On Tuesday, we had an early flight and had to wake up at 3AM to get to the airport in time. This airport was on the Asian side of Istanbul (Istanbul is the only city in the world that spans across 2 continents), so it was cool to finally make it to Asia.
We arrived at the Kamerhan Stone Hotel. We met the owner immediately, and he welcomed us in for a cup of coffee. He explained how he designed, planned and helped build the hotel for his business, and how he runs almost every aspect of it with his workers. No job was too small for him to do.
Since we arrived early, he took our bags and we immediately started exploring the area. We visited the first stone city in Zelve Valley, where thousands of people carved their homes from the rock. The rock was very soft, and you could see how easily it was eroded by wind and rain.
After exploring the areas, I saw the “trick icecream” stands, where they make it impossible to grab the icecream from the person serving it. They swap cones, steal the icecream, joke with you, etc. I’ll post the video when I am able.
Our next stop was seeing some more stone carved areas. The views were gorgeous, and every spot was different. It was really fascinating seeing how people designed their homes in rock, and how an entire group of people were able to live in a mountain.
We returned to the hotel a little early to prepare for the next day. We planned a hot air balloon ride and had to be up at 4am to catch the sunrise. We took a nap and then went to Han Ciragan Restaurant. Had some delicious food and called it an early night.
The sleep in was great. The bed was very comfortable, the cave kept cool the entire night, and everything was amazing.
Waking up at 4am is not fun. Fortunately, it was the only time we had to do it, so we forced ourselves up. Coffee helped a lot.
It was about an hour ride from the shuttle to the hot air balloon location. We stopped for a quick breakfast and arrived around 5:30am. The sun was just starting to turn the sky orange so we had to get into the balloon quickly to catch sunrise.
I never knew how they inflated hot air balloons until this trip. They have a powerful fan blowing air to inflate the balloon, then they use the burner to push hot air into it. It seems a little dangerous to play with fire like that, but I’m sure the materials were flame resistant.
Riding the balloon was awesome. On takeoff, the balloon slightly hovers, but then will start drifting in a direction. We were at a cliffside, so it was scary to just drift over it, especially when we started descending.
The view was amazing. Nothing can effectively describe the experience. Hopefully these pictures will:
After the ride, we went right back to the hotel and took a nap until 10am. We woke up and went to an underground city. This is probably my favorite part of the trip. This city descended very deep into the mountain, and there were rooms everywhere. Aside from a little but of claustrophobia, I had a blast.
After our first time through it, I thought it would be a great idea to take the GoPro Serra bought and record a video of me quickly going through the city. I’ll upload that video when I get home.
Next on our stop was Ilhara Valley. This was a 2-3 mile walk through a canyon that was flourishing with life due to a small river running through it. The views were breathtaking and the experience was awesome:
For lunch, we stopped at a restaurant on the river. There were elevated huts that you could sit at and eat, and they were directly over water. It was a unique experience.
We explored another cave-home area after lunch. We were so exhausted from this trip, we spent less time at this location.
Afterwards, we stopped at Kervansaray, a caravan resting spot that provided safety to travelers along trade paths. The area was huge.
Our last activity for the was the Pigeon Valley. In this area, farmers used pigeon droppings as fertilizer in the area. The view was beautiful, and we saw a tree covered with thousands of Evil Eye ornaments.
That night, we went to a small restaurant to eat some quick food. We had Turkish Pizza, which had a nice spiciness to it. For dessert, we had a sweet cheese pastry. There is no way to describe it except for sweet cheesy pastry. It was a very dense and delicious food but I wouldn’t eat it every day for fear of gaining a lot of weight.
The next morning we packed our bags, took it easy, and had breakfast before boarding the shuttle and heading back to the airport. This may have been one of the best vacations of my life.