A chronicle of Alison and Ron's trip around the world in 2009-2010.

"Not all those who wander are lost"
- Tolkien

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Goreme or the Moon?

When we walked off the bus in Goreme we knew we were someplace special. It just had that feel to it. Open. Fresh. Spiritually Calming. Something like I remember Sedona back in the eighties. This place is just teetering towards the tourist demise but it is still a small village. Quaint. Not yet fully packaged.

The real draw of the Cappadocia region is the otherworldly rock formations formed from volcanic activity millions of years ago. The curves are mesmerizing and soft on the eyes, like mountains on the moon. And up until recently, most local people lived in houses carved out of the rock that had eroded from rain and wind into fascinating shapes and pillars called fairy chimneys. Sometimes high off the ground, you would have to scale a rock wall or climb a ladder 30 feet in the air to get to the doorway.

Houses are nestled together on the cliffside with intricately carved windows and small churches adorned with simple lines of red paint along the arched ceilings. Given the climate it is an ideal abode because the cave houses are warm in winter and cool in the summer. Many of these places are now abandoned and are like looking back in time at our cave man ancestry or have been restored into hotels.

We stayed at a place called Peri Caves in our very own fairy chimney cave room that used to be a horse stable. You can still see the basins cut into the wall where hay or water might have been kept. It also had a raised seating area with low tables that was a great place to read and hang out. Especially as it was pouring rain the first 2 days of our stay.

When we could venture out we went to Kaymakli which is the largest underground city in the region. It was at least a dozen levels deep (I even heard up to 20) but only 4 are open to visitors. It was amazing how many rooms there were: stables, sleeping quarters, storage rooms, kitchens, wine presses, churches. With the bus and entrance fees it cost 45 YTL (about $30) and was a great daytime activity to be in the coolness of a deep cave. The stairways and tunnels were narrow with impossibly low ceilings that made it tight maneuvering at times, and not for the claustrophobic or faint of heart.

Before catching the dolmus back to Goreme, Ron saw a cow and set off for a picture. Almost immediately two boys appeared and demanded 1 lira to take the photo. Knowing full well this wasn’t even their cow Ron said he would get his lira if he would get on the cow. The little boy was tentative but then agreed, approaching the massive animal that let out a loud snort sending the boy running begging to give back the lira coin. Instead Ron had him take a photo with a calf more his size that was still quite a handful for the lad.

Another day we were headed to the Goreme Open Air Museum but decided to save the $ and go on our own tour of the area by foot. We wandered for several hours and found amazing cave houses, churches, and breathtaking views. Finally arriving in another village Cavasin for lunch and a bus back to Goreme, it was a great hike made at our own leisurely pace and blissfully away from the crowds in the silence of the hills.

We caught an amazing sunset on the way back from Uchasir. Ron and I fought over whose photo was better, and yes he came out the winner again (damn his canon g-10) but only after stealing this exact composition that I took first!

On our last day, we rented a buggy to explore the surrounding area of Goreme. In Pasabag we saw different types of rock formations that, ahem, I have no further comment about. Then we drove to Urgup and on our way back found some dirt roads to speed down and try not to get too muddy or stuck in a hole. The roads here are not exactly well maintained, but that was half the fun in the buggy.


emiko July 24, 2009 at 6:28 PM  

WOW - looks like you guys are on another planet! Moon buggy and all. It's quite the fascinating place. Thanks for bringing this to my day! Love all the pictures & descriptions - that sunset photo is to die for - all the hues are just gorgeous!

Ron July 26, 2009 at 9:51 AM  

Thanks lil sister for being with me every step of the way!

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