Sunrise from our balcony.
Between all the great sights here in Cappadocia
, the plentiful hiking trails through these bizarre valleys, and our wonderful hotel… I don’t think I will ever want to leave! We are thoroughly enjoying this weird and wonderful region. My recommendation for anyone planning a trip here: don’t cut it short…stay as long as you can!
Our first order of business for the day was the Zelve Open Air Museum
. This is a sprawling cave community that was actually inhabited from the 9th century up until 1950s (when erosion and cave-ins caused everyone to move out). So whereas Goreme showed us many churches, Zelve was a chance to see how people really lived. Really interesting!
We arrived just before 10am and found that we had the place pretty much to ourselves.
Steve exploring a two-story cave home at Zelve.
Zelve is a less structured visit than Goreme, which has paved paths and signage leading you through a loop. At Zelve, you can just explore on your own, although you must avoid the areas that are roped off due to safety issues. The caves homes really varied in design, size, and shape. One "Deluxe Model" had a winding staircase up to a loft. Kitchens were full of nooks and crannies, dug out of the wall and used, I presume, for storage. Some of the homes had outdoor cooking areas and patios -- quite nice, for a cave. In some cases, light was brought into the home through skylights designed to keep water out while letting light in. It was all really interesting and we really enjoyed this visit.
Next we stopped at an area called Pasabaga
. We hadn’t planned this one, but saw it from the road and decided to stop.
Land of the weird. Pasabaga.
I can’t find information on it, but it’s basically just a walking path that winds through some very phallic-looking fairy chimneys. Again, we found ourselves just amazed by our bizarre surroundings…this landscape is mind boggling and so interesting!
For lunch, decided to check out Avanos
, a cute village located on the Irmak River. The town was neat-as-a-pin, clean and cute, and very quiet. Where is everyone? There were several shops selling pottery, the town specialty. I wasn’t in the shopping mood, which I kind of regret now. They had really nice pottery, with beautifully intricate designs. Our lunch was at Tafana
, where I had a tasty salad plate and Steve had a local-specialty flatbread pizza called lahmacum
Pottery displayed in Avanos.
It was all served with thick, chewy bread that I couldn’t stop eating, it was so good.
From Avanos, we set off for an underground city called Ozkonak
. Fodor’s claims it is the largest underground city in Turkey, but that isn’t open to tourists. We saw brown tourist signs for it, so we hoped to prove the book wrong. We followed the signs and then saw some vendors at what could have been an entrance, but couldn’t find where to go in. Foiled. I guess Fodor’s might be correct on this one.
Back to the hotel for a little break, and then we went out again for a late afternoon hike in Pigeon Valley
. This hike did not start well, as there is an ugly construction dump site near the entrance and we nearly turned around. But we kept going and it got much better.
Scooting across the "scary spot" in Pigeon Valley.
About 15 minutes in we saw a lean-to structure and an old man, and we thought we might be strolling into someone’s yard. As we walked by, he called to us, “Hello! Look! I have made a tea garden!” and he waved his arm with a flourish, as though welcoming us to a 5-star restaurant. The tea garden was a collection of rugs and cushions and a lean-to where he had an optimistic rack of about 60 hopeful teacups. No customers though. A cute handmade sign announced we were at the Shade Tea Garden
. The area was indeed shaded, breezy and very pleasant. He had picked his location well, except for the dearth of clients…we were pretty much in the middle of nowhere.
We made our apologetic excuses to the old man (“No money! Sorry!”), and then had our hike, which was very nice and brought us through a valley with more of those weird mushroom-shaped formations.
Steve at The Shade Tea Garden.
On the way back, a combination of guilt and curiosity caused us to stop for tea with the old man, whose name was Hasan. He insisted “No money, no problem!” I suppose it gets lonely there in the Pigeon Valley with no customers, so maybe he just wanted some company. (We will return tomorrow for more tea and to pay him!) Hasan speaks five languages and was once “a rich man who owned property,” but he said his life has gone downhill a bit. (“But I am still rich here,” he said, fist on his heart). A friend has loaned him the land for this new enterprise, and after three years he will pay rent, if he can. I hope this goes well for him, because he is a really nice man. And he serves a mean cup of Apple Tea (apple cider), too!
For dinner we drove to Goreme
, which seems to be the busiest of all the little towns in the area. We just wandered into a place that looked good -- I didn’t notice its name. They served me a vegetarian plate of sautéed vegetable and rice, which was really good. Steve had mixed grill, which was a plate of unidentifiable and slightly scary looking meat.
Back home then to rest up for another big day of weird wanderings here in Cappadocia. Tomorrow is our last day so we must make the most of it!