Normally we do not take tours while we are traveling (unless they are free!) but in Cappadocia it felt like the most time effective way to see as much as possible without having to hike miles and miles in the hot Turkish sun. We decided on the Green line tour (as opposed to the red and blue line tours, all of which you can Google yourselves to find out more about). Why the colored names? I have no idea, but every tour operator in town calls them the same thing and follow basically the same route, so we just went with the one our hotel recommended (they even called and booked it for us!). The tour leaves pretty early in the morning, but it lasted all day, making us feel better about the high price tag.
We were picked up by a shiny black mini bus (the nicest one that had driven past our hotel all morning, I may add), and were whisked away from Goreme.
Our first stop was Pigeon Valley, so named due to the rocks with perfect bird sized roosts where pigeons love to live. Despite having a less than inspiring name, the valley was very beautiful and had a great view of Goreme.
Stop number two (and the main reason we chose this tour) was the underground city of Derinkuyu. According to Wikipedia approximately 20,000 people, plus their livestock and food stores, could fit in this multi-leveled city, which is completely underground. Why would 20,000 people willingly live underground alongside goats? Well, during the Byzantine era the caves and tunnels were fully formed to use as a mass scale hiding spot for the Christians of the region who were being persecuted by the Muslim Arabs. The people of this region did not always live underground, just in times when refuge needed to be taken.
Logan and I both love being underground and this was such a unique subterranean experience. Next time we are in Cappadocia (spoiler alert, we loved it a lot and we want to go back someday) I want to rent a car so that we can do some independent exploration of other underground cities in the area.
After winding our way through the amazing passageways underneath the rocks it was time to explore Selime Monastery, which was carved into the rocks above ground level.
Our full morning of touring ended with an okay lunch (provided on the tour) at a super touristy restaurant that clearly catered to organized tours like the one we were on. Now really our scene, but what can you do? (Umm…. Other than chose to explore independently, which we will be doing next time around.)
On the way back to the bus after lunch I ended up having a whole conversation in Spanish with a couple from Argentina about the drug war at the Mexican-American border. That’s right, a whole conversation IN SPANISH! I am not sure why I was so confident in speaking all of the sudden, but it was awesome. I was proud (clearly, since this whole paragraph has literally nothing to do with our tour).
Back to the point, we headed to Ihlara Gorge after lunch for a lovely walk next to a babbling brook at the bottom of cliffs. The gorge looked absolutely nothing like anywhere else we visited in Cappadocia.
The final stop of the day was an onyx factory for the prearranged shopping stop that all tours make so that they can get visitors to buy souvenirs from places that will pay them commission for anything purchased. We saw a demonstration (sales pitch) and then were taken to a show room full of expensive jewelry. After making a few purchases (kidding, we drank our free tea and went outside to wait) it was time to go back to Goreme for dinner and an early bedtime (in preparation for our adventure the next morning!!).