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Who have heard about Cappadocia in Turkey? I admit, quite embarrassed, that this wonderful place has never caught my attention before. In my search for the ultimate destination, I usually end up travelling far away from Europe to a completely different land and culture. But now I realize there are some hidden gems and interesting cultures within or close to Europe too, and Turkey contains many of them.

I arrived Antalya on a very cheap charter flight from Oslo (60 USD return). The plane was filled up with sun seekers, both young and old, and I had company of a young guy hopping on an unspecified trip to Antalya without his wife. Charter destinations are usually a waste of time for me, but Antalya had in fact some interesting things to see, most notably the old quarter and the museum.

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After one night in the old quarter of Antalya it was time for me to move on, so I boarded a nightbus to Göreme in Cappadocia. The bus services in Turkey are surprisingly good and the net is very extensive. It is very affordable too, I only paid 35 lira for my ticket. Lonely Planet even claims that Turkey is second to none in the world. The Metro bus from Antalya to Göreme had two attendants (males) serving water, tee, coffee and snacks. The bus was brand new and quite comfortable, but I had too little space for my legs. The major drawback was no toilet. Thus I would make a minor correction to Lonely Planet's statement and say that Turkish bus services are second only to Argentina and Chile.

The bus arrived Göreme at sunrise, with plenty of hot-air-balloons circling above the town. I combined photo shooting and hotel hunting in the early hours. But the hotels and guesthouses had no staff onsite, it was too early in the morning I guess. Fortunately I met the owner of Dora Hotel in one of the streets. He offered me free breakfast and a nice room for 40 lira. This offer was too difficult to reject after a long bus journey. So I checked in at his hotel and had an excellent breakfast with bread, cheese and fruits.

Shortly after 8am I was ready to head over to the Open-Air-Museum, before the crowds arrived this popular place. The museum was a very fascinating place with fairy chimneys, cave churces etc, but all the tourists organized in big groups really pissed me off. Göreme is certainly not a hidden gem anymore, but it's still a gem. Instead I went for a short hike in one of the valleys. After that I hired a motorbike for 6 hours (30 lira) so I easily could visit some of the nearby places (Cavusin, Pasabagi, Zelve, Devrent Valley and Urgup). I ended the day at Uchisar, to see the sunrise from the castle above the town. Probably the most beautiful sunset I've ever seen.

Next morning I woke up 5am to join a Spanish couple from the same hotel on a hot-air-balloon flight. We were picked up by a minibus and taken to a ground for take-off together with 12 other people. We were soon airborne and the balloon flight over Göreme and Cappadocia will probably be the highlight of this journey. It was expensive (130 Euro) but worth every penny. After the 1 hour flight we returned to our hotel and had breakfast before I headed down to the bus station to catch a bus to Kayseri and Mount Erciyes. It was time to climb a volcano again...

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Posted by gfg on Wednesday, August 19, 2009. Filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

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