Red Eye Bus to Cappadocia

Trip Start Sep 21, 2010
Trip End Oct 07, 2010

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Flag of Turkey  , Cappadocia,
Saturday, October 2, 2010

Yesterday we had a lazy beach day in Cirali and hung out at Hotel Canada. We then drove our Fiat to Antalya to the bus station (or Otogar). Our hotel in Kas had made our overnight bus reservations for our trip to Cappadocia. Antalya is a pretty big city and this was the most interesting driving and the only time we had any screaming going on the car.  At one point I ended up driving in circles stuck in a  round-about (which are everywhere in Turkey) much like the Clark Griswold ("Hey look kids, there's Big Ben, and there's Parliament).

But we made it to the bus station safely. We had made arrangements to drop off the rental car at the station. And by arrangement, I mean the guy we rented the car from that spoke no English had told us his friend would meet us somewhere at the station (there is no rental car office there). We were a little worried about finding the "friend" but after we had a quick dinner he was magically waiting by the car.  We tipped him, even though we are never really sure when to tip in Turkey, as I don't think it is there custom.  They must really like Americans for this reason.

Now onto the overnight bus. It was about a 10hr ride from Antalya to Goreme with two 20min stops. No WC on the bus and you had to pay to go at the stops.  This was a large mystery to use, because if you pay to go to the bathroom you expect a quality experience.  However, all we got were stinky bathrooms, with eastern toilets, and no toilet paper. The bus itself wasn't too bad and we were all able to get a little sleep. We even got a chocolate covered twinkie during the ride from our "bus attendant" who wore a tight shirt with intensely gelled hair and bow tie as if he might start stripping at any minute.

We arrived in Goreme (a region of Cappadocia in central Turkey) around 6:30am and a van picked us up to take us to our hotel. We arrived just in time to see the first hot air balloons of the morning. This is one of most popular areas in the world to go on a hot air balloon ride and we have our's scheduled for Tuesday!  To see these balloons floating around an ancient city that is literally covered with "fairy chimneys" or monoliths that rise from the ground and almost all of them have windows, doors, and pigeon houses carved into them, was surreal.  The monoliths were created by the slow process of erosion that eats away volcanic soil. We arrived at our hotel, Sultan Cave Suites which is the best hotel we've stayed in by far and was just in time for breakfast.

A quick note on Turkish breakfast, it is one of the highlights of our trip!  It is definitely not a traditional American breakfast with bacon and eggs.  Hard boiled eggs, fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, cheese, fruit, lots of different breads, and olives. Nutella (chocolate and hazelnut spread) is also available and we've had may discussions as why we can't get this at home. The best part about Sultan Cave breakfast is the dried figs and fresh honeycomb. And of course, hot tea and coffee, our fuel for the trip.

We were able to check into our rooms at 10AM so we stowed our stuff and headed out for the day. Also a quick note about our rooms: they are built into caves in the sides of the monoliths.  It is crazy!  They can feel a little cool and dusty, but it is worth it.  Overall, they are very comfortable and stylishly decorated. 

We first walked down to the Goreme Open Air Museum which has a lot of cave churches with beautiful well preserved frescas dating back to the 11th and 12th centuries. This was an beautiful place but we found it very crowded and not one of the highlights (but worth going).  It was a little strange to walk straight up to the frescas in the ancient chapels with no railing or glass to protect the drawings.  Often, I would look down to see that I was standing in a tomb that the early Christians had build into the entrances of the rooms around 1000 years ago.

Next we headed out for a hike.  Hiking in Goreme is always an adventure in that there are very few maps and you get different directions from everyone you talk to (so we can't blame Anne Van for the crazy hiking this time).  We asked directions for one of the valleys we were interested in and headed off in the wrong direction and straight up hill for about 15 minutes.  We corrected our path and headed down the hill to a shorter hike.  Along the way we met Magpie, a young, tan colored dog that showed us the way.  The street dogs here are really sweet and easy to get along with.  When we turned around to leave he passed out in the bushes and we said goodbye.  Afterwards we headed to a restaurant on a terrace from some messe and Efes.  We bought some Efes and Marmara beer and headed up to a large ridge that overlooks the city for sunset.  Incredibly, Magpie the dog came running up to great us.  We were probably about 3 km from where we had hiked and couldn't tell if this was a coincidence or he really missed us and found us Incredible Journey-style. We then ate at a place called Sedef that ended up being a great meal.  So great in fact, Chris and I referred to it as "So-def".  This town is really small and easy to explore.  

We ended the evening chatting with the Sultan Caves owner, and staff over a few Efes with a incredible view of the fairy chimneys, and sleeping town below.
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