Hey all! Wassup? I’ve been havin’ a blast these last few days….I decided to get out of Istanbul and see some of this fabulous country and lemme tell ya, there is a heck of a lot to see here. I signed up for one of those low budget package tour deals, which will send me to some pretty key spots in Turkey, then put me on a ferry to Greece at the end of it all.
I took another 12-hour bus ride from Istanbul to a place called Cappadokia, which is in the region of Anatolia in the center of the country. Ugh, the ride was way long, but somehow I managed to sleep, miraculously. I arrived in a town called Goreme at around 8:00 in the morning and was picked up by the tour company at the bus station. They dropped me off at my hostel, which turns out to be in a cave. Yep, a cave!
The deal with Cappadokia is that it’s an area formed out of volcanic ash and eroded over thousands of years to create these cone shaped, lava rock pillars all over the area. Since volcanic rock is soft, early settlers of this region, and then later the Byzantine Christians, carved all kinds of churches and cities into the rock itself so the area is full of caves and caverns all hewn by the hands of the ancients. It makes for some interesting sites, and people actually still live in the some of the caves….and they have also built houses out of them.
So, my hostel is in a cave. I felt like Fred Flintstone. I arrived and the hostel attendant showed me to my room, which I had to descend into. It was freezing cold, like your standard cave would feel. There was a musty smell coming from somewhere….at least there were Turkish rugs thrown over the floor. My bed was a pile of straw. Just kidding…it was an actual bed. I met a really cool married couple from Canada whom I hung out with for the next two days.
Our tour began at 9:30am. We spent the day exploring the region, and its many breathtaking panoramic views. We hiked around through valleys, going into some of the caves and seeing many of the well-preserved churches with amazing artwork still intact. We also visited a pottery making operation and got to see how all that works. In addition, we got to see how Turkish carpets are made. I was quite impressed with the process. It actually takes several months to a year of labor to produce just one carpet, depending on how elaborate the design is. I got to see the little old ladies in action. Of course, then they tried to get us to buy a carpet, but what the hell am I gonna do with one?
The weather is very cold here, to the point where I have to wear my hat and gloves. I have a space heater in my cave, but it didn’t do too much. On top of that, NO HOT WATER. That doesn’t make your daily necessities very easy. But hey, I am sleepin in a cave for God’s sake. How many people can say they slept in a cave? That’s what I thought.
The next day, the tour guide took us to one of the underground cities. There are entire networks of caverns and rooms for a whole society, completely underground and carved out of the rock. We were told it took 1000 men 10 years to do it. Quite impressive.
The tour guide took us through very cramped tunnels that twisted and turned connecting the various rooms. We had to hunch over much of the time so as not to hit our heads. A couple of times I cracked my head against the rock ceiling and now I have a few bumps as souvenirs….ouch. A few times I started to get a little panicky when I saw how small the tunnel was, but I made it and was happy to have seen such an amazing creation. The afternoon was spent hiking through the valley of Ilhara and having lunch in a very ancient Turkish village by a stream. It felt like I was back in time. Some of these places haven’t changed for 1000 years.
The tour ended with a stop at a spot where a scene from the first Star Wars movie was filmed. When the guide said we would see where the movie was filmed, I was all excited, since I was obsessed with Star Wars for a long time…..I was all giddy thinking I’m gonna see where Obi Wan Kenobi scared the Sand People and saved Luke…… but it wasn’t too exciting….some more lava rock pillars and caves. But I was there man! I was there!
Anyway, that’s all for now. I can’t wait to get away from these Turkish keyboards. They stink. I’m going back to my cave now, where Wilma is cookin’ up some Brontosaurus burgers, and Barney’s coming over to chill….
Sorry I haven’t written to some of you, but I will as soon as the connections get better and I can find a decent keyboard…..but keep writing to me!