Saturday, May 9, 2015

Cappadocia - the Green Tour

A month or so before my trip started, I was contacted by the Karadut Cave Hotel to find out if I wanted them to book any tour or balloon rides for me. I wrote back that I did not want to do the balloon ride but they could book me on the Red Tour which is more local to Goreme. However, when I got to the hotel, the Japanese lady told me that I could do much of the Red Tour by myself and that I really should go on the Green Tour. I took her advice.

For really good blogs of what you see in each tour, take a look at Red and Green. This blog will make a lot more sense if you click on the Green Tour link and read it.


The 15 passenger tour bus. As usual, I took a photo so that I would know which bus to get back onto if I got confused. There are scores of these vans running around, all white. Fortunately our bus was not full and there was plenty of room.


The bus drove to the top of the hill overlooking the Goreme valley.




Incredible landscape where you can make out Goreme.


Zoom photo of mountains in the distance.


I walked in this area the next day.





I have tried to include people in some photos to give you a sense of scale. In the background is the nearby village of Uchisar. This blog about its castle is good.


The balloon rides are done very early in the morning depending on the wind and weather. I spoke to a couple who went on the ride who really enjoyed it. It's interesting to read this blog which compares the balloon companies. The biggest basket holds 36 people! A ride is not inexpensive.


As usual, all sorts of stuff to buy from the little shops set up near the cliff edge. 


We then set off for a long ride to Derinkuyu to visit the underground city.


The guide gave us a brief explanation of what to expect below the surface. Basically, if you are claustrophobic, this is not the place for you. There are lots of narrow tunnels with low ceilings. Quickly I decided I was very glad that I was wearing my Irish cap to protect my head.




It is a real warren down there with rooms scattered here and there. It is all quite confusing and this was done deliberately so that invaders would lose sense of where they were. If you clicked on the link about Derinkuyu, you would have read that this underground city was used by the Christians as a refuge from Moslem Arabs and Turks.


There are many tour groups down here at the same time. Occasionally you have to wait while a people jam is cleared. I would not want to be down there in May when the tourist season is at its peak.



The city has many levels and you keep descending.


One of the large stones used to block passages to stop invaders.




Ventilation shaft looking up.


Same shaft looking down.



Cross carved in the rock. There are some rooms that served as chapels.



The large church at the lowest level. Up to 20,000 people could live in this city as well as livestock. It must have been an unusual experience. There is some argument about how they dealt with the poo issue.



Grates covered booby trap pits.


They could have used this wheel in an Indiana Jones film.

I did get a slight sense of claustrophobia when my progress was stopped for a few minutes when I was bent over in a very narrow tunnel. After a while, the succession of rooms and tunnels becomes a bit of a blur. To accommodate the number of visitors, they have to move you all through quickly.


I was glad to be back on the surface. In the background is a Christian church that is now a mosque. The changeover probably occurred in 1922 when the Cappadocian Greeks were expelled to Greece.


We then got back on the bus and went to the Selime Monastery


Yes, you climb up into this and it is higher than it looks.



Cemetery across the road from the entrance. As you can see, trees were getting their leaves and it was all quite beautiful.






Some of my group to give you a sense of the scale.







Mold on the north side of some of the rocks.



You climb progressively higher. My hiking shoes gripped the rock quite well but some of the slopes would be tricky in slippery shoes.










The guide said that the location scouts for the film Star Wars came here to see if these cones could be used in the film. The Turkish authorities refused to let the area be used.




Pigeon holes. The guano was used as fertilizer.






I did not actually see the cathedral. Suddenly I had had enough of all these caves and passages so I stopped, found a resting place and looked out over the surrounding valley.


Another group making the ascent. 



For Marianne.
 

Back onto the bus.


The tour includes a lunch so we all trooped in here.


I had thought that the only beer made in Turkey was Efes so I was surprised to be offered an alternative.


Most of the time on the tour I had been talking to a couple from New Zealand and I duly sat next to them at the table. I had noticed this young couple who had been chattering away in some language I could not recognize and they happened to sit opposite me. I almost fell off my seat when the young lady suddenly started to speak to me in English. They were students from Brazil who had been given scholarships to study in England and they had come down to Cappadocia for a brief holiday. They were not interested in talking about Brazil's performance in the World Cup.

There were also a couple of young men from Spain, but they kept to themselves.

Of course, when I told this couple how I try to go to a new country every year, they suggested Brazil. Maybe I could do a trip to Brasil, Uruguay and Argentina.


Yes, they still exist in Turkey.


After lunch, we drove to the Ihlara Valley. Our guide was explaining that we would enter the valley about half way and then walk to the western end.


The long flight of stairs down to the valley floor.





Netting to help stabilize the rock face.


Close to the bottom of the steps is the Agacalti church which means the Church under the tree.



These frescoes have more vivid colour than usual.







We proceeded to stroll down the path beside the creek and it was all really pleasant.




It was a bit chilly down there and the girl from Brazil produced this cape. She said she bought it in a market in Goreme for about $20. I doubt it would look this good on me.








Eventually we stopped at some sort of outdoor cafe.


The guide talking to the NZ bloke.



The Turks enjoy displaying their flag as much as the Americans do.





The lady to the right is rolling out Gozleme dough. The hotel served a very good breakfast which included Gozleme.



It was a pleasant place to stop for a while. I seem to remember that I had a glass of tea since it was chilly. When in doubt in Turkey, have a glass of tea.





We then returned to Goreme for a look at another valley of these formations.





This being a tour, we stopped first at a shop that sold all sorts of spices, nuts and of course, Turkish Delight.


After that, we all inspected an Onyx factory and its attached jewelry shop. Here some bloke showed how they turned a block of onyx into a rough egg shape using a lathe. After this he went to another lathe where the egg was smoothed and polished,


I had dinner with the NZ couple later that evening. They had entered the NZ lottery for tickets to the 100 year anniversary of the landings at Gallipoli and had won. They quickly organized their trip from New Zealand and were due to go to the Gallipoli region the following day. It sounded like more pain than pleasure to me with the prospect of sitting out all night in the cold waiting for dawn, but I can understand why.

This Green Tour was very good and I am glad the Japanese lady changed my mind. It lasts most of the day. If you have mobility problems, it is not for you.

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