GOREME - TURKEY

Trip Start Dec 03, 2008
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58
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Trip End Oct 14, 2009


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Flag of Turkey  , Cappadocia,
Thursday, August 13, 2009



After 3 nights in Istanbul we were ready to move on - even though you could stay there for over a week and still not see everything. We weren't sure where to go - it was either to Southern Turkey to the Mediterranean or straight to Sofia, Bulgaria or our final choice, Goreme in the middle of Turkey. We definitely made the right decision. When we first saw pictures of Turkey we were immediately attracted to the region of Cappadocia. They have some of the strangest looking rock caves and structures I have ever seen. We took an overnight bus to the town of Goreme in the region of Cappadocia. We didn't have a hostel lined up but it is a small town so it was no problem to wonder around a little bit. We found a really great place where I am certain Richard Gere's long lost identical twin brother lives. They gave us a cave room (a room carved out of a cave) at a really good price with breakfast and a swimming pool right in the heart of everything. Richard was hobbling around and told us how he got in a scooter accident the day before. He kept saying he was going to the doctor but he must have been fine with a hobble. Made me think of our motorbike ride in Thailand. We felt pretty bad one morning when we ordered the fruit and yogurt for breakfast and he had to hobble into town to get more fruit. After a few minutes he walked back and made the cook go to the market.

Goreme is a small little town in the middle of Cappadocia with a lot of history, reaching back to the early 6th century BC!

We loved it here. We didn't want to be tourists and do a tour (that everyone does) so we took some local transport around. Information people said it was impossible but Brian read about taking it in Lonely Planet and it was actually VERY easy. The day we arrived we went to the Open Air Museum which was an old Nunnery (Kizlar Manastiri) and churches cut out of rock into the caves and rock structures. These are believed to be from the 10th, 11th, and 12th centuries.


The next day we went to the town of Kaymaklı where they have an underground city carved out of caves. They think there are over 300 of these "cities" in the area. They were not believed to be built for permanent living but instead in case of attack - they would be able to hold an entire community and the animals! The one we went to was made in the 9th and 10th centuries. It was really complex with lots of passages and places where they slept, cooked, worked, worshiped, etc. It was made like a maze to confuse invaders and dark tunnels so they could hide out. They had water supply, fresh air circulating and everything they needed to hide out for long periods of time. Truly amazing.

The next day we took a long hike to the top of a nearby town and climbed (more climbing) to the top of a castle. Although, it was more or less a really big rock with a lookout on top with gorgeous views. We found a little sitting nook carved out of the rock and sat and looked over the countryside for a long time. Its the highest point in the region and you can see it from everywhere, so it was really cool to look at it that night from the patio at the hostel and know that we climbed it!

On our last night there we booked a 4-wheeler and had a guided tour through some of the nearby valleys. In the valleys are where the most extraordinary rock structures are. You'll have to look at the pictures to see what they resemble. We had a little Turkish guide. Before sunset he lead us through some really cool tracks and stopped a few places for us to take some pictures. About 30 minutes before sunset he took us to an area surrounded by huge boulders. He told us to follow him and we climbed up a little path and came out into a clearing where a local guy and his wife sat. It was a little bar/restaurant. There was 3 plastic chairs and the inside was a small hole cut out of the rock. Although they only thing they had to eat was BBQ that was their dinner. It was kind of a trap we decided but still okay because it was so cool. What were we going to do? Our guide takes us (only us) to his boss's or friend's bar and we weren't going to buy anything? So we got a couple of beers and one for the guide and they told us to keep hiking a little further up. We did and found possibly the best place in all of Turkey to watch the sunset. We were surrounded by rocks on 3 sides and the sun was directly in front of us. We would have stayed for their BBQ except that we wouldn't be able to see our way back to town on the 4-wheeler. It was a good choice to pass because our lights didn't work.


The last night in town we went out to eat at a nice place. The food was great, although they forgot to give it to us, until we asked. When we are checking out at the bar, someone came up behind us and gave us a big strong bear hug at the same time. Who in the World would know us well enough to do that...in Turkey? It was Richard Gere! His brother owned the restaurant and he was there with one of his Asian guests. That night we learned he likes to "entertain" some of his guests by taking them out on dates and also that he has a horse that is the color of his hair...gray. What a goofy guy.

When we were not in a cave of some sort, we spent our time in the pool and walking around the town. Such a cool place. We highly recommend Turkey to anyone, but be sure to leave a good 2 weeks for it. There are a lot of other places we would have liked to visit but we need to keep moving. Next we are headed to Sofia, Bulgaria. The only thing I know about Bulgaria is that it is "nice". That was from a Bulgarian waiter we had once in Door County. We shall see...
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