September 25, 2013 by travelingsole
We left Izmir after being there for 4 weeks. By the time we left, Izmir felt like home. We’d learned our way around the city. We had our own favorite grocery stores, bread shops, and döner (gyros) shops. We knew which bus to take and where to get off. We rode the metro with ease. We were leaving the comfort of the familiar for the unknown. We went from living in apartments to living out of hotel rooms. We were backpacking so only 3-4 sets of clothes. We ate “out” every single meal (breakfast at the hotels). There was also a major schedule adjustment. Leaving the known for the unknown.
The first 4 days we were in Cappadocia. Or as the Turks spell it Kapadokya. After a long overnight bus ride we arrived in Göreme/Cappadocia. By the way, Göreme is the town/address within the area of Cappadocia. And the reason Turks spell it Kapadokya is because that how it sounds phonetically. Göreme is a quaint little town with cobblestone streets. You can walk wherever you wanted to go. It was rather touristy but it was also very accommodating. Most shop owners spoke English. Restaurants served real black coffee. It had been weeks and weeks since I’d a real black coffee. It put me in my happy place.
Like I said it was touristy. There was a reason. That area is beautiful. No make that gorgeous! When I first saw the cave houses I couldn’t stop staring. There are volcanic mountains and hundreds of years ago they carved into the mountains and lived inside the mountains. This area used to have a huge Armenian Christian population until the persecution killed them off or forced them to leave.
While I bring it up… the Armenian persecution. No one talks about it. It was a genocide but the Turkish government calls it a population exchange. Don’t believe it. It was a genocide. To this day it is hush, hush and a lot of Turks know little to nothing about it. It happened but no one admits it.
During the days we went on fields trips in and around Cappadocia. We explored numerous places like the one above.
One day we went to the Ihlara Valley.
We went down, down, down, down stairs into the valley. Then we hiked along the valley floor. It was beautiful and relaxing. That was one of my highlights. Now that I post about it I remember thinking that it was almost a perfect day. I was a little warm but otherwise it was perfect. I was a bit of a loner that day. There was a big group of 35 people but I needed space. I took Chad (7 months old) for a good hour and the two of us just lollygagged along keep to ourselves. It was a hard packed sandy walk along a river with sheer mountain on either side. Tall trees provided shade. It was up and down some but mostly it was an easy walk. I was disappointed that it wasn’t a longer hike.
After the hike we ate lunch/supper at this unique restaurant. We could sit in any of those little huts. They came out with a variety of uncooked dishes covered with clear plastic wrap. You could order by pointing to which dish looked appealing. Then they brought a cooked version of your meal. It was relaxing being right on the river.
We had a very interesting waiter. He wore a hot pink t-shirt and his trousers looked like they were about to fall to his ankles. He spoke minimal English so he repeated small phrases. “Super, super” (with a rolled r) was his favorite. “Of course, of course.” “Can you help me?” (instead of how can I help you?) And did I mention he rushed around. He very nearly ran. It looked rather dangerous on those rickety walkways but he was obviously very comfortable running along the bridges with a large platter balanced on one hand. We were entertained.
I felt my very soul being refreshed in this valley.
One morning we got up before sunrise (5:45am) to watch the hot air balloons rising up over the mountains. The air was clear and refreshingly chilly. We hurried up to the roof with our cameras and enjoyed the views.
I would go back to Cappadocia just to watch that sunrise all over again.
Another day we went to the underground city. I don’t normally say that I’m claustrophobic but I was down there. It was cool to see the catacombs of Cappadocia but I was so ready to get out in the open air.
One day we went to a pottery shop in nearby Avanos, Turkey. Sadly I didn’t get any pictures there. I was holding Chad again. 🙂 They did beautiful hand painted Hittite pottery there. The pottery painting was very detailed. I was intrigued by the Tear Jars. When a husband left for a long journey he would leave a tear jar for his wife. When she cried over missing him she collected the tears in a bottle so he could see how much she missed him. I thought it was a romantic story.
The last day we went on a hike through the Rose Valley. It was a lot more strenuous than the Ihlara Valley. No children went on this trip. On the trail we hiked approximately 12 kilometers/7.5 miles, plus the additional climbing. Several times that day I thought I was going to die or that one of my fellow hikers was going to die. I have never done a hike like that. We climbed up to explore old cave houses and old cave churches. We ate bread and cheese and a few nuts for lunch. We sweated grossly. We drank lots of water. We climbed. We walked. We climbed some more. We ran out of water. Then walked a lot more. My legs were shaking when we finally arrived back at the motel. I don’t regret that day in the least. I wish it had been on my bucket list so I could cross it off with pride. (maybe I’ll have to add it to the list so I can cross it off?) It was a very good, very exhausting day. Iphone pictures only.
The last bit about Cappadocia that I want to write about is the coffee shop. Each night most of us singles and a few brave “married-s” met at this coffee shop to finish out our days. I have to admit that I ordered an iced coffee and a french press full of coffee (3 cups worth) on the first night. What can I say? I was so coffee starved. I still slept that night amazingly. The coffee shop was special because it was a bonding time for us. We just relaxed, laughed, talked, joked around, and generally enjoyed each others company over coffee. It felt like the best way to finish a long day.
Cappadocia was probably the highlight that stands out the most. It was relaxing and I was happy. It felt like we were all hanging onto every minute we could spend together as a group before we split off into smaller groups. I had many wonderful one-on-one and group conversations.
Next up is Antakya