TravelWhimsy and I started the “Reader Reconnaissance” series to encourage you, our dear readers, to share your travel experiences. Today, we are very excited to share a trip report sent in by our long-time readers R & F on their recent trip to Cappadocia, Turkey!
Let me turn it over to R & F.
How We Ended up in Cappadocia, Turkey
The initial plan was to spend Thanksgiving weekend in Dubai. Using UA website, we redeemed 50,000 points for TK business class round trip from Istanbul to Dubai. Thanks to some advice from folks in the “Boarding Area” forum, with the same number of points, we tagged along the Istanbul – Kayseri – Istanbul route as part of our main itinerary. The final itinerary was IST – ASR – IST – DXB – IST, instead of IST – DXB – IST.
TK Domestic Business Lounge
It was relatively small but pleasant, relaxing, and convenient. Snacks, nuts, and light food are available along with Turkish tea, coffee, and soft drink. Speaking of “convenience”, why? Next to the lounge, which is on the ground floor, a number of buses are awaiting for lounge passengers. So, instead of taking a long walk to the gate, we were taken directly to the plane by a bus.
Dinner Menu and Seating Arrangement on IST – ASR Flight
The flight from IST to Kayseri, ASR took only 1 hour and 5 minutes, but the food TK served, IMHO, was the best I ever had for a short 1-hour flight. Besides the main course, we also got welcome drinks, as well as TK chocolate after the meal.
The business cabin has a 3 and 3 seating arrangement, where no one sits in the middle seat.
We Stayed at a Cave Hotel
Sometime last year, my wife F watched an episode about cave hotels on the travel channel. Ever since that day, she had been bugging me about the idea of spending a night in the cave hotel. Long story short, we booked a 3-night stay at the Cave Konak Hotel. The hotel is a small family-run business with 5 suites, 2 of which are located underground in the caves. The hotel is only a short-walk away to the city center, where you can find plenty of restaurants. Breakfast for 2 was included in the nightly rate of 89 euros. For detailed rate and other information, you can visit www.cavekonak.com.
3 Full Days of Sight-seeing in Cappadocia, Turkey
Day #1 – Private tour with a dedicated English-speaking guide (the most expensive). With this option, we had a driver and a personal guide who speaks fluent English. The main advantage of this option is flexibility, which means spending as much time as you want in places and making changes to the tour program. The cost does not include entrance fees and lunch for you, the driver and the guide. We personally think that this option does not justify the price we paid.
*Highlights of Day #1
Goreme Open Air Museum – This place is protected under UNESCO and one of the first two UNESCO sites in Turkey. It has the finest of the rock cut churches with beautiful paintings on the wall whose colors still remain at their original. A small entrance fee is required.
Rock Formations – The mushroom-capped rocks of Cappadocia. The entire valley is full of this type of rock formations.
Zelve Open Air Museum
Day #2 – Group tour. It costs 80 TL per person including lunch (drink not included). We had a total of 10 people including the driver and the tour guide on the bus.
*Highlights of Day #2
Hot Air Balloon Ride – Unfortunately, the weather was a little overcast and we didn’t get to view the lengendary spectacular sunrise with our own eyes! A day earlier, the weather was perfect, blue sky and plenty of sun. The price for a 1-hour ride varies, depending on the balloon company you choose. In general, it ranges from 100 – 130 euros per-person. IMO, a 1-hour ride is more than enough to explore the area.
Kaymakli Underground City – According to our tour guide, no one knows exactly how many exist but there are at least 35 underground cities around Cappadocia. The widest one is Kaymakli with narrow passages connecting the floors like hamster tunnels. Kaymakli consists of 9 floors below ground and only 4 of them are open to the public. These underground cities were built for protection and religious purposes.
Day #3 – Hiring a chauffeur. A very popular option and our favorite as well. The driver can take you to the sights quickly and efficiently. It’s like a private tour but without the guide. Depending upon the distance, this option is relatively cheap. It starts as little as 70 TL per person and includes lunch (drinks not included). We had a Mercedes Benz minivan for just two of us and our driver, Yasser, speaks average English.
*Highlights of Day #2
Mustafapasha – a predominantly Christian village until the exchange minorities population agreement between Greece and Turkey. The Byzantine Greeks left and the incoming Turks took over the village. Instead of being destroyed and rebuilt, most of the homes are still preserved in their original structures.
Table Mountain – is flat-topped mountain where you can drive to the top.
Soganly Valley – Pigeon Holes and Cave Homes – Humans carved rocks into the home and the pigeon drops were taken and used as fertilizer.
Turkish Bath – It brought back distant memories as a toddler being bathed by my mom or elder sister.
Thanks so much, R &F, for spending the time to put together this trip report on such a unique and exotic destination! We are sure that it will help many readers planning a future trip to Cappadocia.