Turkey 2019

Cappadocia Day 2: Scooby-Doo And The Mystery of the Pointy Rocks

We had looked forward to having a room in a quiet neighborhood, far from the deafening sounds of the echoing call to prayer and the screeching seagulls. But, to our dismay, our expectations weren’t exactly met. Not only was our room a million degrees, (only cooled off when both our front door and back window were open), but we also had a dog who liked to bark at full volume at all hours of the night. We had to close our window, it got that bad. And then the room was a furnace. Not an ideal sleep environment.

 

Our breakfast at our hotel was okay. It wasn’t cooked with love by Elif, but there was a variety of palatable options. I tried to make coffee and accidentally mixed it with tea instead of hot water, so that was pretty gross. Also Sarah left some food on her plate and one of the hotel workers said “Oh, if you don’t finish in Turkey, it means you didn’t like it.” Our hotel hates us.

 

We decided pretty early on that our primary activity in Cappadocia was going to be hiking. There were tour options and events to pay for, but we decided we could see plenty cool stuff using our own feet. So we packed up our gear and set out for Love Valley, one of the many areas with cool views of the rock formations.

On our way from town into the rural areas, we came upon some Russian tourists, three girls, probably our age, maybe a little younger. They were asking where the sunset lookout point was. We gave them some general directions, and gave them our extra map, helping as well as we could. They asked where we were from and we said America, and they were all excited, saying they loved America. It was really lovely. There’s something about the friendly chaos of travel that brings people together.

 

Soon after we left town, we found ourselves on a cobbled pathway leading from the street up to the ridge that overlooks Love Valley. The scenery right immediately was gorgeous, giving us a bird’s eye view of Goreme to our right, and the valley to our left.

The first twenty-or-so minutes of our walk would be a chapter I would entitle, “Sarah Likes Flowers,” in which, we observed and took a lot of pictures of cool plants. Behold. We got flowers. We got grape vines. We got olive trees, squash, pumpkins, weird stuff we didn’t know what it was. All growing along the hiking ridge.

The next leg of our journey would be entitled, “Sarah and Christina: Amateur Geologists,” in which a historian/geographer and anthropologist tried to put their heads together and figure out how in the world these rock formations came to be. We’ve got some tall, pointed rock formations. Some of them long and skinny, some cone-shaped and fat. And they’ve got caves cut into some of them.

 

Behold, us on our journey. Yes I know the video goes sideways. I can’t flip it. But our banter is too dumb and adorable to nix from this blog for editing reasons.

Okay, so elephant in the room. These rock formations look not-so-subtly phallic. So that was one theory. Were they manmade? It certainly wouldn’t be the first time ancient humans has built homages to genitalia. But I’m pretty sure I’d read somewhere that they were naturally occurring. So we moved onto other theories.

The surfaces were smooth and even, suggesting water or wind currents. But of course, that would be odd, considering we’re in an arid canyon. Though water has dried up after creating canyons before. Perhaps volcanoes were involved? But then again it didn’t seem like we were in a volcanic region. We debated this for a while, continuing to walk, poking rocks and observing the colors of the dirt as we went.

 

We also made a lot of jokes about the TV show The Magicians, which we both watch. It’s a show on SciFi Network that’s basically somewhere between Harry Potter and Narnia but for adults. Of course I watch it. It’s nerdy. Anyway, there’s this kingdom on the show called the “Cock Barrens,” which, of course, is a penis joke. But the landscape of the kingdom looks exactly like the “fairy chimneys” that we were looking at. Fairy Chimneys, Cock Barrens, clearly different people wrote these titles. But yeah, they definitely stole footage from the show. And we kept referencing it.

 

Soon we came to the Love Valley trail, which weaved through the valley rather than over the rift. We’d had a bird’s eye view, now it was time for a worm’s eye view. We walked the valley for maybe 25 minutes. We’d reached the heat of the day. It was really humid, pretty buggy, and the view wasn’t as cool from the ground. So we decided go back the way we came and head back into town for some food.

By the time we made it to the road, we still had about a thirty minute walk into Goreme. It was also about 1pm and we hadn’t eaten since breakfast. Throw in a fairly strenuous walk, and you’ve got a recipe for starved zombies. Once we got into town we were looking for doner wraps, which is shaved lamb in a pita with veggies and sauce and stuff. But it seemed in Goreme they only had chicken doner, which isn’t as good. So instead we settled for yet another kabob restaurant.

This one was really good though. Sarah got a kabob and I got chicken wings. Both came with sides of pitas and veggies, so we used these supplies to manufacture our own Mediterranean tacos. This was a good choice. After eating, Sarah got some Turkish tea, and I had a Turkish coffee, my first authentic one of the trip. It’s thick coffee, brewed in an iron pot dragged through heated sand and then poured into a little espresso cup. It was strong, and really tasty. Just what I needed after our jaunt.

