Tuesday, June 12, 2012

all things Turkey - Cappadocia - Part 1

I was recently prompted to gather hotel, tours and other information from our trip in the Cappadocia region in 2008 and discovered I had started a post last year, but never finished it.  There is the post about fairy chimneys, volcanic ash and pottery but it was more photographic then informative. 

photo credit: Chaz R. Davies
One of my favourite photos as it stirs up delicious memories of our tour around Cappadocia. A typical Turkish breakfast, al fresco w/ the sounds of classical music surrounding us and the extensive landscape views. Olives, feta cheese, hard boiled eggs. And bazlama, a Turkish flat bread, cooked beside us over a hot plate.

Cappadocia is an area east of Ankara, central Turkey. A phenomenal geographical area to explore. Flat lands and volcanic peaks and ash transformations. Fairy chimneys, underground cities used since the Bronze age, tunnels & rooms dug out of the side of volcanic ash. Christian cave art, frescoes, dating from the 9th and 10th centuries. Dry, desert like area. A beer at the end of the day never tasted better.

Getting there
Traveling by commuter boat across the Bosphorous Strait, to get to the main train station. Night Train to Ankara, bus to Cappadocia region. Our stop, Ürgüp.

train station, Anatolian side

We were there in the summer of 2008. We chose the town Ürgüp (based on pictures and hotels, a flip of the coin) and stayed in a cave hotel, Elke Pevi Hotel.  Check out the link, our room is the lighted arched entryway on the left side of the photo, 1st floor. It was beautiful.  There was a writer, renting a room a few doors down. He was there for the long haul.

Chaz, relaxing on the patio of cave room.
view from hotel / Ürgü
Bazlama for breakfast, prepared table side

We were given access to a pool at another hotel, just a walk down a path and around the corner.

socks up, camera ready.

Day 1: Arranged by the hotel staff, we hired a taxi to explore the area. We opted for a taxi as there were three of us, including a 6 year old and we don't normally book tours, but felt we needed some guidance to explore this vast area. The taxi was very comfortable and this was an efficient way to travel to all the hot spots. Some stops were a small walk off the side of the road, to view the different fairy chimneys and view the valleys. Other stops were at museums or significant temples.  Places of interest; Town of Avanos, Göreme Open-Air museum, Uçhisar Hill and Castle.   

TIP: We kept meeting up with this couple at each destination. They were traveling by a rented motorcycle. Possibly following a self-guide tour or maybe just a travelers book. The roads were quite empty and looked easy to travel.

TIP: I recommend a bottle of water, camera and a bandana - when it gets hot, dry hot, it was nice to breath into the fabric, or cover your head.

TIP: Eventually I figured out to take picture of the NAME of the museum we were entering in efforts to help organize the photos. But I didn't figure that out until the next day.

fairy chimney

A stop in Avanos, known for pottery and carpets. We toured a carpet show room and production site.  We met some of the weavers and were shown the intricate methods of weaving. One woman may work on ONE carpet for several months in order to keep the tightness of the weave consistent with her method. The carpets are pieces of art. We saw the silk process, dying process, weavers etc. If you aren't interested in purchasing a carpet, be strong!  Go ahead and take the tour, look at their carpets, drink some tea, learn about the patterns. But its ok to say no thank you and be on your way, although I am not strong and I did buy a beautiful woven kilim in neutral brown colours.

We were also taken to a Pottery showroom and work area in the same town. The pottery was beautiful, the people were proud of their work.

Göreme Open-Air museum - Exploring monasteries & churches carved out of volcanic ash (2000 years ago)

Cobble stone paths and steps leading into the rooms.

Insides filled with 2000 year old frescoes (dating from the ninth century to the eleventh century.)

An all day tour. My trooper, the 6 year old - keen and enthusiastic for every nook and cranny he discovered.

Tuckered by the end of the day.

Our last stop of the day was at Uçhisar Hill and Castle, watching the sun set. I recall driving up the hill and thinking Uçhisar would also be a good town to book a hotel.

Day 2 we toured an underground city and the Ihlara Valley ... continued in next post.

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