2014 was an epic year. Marliese and I took 3 months off work and slummed it through Europe.
We tag-teamed places to visit. I wanted to Ski in Austria, she wanted to island-hop Greece. She wanted to visit Montenegro and I had had heard about this mythical place in central Turkey called Cappadocia.
I think the best way to describe Cappadocia is with pictures.
Awesome is used far too much. But I reckon this qualifies as the aforementioned?
Fun Fact: More hot air balloons take off from Cappadocia than any other place on earth.
We flew into Kayseri via Istanbul on a delightful low cost airline called Pegasus. Cheap and cheerful and half the price of Turkish Airlines. A short 1 hour transfer to Goreme and we were in the heart of the action. Autumn was creeping in, so although the day time temperatures were in the mid 20’s, at night it fell to freezing. From December onwards, Cappadocia is transformed into a winter wonderland.
You’ll need a good 4 days to take in all the sights of this lunar-like landscape. There is a bus service linking the 3 major towns of Cappadocia (Goreme, Uchisar and Urgup), but who wants the hassle of figuring out bus schedules? The best way to get around is on 2 wheels. The roads are good and the distances between attractions is not more than 40km. Perfect for a 125cc Kymco Agility. From the get-go let me say that it’s less agility and more stiffness!
My intention is not to lambaste the engineering of this machine. For TL45 ($15) a day, you can’t expect the leasing agency to provide the newest & best in 2 wheel motoring. The Kymco would have to do. And at the price, as long as it didn’t breakdown, I was a happy biker.
Cappadocia is hilly. 125cc is a little underpowered for the terrain, especially when yours truly tips the scale at 220 pounds! Fat jokes aside, the suspension handled the weight of Marliese and myself effortlessly. A little more grunt on the sweeping mountain passes would have been appreciated. But scootering is not about the speed. It’s a sensory experience – smelling every corner, feeling the land. Being connected.
I am not going to bore you with a geology lesson. If you google Cappadocia, and I encourage you to, you will be inundated with phallic references and lewd jokes. It’s easy to see why.
. . .and in Ushisar, amongst this towering rock, my wife and I found the biggest cock of all.
Cock a doodle doo! This feathery monster took me above my waist. I can’t believe I had travelled half way around the world to be impressed by a white cock!
Back on topic, Cappadocia impresses at every turn. Geologically, socially, gastronomically.
3 stand out things to do and see are:
1. Scooter the alternative road from Goreme to the underground city of Derinkuyu
Forget the D765 route. It’s a busy truck corridor. Travel southeast via Urgrup & Ayvali. A meandering journey through pumpkin country will ease your senses. And these Turkish farmers are clever chaps. They have burrowed storage silos into the sides of hills to preserve the veg during the colder months. Well worth seeing.
The underground cities of Kaymakli and Derinkuyu are rather impressive. 6 stories deep and filled with stories or religious persecution and Ottoman destruction. Ps. They are not for claustrophobics. A welcome change from the above ground action.
2. Eat at the Anatolian kitchen in Goreme
Authentic Turkish food with a modern twist. I won’t pollute this blog by using words like “artisanal”, “craft” or “foodie”, but the Anatolian Kitchen recognizes that modern travel is about keeping up with trends.
I can’t get enough of Turkish food. Forget pizza and try a Pide (pronounced peeday).
Plain pide with soft, spreadable cheese is better than a focaccia hands down. On our second visit we excitedly asked the waiter to bring some flat bread with their special soft cheese (and dips!) He brought us the bread and a plate of “Budder”. We asked him to repeat the name of the lovely cheese. “Budder!”. The penny dropped. Not soft cheese after all but good ol’ butter! Bring on the budder.
3. Hike the Rose Valley
I love scooting. But some things are best done on foot. The Rose Valley hike is an easy amble (6km) through the sandstone terrain of Goreme. Cappadocia is yet to experience mass tourism on a European scale. But it is gaining in popularity. Hiking is great – you get to avoid the crowds. You know? The lazy, camera-clad tourists who spend half their holiday getting on and off tour buses!
Back to the scooter.
This older version (pre 2011) of the Kymco Agility 125cc served us well. My biggest pet peeve is not having foot pegs for the pillion. Where must Marliese put her feet? Thankfully ours had an aftermarket cage welded to it which solved the dangly-feet debacle. The riding position is very forward. This makes for an off balance experience when cornering. Riding feels more like pushing a trolley than controlled cruising.
The unbreakable Kymco scooter can really go anywhere. Suspension was soft and forgiving on the cobbled streets, but solid when I needed to stop quickly. The electric starter worked adequately. The engine purred to life with some sustained pushing of the starter button. I reckon a small tune up would have alleviated the slight flooding caused by the choke.
The kymco is an average bike. 26/50. It does the job. Nothing more.
You won’t be smilling because of the bike. You’ll be smiling because of where the bike takes you. In Africa we have a saying. “We have time. We don’t need to measure it.” This holds true for Cappadocia. Take your time. There is no rush. Let the moments find you. And eat some Pide, with extra budder.