Fairy chimneys, Roman ruins and snow
Trip Start Dec 22, 2011
27Trip End Jul 04, 2012
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First off, our Tehran transit was an adventure. It made us sad that we weren't visiting Iran properly and yet validated our decision at the same time. The flight itself was a experience - let's just say that the Iranians make their flight attendants work very hard for their dosh. Everyone was very interested in the only two westerners on the flight and in those 8 hours demonstrated how friendly and hospitable the Iranian people are. On arrival, however, the story changed. The women (including me) covered up and donned veils and we stepped into totalitarian bureaucracy. Apparently Tehran isn't a common transit point... and now we know why. It all worked out fine but there were 6 hours that our passports were taken, we were told absolutely nothing apart from 'wait there' and I was a little stressed. Sam seemed to be more concerned that I wouldn't let him take photos in immigration
It all came together somehow, and after about 50 hours of travelling we finally arrived in Goreme, Cappadocia.
Snow. And oh my God cold. I had visited Goreme in the spring about 10 years ago - we knew it would be cold but weren't quite prepared for the -15 to -20 of our first day. It is such an extraordinary place, one that description doesn't do justice. The lunar landscape, caves and fairy chimneys looked spectacular with their heavy dusting of snow. It's one of the most impressive sights on this planet. We had three nights in Goreme, staying in a very cosy cave hotel (with spa bath and wifi no less). It gave us time to explore the open air museum and town one day and to jump on a tour of the region another. That was great - we visited an incredible underground city thousands of years old and Sam especially loved clambering over the rock faces of Selime Monastery.
Next stop, Selcuk and Ephesus. Somehow we managed to visit Ephesus on the most perfect day imaginable - not a cloud in the sky, not a breath of wind, not so many tourists. We meandered among the ruins, made friends with the local cat population, took a heap of photos and enjoyed the sunshine
So that brings us to Istanbul. Such a beautiful city - I'm really happy to be back here, apart from the unseasonably cold weather. Aya Sofia remains one of my favourite places in the world, and we also ticked off (as tourists do) the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, the Basilica Cistern, The Spice Bazaar and the Grand Bazaar. Ah yes, the Grand Bazaar and my carpet. Yesterday afternoon we sat through many apple teas and found the one - to be waiting for us when we get home (Mum, it's coming your way!). It was fun and I love the carpet, so all's good.
So now I'm in our lovely apartment in Beyoglu, overlooking the Bosphorus and getting ready to leave for Bulgaria. As soon as I've finished clacking away on the keyboard, we will jump on the overnight train to Veliko Tarnovo - should be an experience with a wee hours of the morning passport control. It's an adventure, and about to get even colder!