from the Surface of the Moon!
are in central Turkey, in a region known as Cappadocia, which bears
striking resemblances to passing scenes in Stars Wars, certifying it
It is famous for its geological land formations found nowhere else on
the face of the earth.
encompasses quite a large region and home to a variety of differently
classified rock formations, the most famous being the
castles' of Goreme. Imagine a lemon merenge pie as large as a valley,
and then fifty more pies spreading the distance.
interesting, the formations are made of soft lava, known
as tufa, that ancient people found quite easy
carve. So within such a inhospitable landscape,
created cave-like dwellings, some many stories
that tunneled through and up and down and out,
all the valleys.
Drawn to the
seclusion, many monks and monastaries set up shop and carved elaborate
churches, which still exist today in much of their glory. We
some churches dating from the ninth century
with detailed frescoes still intact. Climbing through these
cave-like multi-level structures consisted of square vertical tunnels
with small holes carved into both sides of the shaft as foot and hand
holds. Obviously, the ladder had not been invented. A bit of scrambling,
and we also mastered the funny climbing motion and explored deep into
these cavernous dwellings.
Carvings on the
ceiling of a cave church
valleys had amazing rock formations that are
phallic in nature. They are
created from very
water rushing through these valleys eroding the
peaks but never quite over the top of them leaving
formations seemingly precariously perched above
unusual feature of some of the valleys are the
holes. Famed as both a means of communication
well as food and fuel (from their droppings) the
of old carved huge dwellings solely for the
pigeons. You can see the many holes for the entrances
like an enormous pigeon apartment complex.
in discussing Cappadocia, one would not be complete without mentioning
the most unique accommodations we have yet to stay in.
A few of the afore-mentioned fairy castles are privately owned and open
to the public. We were hoping to score a room in one, and got very
lucky. In Goreme, the town we stayed in, there are only about five rooms
that really qualify as a fairy castle.
penthouse suite at Paradise Pansiyon in Goreme
from the penthouse
Luck was with us and our room was a big whipped
cream puff of a palace and we got the pent house
suite (the small room at the pointy top)
carved out (qualifying it as a cave) with numerous holes dug all around
filled with candles. We climbed
up and crawled through a hole that our
packs barely fit through. Emma and our
new friend Michael were in the room below us. The owner was born
in that room making him the
we mentioned before the hospitality of the us
around the region. He has
lived there all his life
we have to mention Mustafa, our friend from
Urgup. We met him at one of the many deserted churches
out-of-work carpenter, he was visiting his friend, a guard in the area.
Over tea and lots of laughter, he offered to show
proved to be an amazing guide.
Doug, Emma the
Aussie, Ann, Michael from Belgium & Mustafa
He showed bright and early the next
morning in his tiny beater car and four of us climbed in (we have been
joined by a congenial Belgium named Michael) In
return, all he
was for gas money as some of the distances were great. He showed us many
of the less
touristed areas, but just as beautiful and saving us lots of money in
the process. In some instances, he went into some sites via back ways
and over the course of two days, we saw and learned so much.
dive...I give it a ten and a high five to myself for catching it
On one of our treks through the beautiful
valleys, we wandered upon some young boys at the
swimming hole. They
was a waterfall feeding into a
deep pool and the boys were climbing up and jumping
off the cliffs. After watching awhile, we finally
decided, what the hell and jumped in ourselves, in
the clothes we were wearing. We actually jumped off
the cliffs, scary as that may be, but the boys pointed
out where the deep parts were (thankfully, they were
correct) and we tried to aim for there, so no broken
bones. And the prepubescent
boys did their best to cop a feel, as boy will be boys.
note the boy next to
Emma, where's his hand?
the end of the day, he said that he wanted to take us somewhere
special and have a picnic. We stopped at a local grocer, and he stocked
up on provisions having a definite plan in mind. We left with a variety
of fresh vegetables and large loafs of crusty bread. We made one
additional stop at a local winery, picked out a few bottles for our
picnic and also as souvenirs. Then we drove to a secluded valley and
drove along a barely visible trail to a small shack.
He bounded out of the car, unlocked the bolt and
presented with a flourish his summer home, built of his own hands. It
was a tiny one room shack,
at most 60 square feet. But it had everything you need.
He cranked up a kerosene stove, and with lard
under the bed and salt hanging in sack, whipped
up a rataouille and a fresh tomato and cucumber salad. We ate it
sitting around the large cooking pan, sopping up the stew with chunks of
crusty bread and the salad with our fingers. Afterwards, we relaxed
outside with soothing Turkish tea and played game after game of
backgammon, watching first the sunset and then the stars emerging in the
We thank him for an unforgettable day.
of Goreme town with its fairy castles
Mustafa had plenty of
on his hands, as the work situation was not good
Turkey. Tourism affects
everything. Mustafa is
construction and because tourists are not coming,
are hesitant to build more and the economy is
down and soon everyone will be affected.
have found Turkey to be an amazing destination.
Quite exotic for some, but
very easy to navigate.
Hurt by continual bad publicity with the Kurdish rebels and
economic instability, Turkey remains woefully neglected. Hotel rooms are
empty and ridiculously cheap, sites are deserted and the people are
feeling the pinch. But for an endless variety of sites, sounds and
scenery, Turkey can't be beat.
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