A Travellerspoint blog

I made it to Goreme, Cappadocia

and had another one of those "what the hell was I thinking" moments!

overcast 4 °C

A cave hotel. I wanted to stay in a cave hotel, in Cappadocia. So here I am, in a cave hotel, cheap $20 a night cave hotel. Well, it had some good reviews on Tripadvisor and Travellerspoint, and you can't beat $20 a night, can you? I've lived it up in semi-luxurious accommodations in Turkiye before so why not go with a bit of the bare bones this time around? After all, it is solitude I seek, some reflections on the monastic life, giving up the comforts in order to get clearer thoughts...commune with nature and all that. Ok, the room isn't all that bad, just different. It is carved out of the tufa stone that makes up the fairy chimney's here in Cappadocia. It's roomy in comparison with most European hotels. I can get wireless in my room, but only if I sit within a certain range of the window. No surfing while I sit on the comfy bed...and at least the bed is comfy and not rock hard like most of the beds I've experienced in my time abroad. I'll spend the next 5 1/2 days hiking and exploring the area, going to the cave churches, sitting in wonder of this magnificent landscape, reflecting on solitude and silence. I'm going to be reading some of the writings of the Cappadocian Fathers, Basil the Great and the two Gregories (of Nyssa and Naziansus), and writing my a journal. I will be updating my blog with some photos that I take, but since this isn't an "I've got to see the sights" visit, it probably won't be as extensive as in the past. Right now I'm going to crawl into my sleeping bag and take a nap since I slept fitfully last night and woke up early this morning only to be greeted by a delayed flight to Kayseri (you pronounce that "K-eye-serr-e and don't butcher it like I did at the airport and say "KAY-seri")....so here is the lovely cave hotel, one of many in the area.

My 80+ lbs of luggage that I dragged to the middle of nowhere Turkiye

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Not too shabby for being carved out of volcanic rock....

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Although it is a bit dark and cave-like

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Lovely courtyard view.....I've had worse though....

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Finally....does this remind you of anything?

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Posted by oceanchild 05:06 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

A rainy Istanbul day is good for catching up

My last day in Athens

After dragging a 55lb bag to the center, in the rain on Thursday morning, I spent my last day in Athens walking through some of my favorite areas, saying goodbye to things I've come to know and love, wondering when I'll get back and what will it be like when I do. A lot of this is the same old stuff, probably boring to all my readers by now. But to me it was what I needed to do before I left. A walk from Pangrati to Syntagma, Plaka, and Monastiraki. These are a few of my favorite things....and a few not so favorite things....

Cat on Argos street near the stadium

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Another cat, relaxing on a chair, near the stadium

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The stairs of death....the first time I climbed these stairs I thought I would literally die. It was better at the end, but they still weren't my favorite thing...

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Isn't it beautiful? And it matches the sky!

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Kallamarmaro Stadium....

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My shortcut to Syntagma, through the National Gardens....

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A stray dog sleeping on the steps of the Zappieon....

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Another stray dog in the National Gardens....

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Oh boy! Another protest and more tear gas! This was the KKE (communist party) I believe...

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Old meets new....

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I remember my first class with Stavs at this Byzantine Church....I thought I'd never be able to keep up with his lectures..."few only words...."

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Ubiquitous graffiti...but it all changed tone after December 6....I was in Syntagma when the group was doing these ΔΕ ΣΕ ΣΟΝΥ graffitis. I can't recall what it means though

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Oui!!

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Old meets knew in a different way....

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Selling "splat" toys in Monastiraki. These guys were all over the place. The toys were balls that resembled pigs, tomatoes and various other things that when thrown onto the ground would flatten out and looked like a splatted tomato. No, I never purchased one....I'm sure Tim, Adam, and Rich would have loved it though....

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Old meets new...kind of. The Stoa of Attalos is ancient, but burned down and was reconstructed in the 50's I believe. It now houses a museum and offices....the metro runs right by it...

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Cafes in Monastiraki

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Not too fond of the National Bank of Greece I see...

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Hadrian's library and an Ottoman mosque

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This cute little kitten greeted me as I took photos of Hadrian's Library. When I was finished photographing the kitten a pack of dogs came running and went after it. The kitten managed to get under a car but I watched for at least 20 minutes while the dogs circled the car relentlessly. They finally seemed to get bored but I was none the less concerned about the kitten's safety. The only person who did anything was a gruffy old man who looked homeless. He yelled Oxi! Oxi! Oxi! (NO! NO! NO!) at the dogs several times. Dogs killing cats is one of the problems that plagues the stray cats in Greece. I know it isn't the dog's fault, but it made me have less sympathy for the stray dogs than for the cats.

