So with the knowledge that I wasn’t going to be able to go up in a balloon myself, I decided to try and get up to watch the hot air balloons from my terrace. It required a 5am wake up call. I should have gone back to bed immediately after realizing that literally no one else was on terraces to also watch them. Turns out they weren’t flying today, and I hadn’t gotten the memo.
So, annoyed, I went back to bed around 6. Didn’t really fall back asleep until about 9:30. And then I woke up at 11 when Sarah said “Christina…It’s eleven…”
We had planned to hike the other side of the Love Valley Ridge, which we’d seen on our first hike. But waking up dehydrated and loopy after too little sleep, I was starting to doubt my ability to conquer a 2 foot hill, let alone a scorching hike.
But we had a good idea to go into town in search of breakfast (considering we’d slept through free breakfast) to build up some energy. We stopped in a little convenience shop and grabbed some supplies a baguette, cheese, cashews, some snack cakes, and a banana each. I also hopped into the coffee shop where we’d previously gotten our baklava and obtained an iced coffee for the road. Ah, iced coffee, how I’d missed you so.
We continued along the ridge, remembering the same pretty flowers and trees we’d seen the day before. We did notice however that there was much less cloud cover today, and that the air was even hotter on top of that. Good thing that this was the day of our long hike.
We followed the ridge until we came to the connector, which was, well, the road that connected Goreme to Nevsehir, the major city in the region. This road wound up being completely uphill, and in the heat of the sun, we were starting to overheat. Luckily, just a stone’s throw from the other side of the ridge, we found a little cave dwelling that served as a respite spot. As we’re sitting in this cave, we started seeing a ton of people passing us on the road, either from the air conditioned comfort of vans or cabs, or from the seats of ATVs. It seems that the majority of tourists that visit this region don’t hike, they ride to the pretty vistas. We New Hampshireites work for our views, dammit!
We got to the vista, which is apparently one of the tourist stops that has a couple little gift shops and food stands for people. We saw a couple taking their wedding photos from the viewpoints—we felt so bad for the bride in all those layers. There were also a couple of dorky little spots to take Instagram-worthy pictures of yourself in a heart in the Love Valley.
So I did that.
Sarah also bought a headscarf to protect herself from the brutal sun, and I got a cup of orange juice for us to share. It even came with an ice cube in it. What service.
We took some more pictures along the vista. Behold.
After about two hours hiking in the brutal sun, this was our status. There’s a little swearing in the video but I’m posting it anyway because I think we’re adorable despite it.
It was maybe twenty minutes after the video took place that the heat and exhaustion began to take its toll. It was about three in the afternoon. It was about 87 degrees outside. We’d only seen one other pair hiking, and they’d plowed right by us. The only other people on the road were in cars, whipping right along. We were getting low on water. And we were only a little bit more than halfway done with our loop.
The end was nigh.
We continued plodding forward, rationing our remaining water and constantly checking Google Maps to see how far our “dot” was from the road. We figured the main road would have a gas station or a quick stop where we could buy more water. Until then we were on “low power” mode.
Eventually we got up and continued onward, tempted by the fruit on the trees. Suddenly everything looks refreshing and delicious when you haven’t had real food all day and you’re running on half the water you need to survive. We almost stole a peach off the tree, but our consciences told us not to. But then we saw a fresh apple that had fallen from a tree. We picked it up. Dusted off some dead ants. Looked to our left. Looked to our right. And we each had a bite. It was really sour, definitely in the “granny smith” family. But in the moment, it was delicious.
Until we saw a group of people on bikes and we panicked as if we’d stolen something. My gut instinct was to tuck it into my backpack. Sarah’s gut instinct was to rip it out of my hands and throw it into the orchard.
Guess who’s reflexes are faster?
We continued onward, slowing our pace every time we found ourselves in shade. We had about 2 miles left on our hike and those miles were ticking by at a snail’s pace. At one point there was a shady dune on the side of the road, and we sat against it when we realized it was cooler there.
We were in rough shape.
But we continued onward. We could see the road. We could hear the cars. We saw a gas station and a couple gift shops. We knew we just had to reach the end of the trail and turn a tight left and we’d be on that road, it was just a minute away.
We came across a building on the horizon. At first we thought it might be a gift shop—which would likely have water. But instead, we got closer, and saw it was some kind of museum for gems and jewelry. We shrugged and kept going. Until we heard “bonjour” from the smaller building across the street of the gem place.
