A Travellerspoint blog

Today the adventure comes to an end

But wait...there are many more photos I'll be posting!

sunny 1 °C

Today I leave Cappadocia, take a shuttle to Kayseri where I'll catch a plane to Istanbul. In Istanbul I'll be spending the night in the airport since my flight leaves early in the morning. I just couldn't see paying for a hotel for a few hours of sleep. Besides, I have 14 hours of flight time head of my on Monday, and I'm sure I will want to sleep on the plane. I should, if all goes as planned, arrive at Dulles on Monday around 3:30. Then I can crash, because my husband reserved a hotel near the airport so we wouldn't have to do the 4 hour drive home after my long flight. I wish I could have flown directly to our regional airport, but the cost was almost double what I paid to fly to Dulles. What is another night in a hotel and a 4 hour drive. Tuesday we plan on stopping my my daughter's to visit with her. I'm so excited to see my family, friends, and cats! I'm sure there will be some adjustment, after being gone for so long. My rural living situation is going to seem rather quiet and far removed after living in Athens and spending time in Istanbul. I think coming to Cappadocia was a perfect way to end this 4 month adventure. It will help me readjust to the quiet. I'll also miss being able to walk, or catch public transit to get where I'm going. I now see how really dependent on the automobile America is.

I have 6 hours before my shuttle picks me up to take me to Kayseri....I think I'll finish packing and go take a slow walk to enjoy my last moments here. Don't stop checking back in...I do have some backlogged posting of photos and such that I will do once I return home.

Posted by oceanchild 22:32 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

Snowy Christmas Eve in Cappadocia

My wish granted!!

snow -1 °C

I have been wanting a white Christmas for years. As I posted earlier, I got my wish this year! Too bad I have to come all the way to Turkiey to get it. Not that I mind coming to Turkiye, not at all. This is probably my favorite place in all the world. I think I should make a tradition of spending Christmas in Cappadocia. Not sure my family would think to fondly of that...unless they came with me. Now that sounds like a plan!

I woke up on Christmas eve morning to find snow falling and falling good. Of course that didn't stop me from going out and getting in a pretty good hike. I tried not to stray too far because I was not sure how hard it would snow and did not want to lose my trail back if my foot prints were covered as it snowed. I walked into town to get some snacks and then headed down toward the open air museum. There is nothing like the quiet that falls over the land when snow is falling. It seems to muffle everything. It is a stillness that I have always appreciated and once again it afforded me the opportunity to find some peace and solitude that I came here for. On a whim I took a trail up hill just before the open air museum. I was well rewarded with the views when I got further up. And once more I was standing high on a hill as the call to prayer echoed out over the valleys.

Here are a few of the photos from that snowy Christmas Eve hike....

Clay pots covered with snow...

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Göreme

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Olive oil cans being used as planters

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Flintstones cave bar....really....there is also a Flinestones Cave motel....really...

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Ufuk Cave hotel....yes, it really is Ufuk....in Turkish it means "horizon"...Eastnor will never be the same

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Snowy landscape...

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A pottery tree.....

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A prayer tree...

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The path of my choosing....

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Well worth the slippery climb....I stood here and just listened to the call to prayer...not another sound for miles....

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Quite a way down into the valley....

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On a clear day the views are spectacular, but even on a snowy, cloudy day they are pretty darn good...

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I've seen numerous rocks here with these "windows" carved into them

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One last look before I head down....

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On my back to the hotel this little puppy followed me. I think it is an Anatolian shepherd puppy...

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I took a bit of a detour over toward the "love" valley on my way back. The road was pretty muddy and slippery, but I made it.....it was like walking through a winter wonderland. What a perfect Christmas gift from God!

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This one has a skylight!

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Next time I come to Cappadocia in the winter (and let me assure you there will be a next time) I will bring more suitable boots for winter hiking! Of course when I came to Greece in September I never dreamed I would spend a week in Cappadocia at Christmas.

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Christmas eve night I treated myself to a nice dinner at Alaturca restaurant in town. Actually the dinner was no more expensive than any of the other places I had dined and the atmosphere was cozy and beautiful. This was a wonderful Christmas gift, to get to spend time in this magical land. If only had my family with me it would have been absolutely perfect.

Posted by oceanchild 11:04 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

Hiking in Zemi Valley

Like having Cappadocia all to myself

overcast 2 °C

Welcome to Goreme!

