A Travellerspoint blog

May 2009

Flying high and walking low in Cappadocia

sleep is surely over-rated

sunny 34 °C
View My Intrepid adventure around Turkey on JanelleK.Woods's travel map.

So a morning that begins at 4am is never going to be pleasant. But it helps to be awake to hear the call to prayer accompanied by howling dogs. It was such beautiful morning. I love being somewhere when it is quiet because everyone is asleep. I feel like the only person on this strange planet of Cappadocia. I sat outside looking over the few lights that lit up the surreal landscape.

It wasn't long before I was picked up with Sally and David to be taken into the centre of town where there definitely wasn't sleeping people. Instead there was a multitude of half awake people from all over the world here to experience the treasure of a balloon ride at sunrise over Cappadocia.

We were driven about 20 minutes out of town to a wild flower filled field where they gave us a safety talk in both English and French and then as our breath clouded before us we got to watch these limp bags be filled with air to be transformed into magnificent balloons. There were 12 to a basket all with window seats.
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The balloon ride was beautiful. We lifted above the other 80 balloons out that morning then drifted below through the landscape that so fascinated me. We travelled for about 2 hours and to be honest as wonderful as it was...I think I could have done the hour long one for 120TYL cheaper. But what an experience. Once we landed - narrowly missing a Turkish prison! - we were treated to champagne and cherry juice and a slice of chocolate cake. None of this appealed to me so instead I enjoyed the warmth of the sun.
Back in town I decided to walk back to the hotel knowing that when the sun had reached its zenith I wouldn't find the walk as pleasant. I passed some dyed wool drying in the morning sun. Did I mention I'm taking photos? Well, I might have a bit of a task on my hands when I get back to cull them all! But I promise my friends I won't make you sit through all of them.

Back at the hotel I had just enough time to find an espresso coffee and a banana for breakfast before we were off again. On foot we walked to the Rose Valley. Ali was our leader this time and we hiked through the landscape I had floated over just an hour before. The hike was one of my favourite things on this trip. Though there are so many favourites. Learning about the history of the landscape, discovering hidden churches, learning about the uses of pigeon droppings! It's all fascinating. I just loved being active too. It did get mighty hot as the sun climbed higher and higher and soon enough on our way out of the valley my enthusiasm was starting to waiver. That and my lack of sleep combined made a powerful drug for me.
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We got back to Goreme centre in time for lunch which I ordered but then was too tired to eat. I don't think I've ever been so close to falling asleep in my food. Especially when we were sitting on cushions. So I stumbled back to my cave and passed out for an hour...hardly enough but all I was going to get.

Poor Jeanne had her first Hamam experience (Turkish Bath) when they were doing them co-gender! Now that is a Turkish experience for you when you are a shy woman with three men!

For dinner we headed out to a restaurant where we sat on little seats that were more like little rocking horses without the rocking. Surprisingly comfortable actually - until you tried to get up! I was still pretty tired so I just had soup whilst everyone else tried the testi kebab. A casserole type thing cooked in a ceramic pot that was cracked open in order to get the delicious food out.
I may have been tired but I wasn't going to miss out on dessert. We walked to the place we had lunch and I shared a gozleme (kind of like roti bread) filled with chocolate and banana. Now that is an experience everyone should have!!!!!!

Back at the hotel we enjoyed a small glass of sweet tangerine wine before I headed off to bed to sleep like a log. Long long day.

Posted by JanelleK.Woods 06:45 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

Konya to Cappadocia - the epic journey begins

So where was I?

sunny 33 °C
View My Intrepid adventure around Turkey on JanelleK.Woods's travel map.

When I last left you I was in Konya. So much has been seen and experienced since then! Well, not in Konya. After leaving the internet desk with the guy smoking next to me I headed out with Yusuf (our tour guide) in search of coffee. The real stuff not the seemingly favoured nescafe that is available everywhere. Unfortunately no coffee was to be found but we ended in a little cafe of a Turkish style with people smoking the waterpipe - I think it was apple flavoured as I'm getting a bit of a nose for it now. We had just enough time to down a glass of Turkish tea before having to head back to the hotel for our epic journey to Cappadocia.

Let me start off by saying that the total time between Konya and Cappadocia was ELEVEN hours. It felt like it too. I was perched on the edge of a seat at the front of the bus for most of the way. You would think that being at the front would mean I had a better veiw of the scenery... well I thought I would. Not so. The wide vista was marred by the countless bug corpses splattered all over the glass. Well, I guess they were Turkish bugs so at least I was still seeing all things Turkey!

Bugs aside the scenery was so beautiful. This really is the best time to come to Turkey with all the wild flowers out. Fields filled with yellow, purple and pink flowers. The mountains in the background highlighted by snow completed the vista for me. But then the scenery would change over and over again. From open fields of green so green it didn't look real, to craggy rocks or smooth rocks, fields of dancing green wheat (or something like it). We passed gypsies and goats, shepherds with their sheep, horse and carts, women working their land and men on their tractors through the olive groves.
But arrival in Cappadocia was the sight that took the cake for me. Honestly words are hard to find to describe the sight. As I still haven't been able to add my photos please do a google search for Cappadocia. You will then understand why I can't describe this other worldly landscape.

