05.01.2010 - 09.01.2010
After another overnight bus trip I arrived in Cappadocia an area famed for its cities both underground and made up of caves. This is supposedly one of the very unique places in the world to visit and a must on anyone’s itinerary. Upon arriving there I was greeted by snow of all things, whilst it was quite cold it did serve to make the valley look quite pretty.
The other attraction here is the accomodation options and I was determined to take the opportunity to stay in one of the caves on offer. This turned out to be quite easy and to my suprise not only was the hostel full (something I am not at all use to) but it was also gas heated provided a very warm and cozy feel. Definitely worth it even just for the fact that you can say you slept in a cave in Turkey!
Knowing my first day would be wasted otherwise I decided to do a group tour taking in the major sites of the area. The first port of call was the eight level underground Hittite city of Derinkuyu. The Hittites were famous for their defenses and this city is no different with several mill stones set up to block off enemy advances as well tunnels leading nowhere to allow extra time for the Hittites to retreat to safe areas. This combined with internal wells to avoid poisoning from outside and food stores to thwart siege warfare helped to protect this city from attack. The city was so well set up that it provided an underground school, a chapel and permanent wine supply to allow for the inhabitants to survive there for a long duration.
Next it was off to walk through the picturesque Ihlara valley and its Byzantine cave churches. The churches are carved out quite nicely and still contain frescos from their early days despite being well abandoned. As well as this the valley contains houses, storage areas and pigeon houses all carved out from the rock face. After the valley we visited the multi leveled cathederal of Selime, which is certainly one of the biggest above ground carved structures.
With another group trip not inspiring me I decided that I would rent a bike and check out some of the nearby areas myself. It was about this point that I realized that although the region was mainly flat it did consist of long gradual inclines on declines, sadly the city I was staying Goreme is at the top of the valley. This meant that the ride home was very difficult but still a nice peaceful excursion. The nearby cities offer plenty of views of the fairy chimneys which have become the symbol of the area. As interesting as they are its hard to argue that god didn’t create them whilst he had the sense of humour of an adolescent boy.
With another overnight bus trip not quite inspiring me I decided to take another day here and hike amongst some of the many valleys on offer. My path took me through the Rose valley breaking at the Goreme open air museum, then through the Zemi valley before finishing by hiking through the Pegion valley. Whilst there was nothing incredible to see in the valleys, just more caves, chimneys and pigeon houses it was nice to get away from the tour groups again which seem never ending here. The open air museum is once again well preserved cave churches including early Christian frescos and is definitely worth the visit. The site is actually quite large and takes in four churches, three chapels and a monastery. Next its one last overnight bus back to Istanbul in time to take a flight to Egypt my last country and first in the continent of Africa taking me to six continents overall.