it's difficult to express in words how cool the cappadocia region is. the landscapes are like nothing you will find in canada...maybe even the rest of the world! a long time ago...like millions of years ago...a volcano erupted and over a few million years the rocks eroded into the spectacular chimney forms you see today. the volcanic deposits are soft rocks that people since the roman period have carved out to form houses, churches and monasteries. most of the cave homes are now hotels and pensions but a few people still live in the caves.
i love the cubbyholes...so functional!
we found a cave hotel that fit into our tight budget. it had a cute terrace but it was a bit chilly to actually enjoy it. the temperature was between 0 and 15 degrees celsius which apparently is unseasonably warm for november. we arrived at 8 o'clock in the morning after taking the night bus from izmir. we set off to explore the area on our own, ignoring the sales pitch for a tour that included a guide, lunch and transportation to 'many, many interesting places for only 60 lira...but i give it to you for 5 dollar cheap'.
we were given a map that showed the hiking paths available to us but it really wasn't very helpful. there are several roads leading out and through göreme and street names are almost non-existant. we just picked a road and started out of the town towards the hills. after we looked around for a bit we came to a big rock that said, 'rose, red 1 km'. we followed the path but in the end decided to stay up on the hilltop instead of climbing down into the valley only to walk back up again. we walked for what seemed like hours and hours. i think we were tired from our night on the bus because we were only gone for 2 hours.
our third day in göreme we set out again for another hike. this time we had a destination in mind...pigeon valley. we had no idea what pigeon valley was or why we might want to go there but we heard a couple say they were going there the next day. must be good if they're going...we asked at the info centre where to catch the domuş to uçhişar so we could hike into the valley from there. he informed us we could just walk...'it's easy, just walk up this road. it takes you to pigeon valley'. so we followed the road, took a wrong turn and ended up in a valley...but not pigeon valley. we looked up the hill and could see a viewing point and restaurant at the top. tourist buses were stopped there and tourists were peering down at us with their cameras. we attempted to climb the hill from two different spots but each time we had to turn back because we would reach a vertical slope that was impossible to scale without proper equipment...or at least for us...but at least before we had to slide back down the hill on our butts we caught a glimpse of the snow capped mount erciyes dagi.
while göreme obviously has been touched by the tourism trade, it still has an authentic small village feel. we visited the farmer's market that was set up to coincide with the end of morning prayers. we witnessed a horse and rider trotting through town with the rider barely in control of the stallion. we inhaled smoke from the wood burning stoves that kept the villagers warm and cozy in their chilly cave homes/hotels.
a short walk from town is an open air museum that boasts over 10 cave churches. the churches were dug out and painted with frescos by orthodox monks. many of the frescos are still quite vivid and colourful. this was one of the only areas that we were able to actually get inside the caves as many of the area's cave openings are too high to reach. we are still wondering how people used to get up there. our best guesses are...rope ladders, extremely tall stilts, hover crafts...
corina & jason