We were landed in the centre of Goreme where we cooked in the hot hot sun until a beat up station-wagon arrived to take our luggage to our accommodation. We were not to stay in a hotel but in caves! Now I did say our luggage was being transported to our accommodation but not us. So we walked through the cave dwellings of Goreme and climbed a rather steep hill to get to our sensational abode for the next two nights.
Sleeping in a cave meant cooler environment which was good and a padlock for security. The dogs here were huge! I mean the size of a Saint Bernard but so much cuter. And they were everywhere. I learnt later why I loved them even more...I will explain when I get to the morning prayers at 4am!!!

After we had all excitedly check out each others rooms we headed into town where we had a short orientation (it really wasn't that big) and then Sally, David and I headed off to the Hot Air Balloon office. I'm such a sucker! I was going to go for the 1 hour trip but the woman was such a good saleperson that I ended up saying to myself...'how many times do I get the chance to do this?' So after forking out 490TYL I need a drink - a real one! I found Lindsay, Rachel, Mari and Alia and ordered a iced coffee (yes, real coffee) with no ice, no sugar and only a little milk (su). Yes, I'm strange enough that he remembered me again the next morning when I went to order the same again.
That night was to be a very special treat as we all climbed into a minibus to be taken out of the touristy Goreme to be welcomed into the home of a local family for dinner. We got to see where they make their wine and then sit down as the sun set for a home cooked meal. The little boy (about four years old) took a little shine to me and gave me a flower. The young girl (about nine) took a shine to Lindsay and sat next to her all night. The food was lovely especially the herb and tomato soup. Of course at the end we were offered tea. I'm a little over the apple tea (or tourist tea as it is really called). Not being much of a sweetened drink drinker I wasn't too keen on it to begin with but now...I groan when it comes out with an expectant smile from a friendly Turk.
Dinner ended too soon for me but we had to head back to our hotel and I had a very early morning ahead of me. 4.55am was when I was to be picked up for my balloon ride.

Posted by JanelleK.Woods 06:13 Archived in Turkey Tagged bus Comments (0)

Üçağiz to Konya - that would be 11 hours!

sunny 30 °C
View My Intrepid adventure around Turkey on JanelleK.Woods's travel map.

Breakfast was a very peaceful affair this morning. Even with the terrible tea. I didn't know tea could taste that bad! The water was still and the boats with all their colours reflected in the water made it the perfect opportunity for photos. Like I need incentive to pull out my camera! But I did take a few shots that I think mum might even think worthy of painting.
Honestly the rest of the day was travel, travel, bus, travel, travel, lunch, travel, travel. We were travelling all up 11 hours! That is insane!!!!!
typical food provided on any long bus ride
Anyway. The scenery was really quite spectacular. It changes so quickly here. We got stopped by the army at one stage which has happened before. Apparently they check all the male identification to be sure that they have all done their compulsory army training. from ages 19 to 21. Two years. If they haven't...well, it's not good! I'm loving Turkey but there are things that really sadden me here. Whenever I travel and wherever I travel I realise how incredibly lucky we are in Australia. The freedoms we have and what a privileged upbringing I've had.

Konya is a big city and to be honest doesn't really do much for me. That said, I've not really seen much of it. I'm kind of exhausted and I want to have all my energy for Cappadocia which we drive to tonight. Another 6 hours!!!! But I'm seriously considering buying a pillow so I can get a decent chance of a snooze on the bus. Especially after being up until 3.30am.

Dinner last night was Lamb Kabapi, Turkish tea and I tried a bit of Pam and Harry's baklava and rice pudding. İ also tried some sort of sugar thing (just for something different) which was like rose water flavoured compacted icing sugar...not my cup of tea!

I've now been sitting on the computer all morning so I better get out there in the sunshine and see something in Konya! Might even find some karveh!

Hope all of you are well and appropriately jealous of my travels. Sorry I haven't been able to get photos up on my blog but I hope to change that once I'm back in Istanbul.

Love to you all

Bella xx


Posted by JanelleK.Woods 00:12 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

Turquoise Coast and return to Öçağiz for Eurovision

sunny 31 °C
View My Intrepid adventure around Turkey on JanelleK.Woods's travel map.

This is an extract direct from my journal...

