Greetings from Cappadocia Turkey,
In Istanbul I booked two seats for Goreme as is my habit for long bus rides. The single seat fare of sixty Turkish lira meant I'd pay a total of about $66 for my two seats through the night. Ignoring the difficulty of sleeping, that is pretty cheap lodging and includes a free bus trip to the heart of Cappadocia. My two seats made the ride considerably more comfortable than it would have been scrunched into a single cramped place. The bus featured a personal entertainment system for each passenger and a seat belt! ... which few used ... naturally I took advantage of the added peace of mind it afforded, though we had particularly careful drivers for the entire trip. At various points during the trip the steward walked the isle serving coffee/tea, cake, and water... just like on an airline.
Like all modern long distance buses in other countries this one had an on-board toilet... but being used as a cleanup crew storage shed and without lighting! Upon discovering the unavailability of the bus toilet I asked the staff for alternatives and they soon stopped the bus at the next gas station! ... I felt like a little kid pestering his parents to stop so he could pee. As I dashed into the restroom the bus full of fifty other passengers waited while the steward made wild gesticulations for me to hurry... mostly for the benefit of the waiting passengers, I suspect, as I already trotted.
I've been in Goreme, Cappadocia for the past week nursing a really persistent cold and for the past seven nights sleeping in a cozy cave! To be sure modern amenities like indoor plumbing and heating have been added since the ancient people carved it out of the mountain, but the walls still show the tool marks from the craftsman who hacked the hole into the mountain. The hotel is appropriately named the Hotel Spelunca and my off season rate is about fifty six dollars... for room 104 which goes for eighty eight during the season. Sleeping in a cave has its disadvantages: the WiFi signal failed after the first night meaning I needed to take everything down to the dining room to do any work on the Internet. My first day in the village, tired and sick with the cold, I still managed to do a little hotel shopping before selecting the 120 Turkish Lira Sarihan Cave Hotel for my first night. At just $66 per night, I had found one of the better values in the Goreme valley for anyone wanting an authentic "cave living" experience.
Being so tired and sick that first
day, almost anything soft and six feet long would have sufficed, but
this exceeded my expectations for a first nighter. I'd planned to check
at least four or five places before making that choice, but the feeble
old guy assigned to reception at the time I visited offered what seemed
to be objective commentaries on several of the nearby alternatives:
"That place is pretty good I hear," and "No. They are very expensive."
etc. So, with flagging energy I took the most deluxe room he showed me
and showered and rested an hour before continuing my exploration of the
hillside area behind the Mosque. The tall minaret made it easy to find
my way back to the area of my hotel that first day. Good thing, too as
there are hundreds of these cave hotels and many of them are
indistinguishable from all the others. All of the hillside hotels
required a small mountain climb from the village below, including the
Spelunca where I spent most of my time recuperating from that damned
Most of my time when not resting in cooperation with the healing process for this darned cold has been spent wandering the streets and hills around the village. People here are wonderful and quite a few of the oldsters speak good English and are always anxious to demonstrate their language skills to the others drinking tea at one of the many cafes scattered throughout the village.
One particularly friendly group invited me to sit a while and join them in blackberry tea. We exchanged information about our respective lives and I snapped pictures of the four old geezers. Invariably the conversation comes around to our ages and I'm not always the oldest in the crowd.
Another time an old guy on a motor-scooter chased me down to chat a while and at one point asked: "You look younger than me. How old are you?" When I told him he confessed to being "only" sixty-five and expressed surprise at my being so much older than him.
This is a return visit to the Cappadocia region to see what I missed during the 1998 exploration... and to take photographs with more modern equipment.
I have been taking quite a few photos with both my old Philips GoGear "spy" camera, but also with the amazingly capable camera built into my Samsung Galaxy Note "phone." With it I am able also to take time lapse videos and regular video shots. So far I haven't figured out how to share everything that is now stored in the phone, but the capability is definitely there. I did manage to get one of the time lapse videos made with LapseIt copied to the netbook so you can see the dozens of hot air balloons flying over Cappadocia if you can manage to run the video.
The KodakGallery replacement provided by Shutterfly is also proving to be a challenge. I can upload the photos O.K. but without any captions. It may be possible to make the titles serve the purpose, but that must wait for another day. The Shutterfly album for Goreme Cappadocia is here. The slide show feature seems to work pretty well, so give it a try.
Turkey is in desperate need of an active chapter of ASH! Nearly every male smokes. The government to its credit has banned smoking inside most buildings and strangely blocks out images of smokes in films shown on television. Of course, all that does is draw attention to the forbidden objects! To be sure, there is an active anti-smoking campaign underway, but evidence on the street suggests it has made little progress in this land of fabled Turkish tobacco.
I'm writing some of this with a Turkish keyboard and everything is screwy... can't find most of the symbols and most of the control keys have disappeared! What fun. The cramped keyboard on my tiny Acer AspireOne netbook is even better than fighting with the Turks.
After a few days here in the lap of luxury I'll head on south to Urfa near the twelve thousand year old archaeological digs of Göbekli Tepe before trying to find a way into northern Iraq. That is the "safe" Kurdish enclave the people wishfully call Kurdistan. O.K. I leave for Urfa by bus in a few hours so I'll close this postcard and polish it for the website version later.
Until I am again someplace friendly to netizens, I'll close.
Fred L Bellomy
|Reference photo author: August 2002|
Quick reference materials from www.turkeytravelplanner.com
Capital of a Cappadocian province of the same name, Nevşehir is mostly a transfer point for tourists.
There's nothing wrong with the city of Nevşehir (NEHV-sheh-heer, "New City," alt. 4134 feet/1260 meters, pop. 95,000). It's mostly modern, having been founded only in late Ottoman times (a mere baby by Anatolian standards!) It's got a fortress on a hill, a nice big museum a few decent hotels, and Cappadocia's major bus terminal.
But there's also not much to hold you. Most people just transfer at the Nevşehir bus terminal on their way to or from towns such as Avanos, Göreme, Uçhisar, Ürgüp, or the Underground Cities of Kaymaklı and Derinkuyu (map).
By the way, many bus companies will sell you a ticket "to Göreme" or "to Ürgüp," but what they mean is that your big comfortable bus will go as far as Nevşehir, after which you must transfer to a servis minibus or taxi to be shuttled to the smaller town. (The transfer should beand usually isincluded in your bus fare. The major bus company serving NevşehirNevşehir Turizmis usually dependable in this regard.) More...
Some less-than-honest bus companies actually just drop you in Nevşehir and let you fend for yourself. Ask the ticket agent specifically how you will be getting to your final destination.
The airport at Tuzköy, near Gülşehir, 30 km (19 miles) northwest of Nevşehir, is called the Nevşehir Airport (NEV).
There are daily flights from Istanbul to Nevşehir, but more daily flights to to Kayseri's Erkilet Airport, making that the more common air route to and from Cappadocia. Airport shuttle vans serve both airports.