Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Day trip to Goreme (Cappadocia)

I posted over a year ago about cave hotels in Turkey and now that I'm going to Istanbul, I might have a chance to see some of those hotels. The cave hotels are in a region called Cappadocia (pronounced Kap-uh-doh-kya or Kap-uh-doh-jhuh), to the east of Istanbul. There are whole cities that are formed underground, houses and churches carved out of the rocks and caves, and beautiful rock formations.

We are considering doing a day trip to Goreme, one of the more popular cities to visit; fly out in the morning, sightsee, and then fly back in the evening. It's small enough that you can explore the town completely on foot or there are bike rentals.

To find flights, I'm using bulucak.com, which is kind of like the Turkish version of kayak.com because it lets you compare costs of different airlines. To fly from Istanbul to Kayseri (which is the closest airport to Goreme) there are a few airline options: Turkish Airlines, Anadolu Jet, Bora Jet, and Pegasus. The flights can be a little pricey but Pegasus is like the Turkish RyanAir or Easyjet so you can get round trip airfare for as low as $50. Once you choose your flights, bulucak will direct you to the site of the airline you chose and you can purchase your tickets.

The Pegasus website is also rather user friendly (resembles the Easyjet site) and shows you fares for the week or even for the month so you can choose what suits your needs. There are a few hidden fees, like $4 for a check-in fee and it costs money to pick your seats: 6TRY for a middle seat, 10TRY for aisle/window, 15TRY for priority seating, and 20TRY for the exit seats. **It's not necessary to pay the fee to pick a seat - if you don't, I think you're just automatically assigned one. You can choose the currency, which is nice, because at this v. moment, the dollar conversion is stronger than what the website shows for their costs. For example, the website will show $4 for a middle seat while the internet says that 6TRY = $3.37. So depending on the day and the conversion rates, you can pick your poison.

Pegasus flies out of the Sabiha Gökçen airport in Istanbul, which is a bit farther and more difficult to access than Ataturk. It is accessible by city bus but if your flights are arriving or departing when public transit is not running, then you will need to take a taxi or a shuttle. The cheapest I've found so far is the Havatas shuttle which costs 12 TRY ($7) and runs almost every half hour.

From the Kayseri Airport, it's about 70km to Goreme. There are a few options on how to get there: taxi (costly), taking a bus to Kayseri city center and then the regular bus (hourly) that goes to Goreme (time consuming), or booking a shuttle bus. There are a two well-used shuttles, Heritage Travel which is €10 ($13) per person and Argeus which is 15TRY ($8.50) per person but they only coordinate with the Turkish Airline flight departure and arrival times. I emailed Argeus and they said that they can arrange to coordinate with Pegasus flights but can only do so if there are enough people to warrant it.

I will post an update if we do end up purchasing tickets (I hope we do because I can't stop looking at photos of this place). I'm meeting up with my travel cohort this weekend to plan out our itineraries so my fingers are crossed that everything falls into place.
fairy chimneys
balloon tour
cave dwellings
Now that I'm not in 100% Maui mode any longer, I can get super psyched about Turkey!

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