Travel tips in Turkey, scenario of the soap opera Salve Jorge

One of the sights of Cappadocia. Credit: Maria Luciana Tamanini

Soap fans should already be getting used to the Turkish landscapes that have appeared on television. One of the scenarios of Salve Jorge's history, which is shown on Rede Globo, the region draws attention not only for the differences in culture, but also for the beautiful landscapes that were sculpted by nature.

The good news is that you don't have to know Istanbul and its surroundings just by the small screen. Being an unusual choice for holidays, the destination has attractions for an unforgettable and affordable trip.

One of the most interesting regions to visit, especially those interested in natural beauty and a little adventure, is Cappadocia, which is 700 kilometers from Istanbul and 300 kilometers from the capital, Ankara. It is a tourist and historic site in Turkey, which is framed by Mount Erciyes, an extinct volcano of almost 4, 000 meters.

Due to the ancient eruptions of the mount, the region was covered with tufa, an extremely porous rock that was sculpted by wind and rain. Thus, the highlights are the rock formations that mimic more strange animal, mushroom and other forms.

But it was not just nature that left its mark on Cappadocia. Ancient populations carved out churches and entire villages under the rock, as in the underground city Derinkuyu, which once housed approximately 10, 000 people and cannot be left out of the script.

With the appearance in the soap opera, the region should become better known as a tourist destination. And the trip is worth it, as advertiser Maria Luciana Tamanini tells us. She was in Turkey the last weeks of October and enjoyed the experience so much that she would like to return. The trip package included two days of guided tours and, in addition to the attractions, she also highlighted the receptivity of the population, which, according to her, is very hospitable.

Cappadocia History

Rock formations abound in the region. Credit: Maria Luciana Tamanini

To understand Cappadocia's attractions, it is worth knowing a little of its history. The central region of Turkey was populated about two thousand years before Christ and played an important role in the history of civilizations. For centuries it was the address of the Hittite, Phrygian, Assyrian, Persian, Median and Cimmerian peoples.

Alexander the Great turned his attention to the place, which was also a province of the Roman Empire. Due to constant disputes, he was also dominated by the Byzantine and Ottoman empires. For the powerful, it was important to have control of this part of Turkey because it is a commonality between various trade routes.

The wars even played a key role for the region to gain the contours it has today. To protect themselves from the invasions, the people who lived there built underground refuges that could house up to three thousand people.

No wonder it is estimated that there are more than 150 underground cities excavated within a perimeter of 25, 000 square kilometers. But forget the impression of muffled caves. The houses were connected to each other, there were ventilation tunnels and openings for communication between citizens, as explained by Luciana, who visited the villages below ground.

The underground cities that are usually part of the tourist itineraries are Derinkuyu, considered the deepest, and Kaymali, which would be the widest.

It is worth remembering, however, that time and civilizations sculpted attractions not just under the ground. The aerial view of the Cappadocia region is also a sight in itself, thanks to the curious rock formations.

Cappadocia Attractions

Goreme Museum

Walls of the Göreme Museum. Credit: Thinkstock

Göreme Open-Air Museum cannot be left out of Cappadocia's itinerary. It is just 1.5 kilometers from the city center and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as it houses sacred paintings dating from the 9th to 12th centuries. Some even include St. George, who according to history was born in the region.

In the Byzantine period, the museum housed monasteries, chapels, churches and convents, all dug in the rocks between the 10th, 11th and 12th centuries. Thus, there are about 30 well-preserved churches, with vaults, altars and columns that call the attention for accuracy in design.

The décor is rich in designs depicting the life of Christ on the ceiling and walls. However, the visit will be recorded only in the minds of visitors. As Luciana explains, it is not allowed to photograph the interior of the museum, because the flash action could make the colors fade. According to her, the tones of the paintings are still very preserved, with intense shades of red, green and yellow.

Paintings in one of the museum's chapels. Credit: Thinkstock

The publicist also tells that the men and women who lived there lived in separate parts. So on the left is the convent, where about 300 nuns were confined. The rocky villa had bedrooms, chapel, kitchen and dining room.

To unite the different levels, tunnels and doors were used. They also served to protect religious from the danger of battle.

Balloon ride

It is not just the attractions carved into the rocks that must be seen. Another main attraction of Cappadocia is the balloon ride, which, according to Luciana, is a must see. From it you can see the rock formations of the region from above.

The publicist explains that Turkey's air travel takes about an hour, but it is possible to choose some longer routes. There are several local companies offering the service. They pick up tourists at the hotel when it is still dark so you can see not only the relief from above, but also the sunrise, which is a separate spectacle.