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I've been in Cappadocia for 5 days now, and each day I have made it my goal to go out and hike alone for at least 3 hours. The time spent here as been exhausting and rejuvenating at the same time. It has given me ample opportunity to just reflect and clear my mind. My first full day here started with a hike in the Zemi Valley. The owner of my hotel gave me a map and told me where to turn. I couldn't miss it, there is a sign that says Zemi Vadisi/Zemi Valley. So I set out with some snacks, water, my map and my camera. Sure enough, just past the Tourist Hotel there is a road with a sign that says Zemi Valley.

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Wow, I'm hiking in Cappadocia! What a gift! After a short walk I turn off to head up to some cones that look as if they have churches carved into them. Climbing up the hill a bit I get a great view toward the Red and Rose valleys.

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Unfortunately I could not get into the church so after enjoying the view I headed back down to the road. I had a long way to go and the weather did not look promising. Rain turning to snow was in the forecast. The road was already looking like a stream in several places and I didn't relish the thought of it raining.

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In some places there was so much iron in the water that it was bright orange! There are places where the rocks show the presence of iron as well.

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I managed to make it pretty far without getting my feet too wet or muddy. No, I take that back, muddy they were, but I did keep my socks pretty much dry. Thank goodness because it wasn't too warm. The temperature was hovering just above freezing.

What is amazing about this area, besides the fantastic landscape, is that every time you look up you see a house, pigeon niches, storerooms, or churches carved out of the rock. But it is the landscape that really takes your breath away. It is often referred to as a "lunar landscape" but that doesn't do it justice in my book. It's not so barren as a lunar landscape. Many thousands of years ago the event that gave birth to this landscape was the eruption of the nearby volcanoes Mt.Erciyes, Mt. Hasan and Mt. Melendiz. The area was covered with volcanic ash with turned into "tufa" stone. Centuries of wind and rain carved and sculpted the landscape into what it is today. The peri bahcalari or "fairy chimneys" were formed when boulders would protect the underlying stone from erosion, leaving a column of tufa stone often topped still with a boulder. In other places valleys were carved out leaving graceful curved ridges and dune like walls. It really is a magical landscape!

The Zemi valley itself doesn't boast many of the typical fairy chimneys, but it is beautiful and peaceful. Tall poplar trees dot the valley the entire way. This time of year the valley is monochromatic. It seems to lack the deep colors that other areas of Cappadocia boast. Tall poplar trees dot the valley the entire way. As I hiked I saw no other living soul outside of the birds adn a fox I spotted scurrying along the ridges. I am not sure how far I walked, but I eventually came to the point that I could go no further. Not for lack of desire, but because the path ended and I saw no way up and out of the valley. I must have hiked nearly 5 hours that day but I never really got tired. There were a few moments when I climbed to a high spot and just enjoyed the peace and solitude. Otherwise I just walked and enjoyed the majestic scenery.

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I did happen upon one cave church that I was able to access. I noticed it from the road and found my way up to it.

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It was an interesting climb up a long metal ladder. I guess if you have a few of heights exploring cave churches in Cappadocia is not for you.

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To get to the actual church you had to climb through this tiny tunnel

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This church was not adorned with the wonderful frescoes that some of the churches here have but I'm still in awe at how uniform the carved out dome is. Sadly there was a lot of graffiti defiling this church.

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It did have a nice view!!

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They often used "millstone" doors to block of the entrance...this one still had it's millstone intact....

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At this point I came back to the main road and wanted to head into the valley they call "love valley" because of the phallic nature of the fairy chimneys there. I can't resist posting my photos of both mother and father earth. Sorry for the irreverence but the resemblance is uncanny....

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Over on the ridge here there are great views of the red/rose valley.....

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At this point it started to rain a bit so I headed back to my cave so I could warm up and go get dinner. Snow was in the forecast and that would drastically change the look of the landscape here. I couldn't wait!

