Cappadocia is truly a magical wonderland like no other place on earth. I explored and slept in the caves that are scattered across the landscape, and was never quite sure if I was really on earth or not.
When a friend came to visit me in Turkey, I decided to take her to a place I had heard was unique in Central Turkey. Unique it was! The Cappadocia region is covered in pointy fairy chimney caves made of volcanic tuff, basalt and andesite rock that used to be housing, places of worship and businesses. The whole area seems rather unreal, since there are very few if any geographical areas similar to this one anywhere else in the world.
Time Zone: Eastern European Time
Location (Latitude, Longitude): Göreme, Turkey
How far did I travel this week? 350 kilometers, or 220 miles
How far have I traveled on your journey so far? Many many miles!
How did I get around this week? I took a big bus from Osmaniye to Nevşehir, and then a mini bus from Nevşehir to Göreme. My total travel time was about seven hours.
What was the most interesting place I visited this week? Cappadocia is a region in Central Turkey that is one of the most interesting places in the world. Göreme is the town I was based in, but the entire region covers hundreds of square miles.
Other travel news: After hours of bus travel, Madeline and I arrived in Göreme, where we planned to stay for a few days as we explored the region. We were directed to the cave hotel we had selected and settled in for the night. Besides the amazing geographic surroundings, we were also in a much different place than I was used to in Turkey because this was such a tourist attraction. Most people we encountered spoke English or some language other than Turkish. It was incredible to me, because this is not something I am used to in Turkey, but I must admit it was a nice break from the usual language challenges.
Weather Tally (enter the # of days for each weather type):
Partly cloudy: 0
What is the air temperature right now? The temperature was lower in Göreme than in Osmaniye, mostly due to the higher elevation. Temperatures reached 80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, but dropped into the 50s at night.
How was the weather this week? Quite gorgeous, really. We quickly adjusted to the change in temperature and were grateful for little rain and clear warm days as we were hiking about.
What animals did I see this week? This week I saw sheep, birds, ducks and fish. The sheep were grazing in a field we were hiking through, and they ran about all around us. We stopped to talk for a bit with the shepherd who was watching over them.
What was the coolest thing I saw in nature this week? The sheep were pretty neat to encounter, but the rock structures all over the region were incredible. We explored an underground city and climbed through caves that were multiple stories high on the inside.
Other Nature News: Madeline and I joined a group heading to Ilhara Valley. This is actually a canyon that is full of greenery. There are many trees, bushes, plants and grass. The walls of the canyon are rock. They are dotted with caves that were inhabited in ancient times. We hiked along a river that was flowing quite steadily. At the end of the hike, we came to a waterfall. This was a nice reward after hiking for several hours in the sunshine. We were ready for lunch by then!
What languages are spoken here? Turkish primarily, but also the languages of tourists, including English, German, French, Spanish, Russian and Japanese.
What type of money is used here? The Turkish lira, though prices are sometimes listed in euros because of all the European tourists.
How much does a bottle of water cost? Water costs about $1, which is about twice as much as other places in Turkey because this is a popular tourist destination, so the locals can take advantage and make more money. Tourists typically have more money to spend than average Turkish people.
What was the best meal this week? I had an excellent dish called testi kebab, which is famous in the region. Meat and vegetables are combined with a tomato sauce and placed in a ceramic jar. Raw dough is placed over the top to seal it and the entire jar is cooked over a fire. When it is finished, the jar is cracked open so the food can spill out. The meat is extremely tender and delicious and served with rice.
What music did I listen to this week? The bus drivers play mostly Turkish pop music that we heard a lot as we were driving between caves.
What activity was the most fun this week? Trekking around massive caves, exploring various rooms and figuring out what they were previously used for. It was exciting to stumble across an old church that still had brightly colored paintings covering the ceilings and walls.
What did I read this week? This week I read books about the Cappadocia region. There is so much history and I tried to grasp some of it.
What games or sports did I play this week? Hiking was the primary sport of the week. We covered many, many kilometers on foot. My friend had her baby in tow, but he didn’t slow us down at all!
Other news from this week: There are 36 underground cities that have been discovered in the Cappadocia region. These were very important to the development of Christianity, because they provided hiding places for people who would otherwise be killed because of their beliefs. People lived in these cities until the end of the seventh century. These cities remind me what I imagine the inside of an ant colony to look like. If you come across a mound of ants, they are scurrying around and working so hard, going in and out of the ground. From above, there is not much to see. But I imagine a bustling busy city just below the surface, stretching down many “ant” stories. Some of the cities in Cappadocia are thought to have housed up to 4,000 people at one time. People did not live in these cities forever. Rather, they served as a refuge whenever danger was nearby. Can you imagine living underground for several days? What about several weeks or months? I cannot. I like fresh air! They had an amazing system set up, but I am sure people got very tired of not seeing the sun.