photoshoot I had booked at the Galerie Ikman Carpet Shop. Although I have read that the experience here can be a hit or miss, I had a fun time and was happy that Mark agreed to feature in a few photos. 🙂
Afterwards, we moved on to an activity he was more interested in – hiking in the valleys. Hiking is one of the best ways to see Cappadocia and if you can, you should certainly try to fit it into your itinerary. There are several hiking trails to choose from and over the course of our stay, we got to explore a few of them.
Our first route was the hike to Love Valley through the Pigeon Valley and I quite enjoyed it. The trail offered some stunning views of Cappadocia’s landscape and it was more of a gentle walk with a few slippery spots that shouldn’t cause any worries.
It took us about 5 hours to finish the hike but this included numerous stops for pictures, cafes for tea and a stop for lunch at the Seki Restaurant. Ideally, without the stops, the hike could take about 3 hours, depending on your fitness level and the weather.
In September, when we visited, the weather was quite cool but the sun was scorching in the afternoons. We managed to get by just fine but enjoyed the hike more when the sun was down.
We returned to our hotel after a good outing, freshened up and headed to Dibek Restaurant for dinner before calling it a night.
Day 3 | Rose & Red Valleys Hike
The next day, we received a message from Voyager Balloons that the hot air balloons were cancelled for the day. We had originally signed up for a standard flight (i.e. 20 people in a basket) on this day and even got an upgrade to an ultra-comfort flight (8 people in a basket). With the balloons being cancelled, our flight was automatically rescheduled for the next day but we lost the upgrade.
Anyway, with the balloons being cancelled, we moved on to other items on our itinerary, which included having breakfast in Uchisar and hiking the Red and Rose Valleys.
Initially, I had included Meskendir Valley in this route but I’m so glad we left it out because this particular hike was exhausting! Once we were done, I swiftly removed all other planned hikes from our itinerary!
But to be fair, hiking the Red and Rose valleys was not all bad. My favourite moment was when we stopped to have a cup of orange and pomegranate juice at a cafe near the Hacli Kilise Church. Had the owner not pointed this 9th-century-old church out to us, we might have left the area without seeing it.
After spending some time in the area, we looped back to the trailhead and headed back to Goreme Town to check into our next hotel – the stunning Local Cave House.
I enjoyed our short stay in this hotel and I loved that the management was kind to decorate our room after I informed them that we were on a belated honeymoon.
In the evening, we proceeded to have dinner at the Pumpkin Goreme Restaurant & Art Gallery. The restaurant serves a three-course set menu, consisting of the soup of the day (we had pumpkin and lentil soup), the main dish (we ordered the testi kebab and lamb), deserts (baklava, icecream & fruits) and endless cups of tea.
We thoroughly enjoyed dining here, the meal was splendid and the service was great (I even got a little gift from them) and with that, we ended our third day in Cappadocia.
This is the first part of a two-part Cappadocia Diaries series. The next few posts will cover the rest of our time in Cappadocia and Istanbul, as well as a cost breakdown. So, stick around!