Off Base Adventures: Goreme, Cappadocia

Our hotel was great in that it was just a couple minute walk to the heart of town, but was located just outside of the hustle and bustle. This came in handy because at 35 weeks pregnant, my feet could only handle so much heat and walking before they swelled up like balloons. We were able to head out for short exploratory sessions, then come back to hotel and put our feet up for a while at our leisure. 
The town was just amazing. If you are looking for a true Turkish rug (or slowly becoming an addict like we are), this place is heaven. I want to do a post later on all that we’ve learned about Turkish rugs, but a fun fact to note here is that the tribal looking rugs originated in Cappadocia. 
Seriously, just look at this place. I had to wipe up the drool running down my chin 🙂 

There are a number of restaurants and shops all through town. Local souvenirs included hand painted pottery pieces, rugs, colorful lanterns, hookahs, tea sets, clothes, and other trinkets. Will and I had been eyeing the little hand painted bowls in Adana to use for our rice air fresheners around the house (pour in some rice and your favorite essential oils), and decided at 4TL a piece this was the place to stock up. After digging through an entire box of them and picking out my favorites, we ended up with five gorgeous pieces. They look very anthropology-esque…minus the $40+ price tag.

We also found a hand painted piece of art with the whimsical fairy chimneys and hot air balloons floating overhead. We bought it for the nursery so I’ll post a pic when I do the nursery reveal.
These beautiful painted carts were used by a number of the townsfolk. So much beauty in simple, everyday equipment for these people. 

A lot of the Turkish women, and even some of the Turkish men, wear these gypsy pants. They are basically like a closed skirt with holes for your legs. I have wanted a pair ever since I first saw them, and had planned to find some fabric I liked and have someone at the women’s market make me some. But then I found these in Goreme and fell in love. Bonus points for the very elastic waistband to accommodate the bump!
That evening Faruk (our hotel owner) suggested the Köy Evi Restaurant for dinner, and so kindly arranged for the restaurant to pick us up, which we were immensely grateful for once we realized it was way up on the hill. Once seated we got to soak in the setting sun over the gorgeous Cappadocian landscape. 
Another quick fact, there are stray cats everywhere in Turkey, and no less than five that stalked the tables at this restaurant. The waiters shewed them away from time to time, but it was not uncommon for them to jump up on the tables, sit in the chairs, or relax under your feet while you eat. 

There was an older Turkish lady working away by a large stone oven. We later learned she was busy making the most delectable, perfectly crusty, with a dense spongy inside, mouth watering, best freaking bread we had ever had. Made even more delicious when smothered with the fresh butter and goat cheese it came with.

It was all we could do to stop ourselves from finishing the two gigantic loaves they served us in order to save room for the whole “sleeve” of lamb we had coming.

Faruk has suggested this place because everything was made fresh in house, and you could tell. I won’t say our entree was necessarily the best thing we’ve ever had, but it was good, and the lamb was so tender it completely fell off the bone. Out of all of it I couldn’t get enough of the tomatoes. I seriously don’t know what it is about Turkish tomatoes, but they are incredible. 

After dinner we walked down the hill, enjoying the nighttime chill in the air (after constant 115 degree heat in Adana I have never been so thankful for a few chill bumps on my skin), and took in the night lights in the city, as well as a free show taking place in celebration of a Turkish holiday that day.
The second morning we hopped in the car and drove back towards home about 10 minutes to the town of Uçhisar. Driving towards it looks like something out of a fantasy movie. 

We drove up the little winding cobblestone roads until we reached the top, then parked and set out to explore. We forgot it was Sunday, and the day after a big holiday, and kind of early in the morning, so most of the shops were still closed. But we ventured up and found the Uçhisar Castle, and because we had nothing else to do we paid the 6TL entry fee and made the trek to the top. 

We’re glad we did. It’s the highest peak in Cappadocia, and since we weren’t able to do the hot air balloon ride this go around, it was a great way to see the area. 

Afterwards we walked through some of the now open shops, and got on the road back to Goreme.
That afternoon we picked up some of the souvenirs we had been waiting to buy, ate lunch, and walked around town, also picking up a couple of couch cushion covers I had been searching for (You can see them stacked in the picture below. They take damaged kilims that can’t be repaired and cut them into squares to make these cushion covers.) 

We stopped for a beer (for Will) and a soda water for me for a bit before dinner. Will took this photo trying to show how many flies were swarming around us, although most moved before he could take the photo of course. 

That night we dined at Pumpkin. It’s a newer restaurant, just off the beaten path in downtown Goreme. They have a fixed menu (which I actually love because I don’t have to think, and I feel like you get what the chef considers to be his specialty), served in four courses. 
As we sat down a man who had been selling his things on the street stopped by our table and gifted us with a couple of bunches of grapes…for the baby. I’m not kidding when I say Turkish people love babies. Our waiter, and also one of the owners of the restaurant washed them for us and brought them back out on a serving dish. He then informed us he had a special gift for the baby that he would bring after the meal. 

We started with bread, followed by a brothy lentil soup, then a beautiful plate of fresh tomatoes (yay!), cucumbers, some carrot dish that was out of this world, cheese, stuffed grape leaves (that were SO much better than the Greek versions we’ve had), and some börek (puff pastry stuff with cheese). Our main course was a Turkish crepe served with chicken and beef, and melt in your mouth roasted potatoes and vegetables. And to finish we were presented with a plate of fresh fruit, ice cream, and homemade baklava. 
To say we were stuff was a serious understatement. I was begging the baby to move over and give my stomach some more room so I could keep eating. 

After we had stuffed our faces, and asked the good Lord to forgive us for our gluttony, our waiter had his wife make her signature Turkish coffee. Our first experience with Turkish coffee was pretty terrible. They don’t filter the grounds, so you are basically drinking an espresso complete with the grounds. This however had had time to settle, was sweetened just perfectly, and ended up being pretty enjoyable. 
I was afraid the gift for the baby was going to be more food, and sat worrying how I could possibly fit one more thing in my stomach. Luckily he brought out a little decorative sachet with a keychain inside. The keychain was adorned with a hand painted bead, along with a collection of the blue evil eye beads the Turkish believe keeps bad spirits away from children. It was so kind. We promised to return in a few months. He specifically requested that we come back and he would serve us…and the baby 🙂 Babies are gods over here! 
Before heading back to Adana the next morning, we made a quick detour to the town of Avanos, just about 10 minutes further up the road. Avanos is known for its pottery and Will was dying to bring home one of the vases he had seen around town. We plan to come back and explore this town more in depth. It’s located on a river and had a lot more to see and do than we expected. We did end up finding a great pottery store and Will found his vase at the low, low cost of 10TL. Something like it in the states would have easily have been $20-30 so now he plans to go back and stock up haha!
And with that our first Cappadocian experience was over. We can’t wait to go back! 

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