A Travellerspoint blog

Grumpy hosts, Phallic Rocks and the quickest 7km in our life

Exploring Cappadocia

sunny 27 °C
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Arriving in to our destination town of Goreme in Cappadocia the last thing you want to encounter is a grumpy Pension owner who has literally only just woken up. However that is exactly what we found upon our arrival at the Kookabura Pension. Fair enough our bus had arrived in an hour and a half early and so we sat waiting for someone stir on the Pension Balcony but you'd think they'd be used to travellers turning up at random times.

Bleary eyed he enquired after our needs. Given that our budget for Turkey was being stretched beyond its limit we had agreed prior to arriving at the pension that we'd try and bargin for a lower rate, it was low season after all. The reaction from our possible future host was one of annoyance and agitation, especially because the bargining was being under taken by the woman instead of the man! This was our first encounter of this type of attitude in Turkey and during our time in Capadocia we learnt that it is quite engrained with the surrounding communities.

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We finally managed to obtain a room for 5TL less a night than the price given in the lonely planet, however the room had no bathroom of its own and the pension owner never restocked the toilet paper within the bathroom we were required to use even though it was obviously cleaned a couple of times during our 3 night stay. We'd quite clearly irritated him with our attempts to bargin.

Two days later friends we'd met during our travels turned up and tried to get a room the same owner informed them the room price was for a double was 10TL more a night than that stated in Lonely Planet (the guide book is only 5 months old) and again was rude and unfriendly, they made the smart decision and found a room somewhere else.

After crashing out for a couple of hours in order to recover from an incredibly noisey, bright and bumpy bus ride, we set out to explore the Cappadocian landscape. Grabbing a walking map and packing some sustanance we set out to walk a couple of the nearby valleys.

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We climbed up the winding road, past the open air museum before dropping down in to a track beside Koya camping. The dirt track wound us down through grape vines and pumpkin paddocks. The pumpkin paddocks filled with broken decomposing pumpkins. We later found out that they don't eat the pumpkin, they just use the seeds, drying the out before salting them and packaging them for eatting.

Dropping down to the floor of Sword Valley the path weaved and wound between fairy chimneys, pigeon houses and rock outcrops. In some locations the path beging carved directly through the rock itself. We found ourselves walking past local farming families attending to their crops of grapes, pumpkins and apples.

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Branching off Sword Valley is the Red Valley and Rose Valley. Turning off at the junction of Red Valley and Sword Valley the intention was climb out of Red Valley into Rose Valley. Alas as we explored Red Valley the path became constricted. The earthy red walls began to loom over us and while we were enjoying the scrambling, and rock climbing the camera I was carrying and Hannah's stature began to make the task in front us slightly more difficult. My life isn't worth living if I was to break my camera on the valley walls. We turned back walking out of Sword Valley in to Cavusin.

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In the village of Cavusin we met a lovely Turkish man who offered us tea and sat down with us in an attempt to improve his english. Well thats what we thought at first. As the conversation progressed he eventually offered taking us in his taxi to our intended destinations of the Ihlara Valley and the underground cities over the next 2 days. While his price may have been good we were on a budget and a personl taxi driver was certainly out of our budget.

Having determined that a personal driver to the Ihlara Valley was out of our budget and by public transport its near impossible we decided to go on an organised tour that included the Ihlara Vallay and 1 of the underground cities.

The city of Kaymakli spans over 8 levels to a depth of approximately 80m. The underground cities were used by locals to hide from marching armies. The deeper you get within the city the narrower the passages become this was in order to impede the enemy should they ever have discovered the entrance to the city.

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After exploring the depths of Kaymakli, which made some of the tour members become quite claustraphobic our next stop was the Ihlara Gorge and the main reason for Hannah and I signing up to the tour. The Ihlara Valley is 13km in total length running from Ihlara Village up to Selime. The gorge has a small stream running along its length and was the holiday retreat of Byzantine monks who in similar fashion to Goreme cut churches in to the base of the towering cliffs.

