As promised, here is the story about one of our most favourite parts of our journey so far. From Konya, it was only a couple hours to Cappadocia. After another fantastic breakfast and a good shower, we left the house of our hosts and started the trip to Göreme National Park. The road was boring, so we got very excited when we saw the first signs of rock formations and valleys. As we drove up to our spot for the night, we were in awe of the prettiness around us.
Getting to the parking spot was a bit tricky, because it was in the dirt and on the edge of a cliff. Fortunately, Tiny does a very good job in off-road driving, so we found the best spot in no-time. We took out our camping table and chairs and attached Sparta to a long line. This view was amazing! After a short coffee break, we walked a small distance to a place where a lot of cars and vans were parked. There was a small café and some tourist shops, as it turned out to be the lookout spot over Love Valley! Many people were taking pictures of each other, with the funny-shaped rocks in the valley below on the background. We walked a little further, did some tricks with Sparta and then returned to the van for a hot meal and a quiet evening.
Since Sparta has to pee early every morning, one of us has to get out of bed. This time, it wasn’t a punishment, as the balloons were already floating over our heads! It was freezing, so we put on a lot of clothes. Then, we went outside to watch the sun come up while as many as 50 balloons were up in the air. Sparta found it too cold, so he went back to (our) bed and after a while, we went back too. However, we opened our back doors and watched this amazing event until most of the balloons had landed. Two of them even landed right next to us!
After breakfast, we left our amazing park-up and drove to the town of Göreme. This is the heart of Cappadocia, where many tourist shops, restaurants and hotels are situated. Moreover, this town owns a lot of old cave houses, which are sometimes still in use or converted into a hotel. We walked through the center, but soon found ourselves walking toward the Open-Air Museum. As we almost never go into such overly crowded places, we only watched the view, walked by the little shops and went back to a less touristy place. Sparta was already very tired, but we let him off the leash for a little while and then put him in Tamara’s warm and comfy jacket. On the way back to Göreme, we walked up to the ‘Hidden Church’, which was unfortunately closed. The walk to the church was very nice though, so we enjoyed it anyway and then returned to Tiny.
The next destination was the cave town Uçhisar, which’ immense rocks are visible throughout the whole area around it. There was still snow here, what made the giant rocks (with holes for windows) even more astonishing. Although we didn’t want to walk up all the way to the castle on the top of the rock, we walked around for a while. One of the smaller rocks had been turned into a café, and an old man invited us in for some tea. He told us that he was born here and that the house has been owned by his family for four generations. The rooms were covered in carpets and we could climb all the way up to the 5th floor. What a great way to build your house!
We felt like we still had to visit many more places in this area, but we were already pretty tired and we didn’t want to walk anymore. Therefore, we only stopped at a look-out point, took a quick look at the castle in Ortahisar and watched the brand-new cave hotels in Ürgüp. Then, we drove to a viewpoint on the other side of the valley, where according to Park4Night was a nice place to spend the night. Indeed, the place was great, but getting there was another adventure. When we were finally parked, we walked around the place with Sparta and then settled in for the night.
The next morning, we were woken up by the growling sound of jeeps. They were preparing two balloons for take-off! One of them was right next to our bed, so we weren’t able to sleep anymore and got out of the van. Though the view of the ascending balloons wasn’t as beautiful as the day before, we loved watching them lift off. Soon, they were all gone and we prepared ourselves for leaving. Today, we were going to visit one of the famous underground cities. However, we felt like walking around the Red Valley first, so we parked the van and started our hike. This valley has beautiful colours, therefore it’s name. The trails are a lot of fun, there are rocks everywhere and Sparta could walk around freely. We loved it!
After leaving the Red Valley, it took us about one hour to get to Kaymakli, where the underground city was opened for tourists in 1962. It was one of the bigger settlements: it could house about 3500 people. The last people who used to live here, were Greek Christians who had to hide themselves from the Muslim rulers. After the Greeks were expelled in 1923, the city was abandoned and was only used as cellar or horse stables. Although the city has 8 floors, only 4 of them are uncovered. We followed the red arrows into the depths of the earth, visiting living rooms, hallways, a church, storage rooms and stables. Sometimes we even had to crawl through narrow tunnels! Luckily, the way back to the exit was marked by blue arrows so we wouldn’t get lost. We had been in there for only half an hour, but we were both very intrigued by the way people must have lived here. It was definitely worth seeing it!
Online, we had read that we could fill up our gas bottle on a campground in Göreme. Therefore, we had left our almost empty bottle there that morning, so that we could pick it up after we got back from Kaymakli. As it is winter, we were very happy to have two full gas bottles again. Unfortunately, it was now time to leave this pretty landscape and head up north. Our visa would expire in one week and we still wanted to visit some places on the way up to Georgia. The first stop was Kirsehir, where our new friend Esma lives. We arrived around dinner time, so we immediately received an amazing meal from Esma’s mom. Afterwards, we went for a walk through the nice-looking park in front of their house. The rest of the night we spent playing Ligretto, as we had totally gotten hooked-up to that game when we were in Isparta. Fun!
In the morning, we were delighted by another phenomenal Turkish kahvalti. This definitely is our favourite meal from now on! We also had a nice warm shower and another walk through the town, but sadly we had to move on soon after that. Thank you so much for all you’ve done for us Esma!
We drove to the border with Georgia in 4 days. On the way, we stopped in the lovely town of Amasya, where the river is flanked by beautifully lit old houses and where the graves of ancient kings are hidden in the wall of the mountain. The weather turned cold and wet, so we couldn’t really enjoy our stay in the city of Trabzon. Besides, during our drive on the Black Sea coast, the sea was mostly invisible behind the buildings. We therefore kept driving and almost only went outside to walk the dog. When we finally reached the border, we were very excited. After a little detour back into Turkey (oops!), crossing the border went very smooth and we could enter Georgia within 15 minutes. Yay, a new country!
The first days in Georgia have been very wet. It has been raining most of the time, but we are staying in an AirBnb and we don’t mind being inside for a while. Sparta loves it too, because he doesn’t like to get wet either! We walked on the boulevard, explored the supermarkets, went for a run, visited another mechanic for the car (and there is nothing to worry about!) and watched a lot of episodes from The Blacklist. Now, we are getting ready to the next part of our travels: Tbilisi and the beautiful nature of Georgia!