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Cappadocia Report

In Cappadocia now. As many know, its not one location, is a region - its like going to SW Utah - its a region

Flew from Istanbul to Nevshehir for $38 a head (1:15 flight). Outside the micro-airport there was a gauntlet of aggressive taxi drivers, but I spotted an airport shuttle, that charge $5/person to drive us to our hotel in Goreme about 45 minutes away. It was slightly slow because they dropped off each passenger exactly where they wanted to go - instead of dropping people off in city centers. So it was essentially like a group taxi at half the price.

Nevshehir is surprisingly large and modern - a lot of brand new large homes. I figured all the foreigners paying $200 for balloon rides are funding it but don't really know. As you drive you seem some of the rock formations randomly here and there.

Goreme has many of the rock formations essentially in the town or just outside. It's a weird place. It's kind of like a dusty poor small town - with many rutted dirt roads even on made streets. But aspects of it are pretty nice, including coffee shops and restaurants.

We found the restaurants were actually more expensive but not as good or as plentiful as in Istanbul which is great for eating. We did find one place that whole sea bass - which was suprising given the distance from the ocean.

Balloon rides seem to range from $120-200 now. Hotel said $170. There are many local tour companies which offer them for $120-140. However, we got word that the next day ballots were cancelled because of wind. And then they jacked the prices up to $200 for the following day ... supply and demand in action.

(I can provide the info on our tour operator if thats permissible and wanted. A very nice guy who worked with us in a number of ways.)

The first night we did a sunset tour for $10/head. It turned out to be disappointing. We drove up to a ridge and there was a coffee shop of sorts with techno music, and about 100 people sitting on pillows watching the sunset. It was not very impressive - kind of a low-grade Utah scene. I did not get any decent pictures at all in the 5 minutes before the sun dropped behind the hills. But it was kind of a fun festive environment.

We then went to a Whirling Dervish dance show for $15/head. I guess it's good to see it once but never again. I suspected and later learned, that this is a deeply religious event (a specific sect). It was solemn and felt like going to a mosque. No photos until one little session at the end. The best part for me was the Turkish singing and native instruments - that sounds fairly similar to Arabic music. (I hope that does not insult them). It was interesting to hear but I love world music. The dancing was fairly robotic twirling.

We then did the Red Tour for $40/head - visited 4 rock locations ("museums" but more like parks with entrance fees), then a display of ceramic making and I got to make my own bowl using the gear (but not keep it), a tasting of various dried fruits and teas, and a buffet lunch (all expenses included in the fee). We were fairly happy with the 5 hour experience. It would have been better if it was sunnier and warmer though. There seem to be a lot of friendly stray dogs and cats in all these places.

All the people we have interacted with have been super nice and helpful. They seem dignified, honest, and friendly. There are some things which seem overpriced for tourists, but we are very happy with our and its great low price. Breakfast is good but kind of weird by our tastes - a lot of cheese, deep fried things, egg, and tea. No coffee, granola, etc. But the quality seems quite good.

I can see why people spend 2 weeks here to explore all the various formations and towns. There is a lot to explore and many options including ATV scooters, horses, camels, etc. But we feel we got a good amount of fun in 2 days.

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I think the closest comparison to this area would be Sedona in Arizona. This is way more interesting rock formations, and the historical aspects are off the scale. But there is kind of a festive new age tourist vibe. I saw one group of 12 people on the top of a rock formation in a circle dancing and singing.

I am secretly glad that the hot air balloons were cancelled. The price for one hour is 4 times the price of flying to Istanbul. It's more than a night in a hotel. I am not sure what they charge in San Diego CA, or Dordogne France, but this seemed like a gouge.