Thursday, October 13, 2011

Road trip! Kas to Cappadocia

We tore ourselves away from the Turquoise Coast to spend a few days in inland Turkey, in the highly touristed Cappidocia area. On our map of Turkey you go about 2 inches along the coast east of Kas, past Antalya, and then head inland 3 or 4 inches. Most people fly from Istanbul to Cappadocia, but since we have a rental car for the whole month of October we decided to drive. Nine hours later, we pulled into Urgup, one of the main towns of the area and our base for the next 3 nights.

Actually we had reserved our hotel in Urgup for 4 nights, arriving on October 10, but in one of those rare but disconcerting mistakes one makes if one travels as much as we do, I had mis-entered the Urgup reservation information into our itinerary software,, as starting on the 11th instead. The night of the 10th, still in Kas, as I was getting everything ready for the next day, I looked again at the email we'd received from the Urgup hotel and saw that we were supposed to be there that night, the 10th. Oops. We dashed off a quick email to the hotel saying that we were "unavoidably delayed" and wouldn't be arriving until the next night, and would of course pay for all 4 nights. The hotel staff wrote back and said they would hold the room for us, and that we would have to pay for only 3 nights. Very generous, I would say!
One of the pretty parts of the drive
The road from Kas to Cappadocia starts with a couple hours' drive along a windy coastal road--think coastal highway in Southern California with no bridges over the canyons--and then heads inland into southern Utah-like high desert, with pine trees and pretty hills. And bananas. (Dozens of roadside stands selling small ripe bananas and other interesting fruit, as well as small stoves warming what we think was big pots of tea. But could have been stew?) Then we hit Kansas  (Konya, the heart of traditional religious Turkey, home of the whirling dervishes, gave me the creeps). Followed by North Dakota--the parts with no redeeming features. Bleak, dusty, windy, flat. Now I know why people fly to Cappadocia.

Our hotel in Urgup, Esbelli Evi, is part cave, part modern addition built in cave style. We splurged and went for the "volcano cave suite"--wouldn't you? It's a rambling affair with an entry room, a gigantic bathroom, a real cave of its own (with a tunnel that supposedly goes for several kms), a bedroom with a vaulted ceiling, and a sitting room that's also real cave. Oh--and modern conveniences like satellite TV and a laptop with wifi in the room. And its own garden patio. Very private, very nice. $215 a night.
Odd shapes abound in Cappadocia
 But you don't go to Cappadocia for the cave hotels alone. The scenery is the draw, and we've spent the 2 1/2 days we've been here hiking among the strange but beautiful natural stone features of the Rose Valley, the Love Valley, the Goreme Outdoor Museum, and other photogenic spots.
Love Valley
Pumpkins waiting for their seeds to be harvested
It's fall in Cappadocia--the leaves are turning yellow and orange and the grapes and pumpkins are being harvested. (The pumpkins don't actually get ripe here, so they're harvested for their seeds.) It's been nice to have our own car--there are tour buses galore in this place, and we can detour off the beaten path to find some special places on our own. There are lots of walking opportunities. It's really a beautiful spot that deserves the attention it gets from the tourist community. (Lots of Japanese tour groups, so you know it's a tourist high spot.)

Even here, though, we got the Secret Carpet Sell. A guy came up to us while we were parked at one of the photo ops and told us about the special event happening at the carpet school in the nearby town--today only! Until 5 p.m.! Mustn't miss! We bought it, hook, line, and sinker, and dashed off to the town to get to the carpet school with minutes to spare. We were sucked into a tour of the place with 50 French tourists, with the commentary entirely in French. Yes, it was a sell-carpets experience. Fortunately, we have already purchased our carpet so we were able to slink out without buying, having significantly improved our French vocabulary.
At the carpet "school"

Tomorrow we get to head up in a hot-air balloon for an aerial tour of the beautiful hills and valleys. Thanks to Ann and Andres for sending us their balloon ride vouchers (we'll see if they work)! Can't think of a better place in the world to experience that adventure. Pick-up by the balloon company at 6:40 a.m. Better be good!

1 comment:

  1. I have a duplicate of your last photo, but without the great, moody clouds behind it.