Day 17 – Cappadocia Green Tour
After a good deal of uncertainty over whether or not we should do another tour, cancelling (sorry Emre!), and debating the pros and cons, we ended up deciding to go and boy, were we glad we did!
Our group was quite the fun one, including two awesome Venezuelan girls, Daniella and Mariana, a bubbly Beijing-born honorary Brit, Hilary, and of course our hilarious and informative guide, Aydin and driver Suwat (spelling?!). Aydin seemed quite concerned at first as we hadn’t picked everyone up yet and the were just 2 boys amongst 8 girls in the group apart from him and Suwat. We told the boys they had better watch out! The odds evened a bit with the addition of 3 more boys and 4 more girls but hey, eBay can I say? Girls, we run the world!
Our cheerful group began with a lookout point for a beautiful panorama of Göreme and pigeon valley. It was still very cold but I had about 5 layers on including 2 coats and Leah had a pants on pants situation I truly envied. There had even been some snow the night before which added a festive air to the day.
From there we headed for Derinkuyu, an amazing underground city totalling 12 stories, only the first 6, I think it is, of which are open for visiting at present. Aydin provided us with an awesome history of the region on the way there which helped to explain the purpose of the uderground city, one of a few in th e area, which were used to protect against invaders of the region. It’s truly miraculous to me that this was so many thousand of years ago, yet the lure of power and riches still seems to propel people into similar conflicts to this day. So sad…
The city itself is remarkable for its age. They were capable of holing up in there for an estimated 2-3 months and had ways of ventilation, keeping small animals in for food/warmth, ways of getting water, a chapel and a grave area. Yet many questions remain unanswered as no written records have ever been recovered detailing anything about the city, its inhabitants, or its functioning. All knowledge about the city stems from what has been found and extrapolated. Many of the tunnels are very narrow and low, giving us a workout for the day and making me appreciate the freedom of paragliding!!!
From there, we departed for Selime Monastery, which had been used as a monastery and a caravanserai in the past. Aydin told us two interesting facts of note here: 1. The scenery around here inspired George Lucas for a Star Wars set, although at the time the government of Turkey would not permit filming there and 2. That because of the resettlement of Greeks from the area that there are many churches in the region, essentially none of which are in use because the Christian population is nil. This monastery was so interesting architecturally as it is difficult to imagine a place so old and the work that went into creating a livable area without modern tools.
After Selime, it was time for another yummy lunch, this time at Star Restaurant, near Belisirma, I believe. Again, a big high five to Woop Woop for a good choice in lunch spots – no tourist buffet here!
Our after lunch itinerary included a walk through the Ilhara Valley and a stop at a church with some beautiful frescoes. Aydin explained about how the paintings were done using the whites of eggs and naturally found dyes. Very interesting. From there we carried on down the valley, talking with Aydin, Daniella, and Mariana. Such interesting people and great conversation. Thanks guys for a lovely walk, including the obligatory tea stop partway through! 🙂 We are so privileged to meet such inspiring people. You make me a better person.
Our final stop of the day was at an onyx and jewel factory. They showed us again about onyx as we had learned in Pamukkale and then we learned a bit more about Zultanite which is apparently only found in Turkey and changes colours in different lights. So cool.
Our group was quite good at the goodbyes, with a boisterous and cheerful ‘goodbye!!’ to each group leaving the bus. Sadly we were the second to last people off the bus, leading to a much less choir – like goodbye. Haha.
Our supper that night was at Cappadocia Pide House, a restaurant owned by the cousins of Emre, whose family owns the hotel. We dined with Nam Hyeon who we had paraglided with in Fethiye and also Hilary, who was walking by and saw us inside. Dinner is so much more lovely with friends! We tried pide for the first time (yum) and some more of the veggie casserole type thing we’d had at the restaurant on the tour two days prior. Thanks for such a lovely day everyone! 🙂
I would also just like to note that these two makeup crazy, city girls have gone SEVERAL days without makeup. I mean, NONE at all. It all started somewhere around Fethiye…I blame the beach life! Simply unthinkable for both of us in general in Canada, but I have to say it’s actually pretty empowering (and let’s be honest, I’m hoping it helps to keep my skin from aging so much!!!!).