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krisek Goreme - A travel report by Krys
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Goreme,  Turkey - flag Turkey -  Nev¶ehir
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krisek's travel reports

Fairytale place full of fairy chimneys. Göremë.

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Not-of-this-world, fantastic in the true meaning of the word - that's how Göreme is. Right in the middle of the mind-blowing Cappadocia, the little town is positively bewitching. And there is no place like this anywhere else in the region.


Fairy chimneys at the village of Cavusin (4km from Goreme), at sunset.
Fairy chimneys at the village of Cavusin (4km from Goreme), at sunset.
The main reason to come to Göreme was, almost paradoxically, not to see the town, but it's incredible surroundings. And nearly everything that is associated with Cappadocia was in the immediate vicinity of Göreme. Strong feet and enough stamina allowed to explore the area by two one day-long hiking and trekking. For the valleys, chimneys, caves, rock churches and odd earth formations were spread around 5 mile radius only.

When I was in Turkey in 1999, I also thought of coming to Cappadocia. Since then, hundreds of photographs from this part of the world found around me, kept this destination high on the priority list. I made a few attempts to plan a trip to Göreme, yet other priorities have always crept in. My expectations grew and grew over those 11 years. And when I finally arrived on the 26 August 2010, I was not disappointed. In fact, my expectations were well exceeded. Perhaps choosing a quiter period towards the end of the summer helped, as the velleys, villages and towns were not overflowing with visitors.

Göreme is the best spot in Cappadocia to start and to end exploring the region. No other town or village has so much charm and magnetism and fairytale-like ambiance. And since it is located right in the middle of the most striking landscape, it makes a perfect base to do the exploration on foot. Otherwise, one would need to use some form of wheeled transport to get to the most interesting valleys. Yet from the other hand, staying first in less dramatic places like Urgup, Avanos or Nevsehir and then coming to Göreme last could augment the 'wow' factor of the latter. I did the opposite, and my first impression of Urgup, which could not really compete with Göreme, was not great.

I arrived in Göreme on Turkish Airlines (locally known as THY) from London via Istanbul by landing in Kayseri airport. It was easier to get to Cappadocia than I originally thought. The low fares airlines such as Pegasus were also flying to Cappadocia.

Favourite spots:
Göreme Valley, right at the back of the town - a selection of fairy chimneys.
Göreme Valley, right at the back of the town - a selection of fairy chimneys.
It is hard to pick a favourite spot in Göremë and around. The Göremë Valley was magical (see hangouts), the main street running along the canal was animated, the large fairy chimneys opposite the Ufuk Pensiyon were mind-boggling, but it would have to be the Love Valley near Çavusin that captivated me the most. Particularly at sunset. The thin fairy chimneys looked majestic and romantic. It was truly a lovely valley, but I was not sure whether it took its name from its loveliness or the abundance of the phallic rock formations. Access was free and at the time I visited, there was no-one there but me.

What's really great:
The White Valley, about 30 minutes hike from Göreme.
The White Valley, about 30 minutes hike from Göreme.
One of Göreme strong sides was that everything was so close, including the airports. Everything could be done on foot, yet there were facilities for all tourist needs. One could hire a car, a 4x4 off road vehicle, a moped, a bike, a quad bike, a horse, a camel, a mule cart. And right in the centre of the town, there was an ATM, which apart from TRY, gave also USD and EUR!

Visits to all of the valleys around the town would not require hiring any form of transportation. The distances were not great, and some of the valleys and the most captivating rock formations were just half an hour walk away from the centre of Göreme. And many were just around the corner. In addition, the town managed to retain its magical fairy-tale like feel. The new structures built in the town were designed to blend in amongst the conical fairy chimneys and the shape of the hills. This is why Göreme felt so incredibly otherworldly.

Sights:
Pasabagi, a cluster of interesting three-headed fairy chimneys, at sunset.
Pasabagi, a cluster of interesting three-headed fairy chimneys, at sunset.
Göremë's main sight was the Open Air Museum, which charged TRY15 (£6.35, €7.73, $9.85), but I did not appreciate it for the crowds. Compared with the empty valleys, it was almost unbearable.

The more spectacular rock formations were found in (distance from Göremë in km, direction from Göremë): Pasabagi (6,N); Çavusin (4,N); Love Valley (5,NW); Göremë Valley (0,SE); Zemi Valley (3,SE); Kilclar Valley (1,E); Red Valley (3,NE); Rose Valley (4,NE) - all easily accessible on foot and several of them could be done in a day with no guide necessary. It was possible to hike from Göremë to Pasabagi through Kilclar, Red, Rose, and Çavusin in about 3-4 hours, including photo stops. An hour resting at Pasabagi and 1 hour trek south parallel to the main Avanos-Göremë road took one back.

Another circular trek via the Pigeon Valley (2,SE) and through the Love Valley could be done in less than 4 hours.

With enough stamina, one could cover all Göremë's attractions in two days all on foot.

