Thursday, September 9, 2010
In September our daughter Hazel visited us, and we decided to do some land travel as well as some sailing. We joined a 3-day tour to visit Cappadocia, an area with fascinating rock formations and underground cave cities. Located in the eastern region of Anatolia, it is more than 12-hours drive away from Kemer, so most of the tour is spent on the bus, but the drive goes through the high Taurus Mountains and is very scenic. Having spent the last five months mostly at coastal areas, it’s also refreshing to be in the mountains and to drive through alpine forests.
We arrived the town of Gerome at about 6:00PM, and the arrival was timed such that we could see the sun setting over the high plateau where the ‘chimney rocks’ are located. The view was stunning. Formed from volcanic lava eroded over the millenniums, the forest of tall, cone-shaped rocks are in many interesting shapes. In the distance a high canyon glowed from the setting sun. In Gerome, some naturally-formed caves are carved and expanded into dwellings, including many cave hotels that are claimed to be 4-star hotels. Our tour package is only an economic package and our hotel was quite modest. But it’s clean and tidy, and the package included a traditional Turkey supper. The evening temperature drops to a very comfortable level, in contrast to the stifling heat in Kemer.
The next day we started early to get on a hot air balloon ride. The ride is quite expensive, but it’s another one of those ‘once in a life time’ events, and everyone who’s been to Cappadocia all highly recommended it. The idea is to see Cappadocia at dawn, from high up. It was a very interesting experience, to see the giant balloons inflated by huge propane torches, became bigger and bigger and gradually took off from the ground. And then in the open space just outside of Gerome, dozens of colorful balloons all took off one by one into the sky. The balloons were captained by certified balloon pilots, who skillfully drove the balloons at the right heights to get the best views for the scenery, riding the light winds and using burst of flame to control the height.
We then spent the day visiting different areas around Cappadocia and saw more interesting rock formation and rock caves, including some caves that were carved into churches dating back in Roman times.