Monday, November 12, 2012

CAPTIVATING CAPPADOCIA


Sunday, Nov. 11th

Hello from Cappadocia, Turkey.  What an amazing place this is!

We flew from Istanbul this morning on a 10 am flight, the flight was a little more than an hour.  Even though it was a short flight, Turkey Air gave us lunch, served in a cute little picnic basket.

The last part of the flight was pretty rough, lots of turbulence.   We landed at the tiny Nevsehir airport, and soon were in the van taking us to our hotel in Goreme, about 45 minutes away.  We are certainly out in the middle of nowhere!

At first the landscape was pretty bleak, looking a lot like eastern Oregon.  But soon we started to see some interesting rock formations like these:



The van drove through the tiny village of Goreme (pop. less than 2000), and dropped us right in front of our hotel, The Arch Palace.  We were warmly welcomed by the owner, Mustafa, who has gone out of his way to welcome us and make our stay here memorable.

This is the view from our room, and yes, that minaret is right across the street from our room, so we'll have a built in alarm clock here, too!

Looking out over the village:

After we settled in our room, Mustafa gave us information about the area and helped us pick a tour, made some dinner suggestions, and even gave us a ride to the Goreme Open Air Museum, which was very kind of him, because it would have been a loooong walk in the rain!

We paid our entrance fee and really enjoyed wandering around the area.  A few views of the caves:

These caves and cave churches date to 11-12 century.


This area was the site of a large underground city, complete with cave churches.  Many of the churches have beautiful painted walls and ceilings, the colors are still vibrant and beautiful.  No photos allowed, however.

David at the entrance to The Church of St. Basil:

This was the first church we went into, and right at the entrance there were several tombs, complete with remains.  I snapped a photo, not knowing photos were prohibited.  I was quickly informed, though. Whoops!


Keyhole shaped doorway:

Interesting carvings above the door:


Upper level of a cave entrance:


Painted decoration at a church entrance:


Pretty view over the valley from inside a cave:




We hiked around this area for a couple of hours--lots of steep high steps and rough cobblestones--I'm sure my poor old knee will be paying for it tomorrow.  Worth it, though!

We made a quick tour through the gift shop, didn't buy a thing.  It was really pouring when we came out, and I told David that IF we saw a taxi, I'd sure rather pay than walk the loooong road back to the village!  Sure enough, there was a taxi in the parking lot.  We asked how much to town, only 10 Lira--about $5.50--a bargain! The river told us just a minute--then two of his friends pushed him out of his parking place and into the road!  Dvid and I just looked at each other--do we really want to get into this taxi?  But no worries--he coasted down the hill a few feet and his car started right up!  He circled back to the parking lot, we got in--and off we went.  Taxi-Turkish style!

We had him let us off in the village, and we walked around and poked into a few shops.  The shops here have some beautiful Turkish handicrafts, and the prices are much less than Istanbul.  I have my eye on a beautiful hand painted bowl, and an old child's circumcision overblouse--beautifully embroidered and decorated with buttons and silver.  We'll see how my bargaining skills are!  I did buy a little something for Jeanne, maybe in her favorite color!

We stopped to have a quick snack, a small bowl of red lentil soup and hot apple tea to warm us up.  Just what we needed!

Interesting cave house in the village:

By now it was dusk, and several of the fairy chimneys and cave hotels were lit up:

For the evening we'd set up a visit to a Whirling Dervish Ceremony.  Mustafa gave us a ride, it's in a cave up in the hills surrounding the village.  He must have connections, because we had the best seats in the house, right in front!

The cave was interesting--we went down a few sets of spiral stairs, and into a large dome shaped room with a platform in the middle.

From the travel brochure about the Dervishes:  "The Whirling Dervish ceremony represents a mystical journey of a man's spiritual ascent through love, finding the truth and arriving at perfection. Afterwards he returns from this spiritual journey as a man who has reached maturity and greater perfection in order to love and be of greater service to mankind."

It was a very interesting ceremony.  The dervishes were accompanied by 4 gentlemen playing traditonal Turkish instruments. There were 7 dervishes, they started out in black robes:

After some initial chant-like singing, they slipped off their black robes and started twirling:


A video of the whirling

video


After the ceremony we were served a religious tea--it was red, pomegranate I think, spicy and VERY sweet.

After the Whirling Dervish ceremony we had dinner reservations at a restaurant near our hotel.  Owned by a friend of Mustafa's, of course.  A nice young man from the hotel walked us over, so we wouldn't get lost in the dark winding village streets.  We've had extraordinary service from Mustafa and staff at the Arch Palace Hotel.

Mustafa didn't steer us wrong--our dinner was wonderful, and the service was impeccable!  It's a small family restaurant serving home cooked meals, the husband and wife cook, and their lovely teenaged daughter was our server.  She was delightful, and her English was perfect.

The restaurant was in a cave, of course:

They even had a few low tables with floor cushions:

We started with a mezes plate, this one had about 12 different items, and they were all delicious.  Our lovely server carefully explained each item:

Their menu was quite small, and the meat main dishes were listed as chicken, beef or lamb--and the exact dish would depend on what the chef was cooking that night!  We had decided that we'd order a beef and a lamb dish, and share.  She said, "Oh, no--that would be too much food, order only one to share". How sweet is that?  Of course, she was right--it was a lot of food.  We had lamb cooked with tomatoes and peppers, served with rice.  It was melt in your mouth delicious!  The lamb was tender and very tasty.  Notice the french fries on the top?  That seems to be a Turkish thing, we've noticed it several times.  We've even had fries IN a pita sandwich!

After our dinner, we walked back to our hotel, winding through the village streets, up the hill to our hotel.


It had been a long, wonderful day in Goreme.  We are happy to be in this charming village, and are looking forward to our tour tomorrow.  We'll be seeing lots of underground cities and churches, as well as walking some pretty valleys.

Early to bed again, we have a big day tomorrow!

3 comments:

  1. I'm caught up !!!!!! This sure had been an amazing journey- I like so many if your pictures. I am learning of new places, food and customs through your great descriptions .. Happy Veterans Day to David.

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  2. What an interesting area. I've heard of Cappadocia but I had no idea how many caves were built into the city with its shops and restaurants. And every where you go you find such interesting and kind people - I swear, you are a magnet for all that is good.....

    It's cold here today and we've had some light snow flakes off and on. Let Dave know that BSU won their game with Hawaii this past Saturday - much better result compared to their previous game.

    Otherwise.... life is good. Stay safe!

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  3. Well I am behind again on the blogs and posting comments. Wow, Cappadocia is very interesting. Love the caves . Interesting to hear about the different customs and especially Bout the dervishes and significance. Sounds like the people aree very friendly and especially your apartment owner in giving you rides as well as great suggestions. Your dinner looked great, especially the appetizer plate

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