My Travel Report

Cappadocia – Journey to a strange Planet

By Ralph Kratzer

There are some bizarre landscapes on our beautiful planet. One of the most peculiar ones is certainly Cappadocia in Central Anatolia, right in the heart of Turkey.

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I have traveled through Anatolia a few times, with a truck and last time, a few weeks ago, with my Harley-Davidson motorbike “Black Betty” (to remember my article “Through Anatolia on the Motorbike”please click here).

I have been living in North Cyprus for 12 years now and it has always been my wish to see Cappadocia, that I only knew from television and articles in travel magazines. But as it happens so many times in life, the decision took a long time. You always prefer to travel to far destinations all over the world rather than to those which are right in front of your nose.

TFR-LogoBut when Willy Lindh, Vice-President of the association The Foreign Residents in the TRNC” (with whom I had traveled to the Turkish Black Sea coast just a few years ago) offered a trip to Cappadocia, it was clear for my partner Sarah and myself: “We’ll be there!”

Thus a group of 40 members of the association, being fond of traveling, set out recently, first from Ercan airport in Northern Cyprus to the city of Adana in the south of Turkey. After a short flight of about 40 minutes, we already had Turkish soil under our feet. The entry into Turkey is relatively uncomplicated, although my British travel companions needed an entry visa, but this is easy to obtain on the Internet.

A comfortable coach, organized by our travel agency ESTA, already awaited us at the airport and after a bit more than 3 hours driving north we reached our destination, Göreme, the centre of Cappadocia.

p1030793To sum it up: This Cappadocian landscape – originally formed by intense volcanic activity and many thousands of years of erosion – with its bizarre rock formations, subterranean cities and cave architecture carved out of the soft tufa stone, is absolutely unique and worth seeing. Sometimes you feel like you are on a strange planet. Cappadocia was therefore designated by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1985.

p1030744Göreme is also famous for the attraction of looking at the landscape from the airy heights in one of the numerous hot-air balloons. We did so immediately the first morning after our arrival. And with morning I mean very, very early in the morning! For me, as a morning grump, a near catastrophe, but after having done this balloon trip I can recommend this unique experience unconditionally.

As in all my travel reports, I consciously avoid boring my readers with lengthy texts, instead using links to more detailed information on the Internet. Thus, each reader can decide for him/herself which topics are of interest.

p1030863In the following days after the ballooning experience, the Göreme Open Air Museum, with its churches and monastic accommodation, built into the rocks from the 10th to 12th century, and the underground city of Kaymakli (not recommendable for people with claustrophobia!!) were on the agenda as highlights of the trip.

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a camel or what?

As already mentioned, the landscape is alien and stimulates the imagination of every visitor. In the different valleys we visited, bearing imaginative names like e.g. “Fairy Chimney Valley” and “Valley of Imagination”, you can see rocks – formed by the forces of nature – that make you think of everything imaginable: animals, faces, extraterrestrial beings, fairies and other magical figures… Therefore it´s no wonder that Cappadocia inspired several authors and moviemakers, such as the famous creator of the “Star Wars” film series, George Lucas.

But Cappadocia has more things to offer than just the unique landscape.

Old craftsmanship, such as carpeting, gemstone processing and pottery art, are supported and partly or completely subsidized by the Turkish government.

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a silk carpet takes up to 3 years of work

Visiting places of these craftsmen were a welcome diversity for the traveling group, interesting, funny and informative at the same time. Personally, for example, I´ve never seen the production of silk and carpets from this material before in my life.

Turkish cuisine is, of course, widely known to us as residents of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, but a special dish of Cappadocia called “Pottery Kebab” or in Turkish language “Testi” is an absolute must-try for visitors to this region.

Summary: I am aware of the fact that some of the readers and travel-lovers are currently avoiding traveling to Turkey due to the unsafe political situation in the country, but in my opinion, Cappadocia is a secure destination that should be on everybody´s list of holiday destinations. And not to forget, due to the current weakness of the local currency Turkish Lira against currencies like Euro, British Pound and US Dollar, it is also affordable for everyone.

So, have fun traveling!

Editor´s note: Every bold and underlined link in the text above leads you automatically to more information about the specific topic.

To view more pictures in a slideshow – please click here!