The 1 hour 25 min flight from Istanbul to Kayseri was comfortable and they even served a hot sub with melted cheese and beef! I wish the US domestic flights (those coast to coast 6 hours flights) do that. There are two airports that are in the Cappadocia area – Kayseri and Nevşehir Kapadokya. I picked Kayseri because it has more flights available. Also, Cappadocia is a vast area with many towns and villages; the tourist towns are Göreme (where we stayed) and Uçhisar. The Kayseri airport is much smaller than I thought and very outdated; there was a squat toilet yikes so there was a long line as all tourists were waiting for the sitting toilets.
Once we got out of the airport, we were greeted by our private transfer driver for €75 per way with Turkish Heritage Travel. The van was modern, comfortable, and spacious for 7 of us. The drive was around an hour and we got to our hotel, Sultan Cave Suites at around 7:30 PM. When we checked in, the hotel receptionist told us that our room has a plumbing issue that they weren’t able to fix today so they’ll need to move us to their sister hotel right next door. Only our room, what? How unlucky!!! We were so hungry and tired that we’ll deal with it after dinner.
We all were so craving for Asian food after days of eating meats and we were so thrilled that Cappadocia has a few Asian restaurants, I guess due to lots of Asian tourists, especially from mainland China. We picked Meihua Restaurant down the hill at the center of town. The walk down took 15 minutes or so which means we’ll need to hike our way up xD. The town was lively, full of souvenir shops, bars, and restaurants. We loved the atmosphere of Göreme town.
At Meihua Restaurant, all the waiters and waitresses are locals, the owner lady looked Chinese but she doesn’t speak Mandarin. We were surprised, usually, Chinese restaurants in touristy towns are owned by Chinese and family-run. Anyways, we ordered so much food because it was inexpensive and we were so craving for Chinese food!
The “water-boiled” fish was decent and spicy.
The “water-boiled” beef was okay too.
The stir-fried chicken liver was yummy.
The beef stir-fried noodle was not bad.
The fried rice was okay too.
I forgot to take a photo of the oyster sauce lettuce, that was my favorite dish; I was so craving for stir-fried vegetables! We also ordered fried dumplings but because in a Muslim country, they substitute pork with beef/chicken to make the dumplings, they weren’t good. So a word of caution, do not order dumplings in Muslim countries!!! Oh white rice, how much I missed you!!! The dinner wasn’t super yummy but decent enough to satisfy our cravings. The total was $153.98.
After dinner, most of the souvenir shops were already closed so we didn’t stay long in town and walked back up to the hotel. While the rest of the group stayed at Sultan Cave Suites, Jason and I stayed at their sister hotel, Kelebek Cave Hotel. The receptionist walked us over to our room, the room was dark; the lights were old-style:
The sitting area in between the room and the bathroom.
The bathroom with a tub and a shower.
The bathroom looked the best (at least updated). I asked if we get any compensation because clearly this room is not on par with Sultan Cave Suites (it’s more famous and thus the reason I booked the hotel). The receptionist said it’s the same room category (junior suite) and costs the same (I doubt it) but she’ll speak to her manager in the morning.
We didn’t get much sleep that night, the bed wasn’t comfortable and we need to wake up super early for our hot air balloon flight (separate post: https://missvacation.net/2023/07/16/cappadocia-magical-hot-air-balloon-ride-with-royal-balloon/). After the amazing balloon ride, we went back to our hotel to have our quick breakfast. There were lots of local dishes and a made-to-order menu.
The made-to-order menu sounded much better. We ordered the eggs with chunks of steaks, which was really good and our favorite!
After breakfast, our private tour guide “Tour Guy”, his real name literally sounds like Tour Guy, came to meet us at the reception. We booked a private driver and tour guide through Turkish Heritage Travel for €180 per day. First, he took us to a valley to see an old couple converted their house into a museum/shop. This small valley is beautiful and not many people there when we got there.
There are trees of evil eyes and pottery at the entrance. According to Tour Guy, the men in this village need to know how to make a pot and women need to know how to weave a carpet before they can get married!
Tour Guy told us that it only takes a day for a person to dig a cave room in the rock because those rocks are formed by compacted volcanic ashes so they are very easy to dig a hole. If you look closely on the top of the rock, there are many smaller holes and those are known as pigeon houses to collect their poops (back in the days, people use their poops as fertilizers).
