Thursday, June 14, 2012

Cappadocia day tours

Emerging from my little nap in time to catch the minibus, I headed on the larger (geopgraphically) of the day tours offered by Andromeda.  First stop was a view point to get a good look at the valleys surrounding the town.

Around the area there are numerous underground cities that the locals used to hide from invaders.  We went to one of the biggest at Derinkuyu - crazy that hundreds of people lived fifty metres underground for up to six months at a time.  It was great fun walking stooped through some very small tunnels - the tunnels were small to slow down any enemies & make it easy to pick them off.  There were plenty of big disc-shaped rocks propped up near strategic doorways that could be easily rolled in to place & only opened from the defenders' side.

With the driving inbetween, it was about one o'clock before we began what was misrepresented as a hike. There were a lot of stairs down in to Ihlara Valley, before we found yet another cave church near the river.  It was a nice hour-long walk down the tranquil path looking up at more man-made caves. For motivation, lunch was waiting for us at the end - the dining room was on a pontoon floating on the river. Very nice trout was enjoyed by many.

The highlight of the day for me was Selime Monastery.  More of the same in some respects, but much rawer as a tourist attraction. Plenty of caves, churches, tunnels, dead-ends and ladders to explore - with very few people around.  It was like being eight years old again - at least what I remember of the wonder of exploring such interesting places.

There's a good chance after such a long day, I had yet another nap (holidays are great) before heading out for dinner - in a cave. All good fun sitting in the dark, on the floor, writing postcards eating all manner of Turkish foods with a nice local wine to wash it down.

The more local tour on Friday had a fair bit of the time looking at fairy chimneys - what the area is most famous for.  They come in three types - as I heard more than once while in town - cylindrical, cone & mushroom.  Naturally, they're also a good place to build your house or church.

We had a brief visit to Cauvsin Old Village, which is mostly in ruins & deserted. This was interesting as we had flown right on top of it the previous day & the pilot had pointed out the features & where someone with too much money was restoring part of it to form a hotel.  We popped inside a very small mosque, that like many in the country, used to be a church before the Ottomans came along.

There was a bit of time watching master-craftmen at work at a local pottery studio - conveniently located next to the largest buffet restaurant I've ever seen, to cater for the bus loads of tourists.  Nonetheless, it was very impressive, intricate work & I managed to walk out with a small souvenir of my Turkish stay.

The mushroom type of fairy chimneys:

A short stop at a government facility that supports local traditional carpet makers where we got the hard sell on carpets - they unrolled dozens in front of us.  All of them very nice, big & expensive. If I had a home to furnish, I may have had a harder time not spending hundreds of pounds on a carpet.  As it was, I got a small rug - much needed in my room.
Well, I was working with luminous fish and I thought... hey - loom.

This time we drove into the Valley of Imagination, instead of floating in.  So-called because it only takes a little imagination to see all sorts of things in the rock structures.

That's me - that doesn't take so much imagination

There was a photographer with this couple

Back to the hotel in just enough time to collect my bags & get a shuttle to Neveshir & my flight back to Istanbul. An excellent three full days in Goreme & Cappadocia - ballooning obviously the highlight & a great way to see the extraordinary scenery, but the museums & cave dwellings not to be sniffed at either.

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