Our first day of travel, Istanbul to Goreme, one of the longest stretches of our journey, 773 km – 12 hours! Goreme is underground cities, funny looking rocks and hot air balloons.

Located among the “fairy chimney” rock formations, Göreme is a town in Cappadocia, a historical region of Turkey and has a population of around 2,000. The Göreme National Park was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985.

The time that the Göreme was first settled is unclear, but it thought to date back to the Hittite era, between 1800 and 1200 B.C. The location was central between rivaling empires, such as the Greeks and Persians, leading the natives to tunnel into the rock to escape the political turmoil. During the Roman era, the area became home to Christians retreating from Rome. Christianity prevailed as the primary religion in the region, which is evident from many rock churches that can still be seen today.