Turkey 2019

Cappadocia Day 1: Sleep Deprivation, Forced Perspective, and Traveler Guilt

It was our last morning in Istanbul. We started our day with an early morning, rising at around 8am. We did pretty well considering we’d been out so late. We got up on time and gathered our belongings. There was no sickness between us, thankfully. We’d maturely paced ourselves the night before.

 

We enjoyed our last breakfast at the hostel. We observed a street cat trying to jump on the breakfast room’s tables trying to steal peoples’ food. We named him Casanova because he kept trying to be cute and rub up against our legs to sweet talk us into feeding him.

 

Elif was around cooking things and making sure we ate enough in true Grandma fashion. We had a funny conversation with her about how the belly dancer had been last night, and how she was proud that her daughter didn’t grow up and become a belly dancer. Apparently there’s some stigma there. Anyway, we told her we were on our way to Cappadocia, she told us we were going to love it, and she bid us a friendly goodbye.

 

Honestly I can’t express how awesome our Istanbul hostel was. They were super chill, friendly, accommodating, and really made us feel welcome and safe in the city. All of the guys who worked there were super friendly and made us feel not just at home, but part of their weird, quirky little family. Sure we had our issues with air conditioning, and the blanket situation was weird, but the location was prime, the people were great, and we got to see everything we wanted in Istanbul from that vantage point. If you’re a no-frills, young, first-time traveler to the city of Istanbul, Bucoleon By Cheers is a great option.

 

I’ll probably be copy/pasting the above paragraph on their TripAdvisor page.

 

Anywho.

 

Our ride to the airport was safe, direct, and in the hands of a very sweet old Turkish man. He definitely wasn’t the craziest driver we’ve had, but just crazy enough for us to accept that Turkish road rules are really road suggestions.

 

We got to the giant Istanbul Airport and went through two security checkpoints. My headband went off in the metal detector so I had to be frisked. I’m well on my way to being frisked on every continent.

 

After about an hour of chilling in the airport (and both of us on different occasions accidentally almost mistaking the women’s mosque for a women’s restroom), we boarded our plane. It felt like it took longer for us to taxi than it did to fly. The runway felt like it was in Asia.

 

Soon we were up in the air, and the flight went by like lightning. The beverage cart came around, driven by the world’s most charismatic flight attendant. He gave us drinks and a little caprese sandwich labeled “cheese toast.” Can’t tell if we weren’t both starving, or if it really was delicious, but it certainly hit the spot. Both Sarah and I don’t like tomatoes, but Sarah did a bad job of hiding her evidence, so the flight attendant made fun of her. “Next time, I’ll give you no tomatoes,” with a smile. He said it to her again when we deplaned. She was embarrassed.

 

Nevsehir Airport Cappadocia kind of resembles a bus station. You get off of the plane right onto the tarmac, and then walk half the width of a football field into the one-roomed terminal. Then the bags come down the conveyer belt. I swear mine was like one of the last ones on the belt, which always gives me anxiety, but we left with all luggage accounted for.

 

We had supposedly pre-scheduled a transfer from the airport to the hotel, as it’s about a 45 minute drive from the airport, but amidst the crew of people there collecting people, we didn’t see anyone holding a sign with our names. We double checked, then hopped into a cab. We were too tired to seek other options.

 

Right off the bat, our cab driver was really friendly. He closed the windows and put on air conditioning for us. He verified the hotel’s address for us by calling. His English was not good, but he was doing his best. It was way better than our Turkish.

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He offered to pull off so we could see some of the vistas as we were driving into the Cappadocia region. We asked if he had time. He was more than happy to pull over. I think he was the most excited for us to see it. I feel like we’d been adopted by the President of the Cappadocia Welcome Committee.

 

We went to the first vista and our jaws dropped. I mean, I’d done my homework on this place, but there’s nothing quite like seeing it up close. The terrain is like something out of another world. It’s full of crazy ridges and rock faces unlike any other. From the cliff we looked down at the valley, full of craggy cliffs and weird rocks and caves that we couldn’t tell if they were man-made or some weird natural phenomenon.

