Thursday, September 20, 2007

Turkey Trip (part 3 : Cappadocia)

So we took a flight to Cappadocia that took about 2 hours. We arrived @ 11PM and was picked up by two dudes in a car that was all tripped out like one of those cars in fast and the furious. It was a little Volkswagen with tinted windows, a spoiler, and a loud stereo system blasting Turkish pop music. It took us about 45 minutes to drive to our destination the UFUK Pension (not making that name up). There we were informed that we had a dorm style room, which was a cave with 6 beds in it. The whole time we were there we had the room to ourselves and we were only paying 8 bucks a piece for it.

So we left Istanbul, one of the largest cities of the world at night, we arrived in the middle of nowhere and outside was a mystery to me, as from the car through the tinted windows I could see nothing. Well I woke up early, at about 6 in the morning and I walked outside and I saw this:

Easily the strangest landscape I had ever seen. It looked like something out of a sci-fi movie.

That morning we got on a tour bus to see a bunch of stuff. We started with a little explanation of the landscape (something about volcanic ash, and flows of lava at two different temperatures.) The rock left by the volcanoes in this region you could sculpt with your hands lending it-self to being carved. Rooms are carved in these cone-like structures referred to as fairy chimneys. It is also so easy to be sculpted that there are underground cities. The one we went to was called Derinkuyu. It was a place built primarily by christians hiding from religious persecution. The city was 100 meters deep, and could house hundreds if not over a thousand people.

From there we headed to the Ihlara Valley. This was a natural structure that looked like about a 500-foot deep canyon, however it was created not by water, but by earth splitting away from itself during an earthquake. A beautiful stream ran at the bottom of the canyon while the walls were littered with cave like formations. As we drove up I noticed that there were houses built on the canyon wall, didn’t look safe but hey it was pretty. This is one of the places I would like to have had a whole day to explore.

A moment on tour groups… I like the fact that I speak English, because it’s become such an international language. In my tour group there were a bunch of Italians, (2 of which were trying to score with our bus driver) a French couple, some peace sign loving Koreans (who took pictures of everything… I know it’s a stereotype but… well they did.), some Turkish people, and a few people whom I didn’t know what. It was nice to walk around with such a patchwork group.

We stopped to have lunch in the valley and then headed off to the Selime Monastery. This was a religious community that carved its structures into the side of a small mountain. More spectacular than the underground city, which was partially due to the fact that the open mountain face allowed enough light for one to see the structures created.

Lastly was the tourist trap. We went to turquoise land…. for a jewelry demonstration (AKA we’re gonna try and sell you some overpriced crap). Here I got a sweet picture of a tourist taking a picture of some garbage on a wall.

The next day we started with some borekas (breakfast pastry containing meet, veggies, potatoes or cheese) along with an interesting sign about where Turkish or Israeli borekas are better. Then it was off to the Gorme Open Air Museum. It was packed with tourists (we tagged on to a Japanese, Chinese, and an Italian tour group just to get into some of the churches), but was worth the hassle. Basically it was more churches sculpted into the volcanic rock. Here there were murals that were a thousand years old yet still contained vivid color. In addition, there were clearly graves in many of the rooms some left displayed with bodies still in them.

After a delicious lunch we rented scooters and tooled around the countryside. It was an absolute blast. I would like to post a picture of Rachel looking a little “special” in her red helmet here, but I think she’s kill me. If you see the ole’ slide show next time ya see me you’ll see it. Here I saw the coolest sogn of the trip... the ole' turtle crossing sign.

That night, unable to sleep, I went for a walk. I ended up at the Flintstones Cave Bar as they were blasting "Sweet Home Chicago. Always nice to hear a little of home so far away.

The next morning we got up early to get a look at the balloons. There were 20 or so hot air balloons that got launched every morning. It cost 200 bucks so I couldn’t afford it… and come to think of it I would be terrified inside one of these things. We had a breakfast of gozleme, which is another fried breakfast pastry. It was fantastic, I can’t stress the fact that Turkish food is wonderfully, mouth-wateringly delicious enough.

Then it was off to the cooshiest bus I’ve ever been on for a ride to Egirdir (pronounced “A”-yer-der).


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