The further east we traveled the fewer people we found who spoke English. Nigde was the least touristy town we stayed in and very few people spoke English. Nevertheless everyone was still very friendly and helpful.
  There aren’t many hotels to choose from but we enjoyed the Hotel Nahita (a.k.a. Evlin) at $45 per night. The next morning we visited the surprisingly interesting Eski Gumusler Monastery just 10 km east from Nigde. This has to be one of the best unheralded places in Turkey that we just stumbled across.

A person could spend hours here. Some of the frescos were the equal to some of the more renowned places in Cappadocia. Unfortunately we were asked not photograph them. I've included some scans of poor quality lithographs that we purchased. If you are in the area don’t miss this hidded gem.


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From above ground no one would ever expect that a large village was just under foot.

The purchased lithographs

  Cappadocia is an ancient region that seems to have a rather undefined boundary.
  At least I never found a boundary description but in the words of Tony the Tiger, “It’s great!” It is filled with wild geographic formations, subterranean cities, cave dwellings, huge snowcapped mountains, and history that will make your head spin.  
  Goreme is the most famous area in the Cappadocia region and it is truly wonderful but there are other places in Cappadocia that are every bit as good and in some ways better and cheaper. More about that later.

Goreme Open Air Museum
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  We stayed at the enjoyable Traveler’s Cave. It is built into the rock and you literally are staying in a cave. It was about $25 per night and included a great breakfast.

The rock formations and cave dwellings in Zelve are nearly as good as Goreme but without the crowds and the expense. We were greeted with the now familiar, “Where are you from?” as we drove in looking for a place to park. Mehet kind of adopted us rather than us hiring him as a guide but it worked out pleasantly. He took us on a 30 minute walk showing and explaining to us the many good things about Zelve. He asked nothing in return but we felt compelled to purchase a few inexpensive items at his merchandise stand before we left. In return he bought us some traditional Çay tea.


Erhan in his store

Avanos is an artisan town renowned for its jewelry and ceramics. Patti and I each met people from this village that we found memorable.

While Patti and I were exploring Zelve a man came up to me and in typical Turkish style said, “Where are you from?” After a brief conversation with him I decided to stay and talk with him longer and I told Patti to go on with her walk without me.

Erhan and I had a pleasant conversation about religion, politics, and just about everything else in his sister’s little open-air restaurant. I had been looking forward to seeing the things that Patti saw on her walk but for some reason I felt a need to stay and talk with this guy. I’m glad I did it was an informative, interesting and meaningful conversation. It also lead to an invitation to his jewelry shop and some great buys!

His shop, Sayan Onyx Jewerly Center, is located on the edge of town and was filled with high quality jewelry and ceramics.

  He also pointed us towards a government sponsored rug factory where we wound up buying a rug. If you are ever in Avanos tell Erhan that you read about his shop on my website. (I am NOT getting any sort of kickback from Erhan or anyone else in Turkey I simply tell it as I see it. He is now a friend.)
  Patti wanted to go to the Hair Museum and there we met Chez Galip who said he is more famous in France than he is in Turkey. Apparently tons of French come here seeking his ceramic treasures. He owns Çeç Pottery and started the Hair Museum as a fluke several years ago and it has grown into Guinness Book of Records proportion. It is astounding.
  There are thousands of hair clippings all tacked to the walls and ceilings, which now includes a clip of Patti’s hair. More importantly he has some really fine ceramics! Just look for the Hair Museum.

Jandarma Station

The Valley of Fairy Chimneys could well be described as a bunch of huge rock mushrooms. Over many years people have carved into these enormous rock formations and created homes, churches, and more including the local Jandarma Station (military police). While exploring the Fairly Chimneys I befriended a couple of Jandarma. They were great guys! We found a lot of really nice friendly people in Turkey.

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Urgup is larger and less touristy than Goreme but still has many nice restaurants, shops, and a few noisy discos. We stayed at the Hitit Hotel (Hittite) which was an easy walk to the center of town but yet was quiet and very pleasant.
  The hotel was $50 per night with breakfast. It was undergoing some renovations while we were there and should be even better in the future.
The Kaymakli underground city is … well I’m running out of adjectives. Okay it was darn unbelievable. This has been an active city for thousands of years and was still inhabited until it suffered sever earthquake damage in the early 1960s. It covered an area about 2 kilometers square and was home to about 8,000 citizens. The town was made up of homes, churches, public cooking areas, storage areas, etc. on 8 levels beneath the ground.
  The Soganli Village was another place that was not as famous as Goreme but had cave homes and churches with wonderful frescos without the crowds or the high entrance fees.

Click on any photograph to see a larger image.

  In the Ottoman times caravan houses were built along the Roman and Byzantine routes as a safe haven for caravanning merchants.
  The Saruhan was built in 1249 and is located about 5 kilometers northeast of Urgup. It has nightly “Whirling Dervish” ceremonies. Unfortunately none of the shows fit our schedule.
  Perhaps the best part of our trip to Turkey happened near the end with a balloon ride in Cappadocia. Wow, wow, wow!!!!

Click on any photograph to see a larger image.

  If you only go on a balloon ride once in your life this just might be the best place on planet earth to do it. We flew with Cappadocia Ez Air Balloons and our pilot was Alper Çetin. The equipment and pilot were topnotch (well at least from my unknowledgeable perspective). It sure seemed like safety was a priority but yet we were having SO MUCH FUN. We shared our basket with a delightful group of Taiwanese. They were a real hoot. We slowly took off and hovered only a few feet off the ground and drifted between the rock formations and though the valleys. Occasionally we would drift close to a cliff and then rise up just over the edge and every once in a while we would just barely brush the treetops. GOING UP! All of a sudden we very quickly shot up above the clouds to maybe 4,000 feet. After a few minutes we descended back down into the valley. We made a soft landing in a vineyard and were quickly met by the ground crew and celebrated our flight with a Champaign toast.
  After 20 fun filled days in Turkey it was time to start heading home but not without having one last fling on our way back.   NEXT PAGE >>>


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This page was last modified:December 15, 2007