Turkish Delight: Days 7-8

Travel

Yesterday morning we awoke in Antalya and quickly looked at some ruins that were a few minutes walk from our hotel. We ended up taking longer than scheduled, which is typical for us it seems, so we didn’t leave till around 11am. Then it was on the road for seven and a half hours to Göreme in the Cappadocia region.

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At first, I though the drive would be awful and long, but it ended up being one of my favorite days. During the drive I was able to process everything we have done so far and really appreciate it all. Plus, the scenery seemed to change every half hour, from beaches to snowy mountains (it actually started to snow) to rolling hills to flat plains.

We arrived in Göreme around 7:00pm and we checked into the Guven Cave Hotel, one of the many hotels in the town that are built into the surrounding cave walls. It’s pretty cozy. After getting some tips from Mustafa, the hotel manager, we grabbed a bite to eat and hit the hay to prepare for the next morning.

This morning we ate our traditional Turkish breakfasts, which all of our hostels have provided and consists of bread, yoghurt, fruit, fresh cheeses, homemade jams, local honey, tea, and coffee (if I haven’t explained that already). Then we drove a few miles out of town to a place called Love Valley and did some morning hiking. Göreme is known for “fairy chimneys”, which are funky looking rock formations, and for the plentiful painted cave dwellings. We climbed all over the ash-drenched hills, crawling into thousands-year old cave homes and sliding down hillsides. It was really awesome to shimmy into an abandoned room dug inside of a giant rock. But, my favorite part was when I got to visit with some local sheep and found my new best friend.

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After grabbing a quick doner for lunch, we walked a few miles to the top of Rose Valley, and begun our 4 hour hike where we ducked into cave houses and crawled through rock tunnels and heaved and lifted and tugged ourselves through narrow passes and ancient doorways and prickly bushes. It was lots of fun and adventurous and all the things. We ended our hike with a great view of the sunset, which is said to be the prettiest in all of Turkey.

For dinner, Mustafa recommended a restaurant owned by his friend and we took him up on the offer to make us a reservation. We were picked up by the owner himself and driven to the location — because they said it was hard to find. The restraint was called Nostalji and it was delightful. We all opted for the set menu, which was five courses including classic Turkish dips and fresh bread, a creamy soup, salad, Turkish beans, kafta (meatballs), and, of course, baklava. Epic.

Now, I’m relaxing back in my cave. Tomorrow we spend the morning in Göreme and then drive back to Istanbul where our journey will end. I can’t believe this trip is almost over! It has truly been amazing!

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Turkish Delight: Days 5-6

Travel

Where to begin? The days seem to just melt together.

Yesterday we awoke in Selçuk and had a lovely breakfast provided by Momma Homeros. Then we made our way to the Ephesus ruins and parked our van at the bottom. We were about to start the hike from the bottom of the ruins to the top when a man told us he’d give us a ride to the top so we could explore the ruins top to bottom provided we let him take us to the government run rug weaving school. Naturally, we took him up on the offer.

I was pretty suspicious about the whole thing, but we did it and I’m glad we did. It added about twenty minutes to our adventure, but we got to see how Turkish rugs are made and all the work that goes into it. Afterwards, we got a ride to the top of Ephesus and began our journey through the ancient city. Although Pergamum was a city on a hill, Ephesus was a city in a valley and a harbor at that, though the water no longer reaches the area. The ruins are pretty well preserved and renovated and we got to crawl all over them. The library was awesome and the public latrine was my favorite, it was paid for a by Christian lady way way back in the day when Christianity became acceptable.

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We ended up spending much more time at the ruins than we thought, so we had to adjust some of our plans, which really just meant that when we got to Fethiye that night, we wouldn’t have time to explore. We got to Fethiye, a coastal city, super late and we weren’t sure if any restaurants would be open, but we found a swanky place where I had fresh Lagos (a fish) from the town. Yummy! Then we all passed out.

Today was devoted to driving to Antalya and stopping at various places on the way. The first of which was the city of Pitara and the ruins there. It was at Pitara that I got to dip my feet into the Mediterranean Sea for the first time. We were exploring the ruins when we noticed there was a little path to the beach. We followed it and got to enjoy miles of empty beach on an incredibly pleasant day. It was beautiful.

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Then we hit the road and headed toward Antalya. On the way we pulled over to hop onto a gorgeous beach that was reached by a long staircase built into the cliff side below the highway.

Next we hoofed it to Mount Olympus so we could hike part of it. But our timing was off and we kind of got lost. We ended up making it to the city of Olympos, but not the mountain itself. However, that allowed us to hike to a secluded beach and climb an ancient cliffside castle with Mount Olympus in the background, which was more than good enough for us.

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The day ended by arriving in Antalya and getting lost, because Antalya is HUGE. We finally found our hostel in “old town” and had an incredibly hard time maneuvering our hefty van through the tiny, old-town streets. The hostel is definitely worth the stress of getting to it because it’s a boutique hotel with hostel prices due to us traveling in off-off season — a perk I’m thoroughly enjoying throughout the country. Then we found some dinner. I got a veggie dish with stuffed eggplant, rice, salad, potatoes, and more. And more baklava, too…

And now, I rest. We’ve done and seen so much, but my lack of sleep and rest makes it hard for me to take it all in. So tonight I will recharge. And we’re back on the road tomorrow. This time, to the Cappadocia region, a little town called Goreme.