Cappadocia, Tukey

It was a dark and stormy night in Marmaris….sorry, couldn’t help myself.
It really was stormy and it was quite a storm. Gene and I sat in our semi-dark salon and watched the interior of Peregrine light up as the lightening flashed through the cabin windows. It went from huge bright flashes to wimpy flickering and back again to big light but it was constant. Gene and I both thought it was like a bad horror movie. Sometimes the thunder seemed to roll across the bay and echo back again after it hit the mountains on the other side. Sometimes it couldn’t be heard at all because the wimpy flickering lightening didn’t make noise. The wind gusts of up to 50knots were so loud that the sound drowned out the thunder. When the wind gusted, we heeled so far we felt like we were at sea and not med- moored to a dock. Parts of Marmaris lost power for about 16 hours. Soon after Gene went to berth, Peregrine started leaking like a sieve. The closed companionway hatch became the source off an interior waterfall. I stuffed towels everywhere while Gene snored away in the v-berth. The rain finally let up about 2:30 a.m. I went to bed. The lightening was still flashing.

All is well now. I got my repaired computer back from the shop and the electricity is back on so I can write to you about our trip.

There is so much history in Turkey, one wonders what to see first. Some of the oldest human cities and civilizations were here. This is Euphrates and Tigris country. Many civilizations left their mark. I look through some of my guide books and am captivated by the words I read….Assyrians, Hittites, Troy, Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Tarsus, Constantinople (site of modern Istanbul), Zeus, Apollo, Aphrodite, Cybele, Hellenistic, Byzantine, St. Paul, Alexander the Great, Suleyman the Magnificent, Barbarosa, Attaturk… and so on…this letter isn’t big enough to mention everything. Even without the rich human history, Turkey is fascinating. The geography and geology is varied and wonderful.
On to our tour of the Cappadoccia region:
click photos to enlarge

Cappadocia, in ancient Persian, means ‘land of beautiful horses’. It is located in the center of Turkey and has some of humanities oldest cities in it. The landscape is made up of plains, river carved valleys, and weird formations of volcanic rock sculpted by eons of wind and rain. People carved homes into the soft tuff (solidified volcanic ash) cliffs, and built vast underground cities to hide from various marauding groups throughout history. From the 2nd century on Christians hid here and made cave churches. One of the areas we visited was the city of Goreme’s Open Air Museum. It is a large area where early monks carved out many churches. Most of these are from the ninth century onwards. The inside of these caves were painted with scenes of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. Flash photos are not allowed in the caves, but I got a few shots of some of the paintings outside that have survived.

We went with two other couples via mini-van driven by our Turkish guide, Suat. One couple was Austrian and one was French. They were great traveling companions and we got along very well. Suat spoke all our languages. He had a habit of pulling over and asking people how to get to the place we were going. Gene and I couldn’t help but think of the movie Captain Ron. Kurt Russell plays a hired captain of a sailing vessel, and says he doesn’t need charts to find his way: “Ya just pulls over and asks someone.”

The drive straight to the area we were going would have been 14 to 16 hours. Our trip was about 2,000 K round trip (1300 miles). We broke up the long drive and spent the first night in the lovely little lake town of Egirdir. Our base for exploring the Cappadocia region was Urgup, where there are many “fairy chimneys”. Fairy chimneys are spectacular formations created out of the tuff by the elements. My favorite ‘fairy chimney’ area was Zelve.
Cliff houses in Zelve.
The cave dining-room in our Urgup hotel.
Open-Air Museum in Goreme.
Small village in the region.
One of my favorite stops of the trip was the Ilhara Valley. It is a mini Grand Canyon with troglodyte caves and churches in the cliffs. A small, clear, fast moving creek ran at the bottom. We walked down (and UP) the 427 steps to the valley floor. During this whole trip, I kept thinking how much my geologist father, Grampa Miles, to a lot of you (related or not), would have loved seeing this.

Click this photo to enlarge so you can see the red circle with the little spot of blue in the center on the bottom of the canyon; that's Gene.
We went to one of the ‘underground’ cities. There are up to 36 of these ‘anthill’ cities in the area. The big one, Derinkuyu, was home to around 20,000 people. It is eight levels and 197 feet deep. The one we went to had four levels open to tourists, but that was more than enough. Several people began to feel strange after descending a few levels and had to turn back due to fear, or fear of fainting, or just feeling claustrophobic. I have to admit, Gene and I stopped looking into rooms and ‘apartments’ after the second level, and hurried to get out of the underground maze.
After a very long day, some of us (not Gene) decided to stay up and go to the 9:30 p.m. Whirling Dervish ceremony. The ceremony was preformed at a restored Caravanserais. The Caravanserias were large hostelries built during the 13th century to protect the merchants traveling the caravan routes that crossed Anatolia via the Roman-Byzantine roads. The Whirling Dervishes are Sufi monks of the Mevlevi order. They were founded in the 1200s by the mystical poet and Sufi master, Celaddin Rumi. The ceremony involves a spinning meditation. The monks wear white robes with full skirts, and fez style hats that are about 16 inches tall. They spin and the full skirts flare out. It is quite beautiful to watch. I can’t believe they all didn’t just drop from dizziness, it was a long ceremony! The head-dress symbolizes the ego’s tombstone, and the white robe symbolizes the ego’s shroud. No pictures were allowed. For those of you who’d like to see what I’m talking about, there are many sites on the internet, just search “Whirling Dervishes”.
I almost forgot another great stop we made. The tiny village of Olympos. This place got my “Enchanted Forest” stamp. We had to drive down a rough dirt road to get to Olympos, but it was worth the drive. The tiny settlement of camping ‘treehouses’ sits beside the ruins of several past civilizations. A short walk along a creek brings you to the ocean. It’s a beautiful place. At one end of the settlement there are a couple of volcanic outcroppings where escaping natural gas is kept alight. The flame is called Yanartas (burning stone). In ancient times the flames were used as warnings to ships. It is thought that a temple to Vulcan was here and it is also considered to be were Bellerophon and Pegasus slayed the Chimaera. Ah, childhood memories of, Bullfinch’s Mythology.

A lunch stop on the way back to the coast.

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