Up at stupid o’clock Wednesday to get to Ataturk airport for a one-hour flight to central Turkey. Food served on a short-hop – beats sleasyjet! It was about an hour’s shuttle ride through the Cappadocian countryside to Goreme – the small town that’s the main tourist spot in the area where I was staying for two nights. On the drive it occurred to me that the rather odd landscape was a mixture of three national parks that Valerie & I visited last year in the States. Those were Badlands – for the erosion & layers of colour, Mesa Verde – for the dwellings in the side of the earth, and Bryce Canyon – for the eroded rock formations.
The hotel I’d booked in town was a whole lot swankier than I’d imagined, but as it was only nine in the morning my room wasn’t quite ready & I really wanted a nap. But sitting in the sun reading & looking out over the cave-house ridden landscape was a close second. Eventually I got my room & nap before strolling down into town for lunch – they really do lentil soup well in Turkey. Goreme has a small tourist town feel to it, with interesting English translations of course, that reminded me somewhat of Lakeside, Pokhara, Nepal.
The biggest attraction in Goreme itself is the Goreme Open Air Museum – so I thought that was a good place to start off. So I spent the afternoon ducking in & out of caves, from blistering heat to relative coolness, admiring the structures and surviving paintings. A World Heritage Site, people have been living, sheltering, worshipping here for 1700-odd years. There’s quite a few living/practical rooms you can go in with long table & firepits & such-like, but the really highlight is the many small churches carved in the side of the earth. With tiny domes & pillars, it’s a bit of a contrast to the grandeur of Istanbul’s places of worship – but no less incredible. Because the caves are dark, the thousand-year frescos have survived really well – unfortunately, that means no flash photography & no photos of paintings to share.
Tables & benches
Some of the early paintings, not frescos, were just red (plant dyes) line drawings – but still impressive that they’ve lasted so long. The frescos were intricately coloured and well detailed – I could even tell what a lot of them were.
Tombs of donors that helped pay for the chapel – it could take three years to excavate a church
I wandered back in to town, passing various sights on the way. I particularly liked this sign:
Just to make sure I earned another delicious meal, I wandered up the tortuous streets to the back of town to look out over the strange houses & the expansive valley.
Early to bed due to the reality of consecutive early starts – at least getting up at 4.30 is much better if you’re going floating through the sky, rather than going to pull another twelve hour shift.