Travel Journal

Goreme

(Thursday 2 December 2010) by Mike and Julie's sort of round the world trip
Day 109-12 -- 11/21-24/10 Goreme
We caught a two o’clock bus that got us to Nevsehiro. At the bus station there a travel agent tried to get us to sign up with a package rather than tell us how to get to the town via public transportation. We fended off a taxi driver that wanted 40TL for the ride and instead got a city bus to the center, a bus to Uchisar which we hopped off early, and finally a bus that took us into Goreme arriving a bit after 7PM. I think the cost was about 5TL so about half of what the taxi wanted for the four of us. We hadn’t booked anything so we had our eyes opened for places when a Japanese traveler showed us the place he was staying. John and Belinda wanted a dorm bed and none were available and the double for Julie and I wasn’t anything great so we traveled on to a hotel they had read about and they got beds there while we settled for a double in a cave room. The room was carved out of the soft limestone and sufficed for lodging that night. We checked on buses out of Goreme but found because of the holiday and limited schedule there were no buses to our next stop until Wednesday night three nights later.
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Julie went hunting for another place the next day and found a place at Flintstone’s Cave which she liked. We said our goodbyes to our traveling partners and relocated to our new cave or digs if you like. In the morning light we got a better look at the town. Most of the cliff side has hotels located on them with portions of the rooms dug out of the earth. It has a very fantasy world look about it with mushroom like rocks called fairy chimneys or I suppose you could call them phallic symbols. It was the beginning of off season so hotels were starting to empty out and the town wasn’t as busy as it gets in high season. We decided to book a tour for Wednesday of far off places we couldn’t easily visit and see the sights offered on another tour of nearby areas closer to town.
We walked to the open air museum which was only a kilometer out of town.
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This was a community again dug into the mountain and the museum comprises of the churches and community centers used by the people. My understanding is that the citizens live in similar dwellings nearby and went to worship here. They also dug out perches in the side of the mountain where pigeons could nest and annually collected the droppings to use as fertilizer. The frescos in the church were a bit crude but seemed to fit the décor of the interior. I cannot imagine living in those conditions and the bumps on my head proved this out as I was continually hitting my head on the ceilings.
We also stopped at a more elaborate cave church on the way back which was included in the admission. Photographs were forbidden so we’ve included some shots.
We took it easy for the rest of the day and wrote postcards to family. A restaurateur had been hounding us each time we passed to the hotel and we decided to try it out that night. The food was alright and warm which was fortunate as night time, which started at 4:30 PM, got down to the fifties and it was windy.
The next day we caught a mini bus to Uchisar Castle
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and were dropped off at the spot we traversed on the way to the town. It’s not really a castle but a large rock formation with a flat top that had several rooms dug out on the side. It would indeed make a good natural defense with lookout towers and steep sides. We stocked up on nuts and fruits from a vendor outside the entrance before reversing and returning to town.
Next were the fairy chimneys at Pasabag which were a little more problematic to get to. We caught a bus which dropped us off at the turnoff and then walked a couple of kilometers to the site. We were enjoying the view but wondering where the attraction was when we came upon the valley after a rise in the road. I would guess the valley had water running through it more so than other areas and the harder volcanic rocks at the top lead to these formations.
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There also was a hermit dwelling (obviously before the tour buses started to come) which we climbed into. The police station also is dug out of a fairy chimney as well although I’m not sure it’s really used. We walked back to the junction where we got off the bus but rather than waiting for the return bus we decided to hike back to town which was about 5 kilometers. I think the reason we’re losing weight is due to all the walking we’ve been doing. I’m not sure if it’s noticeable in the pictures but we’ve probably lost about thirty pounds between the both of us.
We tried a new place for dinner and loved the fresh bread they made in their pizza oven. The food was good but after we went to sleep, Julie got sick and began throwing up. I’m not sure what she had that caused problems because we shared our food and I was fine. The next morning it wasn’t certain if Julie would be able to make the tour but a couple of Imodium pills got her on her feet and off the toilet and we were off. The first stop was a panoramic view of Goreme which we had passed the previous day but couldn’t stop as we were on a local bus. The tree with paper wrapped on it is much like the Tibetan flags hanged on the mountains. Wishes were written on paper and then tied to the tree where the wind could take them off to be granted.
We then drove a bit to Derinkuyu Underground City
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which the locals had dug out to be used whenever war came to the area. They would duck in there and sit out the war which would pass fairly quickly overhead. Over the centuries, additional levels were added in peacetime until it reached eight levels and miles and miles of tunnels. There were pit traps, fake walls, shortcuts which gave it a real Dungeons and Dragons feel and I could imagine a campaign occurring here.
Next we braved a hike in the Ihlara Valley despite the threat of rain.
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It was only about four kilometers through beautiful scenery till we reached a restaurant where we had lunch and got back into our van. We had kids in tow in the group and people that couldn’t keep up the pace so we were so far behind we skipped another panoramic view. Add to that our guide didn’t speak very clearly reminded me why I don’t normally like group tours.
We did stop at the Selime Monastery
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which was carved out high above the ground in a mountain. I heard one of these stops was used in a Star Wars movie but I don’t know which one or which location. We next went to Pigeon Valley but it was after 5 PM by then and dark so we couldn’t see anything so it was pretty much a joke. We had seen part of it on our Uchisar outing the previous day though. Finally we stopped at an Onyx factory for a demonstration and sales pitch. Some of the pieces were nice but I don’t think they sold anything to our group.
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We returned and waited out the time before our bus was to leave. It was an overnight bus to Pamukkale that was to leave at 8:30 and arrive around 4:30 so we packed our sleeping gear in our daypacks since our backpacks would be stored in the bus’ luggage compartments. Goreme was on the expensive side even for off season so we were hoping to save some money in the next few towns.
D

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