This was a major event exclusive to the people doing the full world cruise. We docked in Kusadasi just a short sail from Rhodes. We boarded buses to the airport where Silversea had chartered 2 airplanes to take us to Cappadocia. The area here was a major site for civilization 3,000 years ago where Hittite Empire reigned. Cities and homes were carved out of the sandstone walls where the people lived. Some of these were incredible with stairways carved out of the stone to travel between floors.
Later Friday evening, they had a special dinner for us and Whirling Dervish show at the Saruhan Caravanserai. This was a stop for the the camel caravans traveling between Asia and Europe.
Saturday morning we were up at 4:30am for a sunrise balloon trip over the landscape. This turned out to the first day in almost a week the balloons had weather they could fly in so we had a lot of company that morning as we launched. It turned out there were 156 balloons up in the air with us that morning each with a capacity of 25 passengers. If they only averaged 20 people per balloon, that was over 3,000 people up that morning. We also got up to rain on Sunday so Saturday was the only day this week the balloons were able to go up. Because of the landscape and views, hot air ballooning is a major industry in the region. In addition to the caves the landscape has “fairy chimneys” which are rock towers created by erosion over time. After the balloon flight, it was back to the hotel for breakfast, a break and then some more site seeing. This was followed by another special dinner held in the underground Guray Museum which is a private ceramic museum that is built in to a cave.
The last day was a visit to Zelve where you can tour through an entire underground city. The caves here could hold 25,000 to 30,000 people and were built under the city the people normally lived in above ground. Because they were on the trade routes between Asia and Europe they were often raided by armies traveling the area. When that happened, the city would go underground through hidden passages and live there until the danger had passed. The city we visited had 5 levels underground with the top level being the stables for their animals and then rooms for families, wineries, kitchens and churches on each level going down. The tunnels connecting the rooms were made so that they were only wide enough for one person and you had to walk in a crouch. This was done so that if they were being attacked, you could only come through tunnel openings one at a time and they could defend them easier. They also had rocks that looked like a millstone that would be rolled across an opening to block it off if needed. When building these the first they would do is dig air shafts so there would be fresh air on all the levels. This had a waring if you were claustrophobic, don’t go because once you start there isn’t room to turn around and pass people to go back.
The hotel we stayed in was the 5 star Cappadocia Cave Resort where they had linked caves together and then incorporated them in to the architecture as they built out the rooms. For example, to get to my room, you would go from the reception area, 2 doors down the street then take an elevator down a level to a cave that came out at a stairway above my room. No two rooms are alike as they built them based on what was there and the view.
After the underground city, we went back to the airport for our return flight to Istanbul where we met up with the ship again.
We’re not just docking Athens, Greece and I’ll be off on a bicycle tour of the old city this afternoon and then the Acropolis, tomorrow.