Posted by oceanchild 11:24 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

Noeliniz va Yeni Yiliniz Kutlu Olsun

That is Merry Christmas in Turkish

snow -5 °C

It's Christmas morning in Cappadocia. Not my typical Christmas morning. There are no trees, no stockings, no Christmas music or baking cookies. It's just me, on a quiet Christmas morning, looking out the window at the beautiful white covering of snow. When I first decided to spend Christmas away from home, I wondered if it would be an emotional time for me. So far it hasn't. Ok, I had one small pang of "I wish I where home and not here" yesterday morning. It subsided with a hike in the snow. I guess many people wonder what is wrong with me, that I'd want to spend Christmas alone. It isn't that I wanted to spend Christmas alone, it is that I wanted to come back to this beautiful land and this was the perfect time to do so. It just happened to fall around Christmas. I suppose I could have arranged it so I could have been home for Christmas, but I would have missed the snowfall in Cappadocia. My priorities are really out of whack it seems. But are they? The importance of family and friends is there each and every day, not just on special holidays. Christmas has become much to commercialized, much to stressful, much less enjoyable in recent years. The bombardment we get beginning in at least October assaults our senses for nearly three months. I hear more and more people speak of how they get sick of Christmas music, decorations, sales, and spending too much money. It has come to be the holiday of who can out decorate who, who can buy the best gift for who, who can bake the best and most cookies. Everyone seems glad when it's over. I can honestly say I did not miss the hustle and bustle of the holiday season this year. There are things I miss. I miss watching Christmas programs with my now grown daughters, I miss Christmas eve mass, I miss breakfast at my brother's house on Christmas morning, hugs from family and friends. They will be there next year and next year I think Christmas might just mean a little more to me thanks to my time here in Cappadocia, among the cave churches carved out by faithful and dedicated monks of early Christianity. I would love to share this beautiful and peaceful Christmas morning with everyone.

Merry Christmas to all!!

Posted by oceanchild 22:28 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

Solitude

snow -3 °C

Merriam Webster defines solitude as

1 : the quality or state of being alone or remote from society : seclusion

2 : a lonely place (as a desert)

It is an easy thing to find in Cappadocia, Türkiye. I came her partially because I just love this country. It speaks to my spirit. It certainly has spirit of place. There is not much that I do not love about Türkiye. So, I found a way to come back, once again, and do some soul searching. My goal, besides getting credit for J-term, was to let go and cleanse the mind of all negative and extraneous thoughts. I knew that it would be quiet here this time, and the landscape exudes closeness to the Divine, so I thought it the perfect place to spend close to a week, just walking, thinking, reflecting, breathing it all in. I've mentioned to several people here that I was staying for almost 6 days and they all gave me looks as if I were crazy. You see, most people come here to see the sites. The come crammed on tour buses, everything planned for them. The get little time to explore on their own. That's OK. That's sort of how I was introduced to Türkiye the first time around, although I wasn't crammed on a tour bus...we had ample room. It's a wonderful way to experience a lot of the country in a relatively short amount of time. But it left me wanting even more. It whetted my desire to see the things I did not see. I was reading Dick Osseman's FAQ on his website last night and he said something that struck me as familiar. (Dick Osseman is a frequent visitor to Türkiye who has put a very large collection of photos on his website - http://www.pbase.com/dosseman). He said "To me it is more satisfactory to really know a country, then to “collect countries” like I see many people do. I also love to return to places I like, gradually feel less of a foreigner" and I think I agree with him! When I thought about extending my stay past the fall semester, I thought that maybe I should go somewhere I had not been. But why? If I really love a place, why not go again? If it speaks to my spirit, why not spend more time there. Here I am....spending Christmas in Cappadocia. The snow is falling outside and the quiet is almost deafening after being in Athens and Istanbul. There is a peace and beauty that has fallen and it captures the Christmas spirit perfectly.

Yesterday, my first full day here, I ventured into Zemi Valley. I wasn't really sure if I was taking the right path or not, but I walked and walked. I explored a few cave churches, found secluded spots high in the valley, traipsed through mud and icy water, saw a fox scurrying high up on the rock, sat and listened to nothing but the wind and the birds. It all brought me just a a bit closer to God. I did get that cleansing that I sought. All thoughts were gone except the wonder of it all. I can see why this place too was chosen for monastic life. It makes you realize how small, how insignificant you are when you sit in such a great valley surrounded by miles and miles of nature's sculpture and far from any other human soul. I suppose some would find it disconcerting to be so very far from home and so very alone. No. It is empowering. It nourishes the soul. It empties the mind. It brings peace and contentment. I found my place.

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Posted by oceanchild 13:27 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

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