A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
I personally think we need to spend about 2 weeks in Turkey so that we can experience (almost) all the best of it, but if you don’t have the time and money to spare, 1 week would be pretty much sufficient. Apart from Istanbul, another must-go place is Cappadocia. You probably have heard about it, or seen amazing photos of it somewhere – very often those will be the photos of colorful giant balloon adrift a vast valley of peculiar rock structures. That is pretty much in my bucket list, we went to Cappadocia with one purpose in mind: to board the hot-air balloon and cross off this lifetime experience. Before heading to Cappadocia, we took a brief stop in Pamukkale – the cotton castle as they like to call the place. It was not as fancy as we expected after seeing all the beautiful photos, but that’s probably because it was a very hot summer and there was not very much water. It’s still a pretty cool nonetheless. You can skip Pamukkale, but transportation is quite convenient so you can do it like we did: we took the night bus to Pamukkale, spent the day there and took the night bus on the same night to Cappadocia. 2 night buses in a row were tiring but accommodation in Pamukkale is cheap so we rented a room to wash and rest before leaving again.
Often when we students travel, we tend to plan and do the trip all by ourselves. But in Cappadocia, unless you can drive very well, it’s best to book the various tours offered here, and they are not expensive at all. Most popular is the Green/Red tour that takes you to famous locations in Cappadocia, with a guide explaining everything to you. The tour will take the whole day, and public transportation in Cappadocia does not reach to all the places, so you can imagine how difficult it is going to be if you go by yourself. I personally enjoyed the tour very much (we did the Green tour). I was already so much in love with Turkey at this point, but our trip did not end in high notes because we could not get to fly with the balloon!!! We got up at 3am, got transferred to the meeting point and waited for 2 hours just to find out that the weather was bad so no balloons are allowed to take off. It was certainly one of the most regrettable experiences during my travel life, and I have promised myself that one day I will go back to Cappadocia to fulfill my wishlist!
P/S: probably thanks to the large Turkish population in the Netherlands, we have the direct flight from Cappadocia in Amsterdam, which is very convenient!