Saturday, October 27, 2012
It's the other open-air museum! This one is not quite as ornately outfitted as the one in Goreme, but it's quite a bit larger and there are more industrial aspects to it. What do I mean by that? I'll get to it in a minute.
OK, so Uchisar was so very nice, but I had other places to go. The only problem was that Zelve, while fairly close to everything, is rather remote. After returning to Goreme, I waited around for a bus to take me up the road a bit. At least that would get me closer. When that didn't show, I decided to walk. Thanks to a partial lift from some very nice Turks from Avanos (two towns over), it didn't take that long. Along the way, there's this place called Pashabaglan. It's famous for its penis-shaped formations.
From the only slightly suggestive...
...to the completely blatant...
...to the not-very. There were a lot of other people here and this place seemed to really bring out the perv in most of them, young and old, women and men alike. Of course, the British seemed to get the biggest kick out of the scenery, followed by the French. And then everyone else in between with the Japanese being the most modest. Yes, even the Turks were far more risque. And good for them! Me, I took pictures and left.
When I arrived at Zelve, it was wonderfully empty. It isn't a regular tour group stop, though it probably should be. Here we have not just churches but lots of other stuff, too. Mills! Wineries! Chicken coops! The complex is spread between three valleys. Above, you see the view across just one of them. Most of these are hermit studio apartments and storerooms, but I believe that larger area on the middle left is a helipad.
Here's another group of caves in a different valley. You get the idea of how large this place is, right? And it's quite a hike to get around. But because there aren't any tourists, you can just stop wherever the hell you feel like. There are no pushy Spanish/Koreans/Poles/Latvians/Luxembourgers/Belgians/Danes/Finns/Russians/Bulgarians/Czechs/Brazilians to hustle you along.
No visit to Zelve is complete without a stop at the winery. Here it is. They don't make wine anymore. I'm just assuming that what they made was probably pretty terrible. As much as I enjoy so many things about Turkey, its wine is not good. The whites are supposed to be better than the reds, but the whites are kind of bad. So if they're that awful in this day and age, what with the help of modern techniques and such, just think how bad they were a thousand years ago. My cousin Ivan makes wine in Ukraine by putting grape juice in a five-gallon water jug, adding sugar and stowing it in his hall closet for many months. The result is one of the worst things you'll ever taste. But he's so very proud of it, I just don't have the heart to tell him just how bad it is and that he should probably stick to building houses exclusively. I'm guessing that the wine produced here was probably worse. Not only did it likely taste bad, but I'm pretty sure that it had lots of dirt and bugs in it. Thankfully, Cousin Ivan's wine was free of those. Anyhow, my point is that lots of stuff from the olden days sucked - including life in general.
I mean, who wants to pray in a cave? I know that it was before television and the Internet, but golly, what a bleak existence. If you were alive and praying a thousand years ago, you were: short (these doorways are made for people who are about four-foot-something), malnourished (along with just about everyone else on the planet), very smelly (ditto), prone to dying young (ditto) and religious to the point of working yourself into a spiritual frenzy at any given moment. Also, you lived, worked and worshiped in caves. The one and only plus in your life is that you were probably not illiterate. Instead, you would spend long hours reading Scripture in near darkness until the eye-strain and the lack of vitamin A in your diet would rob you of your sight. And there you have it.
Most of Zelve's churches look like this. There's one called the Grape and Fish Church, but I couldn't find it, so this is what you get.
Look at that view! Wow!
Well, I wandered around Zelve for a time and then headed out. The sky was looking quite threatening. As I stood at the crossroads, trying to figure out which way to go, two very cute and cheerful French girls appeared and offered assistance. They thought I looked vexed. They told me they were bound for Pashabaglan (where I'd already been) and I could walk with them. Just then an Avanos-bound bus drove up as it began to rain. We parted company. Only after I was on the bus did I realize the depths of my retardedness. Getting wet with two hot French chicks amid phallic rocks didn't seem appealing until it was much too late. God, I'm dense.
So the bus took me to Avanos, which isn't a bad place at all, and another bus took me back to Goreme.
And when I arrived in Goreme, I saw this very small donkey. That was way better than hanging out with French chicks. Way, way better.
Posted by Igor Keller