We returned home last weekend and I am finally able to get to my trip report. We had a fantastic time in Cappadocia! The area far exceeded our expectations. We stayed at the Yunak Evleri, and I can't adequately express how amazing this hotel is. In fact, everyone on our transfer shuttle from the airport was jealous when they saw us get off at this hotel. :) Our room was amazing -- we stayed in a double deluxe room. The staff were wonderful, especially Abdullah. Even though I spent a great deal of time on the forum before our trip, it wasn't until we were there that we realized just how close Urgup and Goreme are to each other. We had no problem with the location of our hotel, as it was very easy to get to both towns.
We arrived on a Wednesday night after about 32 hours of travel. And even though we were extremely exhausted, we got up at the crack of dawn for our hot air balloon ride. We chose to take Goreme Balloons, and were not sorry. We did the shorter flight, although the pilot ended up adding on an extra 10 minutes. This was a once in a lifetime experience, and I can't imagine anyone going to Cappadocia without taking a balloon ride. Immediately after the balloon ride, we went back to the hotel and had breakfast and then were picked up in for our private tour.
We chose to do a private tour through Argeus, and our tour guide was Alec, who was wonderful. On our tour we went to Dervent Valley, Pasabag, Avanos, the Goreme open air museum, Cavusin and Ortahisar. We were supposed to go to the Zelve open air museum, but apparently some rocks have fallen recently and it was too dangerous to go there. We were thrilled, because we really wanted to go to Cavusin and this gave us the opportunity. We absolutely loved the tour at the pottery workshop! I even had the opportunity to take a try at the potter's wheel myself. Of course at the end of the tour we were taken into their shop. We weren't planning on buying anything because we knew we were going to Istanbul after Cappadocia and would be purchasing a lot of the grand bazaar. However, we absolutely adored the Hittite Sun shape and we loved the family’s signature design. It was obvious that their Iznik was top-notch, so of course we walked out of there after dropping a pretty penny on three special order pieces! (As it turns out, we barely saw any of that shape in Istanbul and certainly nothing as beautiful as the ones that we ordered at the Firca workshop). We had lunch at a restaurant in Avanos, which was really good. We were very impressed because we are vegetarian, and usually when we travel this is difficult. But our guide got them to make up some kind of stew for us, which was really delicious. We had met a local at the take-off site for the balloon that morning, and he picked us up and took us to a wonderful restaurant in Goreme for dinner. I think it was called "Local" restaurant. We were exhausted after dinner and just went back to the hotel.
For our second day in Cappadocia, we had arranged for another private tour. We had the same guide and driver. Today we set out for Songali, stopping on the way at the Keslik Monastery. The monastery wasn't all that, but it was on the way and worth a quick stop. This particular private tour also included an underground city, but I am very claustrophobic, and we chose not to do that. Therefore, our guide took us somewhere not on the itinerary as a substitute. He took us to the Sobesos Excavation site. It was amazing -- I can't believe they just found this a few years ago! Next we went to Songali. We absolutely fell in love with the women and their dolls. It was a little overwhelming, because as you walk up to the tables every single one of them start shouting at you and holding up their dolls. We decided the easiest thing to do would be to just buy one from each woman (they were very inexpensive and these women definitely needed the money). And the dolls are beautiful! After taking pictures with the women, we took off to see the monasteries and walk around Songali. Then we took off and went to Ayvali for lunch. We ate at Aravan Evi, which was definitely the best meal we have on our entire turkey trip. After lunch, we went to Mustafapasa, which is a great little village. We were very lucky, as we were walking through the town we saw women preparing tomato paste and molasses. They were stirring in huge pots over an open fire. We seriously felt like we were in Walnut Grove with the Ingalls! The women were very nice and even let us take a taste. We ended the tour in Ugurp, having a Turkish coffee with our guide and driver.
The tours were wonderful, and I highly recommend Argeus, and especially Alec. The friend that had taken us to dinner the night before also picked us up and took us to dinner this night. This time we ate in Urgup, but I can't remember the name of the restaurant. I just remember that it was upstairs, and it was very nice (Alec has recommended this restaurant as well).
For our third day in Cappadocia, we hung around the hotel, and got ready to go. It was nice to finally relax a little. We had an afternoon flight to Istanbul. It was really difficult to leave Cappadocia, more so than most places we have visited. Even though we were only there for 2 1/2 days, we made many friends and saw many magical places. (I have posted my trip report for Istanbul on that forum.)