Cappadocia from the ground

Friday, November 27, 2009

Besides hot air ballooning, there’s plenty to do on the ground in Cappadocia. I was booked on two all-day tours around the area, so the days were quite packed. And I went to a touristy but fun “Turkish Night” in a town near Göreme. When in Göreme, GSRED stays at the Shoestring Cave Pension, a pleasant cluster of rooms cut into rock surrounding a central courtyard. They apparently have a pool too but Cappadocia is decidedly chilly at this time of year and I wasn’t in the mood to chip my way through a layer of ice to have a dip.

The courtyard (Notice the solar panels for hot water - they're everywhere. Very clever.)

My room. A cave with wifi!

I went to Turkish Night with a gang from Shoestring and had a great time, partly because the price for dinner included unlimited drinks, and there was a whole bottle of Raki on the table. (Though it turns out that Raki is sort of, er... foul. No offense, Turkey). The night started off with a demonstration of whirling dervishes, though I suspect that it was not the most precisely authentic version of the famous practice, unless 12th c. sufis who originated the custom did so under florescent black lights… (I’m just sayin’)

There was also a lot of good Turkish food (in fact there may be a whole post coming on Turkish food, because there seems to be a lot to say about it). And there was a seemingly endless series of traditional dances performed during dinner. They were hard to photograph, but the band is worth a mention here because they were the most disinterested, unengaged bunch of musicians I’ve seen in ages.

They love their job

Turkish night was fun, but I (wisely, I think) chose to go to bed relatively early instead of following the rest of the hostel bunch to a bar in town. I did have to get up at 5:00 for the ballooning thing the next day, after all. After the balloons (which you’ve already heard about) I spent the day on the first of two organized minibus tours through the area around Göreme. There was a long hike through Rose Valley, which was a really nice way to see the rock formations and caves up close. They really are everywhere, and they’re dotted with tiny pigeonholes which were, in fact, holes for pigeons. I never really got a good explanation of why the people who inhabited the place needed so many pigeons, except that they were somehow sacred, and the droppings were used as fertilizer.

Caves and pigeon holes

At the end of the hike we stopped for tea in the tiny town of Cavusin. Our target was a tea house at the opposite end of the village to where we entered, but we had to stop before then because the centre of the town, just outside the mosque, was packed with a big crowd of men. It turned out there was a funeral in progress. We stopped for tea at another spot so we could wait for the road to open up again, and as we were sitting the funeral procession came past. All men, walking silently, carrying the coffin to the graveyard down the road.

The graveyard

It was sad, but also really interesting to see. As I mentioned, there were no women at all in the procession. Our guide explained that the men would carry the coffin and bury it in the graveyard (this despite the fact that the deceased was a woman), and later the women would go visit the site. After the procession passed us a carload of women pulled up and got out to watch the burial from a distance. It felt intrusive to sit there and watch, but I also felt lucky to have seen it. (No pictures, because of course that would have been beyond tasteless.)

We went to Cavusin to see was the old city cut into the rock face, including a great Christian church that even had some of the original paintings on the walls.

Those pillars are carved out of the rock, not added on after.

The tour also included the mandatory thinly-disguised “pottery demonstration” that ended with a trip through the pottery studio’s showroom (“Please have a glass of apple tea. You will have 20% discount. All prices of larger pieces include packing and shipping to your country.” The next day’s tour ended at the onyx jewellry shop…)

My second day trip was similar to the first, but the landscape was quite different. We visited the underground city at Derinkuyu, which was hard to photograph since it is underground and hence sort of dark. The photos I did take are over at Flickr, instead here you get Rob’s requested people picture:

Old Turkish woman selling “Cappadocia Dolls” outside the underground city

We also had a hike through a lovely green canyon, and lunch in a nice restaurant, and lot more time spent clambering around and photographing rooms cut into rocks.

The river valley we walked through

I could go on and on with pictures of crazy-looking rocks, and rooms cut into crazy looking rocks. So much so that by the end of my second day of minibus touring around Göreme I felt like didn’t need to see, photograph, explore, sleep in or otherwise interact with another rock-cut anything for a long long time. So it was with a sense of relief and anticipation that I got on my second overnight bus to make my way to Pamukkale, to look at entirely different rocks.

One last look at crazy rocks of Cappadocia


Unknown said...

Nice old lady people picture.

I think event the grumpy band counts as a people pic.

There should be one of YOU in every posting.

Your Fans need that.


Kathryn said...

I LOVE the band!!!

Anonymous said...

Strange, when the geological formations show more personality than the musicians....
Congrats on the balloon ride - what a great intro. And now you don't have to do it ever again. Please.

cinc said...

I, like the others, love the band picture.


thanks Pam!

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