Wednesday, April 6, 2016


April 6-9, 2016

We left Istanbul for a 1 hour and 20 minute flight to Nevsehir airport. We arrived safely and while Shaun was picking up the rental car Paige, Jordan and I were watching for our luggage. The airport is small but still as efficient as the Istanbul airport.

We hopped into the car and headed to Göreme to find our hotel (El Nazar Cave Hotel - We drove for 45 minutes before arriving into Göreme. Our first view of the fairy houses was breathtaking.

first glimpse of the fairy chimneys made up of sedimentary rock and volcanic material
more fairy chimneys
Upon arrival into Göreme we drove around (eventually having to stop for directions) and finally found El Nazar Cave Hotel up on the hill overlooking the town. We spoke with the reception lady, filled out all of the necessary paperwork and were directed to our suite. The sleeping area was added on in 1928 but the cave bathroom (jacuzzi tub included) dated back (we were told) 60,000 years. I cannot confirm this but it certainly was amazing to see.

We did notice bits of rock falling in the bathroom and in part of the room throughout our stay. I am uncertain if it was a result of heat/moisture created by people or if it was a natural phenomenon. Jordan was thrilled to have a tub as we have been without for over a year.

our cave bathroom, jacuzzi tub included

view from the bathroom into the sleeping area
this is the rooftop terrace where we were offered a beverage as a welcoming gift
The following morning we decided to talk with the office and find out what the best sights were for us to visit. We decided to walk the 15 minutes (in reality it was 30 minutes) to the Göreme open air museum (well worth the walk). As we walked up the street we passed ATV business's and horse back riding tours touting their wares. Upon arrival to the museum we mistakenly walked through the tourist shops and got wrangled into having the girls put on a camel without negotiating a price........ Never again....LOL.

Once past the camel man we made to the ticket window. We decided to purchase a museum card that allowed us to visit several of the ruins and museums for 45 TL each (Jordan was free). This card has a time limit of 72 hours and a limit of one entry per place. Definitely worth it.

If you are traveling for a longer period throughout Turkey it is advisable to get another museum card that is 50 TL and allows visits to most museums throughout Turkey for 1 year. We opted against this as we will be leaving Turkey soon.

The open air museum is a must see while visiting Göreme. It was extraordinary to be able to walk inside some of the old dwellings of hermits and priests.

fairy chimneys as we walked along the road
more fairy homes
said camel
looking up at the various doorways
inside one of the dwellings - it looks like a burial site

a lizard running around the walls
a large table inside
coming out of a church that is high up in the rocks
below the Dark Church
the perfect size doorway for Jordan
view out into the valley from the open air museum
a storeroom/pantry with a large table and built in shelves
peek-a-boo I see you
bottom level of a home in the rocks
I found my room
I am in the wrong era..... I miss the 70's
a shot across to other homes with shelves carved into the rock
Once we finished at the museum we wandered back down the road with promises to Jordan that we would stop and see the new born colt. We found out that in fact the colt was 2 days old.

We also stopped for a beverage at a local shop and were greeted by his lovely German Shepard who loved to fetch a stick. 

As we were walking back through town we happened to pass by a ballon tour shop I just had to snap a picture as it was a Storm Trooper in the ballon basket. I got a kick out of that.

brand new colt..... 2 days old to be exact
our beautiful new friend who loves to fetch
an artistic donkey on the side of the road
yes, Star Wars has made it to Capadoccia in a ballon basket
Once we returned to the hotel, our second destination was to head over to Avanos (a town not too far away) to let the girls try their hand at making some pottery. Our hotel had given us a name of a shop that offers this.

Upon arrival we parked the car and tried to locate the shop. We asked the parking fellow and got some directions by hand gestures, in broken english and in Turkish. We ended up having to stop and ask a shop owner who dropped what he was doing to walk us around the corner to find the shop and owner. Classic Turkish hospitality. The fellow did not speak much english but that didn't stop the demonstration. The pottery wheel was a manual one. He used his foot to make it go. The technique was fascinating. He proceeded to make a vase and then crumpled it up and had Paige and Jordan try to replicate it. Super fun to watch the girls attempt the recreation.

