If dreams ever could come true, I think mine just did. I don’t think I could imagine a town any more idyllic, no matter how hard I tried. Cave houses emerge, flowered terraces blossom and spectacular rock formations loom in every direction in the small village of Göreme. Wake up at the right time and the horizon (or better yet, the sky) will be flooded with colourful hot air balloons revealing themselves from behind fairy chimneys, only the sound of the hot gas breaking the silence of the dawn.
They say you need two mornings in Cappadocia: one to watch the balloons and the other to be in one. We did the latter first and without a doubt, it was the experience of a lifetime. We were woken by our alarms at the ungodly hour of 5am and were in the air not much more than an hour later. The balloons went up in two tranches: our slightly later departure time meant we got to watch the magic unfold before us, as one by one the bobs of colour lifted and drifted away.
Any nerves were soon forgotten after a smooth takeoff and soon we were climbing up and over the nearby hills. The silence was surreal: naught but the occasional ‘pfffsht’, preceding a balloons subtle rise in the sky. The rocks and valleys below shrunk in size, as we rose to an elevation of 1000m. We went up and down, coasting through Love Valley (full of famous penis shaped rocks) before landing, precisely, on the back of a trailer. Hot air ballooning may have been our most expensive activity to date (ahem, ever), but we were unanimous in thinking it was one of the best things we’ve ever done.
The next morning we were woken before our alarms even went off, by an all too familiar ‘pfffsht’ occurring right above our cave room. We peered outside and saw that the sky above Göreme was dotted with balloons, some of them so close you could almost touch the people inside. It felt like we were in a dream, which made it easier to go back to sleep once they’d passed.
Our three days in Cappadocia were mostly spent hiking. We explored the Meskendir Valley, touching on the nearby Red and Rose Vallies. We also hiked up through Pigeon Valley to Uçhisar, where we were treated to panoramic views in every direction from the castle and a delicious Meze platter on the terrace at the House of Memories. We also walked up alongside the Love Valley, just to see whether the ‘cock rocks’ looked any less so from a different angle… they were still very convincing! Sunset Point is also a worthwhile walk, with adorable views of Göreme as it slips into slumber.
Our time in Cappadocia passed all too quickly and suddenly it was time to leave. We caught a shuttle to the Kayseri Airport which became all too stressful when it was suddenly touch and go whether we’d make it for our flight or not (through absolutely no fault of our own). With more time it would have been neat to hike some of the neighboring valleys as well as exploring one of the nearby underground cities. For now though, my memories of Cappadocia will make me happy for a longgggg time to come.