Wednesday, October 24, 2012
OK, so the 13-hour bus ride was unpleasant, but I knew it would be. I rolled into town with a very sore neck, found a room at the Flintstone's Motel (a real place) and set out for the sights.
Goreme is all about weird rock formations. They're everywhere in Cappadocia. A long time ago, this big volcano erupted and dumped lots of ash all over the place. That was eventually compacted into rock, but it was super-soft, as far as rock is concerned. Not only was it susceptible to wind erosion, but people found it really easy to hollow out caves and such. More on that in a second. For the moment, enjoy some weird formations.
The town's main attraction is the so-called Open Air Museum. It's a collection of churches carved into the rock that date from the 10th century. I arrived extra early, but it was a hopeless situation. The place was already mobbed with tour groups from all over the globe. There were Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Poles, Spanish, Italians, French, British, Americans and, of course, Turks. It was quite a battle to get in some of the places and when you were in, they wouldn't let you take pictures. There was always some Turkish guy standing nearby saying: "No photo." Gosh, that job would get old pretty fast.
They'd let you take picture of the churches with the most rudimentary decoration, like this one. But for the others, you had to buy the expensive souvenir album to show the folks back home what you'd seen.
There were lots of places like this. I think this was some kind of storeroom.
There was the odd nice thing like this along the way. Sure, these guys don't have faces, but you can still admire the work.
Here's some more rudimentary work. These guys weren't really about decoration; they were more concerned with shunning the outside world and praying a lot. For the most part, the outside world left them alone for many centuries.
This is just a sampling of how many tourists were there. Now take this amount of people and imagine that they're all over the place and you'll get an idea of what I had to contend with. These guys are Americans. I hadn't met one of those for more than three weeks and here they were. I even spoke with some people from South Carolina. For those of you who have never been, it's a very beautiful state. But it looks nothing like Cappadocia.
Despite my restless night, I decided to hike around. I hadn't been here in years, but I remembered that there were some cool things to behold in the valleys beyond the museum. It turned out to be quite the ordeal. Trails would end at cliffs. I would think that the next valley would get me back to civilization, but I'd be wrong. This happened again and again. Of course, the scenery was spectacular. It was also pretty frustrating. After several hours, I was sweaty, dusty mess, but I managed to claw my way out of all these deceptive valleys and find the main road. From there, it was just a matter of walking back the way I came. I passed by the museum again and there were about twice as many people as when I left.
I made it back to the Flintstones and had a swim. The water was very cold.
Posted by Igor Keller