Chapter Eleven - A Day in Cappadocia

Trip Start Sep 28, 2011
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Trip End Oct 14, 2011


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Where I stayed
What I did
Ihlara Valley Cappadocia
Read my review - 4/5 stars
Selime Cathedral

Flag of Turkey  , Cappadocia,
Tuesday, October 4, 2011

In spite of a lovely quiet night in our cozy cave, we are up bright and early. Imagine my surprise as a huge blue and white balloon advertizing our favourite beverage drifts past my eyes. I ascend to the breakfast room on a terrace above our hotel and view the early morning panorama of Göreme with a multitude of colourful hot-air balloons congregating over the town.

Today, after breakfast, we will participate in a full-day tour of the region which I had booked online when making reservations at the hotel. This is our only organized tour of the trip.

Breakfast is a fine spread on the panoramic glass-enclosed terrace, with views of the neighbouring fairy chimneys and the surrounding area. It's an impressive start to our day.

Our guide calls for us right on time. We will be travelling in a mini-bus with just seven other passengers. I am amazed at the lush Turkish carpets on the floor of the bus. We are certainly expected to wipe our feet well before entering.    

We start off with a drive up to a view point overlooking Göreme and the Pigeon Valley, so called because locals used the soft rock to make caves for their pigeons. The views are magnificent and the weather is perfect. Of course the whole area is over-run by stalls selling typical handicrafts and merchandise. I guess we’ve travelled so far by now that we no longer purchase souvenirs. Somehow I wonder how these people survive, as I don’t see many others buying anything either.  

Our next stop is the amazing underground city of Derinkuyu. Built in around the 4th. century BC, it originally counted with sixteen floors, though only eight can be visited today. This is an amazing sight. Not good for anyone with claustrophobia as you descend many levels into the earth through small tunnels.

"They were built as refuges from invading armies and could accommodate whole towns with their domestic animals and stored enough food and water to hold out for months." Our guide informs us. “Most invaders never even knew these places existed and the story is that it was only in 1963 that the complex was accidentally re-discovered.”   

“Ouch!” I hit my head several times in spite of trying to be careful. 

“What’s that red stain on the top of your hat?” Asks Miryam.

I recommend that if you are tall, wear a hat. It will help soften the blows!

“It’s dreadful when this place is swarming with tourists in the high season” our guide tells us. “I hate coming at that time of year.”

It’s wonderful to get back up to fresh air. One can only imagine the horror of being imprisoned down here for months at a time in these dark, dank passageways and alcoves with only candles to light your way.

We drive over the arid high Anatolian steppe to a green valley that suddenly appears to our left. The entry to the Ihlara Valley/Gorge is by way of 360 steps from the rim of the plateau to the floor of the valley.

“Three hundred and sixty steps? Groans Cecilia.

“Don’t worry, they are all down.” I console her.

“Thank goodness I brought my comfortable shoes. You are a hard task-master”

We visit the curious Ağaçalti underground church, then continue on a lovely 4 km (2 and a half miles) walk along beside the Melediz River.  At the end of the hike is an attractive riverside restaurant. This is our lunch stop and we are given a choice of several menu items. I request the grilled whole fish, which is excellent. In spite of the restaurant being crowded, the service is fast and with a few Efes under our belts, it makes for a very pleasant respite. 

Our driver has descended into the valley and awaits us for the next visit in the canyon near the town of Güzelyurt. Here we stop at the base of a narrow path that winds up into the sandstone cliffs.

“Where did all the others go?”

Indeed, we were on our own here, so it’s refreshing to wander through tunnels, creep into holes, look over incredible landscapes and marvel at the carved and frescoed quarters far inside the mountain, without an entourage of fellow visitors. 

“Some of the scenes for the Star Wars films were taken in this area.” Our guide advises. “It was here that the sand people lived in the first movie.”

It certainly looks extraterrestrial as we gaze over a barren landscape of rock pyramids.

But a greater surprise is in store for us. Further up the path we enter an underground cathedral.

“Did anyone live on the surface in those days?” Questions Michael. It certainly seems as if they didn’t.

The Seline Cathedral is built into the sandy mountainside and is one of the largest underground churches in Cappadocia.

We have had a lovely day, and now we snooze on the long drive back to Göreme. We make a mandatory stop at an Onyx Factory, but I’m more interested in the surrounding farm where there are fields of pumpkins and the potato crop is being collected by local women (the men are probably resting at the local coffee shop).

On arrival back in Göreme, we pick up our bags from the hotel, enjoying snacks and drinks at a café by the bus stop. Our overnight bus leaves at 8:30 pm.     

My Review Of The Place I've Seen



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Comments

derrick241
derrick241 on

It has always amazed me, some of these rugs and carpets are really nice and expensive, WHY put them on the floor and let people walk over them, put them on a wall

Seems a lot of the people are under ground, I guess its not just invading armies, it could be the heat in the summer that drives them underground (a good idea if you dont have A/C, I bet the kids use them a lot when the parents are looking for them

BUT the cave room looked really great (better than some hotels I have been in

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