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Some shots of Syntagma at night with Christmas lights....

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Parliament at night...

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The Acropolis lit up

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Kallimarmaro stadium lit up

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And finally my cats from Plaka. This was probably what I loved best about my daily life in Athens...feeding the cats once a week. Eleni, one of the volunteers from Nine Lives Greece met me on Thursday evening and we walked the route and chatted as she fed the cats. She then took me to a nice cafe in Plaka and we had coffee and hot chocolate and chatted for a long time. I wish we had got to know each other better sooner. She has been volunteering with the cats for almost 18 years! Forgetful me did not get a photo with Eleni....but here are the cats, at least some of them...

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Thursday was my final night in Athens. Arcadia Center had a farewell party that night with food and music. Each of us was voted as "most_________" and I was voted as "most likely to work for Lonely Planet." It fits....that would be a dream job I guess! I didn't stay at the center all night as some did. Since I did not have a long flight the next day I felt I needed some sleep and finish packing my overnight bag. Packing was not fun, I can tell you that. Trying to fit all you have accumulated in travels in one suitcase is a feat that takes the power of an Olympian god. I must have had it with me because I managed and was only 5 kg over weight. Thankfully Olympic did not charge me for that 5 kgs! 3 hours worth of sleep was about all I got though and I was up and lugging the rest of my luggage to the center to catch the bus to the airport. There were sleepy, tearful goodbyes and then I was on my way to Istanbul one last time.

Posted by oceanchild 00:58 Archived in Greece Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

A tearful αντιο to Αθηνα

There are no words other than I will miss this wonderful place I have called home for the last 3 and a half months. Αντια Αθηνα μου!

Merhaba Turkiye!!

Posted by oceanchild 13:23 Archived in Greece Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

Can I get a big "Wahooo!!"

Because I'm officially finished with finals!!

Time to celebrate in Athens. I'm finished with my finals (can you believe one took all of 5 minutes?), almost finished packing (two suitcases...I'm going to drag two suitcases to the middle of nowhere in Turkey?), and have two days to say my fond farewell to the city of Athens (not nearly enough time to say farewell...sadly). On another positive note I understand they lit a new Christmas tree in Syntagma square today, and when I say lit, I mean with Christmas lights. Last night I bought my airline ticket to Istanbul and will be spending about 10 days in Turkey when I leave Athens. Most of that will be spent in Cappadocia I believe, just de-stressing and decompressing. I think it may be time to crack open a bottle of Greek wine, grab some good chocolate and sit back and relax.

Posted by oceanchild 12:21 Archived in Greece Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

The bittersweetness of it all

Preparing to say goodbye to Athens

overcast 14 °C

I realize my blog entries have become un-chronological and somewhat discombobulated, but my purpose is to share my experience, not give a blow-by-blow account. That term, blow-by-blow seems quite apropos these days given the climate of unrest in Athens and the rest of Greece. Two months ago, I was so ready to leave Athens and just go elsewhere. Now, I find myself teary-eyed over the thought of leaving. I am ready to head toward home (although I'm still thinking of more travel before coming stateside) but I keep thinking to myself “but wait, you never just got on the metro and went to some unknown part of the city just to see what was there” or “where are those night pictures you have been saying you are going to take since SEPTEMBER?” I have put off doing so many things. I learned the other day that this is the nature of the Greek people as well. I guess I fit in better here than I ever dreamed I would. I had plans to just get out and do what I hadn’t done this last week. Will it happen? Not likely. Not all of it anyway. But seeing the things I haven’t seen (the National Archaeological Museum being one of those things) is not really why I am teary-eyed. The things that really make me cry are the little things like the cats in Plaka, my fellow students, and the staff at Arcadia. Just typing this gives me a lump in my throat. Sure, once I’m out o Greece, things will be better and my heart will not ache so much. I’ll carry these fond memories with me for a lifetime. But in the mean time, this last week is fraught with emotion and an unsettled feeling, much of which I’m sure is due to the civil unrest that this past week as seen. It’s been one of the toughest weeks here I believe.
Yesterday I took time alone to just walk around Athens and hide behind my camera. I captured small insignificant things; pigeons bathing in a puddle, flowers for sale on the side walk, a poster advertising Stephen King’s “Misery” in Greek. But I also captured the pain of a city; graffiti commemorating Alexandros Grigoropoulos who lost his life needlessly to a bullet, cars and buildings damaged by fire, graffiti expressing hatred toward authority, masses gathering to express their anger and discontent. Two sides of a city that I have called home for almost four months.

