Tuesday, August 23, 2022 - 19:15

Two days in one today since most of yesterday was spent working, and we didn't do very much afterwards since we wanted to get an early night in order to wake up early toady for the famous sunrise over the valleys (more on that to come). What we did do though was take a drive around some of the viewpoints in the late afternoon to take some photos of the beautiful scenery. All the main sights are fairly close together, so there wasn't much driving involved, but what I will say is that it is extremely dusty here! We have dust everywhere, all over our clothes, inside and outside the car, and dust is even falling off the walls in our cave hotel room, meaning there is a thin layer on everything and we are keeping the suitcase shut and things like toothbrushes covered.

We started the late afternoon drive yesterday by going to the Devrent Imagination Valley viewpoint. This area is more about the natural rock formations, and it has a trail you can take around the rocks which we didn't do since it looked quite steep and difficult to carry Lucy on. We took some photos though and then continued onwards to Zelve Open Air museum. This is an area of fairy chimneys which people lived in and you can walk around and explore, but we didn't go in for two reasons: they didn't allow dogs past the ticket barriers, and you cannot take photos inside with prior written permission from the local authorities which must be applied for in advance. Without Summer or the opportunity to take photos, we thought we'd give it a miss and explore some of the other fairy chimney houses which are dotted along the roads instead. We then got back in the car where it was only 10 more minutes to Love Valley, which is a viewpoint over a valley full of what Wikipedia describes as 'unique tower-shaped rock formations', but to everyone else they look like either penises (hence the name of the valley) or perhaps mushrooms. It was an interesting place to see, though we both felt it was a little overrated compared to some of the other scenery around. Apparently you can do a lovely 3km hike from Love Valley to Göreme but these are things which are difficult to do when travelling with a baby and a dog and it is 35 degrees in the middle of summer! We also saw huge groups of quad bike tours in the Love Valley area, which looked like another fun activity around all the trails in the canyons.

After Love Valley we headed back toward the hotel and stopped by an area of fairy chimneys in Imagination Valley where we could park up on the road and explore freely. Summer had a great time running around some of the trails, though did manage to scare a few locals when a tourist teased her and she started barking. We took some family photos as the sun was going down, though it wasn't a great spot for sunset, being a bit too low in the valley. Given we were waking up at 5am today to see the sunrise, we decided to give a scenic sunset a miss yesterday (sunset isn't until 7.45pm this time of year) and head back to the hotel area for an early dinner and bed by just after 9pm.

Despite managing to get to bed early, it was still rather painful when the alarm went at 5am. It was hard enough getting ourselves up, let alone Lucy who was in a deep sleep and not very happy at all being transferred to the car at such an hour. I'd done a bit of research online as to the best sunrise spot in Cappadocia, and the consensus from all the travel writers is that if you only do one sunrise, go to the Sunrise Viewpoint in Göreme town centre. This was only a 20 minute drive from the hotel, and on the way we could already see hot air balloons starting to be fired up and lighting up the dawn sky. We dumped the car on one of the back streets on the way up to the viewpoint and then walked the last 5 minutes to the top, where we had to pay a 5 Lira (25p) per person entry ticket for some reason (they weren't charging people when we came back down after the sunrise). At the top was a car park we could have got to if we'd approached from the other direction, though the road didn't look great so I think the walk up from Göreme was the better option.

We managed to reach the viewpoint around 5.50am, 10 minutes before sunrise, and the sky was already full of hot air balloons rising over the valley. It was a beautiful sight to see, and everything we imagined it would be from all the photos we'd seen previously. It was of course a photographers dream, with different waves of photographic opportunities, from the moment when the balloons were rising before sunrise, to the sunrise itself in the other direction, to the next batch of balloons rising as the sun moved higher in the sky. We stayed for around an hour in total, and toward the end some of the hot air balloons flew really close to where we were. We were waving at the people in the baskets who looked like they were having a great time. We both felt like we had a great experience without having done the hot air balloon ride though, with Melisa scared of heights and me not particularly fancying being crammed into what looked like very busy baskets (along with the £200 per person fee).

