Published: August 18th 2011August 12th 2011
When we went walking around the town of Goreme, we were intrigued to see the variety of cave houses, many of them amalgams of both human and fairy work. We were also impressed with the prevalence of solar hot water heating (we were told electricity is very expensive here) and the town was like time travel all in one place, with caves/cars/satellite dishes/hot air balloons/giant Mercedes tour buses/solar panels/restaurants/ATMs and people from all over the world.
Cappadocia is the second most visited place in Turkey, after Istanbul.
On our second day in Goreme we took the "Red Tour", which loops to the north. First we visited an abandoned Greek cave town. In the 1920s, Turkey experienced (sanctioned/endured) a massive population exchange. People of Greek culture were expelled to Greece and the Turks in Greece were returned to Turkey. It was a huge relocation/dislocation, which left many people bereft, and which affected Turkey for a long time. This old Greek town in Cappadocia is a ghost town, except for the people selling deliciously fresh orange juice, squeezed in front of you, and of course carpets, evil eyes, scarves, and so on. No one moved into the emptied cave houses or
From caves to 21st century!
Notice the satellite dishes and the solar water heating panels, amongst the fairy chimneys and regular buildings.
took over the church because they feared something bad would happen to them. So now its vineyards are gone and it's a place for tourists to visit and wonder at.
Next it was on to the Devrent Valley to see the "fairy chimneys".
The fairy chimneys are formed by wind and water erosion working away at the hardened volcanic ash-- like the hoodoos we saw at Bryce Canyon last year and at Banff the year before. In this case the hard, impermeable upper layer ends up looking like a cap on top of the strange figures.
As one guide said, "Some are small bodies with big heads, some are big bodies with small heads, some have two or three heads..."
Speaking of guides, Turkey takes tourism seriously and makes sure that its guides are well trained. Licensed guides study the history and culture of Turkey for 2 years and their studies include extended trips for about 40 days all around Turkey so they know their country. They also must pass the test in at least one other language.
Our guides in Cappadocia, and later in Kusadasi, were enthusiastic about their work and willing to try
to answer all our questions. They also volunteered good-natured anecdotes of their own and filled us in on many of the myths of the cultures which had inhabited the region.
One guide explained to us that tourism is ½ educational and ½ commercial. This clarified why on almost every tour we were taken for a time to learn about a local industry, where we were shown how something was made and given ample opportunity to buy. This included carpets, onyx jewelry, silver/turquoise jewelry and ceramics.
It made complete sense that visitors to Turkey should also invest, where possible, in the local craft economy. I wished I had more confidence in our money supply to be able to buy some of the beautiful things we saw.
The Red Tour stopped in a ceramics workshop, where we were given a demonstration by a master potter, and, as always, given Turkish tea. The quality of the ceramics there was quite simply stunning, like going to a museum of fine arts. Phil repeatedly reminded me that we were backpacking!
But when we found the woman doing tatting, I finally had found the right gift to take to my sisters in
There are more photos below