One of the highlights in Turkey was visiting the town of Goreme, in Cappadocia. The area has a really interesting landscape with ‘fairy chimneys’ that were formed from a volcano erupting ages ago, then eroding away over the years. For a long time people carved homes out of the ash formations and the region is scattered with old abandoned homes and churches. There is a rich religious history here, and many early Christian communities gathered in Cappadocia as early as the 4th century. Some of the carved out homes are still occupied today but many have eroded away. It’s so different from the states in that in most of the surrounding valleys you can explore the old homes and churches wherever you find them. No need to sign any waivers before scrambling up a cliff to explore!
One of most magical things about Goreme is that every morning at sunrise, hundreds of hot air balloons launch, carrying tourists over the interesting landscape to get an aerial view. We didn’t splurge for a hot air balloon ride but we did wake up every morning to watch them float past us. One morning we climbed to the top of the hill in town to watch them but every other morning we could just wake up and walk out of our hotel room to watch them pass. It’s so silent that early in the morning so all you can really hear is the gas from when they fire up the balloons as they float past. They are flown by actual trained pilots, though they can only really control whether they move up or down. The rest is up to the breeze.
We spent a few days in Goreme, hiking in the valleys, renting bikes, and going on a horseback ride tour (great suggestion, Lacey!). We then moved on to warmer weather, towards the coast in Southern Turkey.