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Tonielle's European Adventure "It's always better on holiday, so much better on holiday. That's why we only work when... we need the money." - Franz Ferdinand

Turkey adventures - hospital visits, horse capers and rock climbing!

TURKEY | Sunday, 1 November 2009 | Views [1009]

Selçuk to Capadocia.

After Gallipoli, I had an eight-hour bus to Selçuk where I stayed at a fantastic hostel called Allita’s Getaway. I had one day of sightseeing out to a small fruit wine town called Siringe, and saw a few ruins in town and then that night I was up vomiting and diarrhea for five hours until I got one of the guys to drive to the hospital in town. Turns out I’d picked up a bug somewhere, and had bacteria in my blood… so I ended up on a drip all day, and then had to go back the next day for another one… not fun.

So that extended my say in Selçuk a little longer… I ended up staying there for a week, which the boys (Attila, Carlos and Rob) were very happy about. After a couple of days, I was back up and went to explore Ephesus - amazing Greek ruins near town. It is one of the best preserved and largest sites in the world, a whole Greek city. It was so impressive and you could walk down the old streets and really imagine what it would have looked like all those years ago.

The next day was market day, so we went into town to check that out, seeing all the amazing fresh produce made me really want to cook up a storm, but the hostel did a pretty good job of feeding us. That afternoon, Attila, Liz, Sam (girls from the hostel) and I all went horse riding over the mountains and down to the beach through Selçuk and it was nothing but eventful. The others had all grown up with pony club or ridding horses a lot, so myself with only two horse trails under my belt was the inexperienced rider of the group. We were all shocked about the condition of the horses, all were un-groomed, ratty hair and were really skinny which wasn’t a good start. Within five minutes of riding on the rocky track, going pretty fast, my horse tripped, landed on its knees and I did a perfect somersault over the horses head and landed on my bum on the side of the track. I couldn’t believe it, I was just sitting there a bit shocked and after everyone had found out that I was ok, they were pissing themselves laughing and said that it looked amazing! I wish I’d got it on video, I could have made a fortune on “Funniest Home Videos”.

Leaving Selçuk the next day, I headed for Fethieye, a town on the coast with its main feature, their marina. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t in my favour, and after a night of in town watching Istanbul football in a local bar, my boat tour was cancelled due to bad weather and so I spent the day catching up with Jen (an aussie girl that I’d met up with twice before through Turkey) and walking through town, getting caught in torrential rain. This made my decision easier to leave the coast and start heading inland, and the next day I caught a bus to Konya.

Unfortunately I didn’t get into town till after midnight (that’s always the worst), and after talking to the men from the bus company desk, and after finding out I had to catch a 45lira ($30) taxi into town, they took pity on me and one of the men drove me into town, straight to my hotel for free! Now, I don’t usually make a habit of getting into cars with strangers, but the Turkish are so hospitable and usually want to help you out, that I decided to trust this guy, and it all worked out.

Konya is just another city to be honest, but it broke up the journey to Capadocia, so I spent the day wandering through town and found this fabulous Dervish mosque that has since been converted into a museum of the faith. Unfortunately I couldn’t take any photos, but it was filled with 40-something coffins of Dervish soldiers that were draped in cloth and each had their hat sitting on top. It also had many artifacts of the faith, books and carpets and clothing. I was walking through it myself, trying to avoid large tourist groups when a Turkish man approached me and started to describe the museum for me. Now I knew he would probably end up asking me for money in the end, but I let him take me on a tour anyway and it was a great way to learn about the Dervish and their rituals.

The way I understood it (and I could be completely wrong) was that they were part of the Muslim faith, but more like monks in that they had rituals and meditation as part of it as well. The man explained that if a young man wanted to become Dervish, he had to study for 1001 days. When he first arrived he sat on his knees and had to stay in one room and meditate for three days. If after that time he wanted to continue he began jobs – starting at toilets, working his way up to gardening, all the way up to merchant and chef and also had to study – the Koran and the books of the Dervish people, meditation, and the twirling until finally 1001 days were up and then you were a fully fledged member of the Dervish.

Other than that, there wasn’t much else to see in Konya. I managed to be there for Independence Day, so I saw some traditional dancing demonstrations in town, and eventually made it to the top of Aladdin’s Hill which was a park with café’s and a really old mosque and one remaining pillar from the palace that used to be there. There was a Sultan Aladdin there at some point – I saw his grave… but I don’t think it would be the carpet-riding, monkey owning street kid that we all know and love.

The next day I caught the bus to Capadocia – Flinstones Country! I had been warned by someone who had come from there about a scam they pull, where the bus stops at the town before Göreme (where I want to be) and someone official looking will come onto the bus – while the conductor is busy with bags – and tells you that this is Göreme and you need to get off here. So you do and then he’ll take you into his tour shop and try and sell you tours/accommodation etc. Then, he’ll get a shuttle bus and take you into Göreme.