Once we'd taken enough photos, we headed back to the hotel for breakfast, before a family nap so we could all catch up on lost sleep. Lucy's lasted nearly three hours, and we were then rejuvenated and ready for the afternoon activities. The first of these was to visit the Kaymakli Underground City, a Unesco site located about 30 minute's drive south of Cappadoccia. The surrounding village of Kaymakli isn't much more than a dusty outpost, except for a small touristic section in the middle with a couple of cafes, shops, and of course the entrance to the underground city complex. It cost 100 Lira (about £4) per person to enter, and we then headed underground into the caves of the City. It is quite an unbelievable place, with many stories of cave dwellings all interconnected with narrow tunnels. Apparently thousands of people could live down here at a time when there were raids by their enemies, and many of the caves were labelled with their original purpose such as a church, a storage room, a wine cellar etc. Unfortunately we arrived at the same time as a number of tour buses (or perhaps they arrive all day long), but it was far too busy in the narrow tunnels connecting the caves, and they probably should have staggered the number of people entering. We waited to the side in one of the caves before a narrow tunnel for the crowds to pass, but they kept coming, and Lucy was getting a bit restless over the whole thing as she dangled in the harness. We therefore decided to follow the arrows for a short tour rather than a long tour of the caves, and explored some areas off the usual path to take photos in a quieter setting. At one point I checked out some of the tunnel the crowds had gone down and it required a bit too much crouching that some claustrophobia started to kick in, and it felt unsuitable for a baby. Therefore the short tour in the regular adult height caves was the right decision overall!

Once we were done with the underground city we got back in the car and drove toward Uchisar which was supposed to be our next stop for the day. However we decided to call this one off and delay it until tomorrow morning since we were all feeling a bit worn out by this point, and just looking up at the castle on the mountainside was making our legs burn. Instead we opted for the other open air museum just outside Göreme since we didn't have Summer with us at this point and it was easy walking compared to the castle. The museum was the most expensive place we had been to so far, at 150 Lira (about £7.50) per person, and is a complex of mostly churches carved into caves in the rock formations on the side of a mountain. Most of the churches seemed to be from the 11th century, and many still had original paintings in a similar style to something you might see from Norman times, like the Bayeux Tapestry. No photos were allowed inside the churches though, and they had guards stationed at each one which looked like a very dull job indeed.

We spent about 45 minutes at the museum, and then it wasn't that long until sunset. We therefore went to pick up Summer at the hotel and drove to what is apparently the best place to watch the sunset in Cappadocia, the Panoramic Viewpoint in Red Valley. There were a couple of men near the bottom of the road you have to drive down charging 15 Lira (about 75p) per car, in what was another instance of seemingly random charges for things that look like they should otherwise be free, by people who seem to have no connection with the authorities. Given the low price and that most people (except some Turkish cars) seemed to be paying, we obliged, and moved on to the car park near the viewpoint. A bit like the underground city earlier, this area was a little bit too busy, and we struggled to find a good space for the family to rest up, particularly without Summer getting too distracted. The sunset over the valley was beautiful though, with just the right amount of clouds to make for some great photos. We didn't hang around too long afterwards since it had been a very long day, so we went for a quick dinner in Ürgüp before heading to bed. Tomorrow morning we plan to finally get to Uchisar Castle, which should wrap up Cappadocia nicely before we head up to Ankara.

Dog Notes: 

Cappadocia is relatively dog friendly, with all viewpoints open for dogs. The only one where we had a slight problem was the Sunrise Viewpoint in Göreme where there were a lot of strays around. None were aggressive but Summer got very distracted trying to play with them, and it meant we had to do a lot of shooing to get the strays to leave and Summer to calm down so we could concentrate on the moment and the photos.
We didn't even try to take Summer to the underground caves, and she wasn't allowed in to the Zelve open air museum.

Miles Driven: 
Nostalji Cave Suit Hotel


That looks like a place I'd like to go to. Great photos. The baloons are just fabulous to see.

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