Sarah responded instinctively, “bonjour.” There were a pair of men there, on the older side, sitting outside of what looked like a small convenience store/café, drinking tea. He asked her a couple of questions in French, I’m assuming the general questions we’d gotten from strangers before. “Where are you from?” etc. But also, we could tell from this guy’s tone, that we looked like walking death, and he was concerned. Then he asked how long we’d been hiking. We said since about noon. It was five-ish. We were sweaty and sunburnt and exhausted. Visibly. So he offered us each a cup of apple tea and a seat in the shade.
We had been BLESSED.
These guys were so nice. Sarah carried on a lovely conversation with the guy who spoke French, who was one of the men who worked at the jewelry museum. Apparently it’s a museum, as well as a school for people who learn to make jewelry. He also does a lot of work with one of their counterparts in Normandy, hence why he knew French. His companion spoke English, so he and I joked about how neither of us knew French.
We saw a car roll by with a bunch of tourists in it. It looked like an old sixties mustang with the top down. The French guy rolled his eyes. He told Sarah in French that they rent those cars to people for 100 euros a person—so even if you shared a car, it’s by person not by car. We looked back at him in disbelief and he was like, “I know, ridiculous.” We were having a great time with these guys.
After maybe ten minutes or so, we thanked them for the tea and the shade. We asked them where to buy water and they sold us a bottle of their own—a giant, 2 liter bottle for about 1 US dollar. With a couple smiles and waves and many “merci beaucoups!” we were back on our way, on the straight-shot road back to town.
These guys had totally saved us, and we were so thankful. We kept talking about how nice they’d been for our whole walk back. That kind of kindness you don’t see anywhere else. Middle Eastern hospitality is real. Of course it didn’t hurt that we looked like an actual disaster.
We continued along the main road, which was still about a mile’s throw from our place, but at least we knew we were in civilization. And we had our giant bottle of ice cold water, which had never tasted so amazing. We saw the road sign for Goreme and got very excited. There was a walking path along the road that was sometimes paved, sometimes a pile of weeds. We started off in good shape, but there were some places where we had to lean against rocks to dodge traffic, or pick burrs out of our pants.
We relaxed for a bit, showering off the dust we’d accumulated on our skin, and I did a little writing. I’d also noticed a beet-red sunburn on my neck, which was really annoying, because I’d been re-applying all day but had clearly forgotten that one spot.
After some chill time, we wandered back into town for our last dinner in Cappadocia. We toyed around with the idea of going somewhere new for dinner, but considering we’d had such a great time at Viewpoint the night before, we just decided to go there again. On our walk down, we bumped into one of the friends we’d bet at our Istanbul hostel, Mike, from Brisbane. We’d known a lot of people had plans to carry their journey to Cappadocia, but we were still very surprised to bump into him. Apparently he’d gotten into town that morning and had gone on one of the guided tours around the area. He said it was cool. He had reservations for dinner, so we parted ways, but it was cool to see him again.
We climbed the stairs of Viewpoint and settled in with another magical view of Goreme. We had the same waiter, who, albeit a little awkward, was very attentive. The food was great again, the wine was decent (I’d tried a different variety, should have stuck with my original), and we got to watch the city turn pink as the sun set. We didn’t smoke hookah, but opted for baklava instead. It was really good.
I also got a good video of the evening Call to Prayer. I realized I hadn’t recorded it yet.
As we left, Sarah tripped over a step and fell on the waiter. She was mortified. She’ll probably be mad I’m typing this but honestly this is the only trip I’ve been on where someone else has tripped more than me, so I’m enjoying it. I love you, Sarah. Please stay friends with me.
We went up the hill and settled in for the night. I wanted to be asleep early so I could hopefully catch the balloons in the morning. But we were both having trouble sleeping. I’d had a dream the night before that I’d seen the ghost of a harem girl in our hotel room and it was very vivid—so much so I could hear her jewelry clinking as she stepped over my suitcase. And then on top of that, one of the lights in our room wasn’t going completely out. So I told Sarah about the ghost and she started yelling at her and I was like “AHH NO YOU’RE COOL! I THINK YOUR CULTURE IS FASCINATING!” And then on top of that, Sarah thought we saw a mouse. So all-in-all, not the most relaxing environment to get some shuteye. But we made do.