Well knowing this, I thought I’d be right, but unfortunately I still got sucked into it! What confused me was that the conductor was also telling me to get off there, so what could I do? Sure enough, I get off, this man tells me I can wait in his shop for the shuttle and then proceeds to try to sell me stuff. I was pissed off… cos I’d known about it and still did it anyway, so I gave him short answers and kept asking when the shuttle would get here. When he’d decided that he wasn’t getting anything from me, he said “Ok, shuttle here now” and took me outside, pointed me to a big bus that had been sitting there the whole time and left. So I walked over to the bus, where they told me it would be an hour before it left!! I was really angry now, so I stormed back to the office where the man had typically disappeared, and after ranting at anyone that tried to sell me anymore stuff, I managed to find someone who would tell me there was a dolmish station up the road and one passed every half hour to Göreme. So eventually I got the dolmish, and I was finally in town, and happy knowing that that prick of a man didn’t win! :P

Besides that experience, I loved Capadocia! After dumping my backpack at the hostel, I did the trek out to the Open Air Museum, a few k’s out of town. It was pretty incredible! Its basically an area with many churches and houses all condensed together. Capadocia came about because there were three volcanos making a triangle, and it was in the middle. So when they were active, the area was constantly covered in ash and lava, where it layered and formed bazaar rock formations. Then one day in the second century, there were a group of Christians that needed to hide from persecution, and so they built houses and churches into the rock formations and lived and taught Christianity there, virtually invisible from the main trade roads. So the museum explained about the various buildings in the area and showcased the still remaining fresco’s painted over the walls and ceilings of the churches. Very impressive.

The next day, I joined the “Green Tour” and our first stop was to Derinkuyu Underground City. The villagers in this area had to hide from invasion and attack as it was on the main trade route, so underneath their homes, were tunnels where they could quickly escape down if anyone came. This particular underground city was seven levels down, and had to accommodate a few thousand people for up to three months at a time. So they had it decked out with things like ventilation shafts, curvy chimneys (so the smoke from cooking would filter out slowly), food stocks, a church, a wine cellar and circular rock doors that could close the tunnels, and not easily be removed – just like the Flinstones had!!!

It was really deep, and although I’m not clastrophobic (a couple of people had to turn back, cos they freaked out), you did feel very trapped and felt that there was less air down there than normal. I don’t know how people would have stayed sane having to live down there for three months! It would have been so crowded and stinky and dank!

After getting some fresh air back on ground level, we headed off to Inhara Gorge. Apparently a tenth of the size of the Grand Canyon, it was nevertheless still impressive, with a small river flowing down the middle and its own little micro-climate down below, we took the track down into it and enjoyed a half hour trek through it, before popping back up for lunch. It was really beautiful down there and made me realize that I really need to do more nature sights on my journeys!

Back on the bus, and we headed out to an old monastery that served initially as a place to teach travelers far and wide about god, then later as a resting house on a busy trade route, where travelers could stay and get a feed for themselves and their horses, all on the government’s bill. These were by far the most impressive buildings I saw in Capadocia, with most of the facades crumbled away, to reveal inside. It was cool because we had the opportunity to climb through them and explore all the rooms connected through various tunnels and stairs – just like kids!

That night, Justin (Canadian guy I’d met at the hostel) and I headed out to meet F (woman from bus) for dinner at this little café in town. The night before we had a crepe there, and after talking to the mother and son for a while, they had invited us back to try a local dish she would make for us. Our dinner was kinda like a vegetable stew, very yummy with lots of those nutrients that we’d been missing from eating too many kebabs of late!

Over dinner, we found out F’s story and discovered that she’d always loved traveling, but at the start of the year, after her husband had left her and she’d retired from her job, she decided to sell her house and everything she owned and hit the road. Her plan was to just keep traveling for the rest of her life! She’d just done two months riding her bike through Italy! Crazy lady… but good on her!

The next day was our adventure through the Red and Rose Valley’s. We walked for over five hours, probably 15km or so through an amazing landscape, climbing through different buildings carved from the rock and some sketchy parts of the slippery valley (yes I fell on my ass and scraped up my elbow!) and most importantly, didn’t get lost!!! Every time we’d turn another corner, there would be another amazing landscape in front of us, and there was more than a few occasions I just stood there going “wow”!

After our trek, we were pretty wrecked and then spent the evening dreading getting onto our night bus to Malatya. 10pm we arrived at the bus depot where we got on a shuttle to the next town and a bigger bus stop. We were told our bus got there at 10.30pm, then 11pm, then midnight… by the time the bus came at 12.30am, we were cold and pissed off, but all you can do is go with it, so we got on for a seven hour bus ride, with maybe three hours sleep if we were lucky. All part of the fun of traveling through Turkey!

Photos: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2021448&id=219300161&l=84fe75dc0c

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2021448&id=219300161&l=84fe75dc0c

Tags: capadocia, dervish soldiers, ephesus, fethieye, flinstones, goreme, horse riding, hospital visits, konya, selçuk

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