Thursday, October 29, 2009

Happy Republic Day!

Today, the glorious Republic of Turkey celebrates 86 years. The festivities are relatively low-key but we were treated to a parade this morning which was a nice start to the day.

We've been busy exploring Cappadocia for the last 4 days and now that the cold front is moving in, Dan and I packed up the tent and will be boarding another bus tonight headed South for the warmer Mediterranean climes of Olympos (home of the gods!).

On Tuesday we visited Goreme's Open Air Museum - a well-preserved cave village that gave us a good idea of the size of the early Christian community and some insight into how they lived. That afternoon we biked over to the next town to explore Zelve, a cave community nestled into 3 adjacent valleys, which we were free to explore at our leisure by hiking along the trails and climbing up the tunnels into the interconnected multi-story chambers. Zelve had been inhabited up until 1952 when the rock began to collapse and the citizens left for Cavusin.

On Wednesday, we rented a scooter and travelled South to Kaymakli and Derinkuyu to visit the underground cities. Our first stop was in Kaymakli, where the smaller city is located, and after lunch, we went to the larger, spectacular site at Derinkuyu. The cities were quite elaborate, 45-55 m underground and 8 levels deep with hundreds of interconnected tunnels and chambers. The troglodytes lived and farmed above the ground but when they were threatened by invaders, they would retreat into their underground city which could house up to 60,000 people for up to 6 months. We had a ball exploring all the passages and tunnels, though it was definitely tougher for Dan who had to crouch to get through most of the city.

This morning, after purchasing our bus tickets and doing our laundry, we went for a hike through Rose Valley. The trail was well marked and well-worn, making for a nice leisurely hike compared to Zemi Valley. The views were absolutely breathtaking and the weather was thankfully cooperative - it was a spectacular way to spend our last morning here. We will miss the natural beauty proliferating in this region and the fantastic Cappadocian cuisine (savoury stews, pottery kebabs, meatballs, Turkish pizzas and apple tea). I cannot wait to come back!

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