He left his shop briefly to grab another fellow who could speak english to explain all of his wares. We ended up purchasing a beautiful traditional wine jug, plate and two glasses. It felt good to buy from a local business.

Paige waiting patiently
the vase that was to be recreated
trying very hard to make it look the same
the end result..... not too shabby
Jordan attempting to create a masterpiece with a little assistance from the master
the end result
smaller version of the traditional wine jug, plate and cups (the true size version of this wine jug is actually 3X's bigger and you put your arm through the hole and bring it up to your shoulder. The wine is poured from there)

We finished up in Avanos and decided to head back into Göreme for an early dinner and early bedtime as we were scheduled for an early morning (5:00 AM) balloon ride the following morning which meant a 4:00 AM alarm. They use the early mornings for the rides as the winds are calmer.

With a lot of coaxing, everyone was up and ready with our warm weather gear on. Royal Balloon Tours ( was recommended to us by people that had been to Göreme and we are certainly glad that we chose them. They picked us up in their new van promptly and as soon as we had all of the other passengers were taken to their office for check-in and a wonderful breakfast buffet. As soon as breakfast was finished we hopped into bus 3 and were taken to the launch site. At the launch site we witnessed several balloons including our own being inflated. It was still pretty dark outside with the exception of the flame bursts being used to heat the air being blown into the balloons. 

Once the balloon was inflated we were put into the basket in groups of three. There were thirteen people including the pilot (an excellent group size). He gave us a quick landing/safety lesson and then we were off on our experience of a lifetime for a 60 minute ride. It was very peaceful floating/drifting through the valleys. I was amazed at how manoeuvrable the balloons are with a competent pilot. 

We ended our ride by landing onto the wagon that the deflated balloons are towed on. Once we had our two feet on the ground we were served champagne and chocolate covered strawberries. Highly recommend Royal Balloon Tours if you are going to visit Capadoccia.

group selfie at 5:00 AM
in front of the inflating balloon 
last touches before they load the riders
looking up into the balloon as it is being heated
watching other balloons take off
several of the other balloons being readied for flight
loved seeing the periodic bursts of flames
slowly ascending with the other balloons

view from our basket out into the valley
balloon coming up behind a fairy chimney

look mom I have a peek-a-boo hole to watch while I rest my feet

vineyard from above
fairy chimney
our pilot sure can manoeuvre the balloon close
we could almost touch the rocks
a nest in the treetops
hi mom, I'm resting my feet

old city in the rocks
close up
fairy chimneys galore
looking down into a valley
getting close to the old city
pigeon houses
(we missed seeing the pigeon valley where there were loads of bird homes and where the people would collect the poop and use it as fertiliser back in the day)
getting closer
almost touched the rocks

view of some farmlands interspersed amongst the chimneys

our landing
opening the top of the balloon to spill the air as we land on the cart
the balloon on the ground
orange juice, champagne and chocolate covered strawberries, what could be better than that
our pilot on the right

The following day we decided to go in search for an underground 8 level city, Derinkuyu (one of several in the area). Back in the day at any given time 5,000 - 10,000 people took shelter when their cities were under attack. There were living quarters, stables, wine cellars and shrines all clustered around the air shafts and wells to make life easier while underground. These were connected by a labyrinth of tunnels that had strategically placed round stone slabs that could be rolled to block the passage of the invaders.

We stopped for lunch and to get some European time on the cell phone, as we were walking we came across this VW bug and I had to take a picture. We also came across a new mosque being built as we made our way to the city.

cool VW bug
huge mosque being built

map of the city
this might give you an idea of how many stairs and tight spaces are inside
steps heading down

this gives you an idea of the ceiling height

a doorway

one of many stone doors that could be closed
air shaft
perhaps a living space
tight squeeze
I'm the perfect height for this place
open space several levels below the ground
holding up the ceiling
tunnel onto another room
Shaun crouching as he walks through the tunnel
selfie on the way up
taking a breather

Another great adventure. If you are planning a trip to Turkey, Capadoccia is a must see.

Follow our video adventures on our YouTube channel: Video adventures of s/v Element

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