Cappadocia

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Flag of Turkey  , Cappadocia,
Friday, June 15, 2012

Cappadocia is the last stop on our lightening fast tour of Turkey. The region is famous for its cave houses and so it was only fitting that our hotel room was built to resemble the inside of a cave… albeit a luxurious one. Accompanying the stunning marble-floored and stone walled room was a beautiful swimming pool 2 meters from our doorway.

We had three days in Cappadocia but we didn't fill it all with swimming and sunbathing by the pool.

We visited the Goreme open air museum which is an incredible Christian monetary established by St Basil carved out of the rock face. Countless chapels, kitchens and sleeping quarters litter the valley. Inside several of the chapels were some of the earliest paintings of Jesus, Mary and the disciples.

We also visited one of several underground cities in the region These vast networks of tunnels and room were dug by the early Christians to evade capture by invading Muslim armies. They were built to house tens of thousands of local residents for up to six months at a time. It shows truly remarkable engineering skill, with stone doors that can only be opened from the inside, ventilation shafts that run the depth of the networks and even wine cellars!

Cappadocia is home to three volcanoes (one of which you can see in our photos) and, as a result of the volcanic activity, is famous for its fairy chimneys - cone-shaped rocks that piece the landscape and were hollowed out by the local inhabitants to live in.

While we were visiting Cappadocia Castle, a castle carved out of the inside of the fairy chimneys on the highest point in Cappadocia, Hana even managed to briefly ride a camel! Shortly thereafter we even saw a fairy chimney in the shape of a camel (check out the photo).

After a day of visiting historic sites, and at my request, we visited a local winery. We tried a selection of whites, reds and sweet wines all produced from local grapes I have never heard of. Mirroring the climate, however, the wines were all very dry and possessed neither fruit nor structure. I’m sure we will have better luck locating great wines the closer we get to Western Europe.

After all this sightseeing it was time for some relaxing and so, after a day hanging out by and in the swimming pool, we headed down to the local hammam for a Turkish bath. For 25 Turkish Lira ($15) each we had an hour and a half of bliss. After sweating in the sauna we had all our dead skin scrubbed off us - there is an embarrassingly large amount when you got sunburnt a few days earlier! Then it was time for a wash before another stint in the sauna. Finally we were called into another room for our massage. While Hana reported being pampered for half an hour, I confess that, while I enjoyed the experience, I cannot describe it as being pampered. While I felt distinctly battered and bruised I also felt completely stress-free.

On our last night in Cappadocia and with our tour group, we went out to dinner with some Americans on the tour, our tour guide and driver at his favorite restaurant. After an awesome meal, during which we discussed a wide variety of Turkish, American and New Zealand politics, our driver professed to being able to read coffee dregs. This was all the incentive I needed to order a Turkish coffee. After a few minutes of contemplation our driver declared that the presence of an easily discernable camel means I will have great power or influence, that I have many options open to me and that I shouldn’t worry so much. I can at least attest to the accuracy of the last of these three comments.




The next morning, with coffee onboard, we hit the road bound for Istanbul. We had a truly amazing trip through Turkey and can’t wait to return as soon as possible.
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Comments

Alion on

Love it! I am particularly impressed by the reader of the coffee dregs - where can I learn this skill??

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