Castles in the Sky…
Uçhisar, Cappadocia, Turkey Oct 2020
The interesting terrain in this part of Anatolia lends itself to exploration by foot, and we have come prepared with our hiking gear (in Dan’s case an old pair of trainers and his school backpack!). We were grateful for our walking boots as the terrain became increasingly treacherous as we made our way along Pigeon Valley the following morning.
After a few wrong turns, we were glad to make a pit stop at the Calgary Tea Room which surprised us as we rounded a steep bend on the route. The scenery resembled the American Wild West, with sandstone arches, majestic canyons and the ever present fairy chimneys. The Valley is named after the copious amount of pigeon houses carved into the rock.
Apart from a food source, but now regarded as “sacred”, the ancients used their droppings as fertilizer – no sh#t!
Arriving hot and tired we finally reached the town of Uçhisar, which is dominated by an impressive 60 meter high castle carved out of the mountain. It is also the home to world’s very first cave hotel built in the sixties, which now boasts a rock sculpted spa and pool overlooking the valley. A massage and a cool dip would have been most welcome at that point, but we continued onward and upwards to the spectacular citadel. Exhaustion plus the on-line warnings that safety wasn’t the highest priority inside the crumbling passageways deterred us from exploring inside the rock. A short taxi ride back to Göreme, a cold drink and something to eat was much more appealing.
A sunset quad bike tour sounded like fun, and after a short breather, we were dropped off at one of the numerous ATV centres. Considering how quiet the town had appeared, we were amazed to join what seemed like hundreds of fellow bikers and roared (well in our case, “spluttered” – we had a faulty battery!) off down up the road towards Rose Valley. We felt like an extras in “Easy Rider” (or sporting our German paratrooper style helmets, perhaps that should be “Allo, Allo”).
The noise and dust of several hundred quad bikes thundering along the valley completely ruined the experience for me and was a prime example of mass tourism at its worse. Once parked, the scene resembled a Hells Angels’ Convention and queues formed to climb up to the viewpoint once the sun was in the descent. I began to wish we had opted for the sunset horse ride instead…