Cappacocia livin’

We’ve been in Goreme about 5 or 6 days and are loving it. It’s a small, quiet, low-keyed tourist town surrounded by wonderful scenery and tons of things to do and see. We’ve been staying at a place called the Rock Valley Pension which costs 90 TL (~ $45.50) per night. It’s a great place, very clean and excellent facilities including a pool, and Ahmet the manager, is a primo ‘answer man’ who lends help on a multitude of issues from directions to restaurant recommendations to helping me add minutes to my local phone. We’re lucky enough to be in a triple so the extra bed has all our stuff laid out on it. There are primarily younger people (backpackers) here who also have the option of staying in a dorm room for about $15. They’re from all over: Australia, New Zealand, Spain, France, Turkey, the UK, etc.. and, of course, the US. There’s also a good guy we met here, Richard, who lives in Jamaica Plain and has been teaching at Emerson College for 20 years!

We took an excursion of sorts one evening to “Turkish Night” where we were treated to food, drink, music (live and recorded), Whirling Dervishes, several different traditional Turkish dances and a belly dancer. The hall held about 250-300 people. Each table sat 8 people and we shared ours with 4 young adults from the Shanghai, China area and a couple from Turkey. I sat next to the Turkish woman who was a first year physician from Istanbul who, when asked, said she’d treated people who had been gassed. Her boyfriend “schooled” me in drinking their version of Ouzo (can’t remember the name)–cut it with water!

Belly Dancer replete with, ahhem, enhanced assets!

Belly Dancer replete with, ahem, enhanced assets!

When giving directions New Englanders standard tongue in cheek answer is, “You can’t get there from here”. Cappadocian’s should have one, too: You can get here from everywhere! There are tons of trails going all over the place. There must be at least 10 direction signs on rocks like this to the Rose or Red (or Rouge) trail….

Trail sign. Red Valley, Rose Valley, and Cavusin town.

Trail sign. Red Valley, Rose Valley, and Cavusin town.

The signs in Turkish indicate two “Red Valley” trails, calling them I and II. In English they are called the Rose Valley and the Rouge (“Red” in French) Valley which sits just due North, er, make that due South of the Rose trail. This next set of signs are beauties since they seem to point to the same places and/but are oriented at right angles to each other. Goreme actually sits about 1/4 mile directly behind where I’m standing.

Gorkundere sign. So, I should go which way?

Gorkundere sign. So really, I should go which way?

They are numbered so I assume there is some key to them somewhere. I only wish I knew where they kept the key! There are other trail signs that have (satellite?) pictures of the trail but are unintelligible anyway. We went out in one area one day and ran into several people who were totally confused looking for a trail or turning back because the trail had disappeared or seemed to have come to an end.

And then there are the maps. In short, they suck. The one I’d been using of Goreme (pron. Gore-em-ay) and the area was actually published upside down, that is, South on top. Hence, my comment above. But it was the best map I could find so I used it. There was one for sale in the tourist office for 10 TL (Turkish Lira) but at a glance it wasn’t any better than the one I had…once I got used to South being at the top.

The bottom line is that you can’t get too lost, and what the heck, you’re in a beautiful place!

Rose Valley-Halci Church

Rose Valley-Halci Church

Halci Church Fresco

Halci Church Byzantine fresco

The hike we were on (two pics above) was supposed to have been 3-4 hours and ended up lasting 6 hours. We hiked up to the plateau that straddles 4 large valleys and walked along the top of the plateau until we came to a parking lot where I had to ask a local juice vendor directions to the “Meskendir Trail” head. The guy gave me general directions so we followed the road hoping to find the trail head. When we finally found it we were rewarded with a descent into an amazing green, lush valley with tunnels that had been created by thousands of years of flood waters rushing through. Byzantine era residents probably had a hand too as there were plenty of caves, rock houses and pigeon nesting holes as well.

On the Meskendir trail

On the Meskendir trail

On the trail we met a terrific couple close to our ages (or Era) from New Zealand who have been camping their way from the U.K. through Europe. They’d been in Turkey alone for 5 weeks. Way to go, Sue and Dave!

Every rock house needs a satellite dish.

Satellite reception! The finest in rock house living.

Hanna-Barbera meets Cappadocia.

Hanna-Barbera meets Cappadocia.

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