Yay! I got it to work! After Ephesus and Pamukkale, our next stop was Göreme , a town in the region known as Capadoccia almost in the middle of Turkey.
Göreme looks like animation. If you imagined a magical faraway fairy town, you might not dream up a place as adorable and other-worldly as the real life Göreme. You would swear that Walt Disney built it. But it's not an amusement park, it's a real life place that I'm sure has been greatly enhanced and influenced by tourism, but it's so cute that not even hoards of tourists can ruin it.
We got in at 8:00 in the morning- by overnight bus from and Pamukkale-and were surprised to find that our room was already ready for us. It was a huge room with a huge Turkish style bath inside. Unfortunately it didn't come with a masseuse with which to fully avail ourselves of the facilities, but it was really nice to have an area larger than 1 square foot in which to bathe.
We had booked a tour so that we wouldn't sleep through the day, which is inevitably what would have happened if we had to do anything of our own volition after the overnight bus. The tour took us to do a little hike through some of the beautiful pink canyons in the area (it looks a bit like southern Utah, but with pink rather than orange hues). The hiking trails have vendors to serve you tea and fresh juice along the way. Next we had lunch served by a local woman. And it was--pretty much the same food we got at our local dinner in Selçuk But it was good. While I love Turkish baked goods, I've discovered I'm not fond of the desserts. They seem to eat baklava and other honey/pastry/nut baked goodness pretty much any time of day, but not for dessert so much. At least not at restaurants.
After lunch we hit one of the underground cities. It was interesting, but dark and very tight. On the way back to town we stopped for one last vista and I managed to pop across the street to taste some local wine. It wasn't great, but honestly it was better than expected. Officially only 15% of the population drinks, so I guess you can't expect wine to be their thing. They also only have like 3 brands of beer in the country and you can only reliably find one.
Returning back we finally got to really appreciate how gorgeous the little town is when we went to dinner. I decided to give the local hooch one more chance after dinner and went to the only wine bar in town. We were the only customers (it was Tuesday night) and this wine was not as good as what I had tasted earlier in the day. We slept extremely well that night.
Wednesday we struck off on our own. First we hit the Göreme Open Air Museum which is mostly a bunch of little Byzantine churches carved into rocks. This all harks back to a period when Christians were trying to avoid persecution, so they carved their dwellings and buildings into to rocks and built the underground cities in which to retreat in case of attack. They were kind of interesting, but the place was so filled with tourists it was hard to appreciate any of it. And the information posted wasn't all that informative.
We felt the natural beauty of the landscape really outshined the historical aspects, so we headed out hiking. We had planned to rent ATVs and then when I saw and heard people driving around on them I remembered how much I hate those things, so we stayed on foot and were able to explore areas the ATVs could not access anyway.
After an active day hiking and exploring we were worn out. Even more so than we thought we should be for the amount of hiking we did. It turns out Capadoccia is pretty high in elevation--and boy we could feel it. So that naturally meant beer-o'clock and we opted for a place called, "Fat Boys" of all things because they actually had two kind of beer on tap, which was unusual in this town that was drier than the coastal towns. Even our hotel did not offer any beer or wine for sale, which was a shame because they had a beautiful patio that would have been perfect for drinking.
Before we went back to our room for a siesta, Steve got a traditional Turkish shave. A full shave with a straight razor and face mask only cost $10. And they singed off his ear hair with an open flame!
Wednesday night we ate at a fancier place and Steve got the famous dish where they break the clay pot open in front of you. Check out his Instagram for the video! Thursday morning we left, but not before we had a chance to watch the hot air balloons go by overhead. We counted 35 in all. Taking a balloon ride is THE thing to do in Capadoccia. And we didn't do it. We had a moment of regret, but then realized we saved $400 by not doing it, so we got over it. And we promised ourselves that we will do it when we travel to Burma sometime in the future.
We caught a really long shuttle to the airport and got on a plane with a bunch of really pushy Koreans for our last stop on this tour--Istanbul! I can't wait to post my "real" pictures from this area!
Here's the outside of our cave hotel, and this is roughly what all the hotels look like in the area--part cave part castle:
Vista from Göreme Open Air Museum. Like the Southwest painted with a slightly different pallet and just substitute these early Christians for the Anasazi:
Me and the "fairy chimneys":
Steve getting his facial: