We are in the Capadocia region of Turkey. This place is surreal!
Hello from Capadocia, Turkey! We arrived here from Istanbul the day before yesterday. We caught a 6:30 am flight from the Istanbul airport and arrived before 8 am. Walking off the airplane we were greeted with a very potent cow manure smell. After retrieving our luggage we caught our minibus to Capadocia. On the minibus we chatted with a couple from Seattle and wondered with them how long we would be on that bus, no one really had any idea. It turned out that we were on the bus for about an hour and were dropped off at a hotel to wait for our guide. Once our guide arrived we were loaded onto another minibus to begin our tour of Capadocia. He took us first to an area that was never developed and apparently had very soft tufa (the mineral that this area is known for, made from compressed volcanic ash hardened together with lime). He explained the geology of the area and from there we traveled to an area that had been carved out by ancient people as their homes. These places had ladders and steps that were carved into the tufa for their entrances. By two o’clock we were all very hungry (since we had not had breakfast) and were taken back to the hotel for our complementary lunch. The lunch began with a yogurt based soup (very tasty), for our main meal we were served chicken with salad and rice, for dessert we were given a pear with a knife on a plate. The lunch was complimentary but apparently the drinks were not, because a woman came around and charged us seven Turkish lira (about five bucks) for our two Coke Lights and the bottle of water we shared with the couple from Seattle.
After lunch, we were carted off to see some scenic overlooks and some local crafts. We’ve found this to be very common on tours like this. They take you off to see the handicraft an area is famous for (in this case pottery and rugs), you get to see them practicing their art, and then you’re given a long sales pitch. Everything was very expensive, and we didn’t buy anything. Finally, we went to the Capadocia “open air museum”. This is an area that was one of the earliest Christan communities, complete with chapels painted with beautiful frescoes, monasteries, a nunnery, and lots of pigeon houses- all carved out of the tufa of course. (The pigeons were raised for their excrement, or “piss and ex” as our guide says, which was used as fertilizer and as an additive for the paints.)
Finally, we were taken to our hotel. We stayed in the Sato Cave Hotel.. This place was very cool. Our room, judging by the features, was probably a stable a long time ago. We also slept very well for 11 hours- an extremely quiet place.
The next day, we met the same guide again. We went hiking through the ancient tufa cities just outside of our town of Geronme. Suprisingly, they still farm here, and the grape vines and fruit trees are interspersed at random throughout the ancient ruins, irrigated by the same wells that’ve been there for thousands of years.
We also got to see the underground city. When invaders would come through here- particularly around the time of the crusades when Constantinople would frequently change hands, the Christian communities here would retreat into these hidden citadels for up to 4 months at a time. They were cleverly laid out with air ventilation, defensive systems, store houses, wells, wineries, chapels, etc. Apparently, 80% of these underground cities remain unexplored as the entrances lie under local houses.
The group was slightly different. We were fortunate to meet Catherine and Raz- a couple a few years younger than us from Washington DC who are about 2 months into their own RTW (’round the world) trip. You can check out their website at Where’s Raz. We really hit it off with them, and we’re going to go to dinner with them, but they were staying in the next town and the taxis here wanted about $40 round trip for about 5 miles, plus it got cold and started raining pretty hard, so we turned in early. It turns out we will probably be in Thailand at the same time in December, so perhaps we’ll meet up with them again.
Today is our free day. We were going to go mountain biking, but it looks like it could rain soon, and since we just checked out of our hotel, we’d have nowhere to take a shower afterwards. This is important because at 9:00 tonight we board an overnight bus for Olympos. That should be an adventure. The weather should be nicer there though. Tomorrow night, we will stay at Kadir’s Treehouses, and the following day we’ll be on a four day, three night sailboat (known here as “gullet”) cruise, so you probably won’t hear from us for another week or so.
-Adam & Shawn