Travelling with a 7.5 year-old: Cappadocia, Turkey

Cappadocia

Rounding up my previous posts about our trip in Turkey is how we spent four days in Göreme, Cappadocia. We flew to Kayseri Airport with the plan to rent a car and drive the one-and-a-half hour away to the village of Göreme. Back in Istanbul, Hubby had just realised at the airport that he forgot his driver’s license at home, so we arrived with some trepidation on how we’re supposed to get on with the trip.

Fortunately, he’d got his boat license with him, and he passed them off as his driver license at the car rental counter. Nobody batted an eye and they gave us the car. So yes, we illegally drove around for 4 days without a driver’s license in Turkey. Good thing we never got pulled over by the police.

Driving out of Kayseri, we soon found ourselves in wide open spaces. The landscape turned steppe-like, with some hills and mountains in the background and vast un-populated areas of flat land with grass and shrubberies , I felt I was somewhere in Kazakhstan rather than Turkey. The closer we got to Göreme, the topography got more interesting. We started to spot some rocky formations and random fairy chimneys jutting out from the earth. By the time we’re in Göreme, we’re surrounded by them.

Where we stayed:

We didn’t go for the usual self-catering accommodation in place of a cave hotel, where we had our room carved out from natural rock. We booked a triple room, and the Kid got her bed in an alcove of her own on one corner of the room. It is surprisingly very cozy, especially at night. The stone naturally filtered out outside noises and insulated the room (we were there late October, so it got quite cold in the night). I could see why people chose to live in these man-made caves for eons in this region.

What we ate:

It’s very difficult to find food other than Turkish food in the area. Very few local eateries put anything non-Turkish on their menu, and when they did, it’s usually not very well made (which might be passable if you’re just desperate to have something different). The Kid had never been a fan of Turkish food, but we found some food she would eat:

  • Pide, or folded turkish pizza, which she likes with cheese (and nothing else). If you’re not keen on sheep or goat cheese (like The Kid), always specify to have it with cow cheese instead.
  • When we went out for kebab, she would opt for chicken wings with rice, instead of the more spicy lamb.
  • Gözleme, pastry pockets filled with anything from vegetables, cheese or meat. I especially like the version with minced meat.
  • Omelet. Most eateries have omelets in their breakfast/lunch menu. She learned to like having omelet with bread dipped in cacik (Turkish version of tzatziki).

She also loved having her meal with apple tea, which is not actually tea made with apple, but more like tea mixed with apple juice (at least that’s what I think it tasted like).

Our favourite place to eat in Göreme was Cafe Safak, just by the bus station. It’s got a nice outdoor place to sit in the sun, nice coffee according to Hubby (I don’t drink coffee myself), very friendly owner who speaks perfect English, and good food made by his mother.

If you really have to have something other than Turkish food, I would recommend the Fat Boys Bar. They serve typical pub grubs and Australian menu, and they know what they’re doing. Despite being called ‘bar’, it’s actually family friendly.

What we did:

Of course, the highlight of our trip was the hot-air balloon ride, but there are a lot to do on the ground around Göreme as well. Hiking and horse-riding are two popular options, but my girl loved nothing more than to explore the rock formations and abandoned cave houses to climb. We passed along so many of these, and for the Kid, it’s like endless choices of playground. Aside from the open air museum where the cave houses are protected, or ones which were still inhabited (yes, people still live in them!) pretty much anything else you find scattered in the area is open to public, and we never had any problems exploring them. It’s a good idea to bring along a pair of grippy shoes if you’re interested in doing the same thing. The stones are soft and powdery, and can be quite slippery.

There are also several old underground cities in the area, which I just had to see. We went to the most elaborate of them, Derinkuyu. It’s fascinating to imagine thousands of people living in these underground space, and how one could see all the different rooms they carved out for different purposes. Derinkuyu underground city is about 60m deep, so once you reached the deepest level, you’ll need to go back up through very narrow steep steps. They’re not ideal for people prone to claustrophobia as well. After spending about 1 hour in the mazes of the city The Kid suddenly got really anxious to get out and she had a panicky look on her eyes. Me personally, I would spend hours down there exploring every little tunnels and envisioning myself sleeping in one of the cave chambers.

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