Traversing through the skies alone may have been the bravest thing I did in my life. (Well, minus the time I skydived at 13,000 ft. few months back). Brave, because I managed to squeeze in a trip half way across the globe with just a week off from my job. Brave, because I thought I was traveling solo since my friend Kash wasn’t able to get her visa on time. And brave, because despite of my Airlines’s travel embargo, I still flew. 34 hours in transit to reach Cappadocia may have sounded crazy. YYZ-MNL-DXB-IST-SAW with 5 hour layovers in between. Mastering the art of sleeping in planes and showering at airports. With a book clunched to my side as my confidant. Yep, all for the dream. And the dream destination.
The Cappadocia in my dreams sure did live up to its unique image. With cave hotels and camel rides. Turkish dances and turkish bath. Hot air balloons and well-thought out tours. The culture is so rich and so as their tourist-flocking tourism. I tried both Red and Green tour. With Red being more historical. And Green being more of an adventure. As I ride the streets at noon on a Camel, I can’t help but gasp in awe. There I learned that Cappadocia region was formed 60 million years ago by erosion of soft layers of lava and ash from Mount Erciyes (Argeus), Mount Hasan and Mount Güllü composing with wind and rain over millions of years. Caves and chimneys were then formed naturally. With locals taking advantage and claiming each to be rented out as hotels. We stayed in one, actually. Cave hotels are a must-try in Turkey enabling every tourist to feel the eerie mist of the region. My favourite one was Artemis Cave Hotel which has the perfect rooftop spot to watch the daily Hot Air Balloon extravaganza.
Speaking of Hot Air Balloons, Cappadocia was made famous by it on the internet. With rides regularly happening every sunrise and champagne cheers afterwards. And as adventurous as I am, it is a must try. Amidst the negative degrees and inappropriate not-so-winter outfit – me and my friend Kash managed to get beautiful clips of the balloons while riding one in its glory. We rose up above Love Valley and Gerome Open Museum with colourful cascades of Hot Air Balloons as our backdrop. It was breathtaking. No, not breathtaking. It was more like magical. And sure was I a bit teary eyed while I gaze in amazement.
Beyond the picturesque setting and the wonderful weather, is a culture so rich worth noting. Turkish people speak very little English (except the tourist guide, ofc) which makes it enough to communicate and manoeuvre around. There I witnessed pottery making, carpet weaving and silk harvesting. I find it amazing how they try hard to maintain and cultivate on their traditions. Boasting it to every tourist for years and years to come. One interesting fact I learned as I went church-hopping one day, was that they were once ruled by the Roman Empire. Making them Catholics themselves. Every coherent rock-cut churches sport colourful frescoes (religious paintings) inside. Frescoes are made vibrant by covering the walls with Pigeon Droppings. No wonder there are plenty Pigeon houses around town.
It sure didn’t disappoint. Making Cappadocia my favorite place in the world. Beating Hawaii. And even London. Never in my wildest dreams do I believe in the possibility of me traveling to Cappadocia. Amongst the countries I’ve been to, it is only in Turkey was I not able to bump to a fellow filipino – probably because it is far or it is not that of the norm – but it made me feel liberated. And me being able to travel there at 23 and representing Philippines when every tourist were asked to recite where we’re from, is a dream come true.