Cappadocia – a different planet?
After our lazy vacation along the mediterrean coast, Scott and I were recharged and ready to explore the unknown in Turkey! Our next stop was the historical region of Cappadocia, a land that…well… we didn’t know anything about and were simply mezmerized by.
To give a very brief history, Cappadocia is located in the very center of Turkey and has the craziest terrain that I have ever seen. Basically, volanic eruptions occurred millions of years ago, resulting in white ash, mud and lava spewing all over a plateau, creating mounds of sedimentary rock. After years and years of weathering as well as a river that once cut through the mounds/mountains/whatever you call it, you get something that looks like this:
INSANE! what are these things? When you see it in person, you just think that you are on another planet. Which only makes it fitting that George Lucas filmed a scene from Star Wars here! More on that later =)
Okay, it get’s even crazier. PEOPLE LIVED HERE. In caves. There were kitchens, dining rooms and even wineries. They also cut churches out of rock.
Oh and yes, at times they lived UNDERGROUND. I’m talking 60 meters underground with sophisicated defense systems, air vents and tunnel connections. I see remnants of buildings, temples, cities, etc in every country we visit that were built hundreds and hundreds of years ago and I just am in awe of human intellect.
We stayed in Goreme, around the corner from their open-air museum. This place was great because it gave you an authentic representation of what life was like in the 10th, 11th and 12th century.
Cappadocia is full of hiking trails. We often went for long hikes, just exploring the valleys and plateaus all around us. Our minds couldn’t comprehend the crazy nature all around us!
One day Scott and I did our usual routine – rent a scooter and explore the town.
Our first stop was Derinkuyu, the largest underground city in Cappadocia. This city went down as far as 13 levels and housed over 20,000 Christians that were hiding from Roman persecution in the 5th century.
Now, I will admit that I am slightly claustrophobic. It isn’t so much being in a small place, it is the fear of feeling/being trapped. If there is an exit available to me then I don’t panic. But In order to see this city, we had to go far underground. To make things worse, the exit and entrance was one very confined tunnel and I had to follow a line of mass tourists that took their sweet time getting through. Nonetheless, I was determined put aside my fears and went in…
Boy was that a mistake! I got through it but I will admit that I had minor panic attacks going through the tunnels. Finally when we were 5 stories underground and tourists were shouting at each other in a confined room, I panicked completely had to get of of there ASAP. I felt bad depriving Scott of real time to explore Derinkuyu, but he did a great job of supporting me the whole way through. Even though the experience was terrifying, I don’t regret doing it at all.
It finally stopped raining for 20 minutes and we took the window of opportunity to hike out of the valley quickly. We didn’t even have jackets and knew we would have a miserable 1.5 hour drive home if it was raining the whole time! We spent 20 minutes driving around in the pouring rain going to markets and asking if they had large trash bags. They had never even heard of such a thing.
Scott was driving down a dirt road and we noticed a big “rock” in the middle of the road. Turns out it was a tortoise trying to cross. Scott decided to help it by picking it up and placing it on the road divider. The turtle promptly, turned around, got back on the dirt road and even walked around Scott’s bike to make a point. Apparently he was doing just fine on his own.
There are multiple hot air balloon companies in Cappadocia that offer rides at sunrise. I have never seen so many balloons in the air at the same time. I still can’t decide if it was the balloons that impressed me more or the terrain. What I do know is that the combination is something you only see in Turkey…
I learned quickly that Turkey is brimming with rich history in any city you visit. I would like to return to Turkey and visit a few more cities because if they are anything like the Cappadocia region, they are definitely worth the visit.