Geography is one of Dom’s strong suits...and not one of mine. Ever since I’ve known him, he’s loved maps and atlases and he holds the belief that this world is meant to be explored. He knows strange places that I’ve never even heard of, which is exactly the reason we ended up going to Turkey for vacation. He wanted to see Cappadocia.
This place can only be described as a world wonder that resembles a life-size Smurf village. Trouble is, Cappadocia is not easy to reach. It’s in the center of Turkey and over an hour’s drive away from a few tiny airports that require numerous flight connections to reach. Alternatively, you could take a 12-18 hour overnight bus ride from the larger Turkish cities. Ugh. I wasn’t thrilled at the idea of spending so much time in transit. But then Dom found Oludeniz, a lagoon & beach rated among the top 5 beaches in the world. Ok, fine. I was in. We bookended Cappadocia with some beach days and crammed a lot into week-long Turkish adventure.
Here’s how it went:
We started in Oludeniz. The lagoon itself was beautiful but the beach was pebbly and Oludeniz itself was really disappointing. The ‘strip’ was a huge tourist trap full of fake designer bags and clothes, the food was terrible and it was full of chavy (translation: redneck) Brits.
One of numerous, beautiful (misleading!) online photos
One day we drove an hour outside of Oludeniz to Seklikent Canyon. This was one of my favorite days of the trip. We went rafting for 45 minutes and then climbed & waded through the rushing mineral water that still flows through the gorge. It was a refreshing day in the water and in the sun and far, far away from touristy Oludeniz.
Do you see me there on the left?
We said see-ya-later to Oludeniz and went back to airport to make our way to Cappadocia. I was expecting a village, but turns Cappadocia is huge - the same size as the state of Kentucky! The crazy rock formations found there are due to thousands of years of water eroding away layers and layers of volcanic rock.
Cappadocia contains several large underground cities used by Christians as hiding places before Christianity was an accepted religion. We visited one of these cities which went below ground seven stories. Archeologists have figured out where the kitchen was, where the animals lived, where they went to the bathroom and which area acted as the Church (easy enough, it was cross-shaped). There were chimney-type holes used for ventilation and wells to transport fresh water.
We ended our day with a climb up to the castle, the highest point in the region. We got to the top, caught our breath, and caught a pretty amazing sunset too.
A view well worth the climb!
Back to the airport. Onto another flight with a stopover. And over to our last stop: Dalyan. We picked Dalyan because it provided access to a 5-mile strip of protected, remote beach. We thought it could be a quiet end to our trip. Dalyan delivered. We stayed in a little hotel right on the river that led to Iztuzu beach. There were also some tombs built into the side of the rock across from our hotel.
The beach was long and sandy and quiet and just what we needed. It’s also home to loggerhead sea turtles, a highly endangered species. During mating season, people sit guard at night when these turtles climb onto the beach to bury their eggs. Scattered along the beach the next morning, you find cages ensuring nobody steps on the sand above their eggs.
Despite the rough start in Oludeniz, and a little patch of “turkey tummy” where I couldn’t eat for two days, the trip was full of fun and adventure. We packed a lot in and, most importantly, Dom can check off one more of his never-been-heard-of travel spots.