The majority of the day today was spent making the five hour drive from Malatya to Ürgüp, with a few stops at the side of the road and a charging stop in Kayseri. The whole route was a near-motorway standard dual carriageway, taking us through the same landscapes we have seen the last couple of days, with nothing particularly of note to comment on.
And despite today being our third day in a row driving for approximately five hours, it has been worth it, since we are now in the region of Cappadocia and ready to spend at least a couple of days in the same place to explore this famous place. I hadn't realised previously that Cappadocia isn't a town or a city, but a whole region made up of a number of towns and cities. We are staying in one such town called Ürgüp, which has some of the famous caves the region is known for, and is close to the other sites in nearby towns such as Göreme and Urchisar which we are going to explore properly over the next couple of days. Given how touristic the region is, there were many hotels to choose from at all different price points, and it was quite different to choose. We ended up finding a lovely place which is pet friendly, and has rooms set into the old caves on the mountainside at the top of the town. This means I am typing this from a desk in a hotel room within a cave, though it is a properly fitted out modern hotel room, and a rather unique experience for us (Google Nostalji Cave Suit Hotel to see photos).
Not wanting to waste any time in Cappadocia, we set out around 6.30pm to one of the sunset viewpoints nearby. This ended up not being quite as simple as planned, since the road we were aiming for turned out to be a dirt track only suitable for 4x4 vehicles. Instead we drove as far as we safely could, then parked up at the side and walked the rest of the way to the edge of one of the canyons which had a little fruit and vegetable farm at the tip of it. We were the only people around which was a very nice touch, meaning Summer could be off the lead and run wildly in the sand and around the plants. There are so many vantage points around that you can't possibly see them all, but this one was a perfect introduction to the famous views over the 'fairy chimney' rock formations. The sunset was about as spectacular as we had hoped for, and we had a lovely family moment taking photos and enjoying the scenery.
Once the sun was down we got back in the car and drove the short distance past some fairy chimneys to the centre of Göreme to find a restaurant for dinner. This seems to be the touristic heart of Cappadocia, and is a typical resort village, almost entirely made up of souvenir shops, restaurants and hotels. The fairy chimneys are much more dramatic here than in Ürgüp, but I'm not sure we would have wanted to stay here given how much busier it is. Just as we were finishing dinner it started to pour with rain which was very unexpected (our weather apps helpfully said 0% chance of rain), though we seem to have this kind of luck (or is it bad luck) with rain in deserts, having seen rain in Dubai, Oman and Las Vegas previously.
It feels like there is a lot to see in Cappadocia, so tomorrow will be a busy day, and if we can't see it all we will extend and stay another night.
A few random observations that don't fit in with the above:
- As we travel back further West, it feels like the cities we are passing through are becoming a bit nicer, cleaner, and less chaotic than the ones further East.
- As of today we are now further West than Jerusalem, and have passed the Westernmost borders of Syria and Iraq.
- We are seeing a lot more European cars on the road since yesterday in Malatya. These are mostly German, French and Dutch cars with drivers and passengers who look Turkish (presumably of Turkish origin and returning for the summer), but it does mean feel like a UK car is a bit less exotic than it was further East.
When I went to pick up the car from the hotel nearby ours this evening I decided to take Summer with me for the walk. However when I got to the gate I was stopped and there was a whole furore about Summer. The hotel did not allow any dogs on the premises because 'some of the guests might be scared', and they made me tie her to a tree by the entrance while I went to get my car. It all seemed rather over the top, especially given the guard and the hotel staff were petting and cooing at Summer while telling me she wasn't allowed in. It seems they had a real fear that a guest might complain if they see a dog anywhere on site.
The distance from Malatya to Ürgüp was approximately the range of the battery, so we decided to top up for an hour in Kayseri on the way so as not to take any risks. We ended up arriving in Ürgüp with about 15% left, which is about as low as I'm comfortable going, even if there are plenty of chargers in the Capadocia region. On the few occasions this trip we have gone below 25% battery, we've noticed the economy of the car seems to go up slightly. It might be something to do with having worn out the lower end of the battery less than the top end, as I've read that can make a difference. Or it might be pure coincidence and we just happened to drive more efficient roads on these few occasions.
- ZES charger at Kayakapi Premium Caves Hotel, Ürgüp