How about the sunrise seen from a balloon? Credit: Maria Luciana Tamanini

According to Luciana, there are many balloons in the air at the same time, but the tour is very organized. Those responsible for directing them communicate with each other, to prevent the paths from being in the air, and have complete control over the trajectory.

The aerial view allows to know from another perspective the "fairy chimneys". These are huge rock formations where the inhabitants made their homes within them, due to the thermal comfort for the different temperatures they make in the region.

Throughout the flight you can also see Devrent's animal-like formations and let your imagination flow into Pasabaglari to guess what the different sculptures might represent. Some of them, even, are 50 meters high, in white or reddish colors.

Several balloons share space in the sky. Credit: Maria Luciana Tamanini

Underground cities

After visiting Cappadocia from above, the underground cities are destinations that can not be missed in the itinerary. One of the main ones is Derinkuyu, which is 40 kilometers from Goreme and is 85 meters deep.

The publicist Luciana Tamanini was also there and says that the place was built by the Hittites, with eight floors below ground. But you don't have to worry about feeling suffocated because of the distance to the surface. According to her, there is a large ventilation channel that makes the ride comfortable.

As in Göreme, everything was carved from the rock: churches, tables, communication channels and even organizational details, such as candle holders, which ensured internal illumination. “The underground villages were very convenient, especially during the war, where everyone hid to be protected, ” says the publicist.

The underground city also includes animal shelters, bakeries, water wells, canteens and bedrooms. Rolling stones were always in place to lock enemies in the narrow corridors.

The below-ground populations were up to 20, 000 people. In addition to Derinkuyu, you can also visit Kaymakli (with nine floors, four open to the public and five reserved for archaeological research), Mazi and Özkonak.

The Cappadocia region. Credit: Maria Luciana Tamanini

Second largest canyon in the world

Extreme sports enthusiasts can skip the underground tours a bit to enjoy a ride in the world's second largest canyon, the Ihlara Valley. Luciana says that it is possible to climb there, but there are more affordable options as well. She chose, for example, to take a four-kilometer walk to learn a little more about the attraction.

Star Wars Scenery

Cappadocia Star Wars fans will have access to the scenery used by George Lucas for his films. After all, it was in Selime that they filmed the first feature of the series.

What to buy in the region

For those who don't give up time for shopping, Cappadocia also has good options. Luciana says that you can enjoy the crafts, with many items made of clay, in local stores. There are also amazing options of turquoise stone, as well as wines that are made in the region and spices.

Turkish handicraft. Credit: Maria Luciana Tamanini

You can also visit the Avanos carpet factory, where tourists follow the production process of the pieces and can purchase one of them. Jewelry enthusiasts will also find sophisticated models of well-priced rings, bracelets and necklaces in this Turkish destination.

Travel packages

Knowing Cappadocia may be more affordable than you might think. Moreover, with the appearance in the soap opera, it is likely that even more attractive tourism packages will emerge in the coming months.

To tour the region, publicist Luciana got all the details right before catching the plane. After consulting with news and criticism about Turkey, she searched through various travel agencies until she found the one with the best directions. Despite choosing a foreign company, all details have been reserved here.

City view. Credit: Maria Luciana Tamanini

The travel package she chose included airfares, city transfers, lodging, the balloon ride, guide accompaniment on all visits, breakfast and lunch. The publicist spent two days in Cappadocia and invested 455 euros in the package.

Her spare expenses were shopping and dinner, when she tried Turkish pizza. The included hotel is located in Urgup and was leaning against the rock. According to Luciana, the accommodations were comfortable and had a private balcony to enjoy the landscape.

She points out, however, that to know Cappadocia the ideal is to choose a itinerary with three days of travel. In addition, it is important to be aware of air fares, which are the ones that most change the value of the package, because, on dates close to Turkish holidays, usually have a significant price increase.

Balloons at dawn. Credit: Maria Luciana Tamanini

A practical option for Brazilians is the packages offered by the national agencies. At CVC, for example, you can opt for a six-night trip (split between Istanbul and Cappadocia), with luxury accommodation in both cities, transfers, Spanish-guided tours, air travel between Istanbul and Cappadocia and eight meals included for 828 euros for double apartments.

Only the prices of flights between Brazil and Turkey are not included. Thus, according to a quote made with a Curitiba agency in the first half of November, the package for two adults would cost approximately 4, 520 reais.

For those who do not care for such sophistication, the tip is to do as Luciana and look for the travel package that best fits your needs. So you will not see Turkey just on television during the soap opera Salve Jorge.