It doesn't get much better than this. This morning it feels like the good life. All that is wanting is a hot shower. But as that is not going to happen I push that desire aside to full enjoy this. I woke up in the wee hours of the morning to be bathed in moonlight. The moon had only just risen and its glow turned the water liquid sliver. The perfect photo opportunity. My camera was right beside me but I just couldn't quite get myself out of the bed as it was quite...FREEZING!
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I was the first to get up and I relished the solitude it afforded me. Solitude to fully enjoy the gentle dawning of a new day. The boat had a slight rock, enough to complete the magic. I wrote a postcard to Willoe - the perfect time to do it as she loves sunrises so much (I seem to remember her dragging me out of a bed a few times to watch them). I could sit here for hours just watching nature reveal herself...oh but I hear the sounds of Turkish tea downstairs!.

Honestly, it would be so easy to just stare at the water for hours and not get bored. Well luckily (or not) I didn't have the chance to disprove that theory as we had a breakfast fit for a sultan then headed off to another cove.

Off the boat to explore yet more ruins and scramble over rocks and startle (and be startled) by a goat and her kid. We were walking for probably an hour or two and it was hard work in the sun that had well and truly climbed to it's zenith and was doing it's best to beat us into submission. But it felt great to do something strenuous.
Back on the boat we sailed to another fishing village called Simena to pick up lunch then sailed pasted ancient Simena which is well and truly under water now. It's known as the sunken village. Well, it was pretty sunken so that you couldn't really see anything. Before lunch I was taught a Turkish game called Yuvak. It is interesting being taught a game by three men talking in Turkish most of the time. It sort of looks like scrabble but with numbered tablets. But that's where the similarity with scrabble ends. Then it is more compared with gin rummy. Once I grasped the rules of the game (which requires a little too maths for my tastes) I of course had to win. And, of course, I did!

After lunch it seemed appropriate to have a little nap on the roof of the boat until we arrived at back at the fishing village Simena. I had all intentions of staying on the boat until I heard the magic words...no the other one...ice-cream! Famed as being the best ice-cream in Turkey. Hazelnut and banana. Not the best I've tasted but I'm glad I took the time to visit the village as I got some fantastic photos.
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Back on the boat we headed back to the fishing village of Öçağiz which is where we were to stay. The most exciting part about that was that it had the most spectacular hot shower!

Dinner was kalamari and the ultimate of Turkish experiences was sitting in the restaurant watching Eurovision! Wow, Greece had some impressive popping action by a Ricki Martin look-alike, Germany had some seriously psychedelic sparkly pants and Romania (I think) had a very tragically tortured woman. Turkey came fourth!

Eurovision will never be the same for me again!

Posted by JanelleK.Woods 00:10 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

Kayaköy to Kaş to Öçağiz to boat

31 °C
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This morning I swear the roosters were camped outside my bedroom. But I would have woken to the morning prayers anyway and to be honest - I think I prefer the roosters.

I welcomed the cold shower again knowing karveh was a long time coming. Unless I wanted to subject myself to nescafe and creamer again. A panic pack was undertaken to be standing ready for the bus at 8am again. A short 30 minute trip to the bus station to find a mediocre breakfast. A long bus ride got us to Kaş where Rachel, Jean and I were excited to see the words espresso, cappuccino, latte. Our excitement only slightly wavered when we watched the woman holding a phone to her ear as she pointed at the coffee machine looking confused (her not the machine). I was so tempted to jump up and offer to make it myself. Unfortunately I don't know how to explain that in Turkish so I just waited for my very very very milky cappuccino.

A toasted cheese sandwich for lunch and we were back on the bus on our way to the small fishing village of Öçağiz where we jumped on our boat - our home for the next two days. In a nutshell the two days on the boat were çok güzel! (very beautiful).

We weren't out on the water for long before we anchored in a little alcove and we all jumped into the spectacular turquoise water. It really is that colour. And so incredibly clear you don't need to stick you head into the water to see the fish.
After a leisurely swim we dried out in the hot sun and then enjoyed some Turkish tea and biscuits. It's hot in the sun but it is perfect in the shade. A gentle breeze sort of glides over your skin and the sound of the lapping water on the boat is so peaceful. Even the sound of the flapping Turkish flag worked in perfect harmony with it all.
We travelled on to a point where we were going to anchor for dinner. I got a chance to go ashore on some pretty spiky rocks that reminded me of Blairgowrie at home. I fclimbed to a high rock where I could get some great photos of the boat and also of the sun as it began to sink behind the islands.

Back on the boat the rest of the group tried their hand at some fishing with some ingenious fishing implements of fishing wire and an empty water bottle. The bait? Chicken! Two small fish were caught but luckily we were not reliant on that for dinner. The fish bait apparently worked for us too.
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Once the sun had gone to bed Yusuf started a bit of a singing circle. All sorts of songs came out of the woodwork. Waltzing Matilda anyone?

It wasn't long before we were all heading off to bed under the stars. Now that is not an experience you get every day. I must confess the bed was not the most comfortable but the blankets were heavy and I finally found use for my polar fleece! Yep, I brought a polar fleece to Turkey when we have been averaging temperatures of about 28 degrees!

Stars, water and the promise of another day on the water!

Posted by JanelleK.Woods 23:22 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

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