Day 249 - Tourists & Travelers
Trip Start Jan 10, 2011
221Trip End Jan 08, 2012
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Where I stayed
Melik Cave Hotel
We walked out of town and up to the 'open air' museum near our village. On the way we commented (as we have a few times in the past few weeks) that there was literally not a cloud in the sky. In fact we have not seen any clouds at all since being in Turkey.
It seems amazing that all of the grapes, figs, pomegranats, olives etc grow in the dry, rocky and somewhat dusty landscape. Some areas are covered in fields of browned grass while the trees & plants seem healthy and vibrantly green.
The Goreme Open Air Museum is a tourist hot spot that highlights a few of the area's rock dwellings and the best preserved/restored ancient Christian Churches dating back to the 2nd century AD. Even from afar, the throngs of tour busses and their passengers were visibly dominant yesterday and we hoped today would be better.
The entrance sign directed us along a thoroughfare of shops, cafes culminating in a camel ride area. Then we had to continue up the road we’d left to get to the actual entrance. Not a good start. After inspecting the giftshop to confirm what we were going to see we agreed that it was worth the entrance fee.
We dodged the tour groups, grabbed our tickets and entered the grounds. The dwellings were ‘cleaner’ than what we had seen but didn’t offer much more in interest though we did enjoy around a couple areas: a long dining room with stone table and chairs as well burial chambers – some of which still had bones in the shallow graves!
The tour groups dominated the small church interiors often queueing at each entrance so that the entire tour could enter at the same time. With us not being in a tour, not to mention our aversion to crowds, we moved around the facility avoiding the congestion as much as possible.
One church of particular interest was the Karanlık Kilise or Dark Church, where the decorative paintings had been relatively well preserved over the centuries without exposure to sunlight. When we got to the church entry way we were confused with a sign declaring an additional charge for this specific church amounting to over 50% of the entrance fee!! We were surprised at the instance and stunned at the amount. After explaining our dilemma to the facility employees we left with a bad taste in our mouth after they rudely and aloofly disregarded our concerns that this wasn’t declared before our entrance.
One worker told Eli that EVERY DAY he explains this exact issue to 10% of visitors; yet unbelievably they hadn’t added a simple sign and didn’t think it was an issue – AT ALL. Eli hand wrote the info on the back of our ticket and stuck it to the outside of the ticket window, smiling at our contact, before we walked away. For such a well-organized and modern facility it was ridiculous that they would participate, even unintentionally, in such bait and switch tactics.
On our way back to town, we visited another church with our remaining ticket which was interesting and well preserved though not worth an incremental fee. Based on this experience we forewent further touristic activities for today, still hopeful for our (self guided) tour south to visit subterranean cities.
Eli met Mia back at the hotel after she did a little shopping where she relaxed and read a new book (her 32nd this year) while Eli worked on the computer and the blog.
As the evening approached we walked down the cobblestone hill to the main street for dinner. We ate at on the patio despite the cooler temperatures this evening (about 15C). We were warmed by the pizza oven just inside and enjoyed the food cooked within. Mia had a chicken & cheese but Eli’s walnut & cheese was clearly the winner.
After dinner we walked back along the strip window shopping and enjoying the calm backlit atmosphere before returning to our hotel. Mia won (again) 2 of 3 games of Tavla with Eli barely squeaking out the 3rd.