Cappadocia: The Land of Suggestive Rock Formations

Trip Start Feb 06, 2011
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Trip End Sep 15, 2011


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Where I stayed

Flag of Turkey  , Cappadocia,
Tuesday, May 10, 2011

We left our hotel in the evening to catch the overnight train to Ankara.  It was quite a sight when 7 Caucasian girls, 1 Asian girl, and 1 Turkish guide strolled into the train station with all our bags.  I don't think many tours to Turkey actually use public transportation!  There were 4 beds in each compartment and the girls who had been on sleeper trains before said that this sleeper train was quite clean and roomy compared to other countries.   We even got fresh sheets to put on the mattresses!  The beds were comfortable but I still had trouble falling asleep because it felt like I was sleeping on an angle the entire time.  We arrived in Ankara at 8am and took a 5 hour bus ride to Goreme in Cappadocia.  The public buses offer coach style seating as well as some added bonuses including individual TV screens for each passenger and refreshments served onboard at no additional charge!

We checked into our hotel which is a traditionally carved out Anatolian cave.  M & I stayed on the second floor which offered stunning views of the valley.  Our group had a quick lunch and headed to Love Valley (check out the pictures and you'll see why)  to check out the "fairy chimney" rock formations.  I've definitely never seen anything like it!

For dinner, we went to a restaurant that served pottery kebabs, which is especially famous in this region.  They cook the food inside a sealed clay pot and when it is served, the waiter breaks the pot in front of you and pours out the contents.  The pot is only used once so it's a bit more expensive that regular Turkish food (approx. 20 TL = $13 CDN for a meal including soup and salad).  

The next morning, I woke up bright and early at 4:30am for a hot air balloon ride.  I wasn't planning on doing this optional activity but a couple of the girls managed to negotiate a deal with one of the companies and we were able to ride the balloon for 100 euros each.  The ride was absolutely spectacular.  It was such a great way to take in the views of the entire region and see 70 other hot air balloons all around you at the same time.  Our guide mentioned that in the summer time, there can be up to 100 hot air balloons launched at the same time.  We were up in the air for about an hour and reached an altitude of 1350m.  We had some champagne at 8 in the morning to celebrate our safe landing!

We met up with the others back at the hotel for breakfast and headed to Goreme Open Air Museum.  It is home to one of the earliest centres of religious education and consists of rock carved churches built between 900 and 1200 A.D.  Some of the churches have some well preserved frescoes and it was neat to try and visualize what it was like to live in a monastic community.  We had the opportunity to have lunch with a Turkish family in a local village.  All 10 family members lived in the same home (reminds me of Indian families in Richmond!) and they basically ate what they grew in the fields.  Everyone including the grandmother worked on the farm.  The homecooked meal was delicious!

During our last day in Goreme, we visited Derinkuyu, an underground city with over 20 "floors". Early Christians used this city as a hiding place and they had everything from kitchens to ventilation shafts to churches and schools. 

We also went to the nearby city of Avanos, a pottery making and carpet weaving town.  We got to see a master potter do a demo and one of the girls tried her luck at the wheel but she ended up with a bottomless pot.  The guy showed us the owner's wares and then proceeded to lead us to the creepiest cave I've ever seen in my life.  It was a cave with over 16,000 specimens of female human hair.  We weren't allowed to take pictures but check out the website (http://www.eons.com/groups/topic/2474860-Hair-Museum) for a visual.  Absolutely grotesque.  We all lost our appetites after seeing the "museum" and we all politely declined when he asked if anyone wanted to add to his collection.  
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