When life gives you lemons, go ride Lemonade!

Cappadocia

We left Istanbul on Saturday morning. The traffic was a lot lighter than on Sunday afternoon when we came into town. We are headed south past the capital of Turkey, Ankara, to Goreme in Cappadocia.

But first we will stop and spend the night near the tomb of King Midas. You know, he was the king who so loved gold that he was given the power to turn to gold everything he touched. That worked very well until it was time for dinner. Then it made it hard to eat when all the food he touched turned to gold. The power was removed by swimming in a local river. He was a real guy who reigned from 738 to 696 BC. The tomb is a man-made hill shown on the left. Currently it is 50 m. (165’) high and 300 m. (1000’) wide. This after nearly 3000 years of erosion. It was a huge undertaking for people of that age. There are more than 80 of these tombs in the area. There is a very nice museum of artifacts found in the tomb.

The entrance is a long tunnel to the center after the walkway to the gate. The actual tomb chamber is a log cabin made of cedar and pine logs held in place with modern steel bracing. The cabin had a stone protective shelter over it and then all that dirt piled on top.

A second gate prevents walking around in the cabin.

The tunnel in was dug in the 1950’s by an archeologist. It is not original to the tomb. But recent dating of the logs puts the tomb as built in 740 BC. One generation too early for King Midas. They now think it must be his father or grandfather.

After a night in a local hotel we continued on south on the divided highway and we were overtaken by two local Gold Wings ridden by two couples.

We stopped in a rest area and talked. They are from nearby Ankara, the capital of Turkey. They invited us to lunch and we happily accepted. That looks like a lot of food but it is just the first course. We got even more than that. We had good conversation and good food. We talked about Turkey, America, Gold Wings and food. But then we had to move on if we were to make our destination of Goreme and our hotel we have reserved for the next week.

Goreme is a town in the area of Cappadocia. It is famous for its “fairy chimneys”. The soil is all volcanic ash that has compacted over millions of years. Harder spots resisted erosion and created columns. These columns and valley sides were carved into caves by early settlers into homes, churches, stables, wineries and storage rooms. Some are single room and some are multiple layer cities. In Goreme many of the caves have be turned into hotel rooms.We find our way to our hotel and check in.

 

 

Our hotel is on and in the hillside above the town of Goreme like many others. Everything is crowded together with narrow cobblestone lanes winding in between the hotels and rooms. Our room is a partial cave. Over the last 2000 years erosion has broken the front off some of the caves leaving the interior exposed. Our room is on the lowest level of the hotel, right off the small, shaded, grass patio. It was built as a stable. The two recesses at the head of the bed were where the feed for the horses was placed.

The earliest caves were mostly built by the first Christians. In the first century A.D. the Romans persecuted the Christians in the north of Turkey and they fled to Cappadocia. Here they could farm the valley floor and create defensible cave rooms and cities to live in or near. After Constantine converted to Christianity in about 300 A.D. the persecution ended but not the migration. There were thousands of residents in an area of several hundred square kilometers. The cave churches found so far exceeds 2000. Our first day was spend watching the morning hot air balloon liftoff, wandering the village of

Goreme and having lunch. Part of the view from our hotel showing some old, unused, caves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And some just to left of above which are converted to hotels.

 

 

Tomorrow we have a two-day private tour booked with Heritage Tours.

 

 

Our guide is Turgay (I hope I spelled that correctly). He speaks excellent English (and some other languages too).

 

 

 

Our first stop is the Open Air Museum which has several churches. Some were finished with frescoes that still are vibrant, where they haven’t been damaged.

 

 

The passageways are narrow and sometimes steep.

To the right is a table and bench seating. All carved out of the native stone.

 

 

That day was a 4 km. (2.5 mile) hike down the Rose Valley, with caves along the sides. It was a pleasant stroll on a cool but sunny day. We didn’t enter any caves, just looked at them along the way.

 

The trail followed a creek that had carved its own tunnel along the way. Some caves are very high up the side of the bluffs but are connected inside to lower ones for access.

 

 

 

Many caves had these small notches near them. They are pigeon roosts. They used pigeons for food and the droppings for fertilizer.

 

 

 

 

We drove through a small town where the caves had been severely damaged by the erosion of the last 2000 years.

 

 

 

 

 

This area has a harder stone on top giving the columns a cap of brown stone.

Even the police station was a cave in one of the columns.

 

 

 

A famous photo spot is at the stone camel. Look on the left side and you can see a two-hump  camel.

 

 

 

 

Tomorrow is a big day. We’ll be up a 0400 (4 AM) to do a balloon ride and then more touring. Follow along here.