09.10.2009 - 12.10.2009 27 °C
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!!
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.
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.