Monday, August 24, 2015

Cappadocia: Day Three

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Mike and I are not big on guided tours. In fact, we usually avoid them so that we can choose how much time we spend in different areas and don't have to worry about the other people in our group. That being said, we're not totally against them, especially when they help you see things or save money.   That's why, when our friend the front desk man suggested and explained the "Green Tour" we agreed to spend all day on this guided tour.  We were able to see four or five sights that were 45 minutes to an hour from the city.  Without the tour, we would have only been able to get to one or two.

The shuttle picked us up and we joined a group of two Italians, a family of four from Indonesia (they had the cutest kids), and six family members (multiple adults and a couple of children) from China.  The first stop on our tour was a look out into the valley.

This guy was chilling and people watching the tourists

After a photo op, we all boarded the shuttle and headed out for the underground city Derinkuyu that everyone raved about. It was about a 45 minute drive out to the entrance to the underground city, which was part of the reason we chose to do the tour.  We would have had to take two buses and travel over an hour to get there.

Before we entered, our tour guide gave us a little bit of history on the underground cities.  After the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the Greek Orthodox Christians were in danger of persecution.  So, as a form of protection, they created these underground cities.  

Air vent

These cities are incredible! They're legit, even if they were above ground. They had everything from a dining room to a church to a graveyard. 

After the underground city, we boarded the bus again and headed out to a cathedral and monastery.  Our guide got out and started hiking up.  It was pretty steep uphill and our guide was moving fast, but we made it to the top where there was a flat area to stop and entrances to a bunch of different places.  Plus, this view.

Our tour guide explaining what different places were.

Inside these doors were churches

After the climb up and around the cathedral, we boarded the bus again and stopped at a restaurant for lunch, which was included in our tour fare.  The restaurant was clearly solely ion business thanks to these tours.  They knew exactly what to do with us and how the routine should go. I had a vegetarian dish which was actually pretty good and Mike had fish which he said wasn't terrible.

Once lunch was over, we headed out for a hike.  This hike was very easy, especially compared to what we had been doing the past couple of days.  It was on a very well defined path and was only like 5km long.  We also started at the top and climbed down to the bottom where the shuttle bus met us and drove us home, so we had our good friend gravity to our advantage. 

It was a great hike to go on because the scenery was so different from the rest of Cappadocia.  You could tell that we were relatively far away from the other trails and hikes that we had done. 

About halfway through the hike, we arrived at a little cafe which was located at the perfect spot for dipping your feet in the river and grabbing a glass of tea. We were supposed to only stay about 15 minutes, but I think we were there for close to half an hour. We continued on and some of the group (including Mike and I plus the tour guide) forged ahead.  Little did we know, the other half of the group took a wrong turn and we ended up waiting for them for a good 30 minutes once we were done. 

When they finally showed up, we all boarded the bus and headed to one of the popular sight seeing spots, Pigeon Valley.  In Cappadocia, they used to use pigeon poop as fertilizer.  They carved holes in the caves for the pigeons to go to in hopes that they would leave behind some....droppings that could be used for fertilizer.  The tour took us to the perfect spot to see all of these caves and the entire valley.

By this point, Mike and I were pretty much over the tour and ready to go home.  The other people on our tour, though, had different thoughts.  They were enjoying taking pictures and seemed to spend an eternity at each stop along the way.  

Our last two stops were purely sponsored stops.  The first was to a gem and jewelry store and the last was to try Turkish Delight (which is not very good).  We finally returned home around 6:30 and were glad to be done. Overall, it was a great tour and definitely worth our $40 since it included lunch and admission to all of the sights. Unfortunately, we like to move at a faster pace than a lot of people, which added a lot of time.  Oh well. 

When we got home, we were hungry, but were pretty tired of eating traditional Turkish food.  Our good friend TripAdvisor directed us towards an Indian restaurant, Rasoi, which was highly rated.  The ratings didn't lie! I had a delicious butter chicken and Mike had some spicy meat dish.  It was a nice change of pace from Turkish food and we left feeling very satisfied. 

We ended the night with a nice glass of wine before calling it a night.