Our guide dropped Hannah and I at the start of the gorge and informed us that the meeting point for lunch is 7km away. She and the rest of the tour group would be dropped 3km further up and they would therefore meet us at the restaurant. The aim was to leave the restaurant between 2:30 and 3pm. If we didn't make it there in time for a cooked lunch we would be given a sandwich. The thought of a sandwich for lunch spurred us into action and we set off at maximum pace. While we felt like we were setting a good pace the downfall was that we could not afford to look around and take in the scenery. Although I did stop of the obligatory photo!

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After flying past a group of Americans, one lady yelling at us to slow down and take it all in we arrived at the restaurant. Total travel time 63 minutes. That walk proceeded to solidify our belief that Turkish distances on road signs and guides are inaccurate at best and at worst determined by putting ones finger in the air and seeing what way the wind is blowing!!

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Our tour in true Turkish fashion finished by visiting an Onyx Factory/ Jewellery shop where we were encouraged to try on/ buy some very tacky jewellery. Needless to say we walked away empty handed but not after they informed us they could post anything we bought back to Australia or New Zealand while we continued our travels!

The last day was spent exploring the The open air museum where we competed with bus loads of tour groups for air space within the rock churches. 30 minutes into it Hannah had hit the wall. We'd been pushing ourselves quite hard pver the pervious few days and it appears that it had all caught up with her. I walked her back halfway into town before I went off down Zemi Valley to check out the 'rude boys' and other rock formations within the valley.

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We spent our final night out for dinner with Tim and Anna, an Australian couple we'd been running into at various stops in Turkey. Food was eatten alcohol was drunk and we went home to wake up to our first hang overs of the trip.

Posted by The VBs 01:57 Archived in Turkey Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Sunken Cıtıes, Ruıned Cıtıes and the Eternal Flame

Kas, Kekova and Olympos

30 °C
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Tearıng ourselves away from Kabak was dıffıcult decısıon, but made easıer after consultıng our wallet. Leavıng the tranquılıty and peacefulness of Shambala behınd we took to the road wıth a couple of new found frıends. Danyel and Kım are a couple of Amerıcans from Seattle ın the U.S and they were headıng ın the same dırectıon. Our destınatıon the quıet seasıde vıllage of Kas (pronounced cash).

To get to Kas requıred backtrackıng on ourselves back to Fethyıe and then a 3 hour bus trıp down the coast. We're slowly learnıng that the duratıon of these trıps ıs not determıned by the dıstance travelled, although ıt plays a part but more so the number of otagars (bus statıons) we stop at along the way and the number of cıgarettes the bus drıver decıdes to have at each stop. I now fully apprecıate the term 'smokıng lıke a Turk'.

Arrıvıng ın to Kas at about 6pm the 4 of us seperated, Hanah and I went to fınd the camp sıte and Danyel and Kım a reasonably prıced Pensıon. The plan to meet up a lıtle later on and watch Hannah work her bargınıng magıc as we went lookıng for a tour operator runnıng the sea kyakıng trıp over the sunken Lycıan cıty opposıte the Turkısh vıllage of Kekova. Lıvıng up to her reputatıon she saved each of us 10TL each off the prıce reducıng ıt from 60TL to 50TL.
In addıtıon the other two people who had booked ın to the tour pulled out and we had ourselves a prıvate tour for 3 as Kım decıded that sea kyakıng wasn't her thıng.

Headıng back to the campsıte for a good nıghts sleep the ınverıable happened. After lıvıng a lıfe of luxury sınce Crete sleepıng on proper beds we were unable to sleep and spent the hot nıght becomıng rather sweaty and entwıned wıth our sleepıng bags and sılk sheets as we tossed, turned and kıcked to try and get comfortable. Thıs was not ıdeal given that we about to undergo 4-5 hours of intensive exercise paddling our way around the bays at Kekova.

Meeting Danyel in the morning we were pleased to see the wind from yesterday had disappeared and it loooked like the weather was back to being HOT! Our transportation pulled up and we were slightly excited to see an open top jeep. The ride provided uninterupted views of the coast line and farming land that we drove through during our 45 minute trip to Kekova. The only downside with an open top and side vehicle is the rush of wind. At 9am in the morning the day hasn't become sufficiently hot enough for it to feel like a cooling breeze it felt more like being blasted with a refrigerator fan.