Oh look what replaced the "Otto, or Up With Dead People" poster!

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St. Paul's Anglican Church...I've went to several services here

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Look!! A band! I should have followed them....that might have been fun to see what they were playing

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The green lens was apparently broken in the riots making the "walk" man look a bit like a naked man wearing an elf hat!

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The guards at Parliament

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Selling lotto tickets....wonder if I could win?

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one of the strange, surreal trees that decorate Attica, the department store

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Looks like Athens got quite a downpour overnight!!

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It appears that the Greeks also embrace cheesy Christmas symbols

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Flowers for sale....the bright colors sure are in contrast with the gloom that had settled over the city in the past week....

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As I walked into Plateia Omonoia I noticed loud Greek music was playing from somewhere. I soon discovered the source. Loudspeakers mounted on the poles. It was very surreal given the nature of Plateia Omonoia and the fact that protesters were gathering in the square. It almost had an Orwellian feel to it.

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Plateia Omonoia has a reputation for attracting the lowly of society

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Pigeons were enjoying the puddles

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I then made my way to Central Market. This is an interesting place to say the least. This is were many Athenians go to purchase their meat and fish for the week. It is not for the weak of stomach. It is essentially a giant butcher shop and fish market. To some I'm sure it is quite gruesome. It fascinates me but makes me shutter at the same time. I'll refrain from posting photos of completely whole, fully skinned, butchered animals hanging from hooks. The smells here are just lovely. Maybe I will become a vegetarian!

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The streets around the meat and fish market are full of vendors selling everything from spices and nuts to sausages and other goodies.

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Even gingerbread houses!

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Leaving the central market area and Omonoia I decided that curiosity had got the best of me and wanted to walk toward Exarchia and Polytechnic. Exarchia is the district in Athens were Alexandros Grigoropoulos was shot by the police officer and the center of the violent and destructive riots. I have been to both of these places before and they are a very different part of the city from Pangrati or Syntagma. I thought to myself that I'd walk in that direction and if I felt at any time things were not safe I'd turn around. On my way out of Plateia Omonoia I noticed groups gathering with banners, as well as those with red flags mounted on pretty substantial sticks. From November 17 I believe I recognized this group as possibly the KKE or KNE (communist youth). Needless to say, the red flag bearers looked serious. I didn't take any photos because I didn't want to be obvious. Photo taking has become somewhat of an issue here it seems. More on that later. So I walked on, my first time walking about without a map. I new the general direction and within 10 minutes I turned down a street that had been roped off and recognized Polytechnic up ahead. All I can say is the events of the last week had cast a pall over the area. The changing nature of graffiti was immediately evident. My Greek is not the greatest but I will do my best to try to translate, or at least get the gist of what is written. Although some are in English.

It's apparent what this one is expressing...

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This banner says something about a strike/slap/blow and murder

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Commemorating the date and the state is a murderer

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Burn down Babylon and the KKE logo (KKE= communist party of Greece)

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Uh, yea...isn't that what anarchy is all about?

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I wouldn't want to be a cop in Greece right now

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Something about Karmanlis (the PM of Greece) and chaos?

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The image was touching. It is a stencil someone did of Alexis. The words if I am translating correctly say "Greece eats its children" .....I know Η ΕΛΛΑΔΑ is Greece, ΤΡΩΕΙ is it eats, and ΤΑ ΠΑΙΔΙΑ is the children and ΤΗΣ is the possessive.

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And then there is the damage. The first five are from around Polytecnic, the others are from Syntagma

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A common site around the city these days

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Lastly, as two of us watched the demonstration from the rear a couple of young guys noticed we were snapping photos and ran at us yelling and motioning to stop. I think the anger is clear in this photo. This was the one and only time during this that I felt truly threatened. I believe the one with the chunk of rock in his hand was poised to throw it at us. I suppose my camera will get me in trouble one of these days.

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So this is the Greece that I'm saying goodbye to in a few days. Some may be surprised that I am not just ready to get out. In a way I am, but Greece has become a part of who I am and I will always miss it, good and bad.

Posted by oceanchild 01:30 Archived in Greece Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

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