We go about our lives, consumed with the everyday groove of work and our particular routine, and rarely realize that there are parallel worlds out there in which life has been plugging along for centuries. It is these worlds, when discovered, that become the gems in the crown of our life experiences, and the places that I enjoy seeking out the most. If you have the chance – or see to it to make the choice – Cappadocia, Turkey is a site not to be missed.
I have been to Turkey before, so it will not count as a new country for me [much to the delight of those in competition with my country count!]. The last time I was in Turkey thirteen years ago, my travels focused around Istanbul and the Northwest corner of the country. I had heard so much about Cappadocia and Ephesus I had to travel back, relive Istanbul and ad these new experiences to my collection.
After having taken an overnight sleeper train from Istanbul to Ankara, I proceeded by bus to the town of Göreme, smack in the middle of Cappadocia. Having been on many a long train journey [including the Trans-Siberian Railroad] I am no stranger to overnight rail jaunts. This one was quite pleasant, and the sleeper cars were actually air conditioned, and the train bunk beds quite comfortable.
Göreme, in the center of the region, is the most touristic of the various towns around the Cappadocia region. It has the flavor of mining town meets beach town meets trekking town, with its many cafes, open-air restaurants, wifi spots and friendly locals eager to sell you something that a member of their family made. This experience was not a new one.
However, what you will find that is unique and quite astounding are underground cities hewn into the rock dating back millennia and towering rock formations left behind by long-extinct volcanoes in which people through the centuries have fashioned themselves homes. The views are unique and are nothing like you will see anywhere else. If you want specific information, I highly recommend you Google it. What I can tell you is that this place will blow your mind, if you let it.
Add to the experience a 5:30am balloon ride, and you will get a bird’s eye view of the series of dwellings and structures that have been used by various peoples from the Hittites to the Romans to the Ottomans and to the present day. Walk one of the many valleys and weave in and out of towers, discovering something new around every corner. And yes, UNESCO concurs that this site is special, assigning World Heritage status to many of the sites in the 1980s.
Since as the saying goes a picture is worth a thousand words, I will let the photo speak for itself. Until you see this spectacular site for yourself, this two-dimensional representation will have to suffice.