Originally published on 11 September 2011.
I do not want to take away from this day. My prayers are with our country, those serving, those whose families have been affected. I am looking very forward to returning home soon!
Where did we leave off? Turkish coffee (regular and “official” Turkish coffee) is not my preferred means of caffeine consumption, but the Kapadokian rice pudding is creamy, cool, refreshing, and delicious! The locals always offer you either apple tea (which is basically apple cider) or Turkish tea, which we think is like black tea. Both are quite good! And the Turkish tea is a sufficient substitute for my caffeine fix. We have been leisurely breakfasting on the rooftop terrace each day and getting started out and about around 11:00 or so. Anyone who knows me knows I like to get going early, but this has been a nice change of pace for me!
Thursday we went to the “big” underground Hittite city of Derinkuyu. To be quite honest, we were absolutely underwhelmed. I think in my head I was envisioning signs with information about what was what like we’d seen among the ruins and other places we’d been, but there wasn’t any of that. I think they wanted you to have to hire a guide. 😉 Oh well! We snuck along behind an English-speaking tour group for a little ways and crawled around the rooms we were allowed to go into. This one went deeper into the earth and there were some cool passageways and grind-stone doors, and it was better-lit than the first underground city we explored on the way to Goreme, but I think I would have been just as satisfied skipping it. Am I becoming jaded? Heavens, I hope not!!!
At any rate, Dan rented a scooter (motorbike) took off to do some exploring around a valley and a national park he’d wanted to see, and Andrea and I went up to Ucisar (pronounced Oo-chee-sar), a castle carved into a mountainside! We hiked up the outside a little ways, then went up through the center and hiked it up to the top! The views were amazing! On one side we could see the Erciyes volcano in the distance, on another side we saw the Fairy Chimneys and Love Valley, on another side we saw Goreme, and in another direction we would see Rose Valley—whose rock formations looked more like meringue than roses to me! =)
She and I stayed up there at the top for a while watching the sun go lower in the sky and talking about faith and the Bible (I know, a very broad subject!). We wanted to hike down into the valley below and get back to the main road before dark, so we started down at what we figured was a good time. The hike was steep and slippery, but it was so neat to walk through the valley and see the rock formations from the ground up! I found out the rock formations were made by lava from the volcano. Not sure exactly how, that’s just what I could get from the stuff I looked up. =)
At any rate, people still live in the rock formations! I had thought that people lived there up until the 1980s, but we definitely saw people still living there! They even had satellites for TV! Too funny. We found fruit trees in the valley, beautiful views of the sunset, and really unique views of the rocks.
Once we got back to the main road, we were able to catch the dolmus bus and get back to the center of town before dark. =) Andrea and I were supposed to meet up with Dan at 8 for supper at our friend’s father’s restaurant, so we had a bit of time to kill. I needed to go back to the Old Cappadocia Café and Restaurant so I could get my promised grape balls from the cute waiter! This time Andrea got the Rice pudding, which she greatly approved of, and I can honestly say that the grape balls were different—and they were good! It was kind of like a truffle, but tasted like grapes. It also had nuts in it, and it was served with cream and honey. Mmm mmm!
And off we went to Sultan Restaurant! I got my grape leaves (which I’d been looking for everywhere!), and everything came with bread, cheese, and butter. We got to sit on the terrace and got a fantastic view of the Fairy Chimneys lit up at night! We even got a 20% discount on our bill because of our friend (the blue-eyed man who’d helped us out so much with scooter rentals and advice on getting from one place to another.)
Next stop, bed time! Last night in the cave! I probably got one of the best nights’ sleep since getting to Goreme! Dan got up super early for a balloon ride, and Andrea got up to watch from our “porch”, and I slept till almost 9! =) What a switch! We had our last wonderful breakfast, left our luggage there for the day, and checked out. Dan worked through the day, but Andrea and I decided to go on another hike. We walked up to the top of a hill and took the billy-goat trail (i.e. rough trail—exactly what I’d been looking for!) through Love Valley. We made a friend who was selling pomegranate juice (tart, slightly sweet, reminiscent of grapefruit juice, and quite refreshing on a hot day—fresh, no nothing added!) on the top of the cliff at the beginning of the trail. He helped us find the trail, then when we got down to the bottom of the valley, he helped us stay on the right trail!
Again, very lovely views! We also met a very nice older couple visiting from Scotland but living in South Africa. We meet the most interesting people when we travel! =) They were coming from the opposite direction from us, so we helped them stay on the trail, and they helped us know what to expect up ahead. The ground was very sandy, I’m assuming rather desert-like. But we also saw a lot of olive, pomegranate, apple, and unidentified fruit trees. There were even a few small vegetable and fruit gardens in the valley, so that was neat to see—real people live and work there!
We were both hungry by the time we got back to town (I was actually what I would call famished, my family might call it “fussy”), and we ended up going to a restaurant where NO ONE was in a hurry! Andrea said hers was good, but mind wasn’t all that great. I’ve not been entirely impressed with the “authentic” Turkish cuisine, which is a bummer. But I was hungry, and I just needed my food! We met up with Dan at the hotel in time to catch the airport shuttle, and off we went!
The trip to Kayseri airport was about an hour, and I even took a nap! I think the hike depleted me! There was no problem getting through the airport to our terminal, but there was a bit of confusion once we got to the terminal. Luckily enough, a kind young Turkish woman told us that our plan was boarding—at the next gate over. =)
The flight was uneventful (I even took another mini-nap!), we caught the train, rode about an hour to our final destination, and the guy from our “Guest House” came to pick us up from the train station. His wife is Canadian, so checking in was super easy!
And so ends our Goreme/Kapadokia adventure. And so begins our Selcuk (pronounced “sell-chuck”) and Ephesus adventure!
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