May 5, 2008

Cappadocia, Turkey

The well packaged tourist town of Cappadocia is a common stop in Turkey and for good reason with it’s Gaudi like landscape of carved out rock formations created from eroded volcanic eruptions that can resemble the La Sagrada Familia if you squint your eyes. Standing on one of the high peaks at sunset or taking a hot air balloon ride at sunrise over the terrain is a really good way to see all the interesting shapes of these soft and sculptured rocks. It makes you feel like a Gnome or a Keebler Elf residing on the moon.
The tours are pretty standard, although hiking through the valleys at your own pace and without a large group is totally possible and free, and they take you to the famous Underground Cities of the first inhabitants of the region who dug up to 18 stories into the ground for protection of wild animals, cold winters and, later, from the invading Romans. Visiting these cities is not for the claustrophobic at heart and if you can handle crouching down 8 flights of stairs then you can appreciate the complex underground system they created, complete with ventilation shafts, churches, stables, and living quarters. If you survive and make it back up to ground level you are then whisked off to a deep canyon with more cave dwellings that had pigeon holes carved into the entrance ways. The pigeons cleverly made up the old postal system and were able to deliver messages over long distances. I decided to reactivate this ancient method of communication and I sent all of you a postcard via pigeon of which I hope you have received. My favorite part was when our group reverted to five year olds on the playground after they let us wander through a section of the carved out caves.
The entire town of Goreme exists on the tourism from this unique landscape and there are plenty of nice places to stay, good restaurants to eat at and lots of dancing to do at, yup, a cave bar.

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