We visited the couple’s house turned museum/shop, they sell souvenirs there:
We weren’t pressured to buy or anything so that was good. We walked across the room to the courtyard.
Next, we went to the kitchen where Tour Guy showed us the traditional oven where they baked breads.
Beautiful landscape of the valley from one of the windows.
Many pigeon houses to collect their poops:
An example of a traditional bedroom:
They sure know the best view to enjoy while having a cup of tea!
Lots of pigeon houses!
The tea room:
Next, we took the loop walk down to enjoy the views. It was perfect weather, not too cold, not too hot and with blue sky and white clouds!
A closer look at the pottery tree:
Next, we headed to a panoramic viewpoint where we can see another rock formation valley and Uçhisar town and castle in the background.
Tour Guy took us to a less touristy village where we took a hike up to see a ruin and views. The far back pointy peaks is the Uçhisar Castle.
We were the only ones there and the back road down, the view was beautiful.
The “caps” formed by rain and wind.
Wildflowers were in full bloom.
The next stop was Pasabag Valley, the admission covered this valley and the Zelve Open Air Museum ($54.57 for 7 of us). Look at that conical “cap”, how much longer will it keep standing?
This is the Instagram spot in Pasabag Valley but it is constantly filled with tourists so it was hard to get a good photo without others in it.
Lots of conical rocks.
We spotted a turtle crossing the road!
We walked up to this higher vintage spot for the views and away from the crowds.
It was time for lunch, Tour Guy took us to a local restaurant in Çavuşin town. We ordered so many local dishes to try out.
This is their “pizza”, we ordered different kinds.
Grilled meat is their specialty; they were tender, but all tasted similar with the same spices.
The lunch cost $58 USD for 7 of us. After lunch, Tour Guy took us to his favorite ice cream shop to try out Turkish ice cream. This was my first time having Turkish ice cream and their texture is very thick like having condensed milk but not as sweet.
The mango and coconut flavors were very good! Compared to Italian Gelato, I preferred gelato more because of the lighter texture that I can eat more 😀
After a refreshing break, we headed to Zelve Open Air Museum.
This valley is even more beautiful and less touristy than the others.
We visited the painted church inside but no photograph allowed so couldn’t show you how it looks like. The painting already looks fainted so it’s hard to see the details.
Found the perfect spot for photos, it was quite challenging to sit and hold in place as the rock was pointy.
As we hiked down, this spot was nice but the sun was behind the subject so was in shadow.
The wildflowers covered the valley.
The last stop of the day was Love Valley.
There is an evil eye tree there too.
The heart frame for couples.
The rest of the group were super tired by then as we got up super early for the hot air balloon ride so they didn’t want to go for a hike. Tim, Jason, and I took a short hike to this spot for photos.
Returning to Göreme, we asked the driver to drop us off at town so we can do souvenir shopping and check out the lively town. One long street filled with souvenir shops that majority of them were selling similar items so check out all the prices first and then bargain!
I bought a ceramic hot air balloon and some hot air balloon keychains.
After shopping, we got back to the hotel and our room was “ready” so we moved to our new room. This looked more like a cave room but much smaller especially the bathroom. It was an experience, it reminded me of the cave houses in Matera, Italy.
This craved hole just enough to fit the bed.
The bathroom was dark and smaller, just enough room to make a turn.
We dined at the hotel’s restaurant – Seten Restaurant where it is famous for the local dish – Testi Kebabı (stew in a pot). The opening of the pots!
The waiter poured out the stew inside, it smelled good.
The rice was perfect with the sauce. The meat was tender and juicy but quite heavy afterward so I couldn’t finish the dish.
The other dishes that our group ordered, this was the lamb.
A pasta/noodle dish:
The dishes were good but not great for the price we paid – $179.53, it was expensive per dish. We were still craving for Chinese food so our group was so crazy that we had our 2nd dinner! We ordered a full table of dishes from the Peking Chinese Restaurant in town; Judy and them took the taxi to pick up the food. We ordered 14+ dishes and sadly, none of them taste good 🙁 I don’t get the thousands of good reviews when none of the dishes taste good! Even worst, Tim found a metal piece in the food that he bite into and hurt his gum yikes!
We thought it was a staple but it was too thick to be a staple…
We had a very long day got up at around 3:30 am for our amazing hot air balloon ride and then the day tour visiting many different valleys and viewpoints. It was tiring but definitely well worth it; Cappadocia has a lot to do and see!