Cappadocia: flying on balloon over "fairy chimneys"
January 1, 1970
by Anna Korbut
Land of fairies
I’m climbing on the top of another hill, from both sides see marvelous rock towers made by nature, which called “fairy chimneys”. They look like fantastic sculptures from other planet. Tuff sand strew from under my legs and fingers – all these valleys made of volcanic rocks and basalt. In the morning everything covered with blue haze, but in few minutes bright sunrays appear behind the huge mountain and soon they illuminate all valley. White peaks and ridges look like huge cake or sand-box of a crazy painter. Dozens of air balloons, full of emotional tourists with photo-cameras, are flying over all this geological madness. From a distance people seem small insects, and blinking balloons taken by wind become smaller and smaller, going further to horizon. You can meet every sunrise this way if you are coming to Cappadocia.
Looking for the good angle for shooting I’m running far away from hotel and viewing platform. In half an hour we’ll have breakfast, but I run away almost to another valley. Can imagine that Fatima (owner of our hotel) already preparing tasty traditional food, filling plates with fragrant local olives and fruits, different types of cheese and salad. She also fries very special traditional bakery and make amazing tea. For the sake of drinking this aromatic dark tea from small Turkish glasses I can run twice more quickly, it’s impossible to find this type of tea in any other country or even in Istanbul. When I come back some balloons are still visible from terrace. October sun is shining and warming us like in summer, life is amazing.
For lazy tourists Cappadocia has all types of service. You will be placed in bus and driven to other panoramic viewpoint number 5. But real beauty of local nature you can see only on the way, walking far away from service and popular routs. That’s why I take sandwiches, water and go forward. Gureme is one of central cities of Cappadocia, its surrounded by many roads to different valleys. You can choose any direction and anyway will arrive to mysterious beautiful place. But you can act more practical and use a map. Don’t believe in local maps – all of them made especially for bus tours, better upload to you phone regular OpenCycle Map.
Ghosts of valleys
According to the local legends and fairytales unusual geological landscape was made by ghosts; geologists hold more boring theory about volcanos and erosion. But when you are looking at huge stone pyramid, cake with a height of 9-floor building or another natural sculpture you want to believe in some esoteric phenomena that produced this landscape. Valleys of Cappadocia fulfill you with energy and inspiration. Earth here is pleasuring to your eye with all colors of rainbow. You are walking along White, Rose, Red or Honey valleys and rocks gentle changing their colors and shape.
Hiking in White Valley
Path in White valley is very quiet and simple: you have only one route and no place to get lost. Smooth descending road into white canyon going between rock waves and curls in direction of Love valley. This one is very well advertised and photogenic place with phallic shaped rocks. Groups of tourists are driven here by buses and cars, Love valley is popular and visible. White valley is much more cozy and quiet, here people walking slow, only extremals sometimes drive their bicycles. In autumn you can find some grapes here. Despite the religion people make really good and tasty vine in Anatolia region.
Surprises of Rose Valley
I fall in love with Rose Valley because of various trails and surprising relief: sometimes you should climb down on all your fours from the hill, there is even one part of the trail with safety rope. This way memorized with unexpected extreme hiking. Here I observed unique type of family tourism: couple travelling with 4 children; 2 of them are younger 1 year old and travel in parent’s backpacks, other two near 7 years old climbing independently and even carry small backpacks. It was one of many interesting meetings inside these beautiful valleys.
Cave-houses, churches and hotels are local remarkable sights. Almost every inhabitant of Cappadocia own tiny personal cave, stone hotel or at least small garden in the very center of reserved valley. Sometimes on the private territory you can find old churches from 12th century. Leaving caves are the tribute to the past and history, also they are great attraction for tourists. Who want to live in a modern cave? Breakfast and hot water are included. Besides caves are really warm during the winter and pleasantly refreshing during the summer +40 degree thanks to the tuff qualities, which is the material of all the caves and buildings around.
Turkish cuisine is sometimes really simple but very delicious. My favorite traditional dish is “mercimek çorbası” – lentil soup with lemon, you can find it in every cafe with the cheapest price and nice quality. This year I found special spices for this soup to cook it at home. It called “zahter” and consist of salt, pepper, thyme, marjoram, savory, sumac, sesame seeds and oregano. It is said these spices are good for stomach especially with legume dishes.
Churchhella is common delight in Turkey, its tasty but not surprising. I was lucky to see how home pastila is cooked. Group of women in traditional shawls are boiling grape juice in huge bowl on the fire. Sweet smell is flowing down the street. Women smile and talk, later they will dry these sweets with thin layer on huge terraces.
Central Turkey is the journey with special taste of adventures and culture.
To do list:
- Watch sunrise with flying balloons and sunset from special “sunset point”
- Observe stars
- Hike Red and Rose Valley, White and Love Valley, Pigeons and Valley
- Take bus to Ihlara Valley and walk near the river inside huge canyon
- Visit Uchisar and Ortahisar cave castles
- Take balloon tour and drive ATV
- Look at 1000 years old frescos
- Buy some ceramics or jewellery, spices and delights
- Sleep in cave