Accommodations:
View of the Ufuk Pensiyon's terrace, conical rocks still used as accommodation.
View of the Ufuk Pensiyon's terrace, conical rocks still used as accommodation.
I booked the Ufuk Pension (€13.50 single, incl. continental breakfast) and was impressed with it's location - right at a group of conical fairy chimneys, each large enough to accommodate a large family. It had several terraces, a couple for relaxing, and a couple for great views. My single room was small adequate and clean. It had a small window and the shower room with toilet, which was well scrubbed, but the old plumbing left a rather stale smell. The bed was narrow and nicely firm (not saggy). A dresser with a large mirror and a small bedside table were the only other furniture. No air-conditioning was a available and a fixed radiator indicated that winters must be cold in Göremë. But one of the pension's main qualities was the manager - a very friendly local guy, who spoke English and could facilitate virtually any tour in Cappadocia. He had discounted air balloon trips (20% cheaper than the official agency price) as by buying bulk tickets, he had taken some of the risk on himself.

Nightlife:
The Flintstones' Cave Bar, complete with a little fireplace.
The Flintstones' Cave Bar, complete with a little fireplace.
There were a few promising-looking spots for night time socialising, like the Fat Boys Bar & Cafe, the Pasha Bar or The Flintstones' Cave Bar. However, when I visited at the end of August 2010, it was right in the middle of the holy month of Ramadan. Therefore no heavy partying was taking place anywhere in the town. In a few cafes and restaurants, the sale of alcoholic beverages was suspended until mid September, when Ramadan ending. So, when I came to check the Flintstones' Cave, which was literally a crawling distance from my pension, it was completely empty. It looked rather nice inside, complete with a small fireplace, and the bar was well stocked, in fact. It was very easy to imagine that this place would see great partying and socialising when the time was right. I should also mention that the last week of August is a gap in seasons to visit Cappadocia. The school holidays were ending, and the pensioners were only to arrive at the beginning of September.

Hangouts:
Göreme Valley in the foreground and the Rose and Red Valleys in the background.
Göreme Valley in the foreground and the Rose and Red Valleys in the background.
The Manzara Restaurant had two great terraces overlooking the town and a large area around - all the way to the Rose Valley, the White Valley and farther. A superb place for a sun downer or writing postcards. I used it for both.

The Mydonos Cafe did great iced coffees and iced chocolates and frappes.

The greatest hangout of Göremë was it's own Göremë Valley, complete with thick and thin fairy chimneys. An unbeatable place to sit down and forget about this world. Or simply matchless spot for a picnic. This was one of the 'postcard valleys' of Cappadocia. And it was so easily accessible from the town. It was right on the other side of the eastern massive, literally just 5 minute walk from the centre (a climb along one of the streets). Spectacular would not be a word to do it justice.

Restaurants:
The top terrace of the Manzara Restaurant overlooking the main part of Göreme.
The top terrace of the Manzara Restaurant overlooking the main part of Göreme.
Firin Express was my first restaurant in Göremë. It specialised in Turkish Pizza (TRY6.50 - TRY8.50), but also served regular pizzas (c.TRY9) and claydish meals. It had clean tables and chairs with tall backrests. The service was polite and the young waiter spoke English. I had a vegetarian pizza, which was fine, but it did no have tomato sauce as a base.

I also tried Nazar Börek Cafe for their sigara böregi, rolled village pasty filled with cheese, or chicken or lamb, and fried in oil (TRY5, TRY9, TRY10, respectively) - like spring rolls. Five large ones came and they were filling! Yogurt sauce with chili and pepper accompanied them.

I dropped into the Göremë Restaurant, which was average by the price range, although their large bottle of Efes lager was just TRY5. I tried the Anatolian gözleme, Turkish flat bred filled with something. I went for veggies. It set me back by TRY6, which I thought was a bit much, as a large chicken kebab was going for TRY4 just across the street.

Other recommendations:
Hot air balloons over the White, Red, Rose and Love Valleys...
Hot air balloons over the White, Red, Rose and Love Valleys...
Göremë was located between the two airports serving Cappadocia, the Nevsehir (NAV) and the Kayseri (ASR) The latter was larger and was better connected with the rest of the country. The best way from and to the airports was with Argeus Tourism & Travel (www.argeus.com.tr), who charged about TRY17 one way for the 'door to door' service. The transfer had to be pre-booked.

If one wanted a hot air balloon at least once in their life then, Cappadocia was one of the best places on the planet to do it. First of all, there was enough competition to keep the prices reasonable, but above all, the scenery was unlike any other on the globe. The best way to get on a ride was to check the Internet prices, keep in mind the desired level of service (the service differed considerably; breakfast, no breakfast, coffee only, full champagne bash, number of people in the basket and length of the flight), and then get one once in Cappadocia. The local tour offices in Göremë can explain everything in detail.

Published on Wednesday September 1th, 2010


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Thu, Jul 21 2011 - 01:15 PM rating by shervin19

fantastic report! thank you Krys.

Wed, Sep 01 2010 - 04:28 PM rating by porto

Out of this world, Krys. And that Flintstones cave bar looks worth a visit also.

Wed, Sep 01 2010 - 03:58 PM rating by eirekay

Krys, thank you for sharing this - my daughter and I hope to go in the next year or two and this is a fantastic report! Great pics and terrific information. BTW, how much was the flight from Istanbul - I had looked into trains and buses but it seemed difficult to do.

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