Turkey – Day Eight – Goreme (Monday)

This is the Monday, the 15th of October. We’ve been in Turkey for a week.

We woke up at a reasonable hour to NO kitty surprises, which was nice! Pakuze is a sweet, sweet kitty and, as Lisa from Barrie, ON, stated: “I’d pick her out of a litter.” We’re so glad she’s found a home.

We ate inside as the weather was cold: rainy and unsettled. I sent an email to the Rock Valley people as I had exchanged emails with Jody about possibly going horseback riding, but today wasn’t exactly shaping up to be a good day. Steve was hoping to hike the Rose Valley, which was apparently spectacular with pink-tinted rocks, but it wasn’t exactly shaping up for that, either.

We had a chat with Kevin, the nice Australian man. We had discussed renting a car to go to the Ihlara Valley, as he wanted to see it too, but now he was considering taking off the next day like Lisa had. We decided to look more into prices of hiring a driver, as I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to drive myself if Kevin was leaving. After a leisurely morning of chatting and cuddling the kadi, it was time to bite the bullet and, wearing every piece of clothing we brought, we left the pension under a threatening sky to go back to the Goreme Open Air Museum. We were hoping that the wet weather and the Monday would keep most of the tourists away (funny how we didn’t think of ourselves as tourists!).

On our way down through the village, we stopped in at a little shop to buy some visne and su, and as usual, thanked the shopkeeper in Turkish. He asked us where we were from, in very broken English, and we said “Kanada”. He told us his son was in Australian, and when Steve said he had been to Australia, we found ourselves whisked into his back room, seated at a table, and a photo album of his son’s recent trip to Australia was placed in front of us, along with steaming glasses of tea! The man explained that his son, Ali, had gone to Australia and was now engaged to an Australian woman. He was so proud! It was very sweet, and the tea was lovely and warm in the cold weather.

Shivering in our sandals, we headed out on the road that leads the kilometre to the Open Air Museum. Kilometres in Turkey seem much longer than Canadian kilometres! We passed one area with a HUGE puddle, and realized a bus was bearing down on the puddle, threatening to swamp us. We were running out of the danger zone when the bus driver passed us very slowly and carefully in order to avoid watery displacement — so kind! He was laughing at us while he did it, but at least we weren’t wet.

The museum was much, much less crowded than yesterday. After paying our 10L each, we went in the opposite order from the tour by walking up some stairs to the left upon entry. There was a cute little dog curled up under a bush next to a church and Steve mentioned to me that he wondered what the Turkish word for ‘dog’ was. A woman just above us told her husband to tell us the word: kÖpek, pronounced ‘kerpek’. Awww, cute little kopek!

We went first into the Sandal Church which had been an absolute zoo on the tour. This time, we had it all to ourselves and had lots of opportunity to take photos of the amazing frescos.

From the top of the site, we enjoyed looking out over the little valley all shrouded and magical in the mist and rain. The demeanor of both valley and tourists was hushed and reverent.

Next we went to the Dark Church, which has an additional 10L each fee to get in. We had declined to go in during the tour, due to the likely overcrowded-ness of it, but Adil had mentioned specifically that it was worth it to go back and look at it. You enter through a rather nice set of stairs onto a little raised courtyard, where you pay, and then go through a steepish ramp/steps up into the rock. The Dark Church isn’t called such because of any scary elements; rather, the single window made it a dark place. The darkness saved the incredibly bright and beautiful 11th C frescoes from both the degredation of sunlight and the predations of bored shepherds with pointy sticks. The place is deeply magical and we were so fortunate that we had it to ourselves for over 20 minutes straight, before other intrepid pilgrims came to wonder at the pictures. Every dome, arch and surface is covered in bright and vibrant paintings.

When and if you go to Goreme, go to the Dark Church. It is completely worth the extra lira.

