Wednesday, 9 May 2012

8 May – Goreme (Turkey) Cave dwelling photographs

Pictures of Goreme cave houses and the surrounds












8 May – Goreme (Turkey)

As I woke early and it was a lovely morning I went over to the side of the valley and watched the balloons as they flew over. There were over 80 balloons flying this morning.




What a surprise! We had to do a full truck clean this morning which took two and a half hours and included everyone on the truck. This was decided at 2100 hours last night when some people had gone to bed. There were a few grumbles this morning as some people had made tentative plans for the day. In the event about half a day was lost, not that the truck did not need to be cleaned but there was a  problem in communication in regard to the cleaning. Our illustrious leader has a power complex.

I wanted to post a parcel back to the UK with things I no longer need only to find that parcels could not be posted from Goreme but had to be sent from Urgup, the opposite way from where we would normally travel. Derek said he would go with me then two others asked for packages to be posted, and then we were told that all packages had to be taken unsealed to the post office for them to see what was inside before sealing. Off we walk up the road to catch a bus to Urgup only to have been told to wait at the wrong place. Derek saw the bus, waved at it, which then stopped and reversed to us. When we arrived at the depot and asked the driver how to get to the post office a lady heard us and offered to take us there. We walked into the post office, took a number and waited. Then a large woman pointed at us and said 'Out!’. Figuring that she did not mean it as said we went outside and a man seeing us with a parcel pointed out the parcel office which was in another building. Packages did have to be unsealed so we opened all of them then were told that the boxes were unsuitable and new boxes were produced, all free of charge. The lady in the parcel office did check the contents before sealing them herself so we left the parcels with her while we went over to the bank to get local money to pay the freight charges. Nothing seemed to be too much trouble for the people in the freight office and the post office and this has generally been my experience with all the people I have been in contact with in Turkey.

From Urgup we caught the bus back to Goreme and wandered round the back streets looking at the cave houses. We started to walk back to the camp site as there were no buses for another hour and half way up a horrible hill a minibus stopped and offered a lift, which we happily accepted.


This was a sledge said to date from 8000 BC which was used to separate kernels of wheat or barley from the husks and stalks. It consisted of one or more boards into which had been fitted sharp pieces of flint. The sledge would be harnessed to a donkey or oxen, then, depending on the size of the sledge the farmer would sit on it when it would be driven over dry stalks where the stalks would be cut into chaff and the grains fall off. The chaff would be winnowed, the stalks used for animal feed and the kernels ground for flour.  These were said to be in use in the countryside until 1970.

A room inside a cave house

A stone mason cutting the local stone which was actually quite soft. He was also very skilled as he was able to cut spot-on to a pencil line marked on the stone.

A lady weaving a wool carpet

A carpet shop

A spinning wheel for spinning rope


As there are a lot of photographs of the cave dwellings I will put a number of them on one blog as they are really something to see.

7 May – Konya to Goreme (Turkey)

What storm? There was a heavy storm last night with some holding onto tents in the rain. I did not feel or hear anything of it much to their surprise. I did however hear the wolves howling and the local dogs barking but I did see the dogs in the morning when they went out with the goats, one donkey and the farmer, and the dogs were huge. At least there was no rooster in the village to wake us up and that was strange as well.

Leaving at 0700 hours we headed for the Ihlara Valley. Volcanic eruptions caused tectonic movements that left the surface of the region covered with a layer of volcanic rock. The same volcanic activity led to pressure and heat being put upon the limestone causing it to crack and create naturally spouting springs of hot water. The structural characteristics of the region due to volcanic eruption produced tuff outcrops which were moulded by wind, erosion and other natural phenomena. Huge areas of crumbling rock completely covered the area in its debris. The Ihlara Valley alongside the Melendiz River is a result of this disintegration that created a canyon with a deep base.

The Ihlara Valley has protected these rock-cut dwellings which were used as churches and homes, the churches having frescoes which are now a unique historical treasury. These frescoed churches and dwellings easily carved into rock from the early years of Christianity are scattered all along the way from Ihlara to Selime through the Ihlara valley.

Due that the abundance of water and its hidden form and easily to hide structure it was the first settlement place of the first Christians escaping from the Roman soldiers. In the Ihlara Valley there are over a hundred of churches caved in the volcanic rocks, possibly over 4,000 homes and it is believed that 80,000 people may have lived there at one time.

Below are views of various caves in the valley.









A view of the valley from the top (turn head 45 degrees to see properly)

Mosaics in the churches cut into the rock

A local carving of a wolf
A birds nest, which one I do not know.
The visit to the caves took us two and a half hours and we covered more than 7 kilometres walking along the river then up to and down from the various caves and churches that interested us. At the end most of us were quite tired but the visit was worth the walk.

