Fairy Chimneys

Trip Start Apr 09, 2006
Trip End Jun 09, 2007

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Flag of Turkey  , Nevşehir,
Tuesday, May 9, 2006

All the way to Turkey to find a man.
On our way back to port in Fethiye, most of the people from the cruise wanted to go out for a drink. Since I had been there just a week earlier, I knew precisely where to go - a bar named Car Cemetery. We told the other boats that we saw that final day to meet us there as well - even the crew from our boat said they would come. We were set up for a very good time!

After much dancing and a few Efes (the local beer) I went to the bar to have a smoke. A few minutes later the guy next to me started chatting and the next thing I knew the bar was closing. A few hours had passed and I really hadn't realized it. Mr. Turk was a local (I never could pronounce his name correctly so I'm not going to butcher it here), 28 years old, an economist by education but owned a local bookstore and was gay. Who knew? Go to a tourist bar in Fethiye & meet what appeared to be a "normal" gay guy. We were basically kicked out of the bar since it was closing, so he took me for a ride on his motorcycle (no, that's not a euphemism for anything) and then home.

It was refreshing just to sit and chill with one of my people - with no pretext or expectation. Why can't there be more like him back home? *whine* Did I mention he was hott?

Seen and Done a Lot
The Cappadocia region in central Turkey is famous for its fantastic rock formations. The landscape was formed from repeated eruptions from three volcanoes in the region beginning about 30 million years ago. The eruptions poured thick layers of volcanic ash over Cappadocia which later hardened into a porous stone called tufa. Erosion then created the fantastic landscape seen today. In some areas, upper layers of ash hardened into a harder type of rock which protected the softer layers below from erosion. Over the years, the famous phallic formations were created. They are sometimes referred to as fairy chimneys.

Over the centuries people have carved rooms, houses, churches and even complete underground cities into the soft volcanic stone. The area was first settled in the bronze age but was conquered by the Hittites by about 2000 BCE. Christianity was introduced in the 1st century CE by St. Paul. As a defense measure against persecution, the Christians burrowed deeper into the soft tufa, creating elaborately decorated churches and monasteries. Despite the history, most of the ruins that can be seen today range from the 8th to 13th centuries CE. Unfortunately, many of the frescoes have succumb to vandals. Still, you can see the beauty that was once there.

I visited Pigeon Valley, Derinkuyu (one of the underground cities), Ihlara Valley, Agzikarahan (a caravan sarai on the old silk road), and Pasabagi (Monk's Valley with many fairy chimneys). I won't go into them all...take a look at the pics.

The Food
The food so far has been what I expected - and very good. Lots of kebabs or döner sandvich, lamb, grilled veggies and yogurt on everything! I must have said at LEAST 10 times "I would never have thought of putting yogurt on..." but I do enjoy it. My favorite is a green pepper (sweeter than our bell peppers) stuffed with rice and sometimes meat that is YUM.

I've also found that the general rule that 3 meals cost the same as one night's accommodation to be pretty close to accurate so far. For example, here in Göreme I'm paying 10 YTL per night for my cave bed which includes a good breakfast (not simply tomato, cucumber and bread like much of the Middle East). Lunch from a street vendor never exceeds 2.5 YTL and dinner can be found from any number of places for 5-6 YTL. 1 USD = 1.35 YTL...so I'm looking at under 14 USD for food and accommodation per day here...not too bad.

I'm also proud to report that I've had no bowel problems since arriving. A change in diet often results in...um...issues. Mine have held up like champs.

I'm off on an overnight bus to Antakya near the Syrian border tomorrow. Only a brief stay there to check out the mosaics in the museum before crossing over to Aleppo!

*I keep forgetting to mention that I sold my house. !!! Closing on June 2nd.
*Melissa Birdsong gifted me a travel pack of Burt's Bees products at my leaving do and they ROCK. Thanks again Melissa!
*Today is my one-month anniversary on the road. Can't believe how fast it's going.
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