 

 

 

Also at this place we saw some crazy fluffy chickens. I didn’t get a picture. But they were cool and we kept joking about them for days, referring to them as “party chickens.”

 

After about five minutes, we hopped back in the car and drove to another vista. Our cab driver again told us to take as long as we wanted. We took a couple pictures and selfies, and then went over to a little spot where they use forced perspective to make it look like you’re holding a hot air balloon. It’s definitely Instagram-worthy kitsch. But yeah, I did post that picture on Instagram, so I fell right into that trap.

 

 

Our cab driver asked us to take a selfie with him and we did! Unfortunately it didn’t come out because our faces were half cut out of it, so that’s a missed opportunity. But he was lovely. A little huggy for our taste, and we were very tired. But it was really sweet how excited he was to show us Cappadocia.

 

We arrived at our hotel and we said goodbye, each giving him a European kiss on the cheek. He waved goodbye and sent us off on our way, happy as a clam. If Elif was our Turkish Grandma, he was our Turkish Grampa.

 

We were having a good time, but we were really tired and happy to have arrived in one piece at the hotel. We dragged our bags into the reception area and gave our name to the receptionist.

 

The first thing he said was that our ride had been waiting at the airport for two hours.

 

As two innocent, fragile millennials, our first instinct was to feel insanely guilty.

 

We confirmed that there had been no one there at the pickup location. We said we looked around and saw no one, so just opted for a cab out of convenience. He made us feel really bad about it though, and made us feel dumber for choosing an expensive cab ride over the transfer. But really, we hadn’t seen anybody, so we figured some wires got crossed. In retrospect, we probably could have called to confirm with the hotel, but eh. Hindsight is 20/20. Not to mention we’d already had some difficulties trying to dial Turkish numbers.

 

After that awkward encounter, we stumbled into our hotel room, still feeling bad about everything terrible we’d done that day and the last five years. On the plus side, our room was pretty cool. Cappadocia is famous for Cave Hotels, which are built alongside and into the natural rock formations. So here’s our digs.

 

 

We’ve also got a sweet pair of balconies with great views of the surrounding area.

 

 

Exhausted by our late night out, our long journey, and emotional distress, I passed out for two hours, and Sarah had some quiet time. By the time I woke up, it was time to get ready for dinner in downtown Goreme, the town we’d be calling home for the next three days.

 

We still felt super guilty, but there was nothing to do but carry on with our day, and avoid that awkward guy at reception.

 

Our drive up to our hotel felt really sinuous and complicated, but as we walked downtown, we realized that we were really one long, windy road away from the town center located at the valley at the bottom of the hill. The walk down showcased all kinds of hotels and shops, definitely catering to a tourist clientele.

 

 

The Cappadocia region is definitely up-and-coming as a tourist destination, and that’s definitely the vibe you get while walking around. The streets are compiled mostly of gift shops, tour companies and hotels. But it’s much more chill than Istanbul. Nobody’s hassling you to come into their shop or restaurant, but they’re very willing to say hello or ask where you’re from.

 

We went to a restaurant off of downtown’s main street that had a little outdoor patio. I got Turkish pide, which is basically somewhere between a pizza and a calzone, but in pita form. We’d seen them before and referred to them as “pizza boats.” It was pretty good. Sarah got a cool dish that was cooked in a clay pot. You had to open the pot with a knife. Apparently it wasn’t great because it involved a lot of tomatoes (which, you now know, neither of us like), but the novelty was there.

 

After we finished up, the day was still young so we took a stroll around downtown. It may be a tourist trap, but it is a lovely little spot. We found a café that had baklava, so we each got a couple of pieces. I also got another couple of pieces of Turkish delight to try. We brought our sweets over to a bench so we could eat and people watch. The baklava was delicious, but the Turkish delight was kind of bland. I’d preferred the kind we’d gotten in Istanbul.

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After a few minutes of basking in the glow of Goreme’s colorfully lit lamps and ambient restaurant lighting, we made the trek back up the hill to our hotel. Luckily our friend the receptionist was not home, so we were able to scoot to our rooms without judgment.

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