25 September 2003 Thursday - Cappadocia - 102 photos

This was a very busy day. Kathy was very tired and her bowels were churching inside out because of some bacteria she somehow managed to ingest. We're pretty careful about only drinking bottled water, not eating fruits and vegetables washed with local water and such, but these things still happen occasionally. (Luckily, I haven't gotten it so far, but Kathy tends to eat more vegetables than I do).

After breakfast, Mete met us at the hotel at 8:30am, even though we agreed on 8:45am. First, we drove to a small town that has two underground cave cities from the Byzantine time. The problem was, there were about five big tour busses in the parking lot, so Mete said it would be very crowded and uncomfortable. Therefore, we opted to come back later in the day (which we did).

Next, Mete took us to the town of Nigde (pronounced Need-a) with the intent on seeing the "famous" Alaeddin mosque, which was built in 1223. However, when we arrived, we discovered that because it was Thursday, it was market day, and there were hundreds of people out in the streets selling mostly vegetables, fruits, nuts, spices and things like that.

Because of the market, they had closed the Alaeddin mosque, so we just took some photos of the outside.

The market was more fascinating to me than the mosque, because I love to travel to see how the "real" people live their lives. I didn't take too many photos, though, because I felt uncomfortable doing so. A couple of people were gracious enough to give me permission when I asked, but I didn't ask very many.

Someone was selling what appeared to be boneless chickens!

I also remember some kids selling pet pidgins in boxes.

Mete told us about a nearby ancient Roman pool, and we begged him to take us. So we drove to the pool, even though it wasn't on the agenda.

Mete is pretty good about granting our special requests. The bath was pretty well preserved, and the owners today were using it to farm trout. We took a couple of photos, then left

After the Roman pool, we drove to an ancient underground monastery. It was very cool, with small churches hewn out of rock, like we've seen before, and storage areas for food and drink, plus living quarters, and graves that still contained bones.

It was very cool, and from the outside, the complex was huge, spanning several city blocks. They told us that the city was even bigger, but at some point, they sent bulldozers in to widen the tiny narrow streets into the present-day streets that were spacious, and the bulldozers destroyed a lot of the rooms, probably back in the 1950's or 60's. Doesn't such total disregard for history like that just piss you off? Unfortunately, it was getting close to lunch time, and the monastery was closing, so we only had fifteen minutes to explore this wonderful, vast city beneath the surface. I could literally have spent the whole afternoon there exploring.

We ate lunch, and Mete was tired. He decided not to eat, and he seemed depressed. He told me candidly that he was depressed because he was tired of being a tour guide because he had to spend so much time away from his wife. With so much time away from his wife, he wanted to sleep with a woman-badly-and that made him a bad person because he wanted to be faithful to his wife, but all he needed was a woman. Believe me, I understand. I think all men go though this. They say that sex and love are tied together for women, but for men, sex and love are two different things. I asked him if he could go back to his previous profession, which was a water sprinkler/irrigation specialist, and he said no, he had been out of it for ten years, which is too long, and besides, he didn't want to do that either.

Then we drove back to the ancient underground city of Kaymakli, similar to the monastery, only bigger and better.

This time, all the busses were gone and there were only a few tourists in the place, which was very nice because the conditions were very cramped. This city was very cool, with hundreds of rooms to explore, all as caves dug into the volcanic rock underground. The complex was huge, going eight levels deep, with living quarters, storage rooms and churches.

We only went down to the sixth floor down, because the rest were filled in with dirt and un-excavated.

For main entrance doors to the city, the people had fashioned huge round stones with holes in the middle. If an enemy attacked, the people could close the stone door and put a piece of wood, metal or whatever in the hole to keep it from moving, so it was impervious to attack.

The coolest part of this city, in my opinion, was the enormous ventilation shaft. Mete threw a coin down and it took about ten seconds to reach the bottom! I have a flashlight, with brand new batteries from this morning, and the light didn't reach the bottom. It was simply amazing. There were small foot holds and hand holds so that people could also use it as an emergency escape route if they were trapped.

At one point, Kathy and I were naughty, because we left Mete and walked down a very long unlit corridor which led down to another level. I was amazed at how far back this passage went, and at the end of the passage was another huge city door which was rolled into the shut position.

Supposedly, this wasn't the biggest or best underground city. There is another one, much bigger, called Derinkuyu, located in the same city, and it is supposedly vast. Mete says that we will see that one tomorrow on our way out of Cappidocia.

After the underground city of Kaymakli, Mete took us to a pottery factory. As in all "factories" in all tourist towns, the idea here is to give you a tour of the factory, show you how the items are made, step by step, then walk you through their showroom where they try to convince you to buy good quality stuff. We've seen it before on many other tours, so it's actually kind of fun diversion from hard-core touring, as long as the whole trip doesn't become a sales pitch. In this pottery factory, they showed us the clay, the kilns, and how they do the work by making a small vase and cover that matched exactly, even though they were made separately. Then they asked Kathy to try it out.

I made a one-minute video of her trying this, and it was fun. Needless to say, her vase needed some help.

When it came to the showroom, it was amazing to see the quality and outrageous prices of some of the pieces. When Kathy and I take a big trip like this, we always try to buy some kind of display piece that represents the religion and/or God of the people. When we were in Greece, we bought Greek Icons of Christ, when we were in Thailand, we brought back a Buddha, and so forth, every trip. The prices of Turkish rugs yesterday had me discouraged about buying such an item from Turkey, at a reasonable price anyway. I told the salesman that I wanted a piece that represented the religion of Islam, and despite the pieces he tried to sell me that I didn't like, I managed to find a decorative plate (no help from him) that has Arabic writings from the Koran on it and other Islamic geometrical designs. It took us a while to agree upon a price, but we bought it. It's beautiful.

Afterward, Mete drove us to an area where we could see the famous "Fairy Chimneys."

This was a very beautiful area, and we wandered around and explored the structures.

At one point, someone's camel got loose (by accident, I'm sure) and we saw him wandering around, rolling in the sand.

Camels are only used for taking tourist pictures around here. There was a small group of British people trying to take their picture by the camel, but the camel kept moving, and they were afraid of it. It was really pretty funny to see them squealing and saying, "No, I'm not getting closer. Hurry up, take the picture, I'm really scared." Kathy and I just walked up to it and snapped a few photos of him up close, and I wondered where the owner was.

We hiked all around the area, taking many photos of the extraordinary scenery.

There were some odd sights, like a tiny hill with a motorcycle parked outside.

We finally ended up on a hill on the west end of the valley, where we watched the sunset with all the other tourists, including German, Japanese, and tourists from all over.

Then we went back to the hotel, ate dinner and packed for tomorrow's drive to Konya. Sounds like another busy day ahead of us.