The waiters then offered to spritz our hands with what looked like water out of a reusable bottle from the dollar store. Confused, we accepted, but then realized it was rosewater to make our hands smell nice post-lunch. This needs to be a thing everywhere. It was lovely.

 

We also hardcore judged the two girls sitting next to us at the restaurant. They ordered a giant feast, barely ate any of it, took a bunch of pictures, and then sat on their phones the whole time. Like, you guys know you’re in Turkey, right?

 

In our own personal food comas, we journeyed back to our hotel, with the intention of hanging out for a little while before going back downtown for a walk and some dinner. On our way, I popped into Reception and saw our mean friend from the day before. I had intended to reserve a seat on a sunrise hot air balloon flight, which is the must-do attraction of the region. You get to ride over the valley with a gorgeous view of the canyons, amid a hundred other balloons in the air. I wanted in.

 

Well, our best friend informed me that the balloons were booked for the rest of the week. Apparently it’s the kind of thing you needed to book way in advance. I did not realize that. I was REALLY bummed. You can ask Sarah, I basically sat on my bed with steam coming out of my ears for the next couple hours. I got over it eventually though, and planned to get up at sunrise to watch the balloons from our terrace. At least that option was cheaper.

 

In our room we organized a bit, and did some good ole fashioned sink laundry. Sarah got really innovative, using one of the empty trash bins as a makeshift laundry bucket. By the end of it, our bathroom was like a Christmas tree, and our laundry items were ornaments. The one annoying thing was that the bathroom door squeaked in a really off-putting way any time it moved at all, and sometimes it moved on its own. So we had to prop it with a sneaker. A common inquiry was “UGH where’s the shoe?!”

 

In the room we also did a bit of research to finally determine the true origin of the “fairy chimneys.” Turns out, we weren’t too far off. Apparently, millions of years ago, the valley did sit on top of an active volcano caldera, which underwent some mini-eruptions, leading to the creations of hard rock formations. Thousands of years go by, sediment piles up between the harder rock components. More years go by, wind and water erodes all but the most stable rock, which is what’s seen today.

 

And the caves? Turns out Christian populations that had been kicked out of other parts of Anatolia in the earlier years of their existence made a home in the region, and carved dwellings out of the rock. And Sarah had seen a cross carved into a rock face earlier.

 

So there you go. We did alright in our predictions. I’ll give us a B+.

 

After a couple hours of relaxation, we changed, showered, and made our way down the hill to look for sustenance and entertainment. Oh and while I was waiting for Sarah to get ready I went to the terrace and took some sunset pictures, cuz, obviously.

Before we made it to downtown, we passed a little jewelry store with some cool stuff. It was run by a young woman, whose daughter was playing video games on a Disney princess themed couch in the corner of the shop. We bought a couple of pieces, all handmade by the shop owner herself. She thanked us and we continued on our way.

 

We’d seen a rooftop restaurant the night before called “Viewpoint.” Based on prior experience, traveling and in my own backyard, I knew places that have a cool view can sometimes sacrifice quality of food, service, or reasonable pricing. Still, it looked really cool, so we went to take a look at their menu, and then decide whether it was worth our time. We approached the restaurant, and almost changed our mind when we saw a different place that had a golden retriever sitting on its patio, but that place was only serving drinks, not dinner, so Viewpoint it was.

 

Okay, so, turns out this place was actually amazing in every way. First of all, the view was perfect. We could see all of Goreme, the surrounding canyons, and the giant plateau that hovered over the city. It was dusk, so everything was starting to light up around us.

Not every place in Turkey served alcohol, but they did, so I decided to try some local wine. They actually had a red variety that I’d stumbled upon in past research for my novel, so I decided to give it a try. I don’t always like red wines, but I loved this one. It was a sweeter red, kind of like a shiraz, which is my go-to red.

 

Then they gave us bread. And when Sarah asked for butter, our waiter came back with a little three-section dish with honey and butter, spicy salsa, and olive oil and pepper for dipping options. I love me some dips. I think I ate all of the olive oil on my own.

 

And then on top of all of that, the food was also excellent. I got a kabob and Sarah got a lamb shish kabob. Both came with fries, veggies, pita bread and rice, which was more than enough, of course, and it was all spiced to perfection.

 

We were having such a good time, we also opted to stay at the restaurant a little bit later. I got another glass of wine and we ordered a hookah pipe flavored with watermelon. Our waiters were super attentive too, making sure the coals stayed hot, and playing tricks with the smoke, like blowing it in my glass to make it look like a potion. I might be a witch now, let’s find out.

 

We’d had a lovely night out, now all we had to do was ascend the hill back to our hotel room. Turns out that is a much more difficult task after you’ve been smoking. Neither one of us smoke regularly, so we weren’t really expecting that consequence of our actions. But, huffing and puffing, we did eventually make it back to our room. We of course had to leave our door and window open for an hour or so to air out the sauna. But both were closed before bed, lest we again be woken up by the 3am alarm dog.

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