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A slice of paradise

By Sushmita Bhattacharyya
A slice of paradise
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Sushmita Bhattacharyya travels to the famous cave hotels at Cappadocia in Turkey

In March 2020, we boarded a flight to Istanbul. The next few days were all about visiting the iconic Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, followed by exploring palaces like the Topkapi Palace which exhibits imperial collections of the Ottoman Empire, the Dolmabahçe Palace, shopping at the Grand Bazaar, and cruising on the Bosporus while witnessing beautiful sunsets. We satiated our taste buds with sumptuous Turkish foods like saksuka, kisir, mercimek kofte and lots more. Special mention must be made of the delicious baklavas which we had with pomegranate tea.


After four days of stay, with hearts full of fond memories from Istanbul, we boarded our next flight to Cappadocia, a place we long wished to explore. Having read in several travel blogs about the famous cave hotels of Cappadocia, we booked for ourselves a cave hotel in Mustafapasa. We were truly enchanted by the entire area which is full of stunning cave hotels and cave suites. It's unbelievable to think that these caves, which were abandoned for the last 50 years or so, are now converted to lavish hotels with spectacular landscaping.


The next day, after a hearty breakfast, we set out to explore Cappadocia. Our first destination was the Pigeon Valley with the Uchisar Castle in Uchisar. With unusual geology and numerous dovecotes carved out of the volcanic tuff, the Pigeon Valley offers a spectacular view. Hiking up to the castle, we reached the top and from there, the panoramic view of the town was breathtaking.


Next, we visited the Pasabag Valley, which is full of epic fairy chimneys and cave dwellings. As we started walking through the sand-filled path in-between the chimneys, we could often see huge rocks balancing on top of the chimneys withstanding all sandstorms and strong winds. The unique volcanic rock formations sculpted by erosion are a sight to behold. It was here that we tasted the famous gravity-defying Turkish ice-cream. After a late lunch at the famous Zeferan Cappadocia, we called it a day.


The following day started with a visit to the Zelve Monastery in Avanos. It was a Byzantine era monastery spread out over three valleys, with many rooms, passages and pointed fairy chimneys. Cappadocia's first seminaries to train priests were located there. Our next visit was the Devrent, also known as the Imaginary Valley, a notable area with unique rock formations. Over there, we could see tourist guides asking their clients to imagine what shape they see in the tall whimsical rocks standing tall. And yes, every rock formation would either look like a horse, or a small rabbit, or a baby playing and what not! You can make your imagination go wild thinking of several shapes!


We kept the most exciting part of the Cappadocia tour for the last day, which was the hot air balloon ride. At around 6:30 am, we left for Goreme to enjoy the ride and witness the sunrise. Upon reaching our destination, we could see our balloon ready for takeoff already. Our excitement knew no bounds! And gradually, as our balloon started floating in the air, the feeling was totally surreal! The spectacular sunrise from up above, together with the sky turning orange, and the gently passing fairy chimneys, valleys, pigeon houses, orchards and vineyards below made for a breathtaking experience. The sky was dotted with colourful balloons and the landscape felt totally unreal. The 1.5 hour balloon tour was one of the best experiences of our lives.


Soaking in the beautiful memories of Cappadocia, we took a late evening flight from Kayseri to Istanbul. Recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1985, Cappacodia, with its unusual geology and surrealistic landscapes, is truly a place worth a visit. We did leave a piece of our hearts somewhere in the valleys of the fairy chimney.


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A slice of paradise

Sushmita Bhattacharyya travels to the famous cave hotels at Cappadocia in Turkey

In March 2020, we boarded a flight to Istanbul. The next few days were all about visiting the iconic Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, followed by exploring palaces like the Topkapi Palace which exhibits imperial collections of the Ottoman Empire, the Dolmabahçe Palace, shopping at the Grand Bazaar, and cruising on the Bosporus while witnessing beautiful sunsets. We satiated our taste buds with sumptuous Turkish foods like saksuka, kisir, mercimek kofte and lots more. Special mention must be made of the delicious baklavas which we had with pomegranate tea.


After four days of stay, with hearts full of fond memories from Istanbul, we boarded our next flight to Cappadocia, a place we long wished to explore. Having read in several travel blogs about the famous cave hotels of Cappadocia, we booked for ourselves a cave hotel in Mustafapasa. We were truly enchanted by the entire area which is full of stunning cave hotels and cave suites. It's unbelievable to think that these caves, which were abandoned for the last 50 years or so, are now converted to lavish hotels with spectacular landscaping.


The next day, after a hearty breakfast, we set out to explore Cappadocia. Our first destination was the Pigeon Valley with the Uchisar Castle in Uchisar. With unusual geology and numerous dovecotes carved out of the volcanic tuff, the Pigeon Valley offers a spectacular view. Hiking up to the castle, we reached the top and from there, the panoramic view of the town was breathtaking.


Next, we visited the Pasabag Valley, which is full of epic fairy chimneys and cave dwellings. As we started walking through the sand-filled path in-between the chimneys, we could often see huge rocks balancing on top of the chimneys withstanding all sandstorms and strong winds. The unique volcanic rock formations sculpted by erosion are a sight to behold. It was here that we tasted the famous gravity-defying Turkish ice-cream. After a late lunch at the famous Zeferan Cappadocia, we called it a day.


The following day started with a visit to the Zelve Monastery in Avanos. It was a Byzantine era monastery spread out over three valleys, with many rooms, passages and pointed fairy chimneys. Cappadocia's first seminaries to train priests were located there. Our next visit was the Devrent, also known as the Imaginary Valley, a notable area with unique rock formations. Over there, we could see tourist guides asking their clients to imagine what shape they see in the tall whimsical rocks standing tall. And yes, every rock formation would either look like a horse, or a small rabbit, or a baby playing and what not! You can make your imagination go wild thinking of several shapes!


We kept the most exciting part of the Cappadocia tour for the last day, which was the hot air balloon ride. At around 6:30 am, we left for Goreme to enjoy the ride and witness the sunrise. Upon reaching our destination, we could see our balloon ready for takeoff already. Our excitement knew no bounds! And gradually, as our balloon started floating in the air, the feeling was totally surreal! The spectacular sunrise from up above, together with the sky turning orange, and the gently passing fairy chimneys, valleys, pigeon houses, orchards and vineyards below made for a breathtaking experience. The sky was dotted with colourful balloons and the landscape felt totally unreal. The 1.5 hour balloon tour was one of the best experiences of our lives.


Soaking in the beautiful memories of Cappadocia, we took a late evening flight from Kayseri to Istanbul. Recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1985, Cappacodia, with its unusual geology and surrealistic landscapes, is truly a place worth a visit. We did leave a piece of our hearts somewhere in the valleys of the fairy chimney.