From the caves we travelled to Yeralti Sehri Underground City. This is a city completely underground and five stories deep. No photographs are available as there was a large group of Korean ladies there besides other tourists (us included) and the place was packed out. The access was very narrow and in parts there was a one-way system working. It was certainly very claustrophobic.

Then it was off to Goreme in Cappadocia where there are more elaborate cave still used for housing, restaurants and churches. The soft stone was formed by the weight of volcanic ash on it over years. 

Below are cave dwellings seen on the way to Goreme




When we arrived at the Kaya Camping and Caravanning Site, and as I was putting up my tent the heavens open with the result I was soaked and frozen, but the tent was erected. Later that afternoon the truck broke down when in town. Not everyone had gone with the truck and the first the rest of us who heard anything about this was when the others turned up with all our gear in a large minibus, minus my mattress! It is Tim’s birthday today so he provided some baklava which was greatly appreciated by all.

Monday, 7 May 2012

6 May – Olympos to near Konya (Turkey)

Leaving Olympos at 0600 hours we headed in the general direction of Ankara on the D400/D596/D300 motorways. The scenery was as before with farming, with forestry on both sides and quarries for marble and stone cutting, miles of greenhouses and polytunnels. I did see a mosque with shops as part of the building again and I do not understand how this could be so as it seems illogical. Then there was another mosque in the middle of an industrial park. The people of Turkey appear to be patriotic as a lot of homes and buildings fly the national flag.

We stopped to camp at 1720 at the side of a dam where there were man made holes in the rocks for shelter and for living inside. The local farmer, wife and two children came for a visit and indicated that they would like to see in the truck, which they were allowed to do. They spoke no English and we no Turkish, which was a pity, as I would have liked to talk to him. They were offered some food, vegetarian for once, but it was refused even by the children. Maybe they were Muslim and were not prepared to take any food from us not knowing what it was made of.  Bed in the tent by 2030 hours and slept well.

Sunrise leaving Olympos

A view from the road
The bush campsite near the dam

If this blog sounds as though I was bored then I was bored. It was just such a day!

Saturday, 5 May 2012

4 and 5 May – At Olympos (Turkey)

Early in the I heard a rooster crowing in the valley and actually stayed awake to listen to it crowing as the noise echoed down the valley and sounded very spooky. Breakfast was a freshly made omelette with vegetables and fresh bread, good enough for anyone.
I was up at 0730 hours for breakfast with no hangover (specially for daughter Sally)

There is a beach about 20 minutes walk away but one has to pay 5 lira to go through the ruins first! We did find out that if a 7 lira ticket was bought then anyone could go through for ten times, even by going through the gate then handing the ticket to someone outside the gate, it was for ten passes no matter who used the ticket. I walked down the river bed with others and paid nothing!

The campsite is in a deep rocky valley with forestry on both sides and with a river which goes underground for a short distance before reappearing again. It is not the tourist time here yet, two more weeks to go before it starts as far as I know, so there are many empty sites about. Some are quite attractive with the one shown below being decorated with old wheels and pots and pans.

I liked the wheels!
                                                                                                                                                   Treehouses at another hostel
At 21.00 hours some of us went by minibus to be dropped off to see the Chimera Yanartas where fumes escaping through the ground flame up and are quite interesting to see. I was allowed extra time to climb the last 30 minutes as the driver said that I was old! I was also watched by three of the group to make sure that I could manage and not fall on the very uneven ground and steps. The myth surround the chimera is quite complex so I will leave it out as it mixes up a lion, goat and snake, difficult to describe. There is something that if one was to see a chimera then one could expect storms, bad luck and volcanic eruptions! It was a hard climb up and down but it was worth it in the end, which was midnight when we arrived back at the camp site.

A general view of chimeras and various chimeras



On the morning of 5 May I went down the river to see the ruins and the beach at the end of the valley, Olympos Beach.

A view from the river inland

The river meeting the sea at Olympos Beach

Olympos Beach
There were quite extensive Roman remains either side of the river and which I found quite impressive. There must have been a large settlement here in Roman times judging by the ruins of the amphitheatre, temples and housing. They were poor compared to the like of Ephesus but were very interesting nonetheless.

The remains of the Roman Theatre (100 AD) possibly destroyed in an earthquake in 141 AD
The bath house ruins
Entrance door to the Temple
Hoplon family sarcophagus made of white marble (500 AD)
Remains of the mosaic building (500 AD)
The sarcophagus of Antimachos (200 AD) with a pseudo-door on one end indicating the entry to Hades

The rest of the day was spent doing blogs, difficult as there was an intermittent problem with the internet, and thinking of having to be on the road at 0600 hours tomorrow.