Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Burning Coffee Repels Wasps; Caves are Nicer than You Think

Today was mostly a travel day, but we did get to see some interesting things. 

We're now in a place called Cappadocia, which is famous for the dwellings carved out of rock cliffs and eroded rock formations all along this area.  It really is quite amazing:

We spent almost two hours exploring this old community, which was only actually abandoned in the 1950s when the government told the residents it was unsafe. They were probably right. Evidence of cave ins was everywhere. 

The settlement was actually constructed by the early Christians fleeing Roman prosecution more than a thousand years ago. And they're apparently all over the place, carved into the soft volcanic rock of the area. 

There were about three hundred churches carved into the rock near where we were. Most had been ornately painted with frescoes and the like, but when the Ottoman Empire and Islam took hold, most of those paintings were destroyed. Case in point:

What does remain is a bit damaged, but still pretty cool:

After this, we stopped for lunch at a restaurant on the Red River, which is the longest river in Turkey. What we learned is that if you set a bowl of ground coffee on fire (I guess it smoulders rather than burns) the smoke will magically repel wasps. Who knew?  Save your citronella money folks.

Our hotel for the next few days is in one of these cave dwellings (hopefully not ready to collapse). On checking in, they told us that they had us upgraded to a suite. Wow. Who knew a cave could be this nice. It basically has five rooms. It is bigger than our last house. Below is a photo of the living room - others to follow tomorrow (when it's daylight and the room is a little less chaotic than it is now).

Before dinner, we enjoyed some local wine from the area, while chatting and looking out from the main veranda:

Tomorrow will be another busy day, so hopefully lots more pictures to post. We're staying in the area, and will be exploring an old cave/cliff monastery, underground "cities" (read: tunnels) and a few other sites. 

Last fun tidbit. This area is known for ceramics. Our guide took us out for a traditional dinner, which was a meat stew baked into a clay pot, sealed at the top (with I don't know what). To eat, you smash the lid off the pot and voila. Delicious. 

I hate posting pics of food, but thought it was interesting, so there you go. 

Talk to you all soon,

Paul and Aoife. 

Ps. I'm typing all of these posts on an iPod touch/iPhone. Autocorrect is killing me..! Sorry for minor typos, etc. 

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