Tuesday, February 17, 2015

12 October: Istanbul to Urgup

The early wake-up was easier than I expected. It was dark but felt warmer than I expected. We got dressed and packed and headed downstairs to find out airport transfer waiting.

We got given a small snack (a box of peach juice and chocolate twinkie type thing) on the ride.

We saw lots of axis and airport transfers on the road and Ataturk Airport was bustling! At the airport we got ourselves a croissant for breakfast after checking in. The Trucker also had his first Turkish Coffee :) We didn't expect to be fed on the 1hr20 flight to Kayaseri.

It was rainy and dark as our plane took off and we both dozed off. Until the drinks cart came around ... with more food! We got quite an impressive food box with a sandwich (which we both kept for later), a strawberry yogurt which we atee and a weird little olive, cucumber and tomato salad (yuck). Wa-ay too early in the morning, even for The Trucker who likes olives. I was very nervous about my weird pregnancy hunger & snacking on this trip but I think I'll be fine - haha!

And then we landed in Kayseri. Looks kinda strange so far. Definitely bigger than I expected and so many apartment blocks going up ... in the middle of nowhere. Reminded me of China like that.

And our luggage took ages to arrive on the belt again. But eventually we got outside ... and although there were plenty of drivers with placards, none had our names.

So we patiently waited. Everybody left and we were the last people standing around. Aren't we lucky my phone had roaming. Just for these sorts of emergencies! We called our tour company and they said they'd contact the driver.

20mins later I called back (turns out she'd responded via email, but there was no free wifi at the airport). Our names were with a driver at a whole other airport so they'd had to get another driver to come get us.

Luckily he arrived minutes later. He, however, had an almost full bus of people who had been collected alongside us. And one particular person (American) demanding to know why we hadn't got on in the first place. Like hello? If your driver had had our names to start with, even if we hadn't seen them, he wouldn't just have driven off. #sigh

Needless to say, once we arrived in Urgup, we switched to our correct minibus and joined our day tour which headed straight for Goreme Open Air Museum.

Shew, this place is surreal and fascinating and pretty spectacular! We wandered thru the churches and saw all the amazingly preserved frescoes. It completely reminded me of the Valley of the Kings in Egypt. These unassuming exteriors painted floor to ceiling (and in this case, right across the ceiling!) in the most amazingly preserved colours and pictures.

From there we headed to a pottery place. People seem fascinated by pottery made on the wheel ... but I did pottery in primary school, so I've used on myself. As well as having seen much the same thing in Fez.

They did produce some pretty gorgeous stuff tho. They apparently use powder to paint and then glaze before firing. Reminded me of the Ageing Aunt's enamel process.

Unfortunately, regardless of how nice it looked, it was all far too expensive to even consider buying!

And by now it was lunch time. We got deposited, along with a car park of other tour buses (yes, this is going to be one of those tours) at a buffet restaurant. The food was actually really nice. I tried a little of many tasty things. Oh, and the dessert! So full.

The Fairy Chimneys were next ... as a thunderstorm came rolling in. Luckily it seems to have completely passed now and the weather looks good for our early Hot Air Balloon Ride! We got quite nervous there for a moment!

From there we headed to Pasabag (Monk's Valley) (photo above)and got some great big looming thunderstorm skies :)

We completed our tour with a wet stop at the Goreme Viewpoint (complete with rainbow and a quick hot chocolate!) and a look at the Castle (photo left) before we started dropping people off at their hotels.

I won't lie, I'm a little bummed our hotel didn't turn out to actually be in Goreme. The town looks too adorable (the only comparison I could make would be Chefchaouen). We're staying at MDC in Urgup, which while completely schmancy, if I did this again (or were asked for advice) my money would be spent staying in Goreme.

Back at our hotel, we discovered our gorgeous cave room had a jacuzzi bath so we had a long hot laze with our Kindles. Superb.

By 6pm we decided it was  time to find another early dinner. I was super keen on just sticking with the hotel restaurant which, once we looked at the menu, is exactly what we did. So much less hassle than getting a shuttle and trying to find somewhere else.

I had Borek to start (another tick for my foods-to-try-in-Turkey list). The Trucker wasn't keen on the Manti for mains so instead we shared Meatballs in a hot pot, which was superb. Not a lot of veg in the dishes so they seem to come with a surplus of sides. I tried the apricot dessert, which was a little weird, but not bad.

It's almost 9pm now so bedtime. At least our pickup has been shifted to 5am tomorrow morning now.

Can. Not. Wait *grin*

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