While in Turkey, I took a three day tour around Cappadoccia. Once again in a small minibus, 14 of us, plus the guide Mahmut, the driver “our Captain”, and his un-named uncle, hit the road early in the morning heading out over the Taurus mountains from Side to Konya.
While driving through the mountains, we could see several nomadic families at work in the hills.
Somewhere out on the road between Side and Konya the minibus broke down – flat tire. No safety gear was in evidence so the driver’s uncle brought out his briefcase and put it in the middle of the road to warn other drivers that we had broken down. This action caused on-coming drivers to pause briefly before roaring past us –
Our first stop, after repairing the bus and arriving in Cappadoccia, was an underground city – here’s our fearless leader Mahmut Akman.
This place was fascinating, all tufa stone, darkness and yellow lights.
Local women descended on the minibus, hundreds of hand-made dolls in hand, selling for absurdly small amounts of money.
Our next stop was Uchisar, with its gigantic rock “castle”, and Pigeon Valley.
Below is a close-up of the Uchisar castle top.
Below is a Nazar Boncuk tree in Uchisar – the evil eye protector.
The Cappadoccian landscape is beautiful; on this trip, it was also cold. I had packed expecting 35 degree sunny weather; however, it turned out to be about 20 degrees and drizzly rain, occasionally clearing to a slate grey sky. As part of my outerware for this tour, I wore a large black garbage bag under my shawl – this turns out to be a very effective jacket against the cold and wet. Below is a picture of part of our intrepid little group.
Here we’re climbing a ladder to see the Rock Church frescoes.
Inside the Rock Church are Byzantine era frescoes, from the historical period in which Christians and Muslims side-by-side in this area.
The Cappadoccian landscape is full of so-called “fairy chimneys” whose phallic connotations should be obvious –
It is rather disconcerting to travel through a landscape of erect penises.
The women in this area make amazing handcrafts: here a woman is selling her handmade embroidery.
This woman spoke almost every conceivable language at least enough to sell her products. As part of our tour, Mahmut took us to several factories producing and selling local goods. The ceramic factory in Avanos had some spectacular items; here workers display how their wares are made.
These wine flasks are replicas of Hittite era flasks.
The glaze work and painting on these is amazing.
Our group appears mesmerised as they watch the craftsman work.
Alexandra seems happy with her small fairy chimney replica …
Here’s the showroom full of an enormous number of vessels of all descriptions.
After the ceramic factory demo, it was off to an abandoned Greek village. As Karballa, or Gelveri, Güzelyurt was a prosperous Ottoman-Greek town specializing in farming and goldsmithing.The League of Nations population exchange following World War I took its hundreds of Greek-speaking families to Greece, where they founded the town of Nea Karvali. The exchange brought Muslim families from the Greek towns of Kastoria and Kozan to re-populate Karballa, now renamed Güzelyurt (“Beautiful Home”).
Our Captain and Mahmut fed this very hungry Cappadoccian puppy kidney meat which he wolfed down without a pause.
Some people here are still living the troglodyte (cave-dwelling) life. This cave house is still being used today – apparently it stays 22 degrees inside all year round, whatever the weather outside.
I bought a beautiful handmade shawl from this woman, the one she has over her right shoulder.
I found the plethora of items for sale at the Onyx factory we visited absolutely amazing. Once again, though, there were just way too many objects to even contemplate selecting any one object. Here’s a sample:
After the onyx factory and its objects-in-excess, our group made its way to the Yusuf Rock Church, with its ceiling frescoes of the risen Christ and saints.
After that, in a bit of a whirl, we visited a carpet factory …
its dying room …
And then, off to Turkish Night at a large converted cave house in Avanos, with its Whirling Dervishes
and dance troups.