Whenever a place is described as having a “lunar landscape”, I think I enjoy it more.
White Cliffs, in the outback of New South Wales in Australia, was also a spitting image of the moon, being speckled with giant anthills that act as opal mines, or even homes.
Something about a place that seems so vacant, and yet so beautiful, draws me in.
Cappadocia, in central Turkey, would be one of those moon landing type of places – the ones where you immediately scratch your head and say, “Hmm, so people actually live here?”
Cappadocia has probably topped the list of coolest places I’ve been, but not just because of the Cappadocian landscapes and rock formations, but also because of the cute little town of Göreme in which we stayed.
Cappadocia forced me to get outdoors because most of the attractions involve hiking (light hiking mind you), or the casual (gruelling in my case) mountain bike session.
Sure, we wanted to die after a big outing, but we also felt good – ready for that 10TL 3 course lunch back in Göreme.
We explored old cave churches, walked through valleys lined with cave and pigeon houses, and twisted and turned around fairy chimneys where we even happened upon the nicest man who was producing organic apple tea and wine from fruit grown in his garden.
Along designated paths in the national park, there were numerous rest stops where you could quickly order an apple tea, or two, and bask in the natural beauty of a flowing creek rushing through the linings of naked trees.
Back in Göreme, a town in the Cappadocia region, each morning was greeted not only with a sunrise, but also with the rising of about 50 or more hot air balloons, all reaching slowly above the rocky surrounds of the town.
Walking down the street felt surreal with these towering icons looming above, but even those that stayed indoors (and out of the clouds) could probably hear the pulsing sounds of the balloons heating up and flying overhead.
We visited the town during the lower season, and even then vendors were friendly and not pushy. Some locals offered us free Turkish delights while others welcomed us into their homes.
Our stay was only supposed to encompass the 3 full days in the region as marked by our Intrepid Travel tour, but 5 we stayed in order to get to know it well.
If it weren’t for a schedule, we probably could have stayed longer, just relaxing and spending time with the adorable little girl of our motel owner.
Cappadocia is a good 10 hour bus ride from Istanbul, or a couple of hours flight, but it is definitely worth the trouble.
If you feel the vibe of Istanbul is too hustle and bustle, head out to Cappadocia to discover the hard-working, friendly, and helpful people that make up much of Turkey.
The best time to visit would not be in the winter, and even early April was chilly when the wind blew (and rainy!).
Our guide explained that mid to late April was when the trees and flowers would bloom, so I can only imagine the beauty at that time.