Turkey 101 Tour Group Journal
Wednesday Day 03 , October 16, 2013
Another glorious fall day in Cappadocia -sunny and crisp with bright blue skies. Warm enough to have breakfast on the terrace. A few straggler balloons dotted the sky. Since we didn't have to be on the bus until 9:15 a.m., we had a somewhat leisurely morning as compared to Tuesday's 5:50 a.m. start! Thank goodness because our itinerary for the rest of the day was very full. Meli doesn't allow slackers on her tours!!
our way to Kaymakli, we stopped along the road to view a beautiful
abandoned village stretching across a hillside. Light was lovely -
first photo opp of the day.Next stop was the underground city, Kaymakli, built by Christians to
secret themselves from the Romans. Kaymakli is an amazing UNESCO
World Heritage Site - the second of our trip.
Kaymakli underground city
Drove through a somewhat different Cappadocia landscape to Soganli, a small, rural village set in a valley. The scenery during our drive included apricot trees ablaze in fall colors, fields of pumpkins, and our clearest views so far of the shy bride, Mt. Erciyes. While the scenery differed from what we had experienced our first two days, Soganli had great examples of pigeon houses behind golden poplars. Another photo opp.
Turned around and drove out of the canyon to a higher steppe-like terrain. Meli announced that the word for the day was "beautiful" or "guzel." The high plains were flat, bare, and dryer with great mountain views in the horizon, including the volcano, Mt. Hasan Dag, also known as "the other mother." Its eruptions created the wonderful structures of Cappadocia. The scenery was reminded me of driving through the Warm Springs Reservation in Central Oregon. Drove by a series of garage-like doors that were the openings for underground potato storage.
Arrived in Sobessos, an ancient city surrounded by laden apple trees, autumn-leafed apricot trees, and and pumpkin fields. Toured a Roman bath and then a Byzantine church built over the mosaic floor of a Roman meeting room. Mosaics were intricate and beautiful. As we were leaving, we came across a lovely family harvesting pumpkins and tossing them into a tractor drawn cart. They also had an interesting piece of farm equipment that split the pumpkins and separated out the seeds. The women in head scarves and billowy pants posed for pictures along with a darling little boy (quite a ham) and his sister.
Next stop was a fabulous and elaborate, but typical, lunch at the home of a Turkish family who live in a rural village. The family was lovely and incredibly gracious and hospitable. The family's two young sons greeted us at the gate with candy and cologne for our hands. The lunch was to-die-for, starting with lentil soup, grape leaves, rose-shaped borak stuffed with spinach and topped with yoghurt and red pepper sautéed in olive oil, an array of pickled vegetables, chopped tomato salad, and lentil balls. The main dish was a mixture of white beans in tomato sauce with Turkish pastrami - a cured meat that is reddish but dryer than American pastrami. The vegetarians had the same bean dish sans the pastrami. Almost all the ingredients were from the family's garden. The women and children posed for photos in the lovely garden, and we said our good-byes. Oh, Micky and Mary gave the family Oregon postcards. The boys really liked them - I imagine they will be taken to school for "show and tell."
Our next to last stop of the day (hard to believe it wasn't time to head back to the hotel) was Goreme, an open air museum and another World Heritage Site. The site is a series of tiny churches with elaborate frescoes over iconography. The churches were carved into the stone with many arches and domes.
The final stop of the day was a carpet cooperative. Our host was another old friend of Meli, so once again we were treated royally. His name was Suat. He is a very elegant gentleman - knowledgeable with excellent English. We started with a tour of the workroom where we watched women sitting on low benches, knotting spectacular carpets. Next was a room where a young woman was making silk thread from cocoons of the silk worm - fascinating. The last room contained vats of natural dyes and hanks of wool hanging from the walls in a gorgeous variety of colors. Finally, we made our way to a large room where we were served tea, Turkish coffee, and wine, while sitting on benches around the perimeter. Then, the carpet show began. Men trained to display the carpets rather theatrically unfurled carpet after carpet onto the floor, while our Suat provided details about the design, the colors, and the quality of the rugs. This performance went on for some time until several layers of carpets covered the floor. The final act was the display of tiny silk rugs made with thousands of knots per square inch. Our guide described them as art pieces, an apt turn of phrase. The very last rug was delivered in a velvet box and dramatically removed by our guide. We were all overwhelmed by and in awe of the gorgeous rugs - so much variety in design, color, and raw material. Our guide then gave us the "opportunity" to shop. What seemed like hours later, our group purchased five incredibly beautiful carpets from out salesmen hosts!!
We made our way back to the hotel for wine and dinner after another jam-packed, fabulous day with perfect fall weather. Hiking tomorrow at 6:15!!