"Alright, let's head west."

July 15, 2007 - Göreme, Turkey

...exclaimed the bus driver, ending our meal at a grub and piss pit stop just inside the Greek border. But let's back up to the ever captivating and hospitable Cappadocia.

After getting off an overnight bus from Istanbul and getting rid of my pack, I started walking directly toward the Göreme Open-air Museum ( http://www.sacred-destinations.com/turkey/cappadocia-goreme-open-air-museum .htm). However I was quickly distracted and ended up spending the whole day hiking around exploring the endless array troglodyte dwellings strewn about the surrounding valleys. Many times I found myself basically architecturally spelunking, as a hole in the surface of one valley would lead to a carved-out room, which connected to a tunnel, which opened into a church, that had a passage way leading to a dining hall with a window overlooking an entirely different valley. Multiple liters of water later, I was eating fries and watching the European Mountain Biking Championship being held in Göreme ( http://www.cyclingnews.com/mtb.php?id=mtb/2007/jul07/euromtbchamps07/defaul t).

The next day was full of red hot scootering on winding valley roads and straight divided highways, through tiny Cappadocian towns and rolling agricultural fields, visiting the Peribacalar, or Fairy Chimneys ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairy_chimney), getting totally lost in the town of Urgüp, and exploring the underground cities in Derinkuyu ( http://cappadociatraveltours.com/sf-articles-of-Derinkuyu_Underground_City- aid-16-tp-4_8.htm ) (http://www.rahmikaya.com/derinkuyu.jpg) and Özlüce. Face hair flapping in the wind fun (really fun). Somehow the badly sun burnt knee and bugs dying against my face/in my gaping mouth only made it more pleasurable.

Day three was supposed to be my last day, but then "Spottie" the dog lead me through Pigeon Valley to Uçhisar ( http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.guide-martine.com/images/ uchisar.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.guide-martine.com/centralanatolia5.asp&h=3 34&w=250&sz=37&hl=en&start=11&um=1&tbnid=qpAWGdU8TeUnUM:&tbnh=119&tbnw=89&p rev=/images%3Fq%3DU%25C3%25A7hisar%26svnum%3D10%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26rlz%3D 1B3GGGL_enAL221AL221%26sa%3DN ), with seemingly the highest concentration of (and perhaps most striking) cliff dwellings of the area. Spottie is the beautiful black and white resident tour guide at Köse Pansion (http://www.geocities.com/kosedawn/) in Göreme, and through our rambling one-sided conversation, he convinced me I should get a dog whenever I find myself in a suitable dog situation. He also convinced me to stay another night.

Early morning the last day I finally made it out to the impressive Göreme Open-air Museum ( http://www.sacred-destinations.com/turkey/cappadocia-goreme-open-air-museum .htm), but had to run away when three tour buses landed and a sea of people dispersed on the site. The rest of the time before my night bus for Antalya was spent getting to know the French mathematician turned linguist David better. He and a Canadian guy had taught me Backgammon a few days prior. We talked about his travels through Middle East and the general state of the region (his father is from Lebanon), languages, and processes in architecture. We'll probably meet up this fall when he visits family in Houston, TX.

From Cappadocia I headed toward Olimpos (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olympos), where I met up with Hilary- archaeologist/designer/museum specialist from a small mining town in northern Canada. We had met earlier at Köse and individually planned on going to Olimpos, so it worked out. Three days of lounging in hammocks, talking, silence, laying on the beach, and eating good, cheap food. Really the only effort I exhorted was a few hours of exploring the area's ruins, the occasional swim, and a night visit to the mysterious Chimaera ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chimaera_%28geography%29). Fantastic. After three days, Hilary headed back to Istanbul to catch a flight to her current home in Sweden, and I headed due north, convinced I didn't need to go back to Istanbul to get out of Turkey.

This turned out to be true, so long as you're willing to ride a lot of buses (and one ferry) and wait in a totally obscure bus station. On the way I spent a day in Selcuk, a nice enough town, but it was so hot I only vaguely remember the ruins of Ephesus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ephesus) and the associated museum. That's what you get for walking to the site from the city. Half a water melon, one beer, and a cone of delicious black mulberry ice cream later I was doing fine. The next day was a bus marathon to see how close to Tirana, Albania I could get. The map has the point to point path. Am now in colorful, contaminated, post-communist Tirana, and going picture crazy. More later.

Lastly, some interesting Lonely Planet Turkey facts:
-Turks claim to be able to detect someone's political affiliations from the shape of their mustache. Civil servants are given instructions on how much hair can adorn their upper lip. University students are forbidden to grow beards.
-A survey carried out in east and southeast Turkey discovered that one in 10 women was living in polygamous marriages, even though these became illegal in 1926.
-According to the UN, Turkish is one of the world's most widely used languages, spoken in one form or another by around 150 million people from the old Yugoslavia to northwestern China.
-Turkey has the youngest population in Europe; some 22 million (32% of the population) are under 15.
-Turkey is one of only seven countries in the world that is wholly self-sufficient in agriculture.


Pictures

Felix, André, & i
 
 

4 Comments

Kay Arnold:
July 23, 2007
Dear Hale -- Oh, how I long to see the things you are seeing. Your descriptions leave my mouth watering for eastern travel. Hope we will eventually get into our new Mexican house and have you over for food and sharing. Of course, I want to pick your precious little brain. Love and peace -- Kay
Auntie Mary Coneway:
July 24, 2007
Wow Hale! How very wonderful; and your descriptions are just amazing. They remind me of a a book I'm reading: a wonderful book I'll loan to you when you get back here to bush-country: "3 Cups of Tea" by Greg Mortenson. About a mountain man (and RN) from Montana/California who travels, climbs, and raises funds to build schools for remote regions of Pakistan. I'm losing sleep over this amazing book.
I imagine Mama told you about the retirement party she hosted for me. Casey & Kate were going to have it at their casa, but with 70% chance of rain (I haven't watered my lawn even ONCE this year) we took RM up on her generous offer to have it at your boy-hood home. It was quite THE event: music from great Mex-Texas musicians, shots for everyone at the band break, etc. etc. Everyone really expressed appreciation for your Mom for having it at her house, etc. I keep telling her to quit that day job and go whole-hog into being the 21st Century Perle Meste, the party maven. But does she listen to me??? of course not. no respect......
Lots of love, and can't wait to see you
tia maria
Stanley Bittinger:
July 31, 2007
July 30,2007
Dear Hale--I am really enjoying your account of your travels. I have read about many of the places you are visiting, and visited some of them in Spain and Morocco. We just finished a 6 day trip to the Copper Canyon area with 8 participants. We got into some of the back country cliff dwellings on this trip. Our best wishes go with you on every step of your way. Love and Peace, --Stan.
Elin:
August 3, 2007
Hale, great reading about your endeavours! Your descriptions are really capturing and I´m enjoying following you along the way. Here in bcn everything is almost the same. It´s a little hotter of course and people are starting to go for vacations. A feeling of dekadens is spreading even more... Tomorrow Swedish dinner in my appartment, too bad you´re not here to try everything! Enjoy! Besos, Elin
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