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Arriving in to Kekova we kitted up and grabbed our Kayaks. Its been along time since either of us had kyaked before and while we both remembered the basics these were quickly thrown out the window with the introduction of a double kayak and its inbuilt steering system of peddles, chords and rudder. Being the man of the relationship Hannah quickly informed me that I was in charge of keeping us on the straight and away from boats, rocks and any other floating obsticle that may result in the loss of life or at the very least a limb!

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All I can say is that I am a psychic, or at least a psychic in training. I may not be able to predict the lottery numbers but I was able to predict that the steering of the blasted kayak was going to cause me problems all day up until our final paddle back to base where I'd have us going straight and true. Low and behold the first couple of hours had me cursing under my breath while Hannah screamed about rocks, boats and other kayaks.

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The first section of our paddle was out across the bay towards a little bay where we rested for 30 minutes before taking a much slower lesiurely pace along the shore line passing over the sunken city ruins. The city Had passed through the hands of 3 civilisations. Firstly under Lycian control, then Greek and finally Roman. Our interesting fact for the day was the Lycians never built using bricks and mortar they only ever carved their dwellings and temples out of solid rock. When ever we saw fallen bricks and mortar we therefore knew that this construction was either Greek or Roman.

For a day that started off with a little bit of swearing, a little bit of cursing our muscles or lack there of we ended up having a really enjoyable day, the ruins could have been a bit more interesting but when your kayaking around the mediteranian instead of working you can't really complain.

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The following day we caught a dolmus to Olympos, approximately 2 hours down the coast line. Olympos is known in the backpacker circles as being the original hippie hang out in Turkey sleeping in tree houses and lazing on the beach. The accomodations are no longer as basic as they once were, we slept in a wooden bungalow with a double bed and bathroom. While it wasn't as flash as Shambala it was certainly more comfortable than we were expecting.

Our first afternoon in Olympos was spent wandering around the ruins of Olympos. While investigating a Lycian tomb Hannah directed me to a sign informing tourists to stay off the ruins and to keep to the paths. As we wandered deeper in to the ruins it became harder and harder to determine wwhat direction the path actually went in. Having reached the end of the actual path there was no sign informing us that we were to now turn back and go the way we came. Instead there appeared to be two very suitable paths heading off in the undder growth. Adopting an onwards and upwards attitude we pressed ahead. We certainly came across further ruins however we were now being forced to climb across colapsed walls and through old doorways. It very slowly became apparent that we weren't supposed to be here. Lost in the undergrowth it looked like we could go the same way as Olympos, claimed back by mother nature.

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Setting a frantic pace, voices could be heard in the distance, these voices will be our salvation. How wrong this thought was as were thwarted at every attempt to escape and return to civilisation. Firstly by a security gate closing off the ruins from the beach and secondly by a swampy stream. We eventually found a rather poorly conditioned path running along side the stream towards the beach. We could now see another couple ahead, if we were going to be lost we weren't going to be lost alone. The final corner presented us with a beautiful picture, the beach and other human beings we'd made it to civilisation and the comfort of our bed as opposed to hard granite stone left over from a civilisation of the past.

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With only 1 night in Olympos we were keen to get to Chimera, home of the eternal flame located on the mountain of the gods from old greek mythology. Chimera is approximately 30 minutes away from Olympos when driving Turkish speed, for most other people I would say it's about 45-50min due to the winding nature of the road. The flames were another 30 minute walk away up an unlit path with the only thing to guide a small pokey torch given to us by our driver. The thought in our head why didn't we bring our super dooper head torches!!

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Winding our way up the rocky path, I almost went off the edge once and almost tripped over on my face twice, Hannah possessing the torch managed to work her way up to the top with no such problems!

The flames at Chimera are produced by a gaseous mixture that rised from deep inside the earth. Upon reaching the surface the normal air temperature causes the gas to expand where it then internally combusts. In the olden days with no understanding of chemistry its easy to see how people linked the flames to the gods.

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The magic of the flames created a romantic atmosphere across the hill side and looking around you could see many people coupled off sitting taking in their surrounds. Another larger group had come prepared for flames and were seen by everyone else to be roasting marshmellows.

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The next morning we went exploring the ruins of Olympos further before catching a bus to Antalya in preperation for our night bus to Cappadocia.

Posted by The VBs 08:33 Archived in Turkey Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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