20.06.2010 - 25.06.2010 85 °F
Jaime left off last telling you about Cappadocia (or Kapadokya, in Turkish) while we still had a couple of days left exploring with our new friends, Dave and Allison. After that, we still had time to go on a couple of hikes in the nearby valleys to get an up close and personal view of the many different (and unusual) rock formations in the area. Now, I know those of you following our blog are seeing a general theme with our recent photos, but I assure you that these rock formations are real! Not all of them resembled such obscene formations, but they are all equally fascinating. Between the 4 of us, we were all trying to hypothesize how they eroded over time to form the different shapes...but in the end, I think we were still way off! We then finished off an amazing Father's Day (we were thinking of all you dads and grandads out there) at a viewpoint high above the town of Goreme at sunset over a fantastic picnic dinner of Turkish cheese, olives, baklava, wine and other yummy delights. It was a great day!
When we first arrived in Cappadocia, we spent a good amount of time trying to figure out how to see everything since many of the sights are so far away from one another. Most people book tours and go on giant buses from place to place with 50 of your closest strangers, which didn't sound very appealing to us! So, we rented a car and spent our final day in Cappadocia driving around on our own time...seeing what we wanted, when we wanted, for how long we wanted. And it turned out to be fantastic! We visited Kaymakli, an underground city that was once 8 levels deep into the earth, though we were only able to walk through 5 levels. The city had rooms designated as kitchens, living rooms, an elaborate ventilation system, water well, several wineries and even a prison (although we didn't actually see it with our own eyes)! I estimated that about 200 people could live there comfortably only to find out that there were well over 3,000 people inhabitting this underground city! The nooks, crannies and tunnel system throughout was extensive. We all joked that it would be a kid's HEAVEN playing in these caves - the ultimate fort! We then visited the town of Urgup for some wine tasting then over to a restored caravanserai, a meeting point where camels and other goods were traded on long journeys from place to place. Then came the town of Çavusın where we walked through the "old town" - more abandoned cave-like dwellings - including a church dedicated to John the Baptist. Parts of the frescoes from inside the church were still visible from hundreds of years ago! On our way back to the car, a roadside souvenir vendor invited us inside his house to watch the soccer tournament and drink his homemade wine. Turkish people are the MOST hospitable, helpful people that I have ever met!! After kindly turning him down a MILLION times to call and cancel our bus tickets that night to stay with him and have BBQ, we headed back to town.
Our night bus to Antalya was uneventful, which was made up in adventure when we arrived. When we asked someone at the bus station how to get to Geyikbayiri (our climbing destination outside the big city of Antalya), he hopped on a bus with us, took us to breakfast..and paid!..., then planned to have a friend drive us there later in the day after he showed us all the sights!!! Now that's genuine hospitality! Unfortunately, we were in a hurry to get to Geyikbayiri and had to turn him down. But that just goes to show how people here will literally drop everything they are doing to show you the way - and what is most amazing is that they don't expect anything in return. Nor will they accept it!!
Our quick stop in Antalya:
Once we finally arrived in Geyikbayiri, we discovered that the guesthouse we looked up online had closed for the summer!! Luckily, the grounds keeper was around to call the owner, who came down and gave us a phenomenal rate for a decked out cabin with 2 bedrooms, bathroom, a full kitchen and a wrap around deck from which to admire the most amazing view of the valley and surrounding mountains. We were literally the ONLY people at the campsite for 3 days in the middle of nowhere. Once we realized how remote this place was, we had to hitchhike back into town for groceries for the next 3 days. We spent the mornings climbing, the afternoons resting and waiting out the heat, then went back out in the evenings for a couple more routes before making amazing dinners each night. It took me these last couple of days to realize how much I miss real food - that isn't fried, or breaded, or just strange. We cooked fantastic, healthy meals that was a very refreshing change from our options lately.
The climbing was far more challenging than what we saw in Thailand. The routes were graded more strenuously and the limestone was incredibly sharp. The monster holds that we saw in Thailand are nonexistent in Turkey and replaced by tiny, sharp-as-glass finger holds. I joked with Jaime that everytime he finished a route he would come down bleeding from somewhere new - an elbow, a finger, a knee. It was very challenging for both of us, but we luckily found a great place on the first day inside a cave where our ability was consistent with the routes it offered. Nonetheless, we had a great time climbing on new rock that was outside of our comfort zone.
Here are a couple of pictures from our adventures out in the middle of nowhere:
THe view from our deck: