November 22, 2011

Turkey : Cappadocia (part 2)

Continuation from here ...

We were sent back to the hotel after the balloon tour finished. I wished I could go to the inviting comfortable bed but sleep can wait.. So after breakfast, we’re out again.

First on our agenda was the Devrent Valley. Now, this valley does not have cave churches like the other valleys in Cappadocia. But it is still a favorite spot for people visiting the town. What makes it famous is the unique landscape. 


According to our tour guide, this was formed by volcanic eruption in the region. The volcano, Mount Erciyes, erupted around 2000 years ago and its deposits of volcanic ash, lava and basalt made the beautiful landscape that can be seen today.

Some people also call this place Imagination Valley cos well, it's a place of imagination! If you look closely, the rock formations resemble some animals.

a lizard on the rock

the resting camel

Use your imagination to define what each rock means to you. 

Then, we headed to the Fairy Chimneys. As you can see in the pictures, the rocks have mushroom tops on them.

Amazing right? Another wonders from the volcanic eruption. They were formed when erosion wiped out the lava that covered the compacted volcanic ash, leaving behind these stand-alone pinnacles. Since the fairy chimneys were quite soft, the people dug into them to create dwellings and churches.


We then had our lunch at one of the restaurants overlooking the valley.

I could just sip the Turkish tea and enjoyed the view all day long...

houses in Cappadocia

But there's still more to see. So we left and continued with a visit to Goreme Open Air Museum, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Entrance fee to the museum is 15TL per person.

This open air museum is a huge monastic site. There are more than 10 cave churches along with rectories, dwellings, and religious school carved out of a ring-shaped rock formation.

No photos are allowed inside most of the churches. But mostly when you enter the churches, you'd see colorful and beautifully painted murals dating from 900-1200 AD. Each church is unique from the other with a different theme.

Then there's also the Dark Church where you need to pay additional 8TL if you want to enter it. Apparently, this church had been restored and contains beautiful paintings of Orthodox saints and frescoes of scenes from the life of Jesus covering nearly every inch of the wall and ceiling space. Not that the other churches don't have paintings and frescoes, but it seemed like this church is more preserved.

We went back to the hotel around 4pm as we would be going back to Istanbul that night. Our tour guide sent us to the bus station. He gave us the bus tickets and after saying byes and all, he left. We then went to the bus counter only to find out that our tickets were changed. Our actual route was we would be back through Ankara but we were changed to a direct bus to Istanbul. Sounds better right?

But we went through quite an ordeal dealing with the bus operator. It was the end of Qurban Bayrami holiday so many people were rushing back to Istanbul. After going here and there, we were told that all tickets to Istanbul for the day were sold out! Whaddahell man!!! My sister was so furious as she would be going back to Turkmenistan the following night.

After some negotiation, we were finally put on an 8.15pm bus to Nevsehir, and from Nevsehir direct to Istanbul. It was around 6pm then. Bored waiting, we went walking around the bus station. But there’s nothing much to see so we walked back to the bus station. And thank God, we met one of the nicest couple in Turkey.

While we were waiting, a lady suddenly came to us and asked whether we were Malaysians? We said yes, and guess what? She’s from Malaysia too! And she lived in Istanbul. She got married to a Turkish lad and they were in Cappadocia visiting his grandparents. They invited us for dinner and even offered to take me out sightseeing in Istanbul. A blessing in disguise indeed. If we were to board the earlier bus to Ankara, we wouldn’t meet them for sure.

After dinner, we bid goodbye as they were leaving on a 7.45pm bus. We boarded the bus to Nevsehir half an hour later. Reached Nevsehir at 9pm and it’s waiting time again. Our bus would only leave at 11pm.

Finally, it’s time to leave. Istanbul, we'd meet again!