We eventually left the Dark Church to look at the other churches we had previously seen. It was nice to have the time to take pictures at our leisure, though some of the guides looked a little sniffy when they thought we were listening to their tours. As the weather disimproved, we thought we’d go while the going was good.

I didn’t even take the time to use the museum washrooms… on the Saturday, I had stood in line for the lady’s (bayanlar) tuvalet only to find out that the lineup was only for the sit-down toilets. There was a whole busload of English ladies who were more willing to stand in line to sit down, rather than use the squat toilets! I had come out of the bathroom shaking my head over this, much the amusement of the rest of the group.

As we were running the gauntlet of tourist shops in the beginnings of the deluge, crazy Japanase tourists were being convinced to buy and eat ice-cream (dondurma) in the freezing rain.

In the space of 30 feet of tourist shops, we decided to stop in a little cafe for some gozleme (Turkish filled crepes) and wait for the rain to pass. We were delighted to find not only cheap, tasty gozleme, but a red-hot space heater pumping out the BTUs. We ate gozleme after gozleme, and drank tea after tea, waiting for the weather to turn. It didn’t.

Some Russian tourists came by and parked themselves in front of the heater, so it was time to go. We raced back to Goreme through what I’m sure was sleet. We were freezing cold and soaked to the skin — bah, humbug! I knew the cave would be cool, so passing through Goreme village, I stopped at a number of shops to look for a wool blanket. They had wool pashminas a-plenty, but the ‘wool’ blankets and ponchos we were shown were definitely acrylic. We declined, and headed back to the pension.

On the upside, the common room in the pension also had a glowing space-heater; on the downside, the room was chilly. We were advised by Andor that the heating guy hadn’t come today, but hopefully tomorrow. We asked for an extra blanket and fresh (dry) towels, which we were given. We curled up in bed, trying to keep warm and hoping our soaked clothes might dry before we left Wednesday morning.

After warming up and getting a bit dry, the weather looked like it was improving, so we headed back down the hill to a L.P. recommended restaurant, Dibek. The cobbles were wet and shiny, and everything was very picturesque in the mist. Too bad we could see our breath, and wearing sandals at the same time!

In Dibek, we were seated on cushions on the floor around a low table. It was remarkably comfortable, and lovely music was playing from a… computer! Like most places we had been so far, the public areas in hotels and cafes were often the family’s private area as well, so there was a tv in the corner as well. This seems like a sensible idea, as it cuts down on the need for separate living and shop/restaurant space. In our land-hungry Vancouver, I wish more people did this.

Dinner was amazing: I had a lamb shish (kuzu sis) and Steve had a lamb casserole that was absolutely divine! We had an amusing incident: I had ordered our dinner in Turkish with no problems, but a woman who had just sat down across the room was very excited and asked me, as I spoke Turkish (?!), to translate a letter for her! I had to politely tell her that no, I didn’t speak Turkish, what you heard was pretty much the extent of it… It was flattering — apparently my accent is pretty good 🙂 This woman, from Ottawa, had done a trip in Turkey with friends a few years ago, and was taking her husband now on the Exact Same Tour. Same hotels, same restaurants — same trip. Bizarre!

Dinner was awesome, even the baklava that Steve ordered (too sweet for me, I’m afraid).

Before leaving, we made a reservation for tomorrow night including ordering claypot casserole, which has to be ordered at least four hours in advance. Mmmmm! Dibek is very nice: highly recommended!

We headed back up to the pension and hung out in front of the heater for as long as possible before heading to our cold bed. We had nice chats with Kevin and Andor, who convinced Steve to play his guitar again. Too bad Andor likes classic rock best, but has a classical guitar! Steve pulled out some Lynyrd Skynyrd (I think) which was a crowdpleaser. Andor offered us a good deal on a driver and van (his van, the Russian as driver) that was about the same price as renting a car + gas. Kevin was still thinking of leaving the next day due to the weather, but thought he might come. We decided to decide tomorrow and headed to bed.

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