Day 84: Return to Göreme
I’m here in Goreme, in the Cappadocia region of Central Turkey, and it’s great to be back in one of my fave places of all time. Actually, come to think of it it’s quite apt that I’m kicking off my Silk Road trip here, as it was near here that my interest in the mystique of the Silk Road was first aroused. I was on a day trip around the region back in ’99 and the last stop was a visit to a caravanserai. These caravanserais are fortified buildings that the Silk Road-era caravans would use at night to protect themselves from possible attack and theft. They’re positioned at 40km intervals (a day’s travel) all across Turkey, and you can even find the ruins of inns every 10km in between that the traders would use to water the horses and camels and rest during the day.
But I digress… Let me tell you a little about the Cappadocia region of Turkey, which is really one of the country’s gems and a MUST for any visitor here. The highlight of the region are the interesting geological features formed by gradual erosion of the soft volcanic rock, resulting in narrow valleys and pillars or rock called "fairy chimneys" (not unlike Byrce Canyon NP in Utah if anyone’s been there). But it gets weirder: over the centuries the local people have carved their dwellings and churches out of the rock! The end result are picturesque and unique little villages that look like something out of either Star Wars or Lord of the Rings. There’s even an underground city that goes down eight levels and was large enough for the entire village to hide in when the marauding armies passed by overhead!
I arrived in Goreme after a horrendous night bus from Istanbul, and I couldn’t resist the temptation to return to the same pension I stayed at seven years back – Kose Pension. It’s still there, looks the same, feels the same, and is still run by the same owners. The place ROCKS! Especially since they’ve put a pool in. I dumped my gear on the bed and as it was only 7am I decided to use the early start as a chance to get some good photos of the town at dawn.
This afternoon I went for a hike into the nearby valleys and canyons, where you can see some of the rock formations up close and explore some of the abandoned rock dwellings (BYO torch). The weather was perfect and and views truly outstanding. I was even able to retrace my steps (it’s horribly disorienting in there) through Red Valley and Rose Valley and was able to find this old guy who was there seven years ago, living at the bottom of the canyon selling overpriced drinks. Nothing much has changed…
Inside one of the many hidden Christian churches spread around the valleys. Note all the eyes in the wall paintings scratched out by Muslims.
Now before you all ask I’ve JUST heard about the bombings here and no I’m nowhere near where they occurred and am fine etc. BUT I don’t know how they might affect the rest of my trip through Turkey. From here I’m going to be doing a short three-day minibus tour through southern Turkey (near the Syrian border), and from there I was going to head through south-eastern Turkey towards the Iranian border. Unfortunately that takes me straight through the heartland of the Kurds, who claimed responsibility for the bombings. I don’t know what I’m going to do… I don’t think I’ll be a target as I’ll be traveling independently, but who knows. Sheesh, who ever thought I’d be having these concerns before I even leave Turkey!
Hey Paulie….loving this blog as always, and so glad you’ve started your Silk Road adventure! Take care as you head through some lunatic parts of the globe….you’ve got to come back safe and sound to Oz so your little niece can meet you! Zoe is a champ, now 6 months old and too much fun. Any ideas where you’ll be for Xmas? The rest of the Ando clan will be here in Perth so please head this way if at all possible! Love you my little brother.