Cappadocia

23 04 2011

Some one in Damascus recommended I should go to Cappadocia. Jurg & Rahel  rode through a few weeks ago and also recommended a visit. I looked at the map, determined where I was, where Iran is and thought that going west a few hundred kilometers to see more rocks would be a silly idea. So I went.

I rode through the land of Petrol stations, which was handy as they gave me plenty of places to sleep. Then I turned north and rode up into the heartland of Turkey. Up. It was great to be back in the mountains, but it is cold up here, and apparently unseasonably, it’s raining quite a lot.

So, in the rain, I passed many towns, set on reaching the region of Cappadocia. I was so intent that I very nearly rode straight past one of the attractions, the underground city at Derinkuyu. But I was intrigued by all the tour buses, and pulled in to have a gander and discovered the caves. I went down, and was amazed by the amount of digging that had gone on down there. It is not an underground house, it really is an underground city. I followed the tourist trail down (8 levels, 45m or so) and then started looking around. I found a half closed ‘door’, the original inhabitants used to roll huge millstones across the passageways to seal them in case of invasion. Someone had pried one open just enough, so I crawled around in a part of the city not so many people see (lucky I always seem to have my head torch with me). I found a few other blocked tunnels that clearly went somewhere. All I needed was a shovel…

Eventually I dug myself out of the hole, and rode on (in the rain) to Cappadocia. I got there toward the end of the day and looked up Abdullah. Jurg and Rahel had met this Hotel owner in front of his hotel a few weeks previous and suggested I stop by to say hello. So I did, and although I didn’t expect it, he invited me to stay. Not in the hotel, but in his house! Great! So I left my bike in the hotel and I stayed at his place.

I then had a few day working holiday away from the bike. There is always something to do around a hotel, so I tried to help (although I may have got in the way more than helping) by doing some painting, went on a few trips into town with the hotel manager, Emel, and got in the way in the kitchen. I initially hung around the hotel (which I must say is a far classier place than I would normally be allowed to hang around) because that was where Abdullah brought me for breakfast and I was avoiding the bike (after having ridden 600km and 5000+ high meters in 5 days from Aleppo). The next few days I was avoiding the weather. Finally I was pried away from the place and had a look around Cappadocia.

Very interesting. Not piles of rock, but big rocks with holes in them. Holes that people lived in. Some phenomenon (which I understand but can’t be bothered explaining) caused these chimneys to form in the valleys all over the region, and people came and carved houses in them. Some of the caves have been turned into hotels (like the one Abdullah owns http://www.kalekonak.com) but many (most?) have been left abandoned as they’re a touch unstable. Strange, and well worth a few hundred kilometer detour.

I hung around as long as I was welcome (hopefully I didn’t push it too far and Abdullah takes in another cyclist – he’s done this before for some other travellers, notably Biciclown who he talked about a few times). I was going to make my exit on a day when it was forecast for rain, so I allowed myself to be convinced to stay another day. I took advantage of a nice, dry place to sit, and did all sorts of internet things (except update the blog or photos), and then went for a short ride in the arvo. Of course it started raining when I was as far away form the house as I had planned to go. All the photos I’ve seen of Cappadocia show lovely blue cloudless skies. Why can’t I see it like that?


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