One for the bucket list

If there’s one thing you should do (if you haven’t already) before you shuffle off this mortal coil, it’s take a dawn ride in a hot air balloon across the spectacular Cappadocian landscape. We had six fabulous days in Cappadocia, but the highlight was soaring through the valleys and across the unique volcanic rock formations known as “fairy chimneys”. There must have been 80-100 balloons in the air the morning we flew (too many to count), adding to the marvellous scenery. The skilled pilots fly you right into the valleys, then out again. Balloon “kisses” are not uncommon!

Having viewed the landscape from the air we also trekked through some of the valleys to get a worm’s eye view of the fairy chimneys. The locals made dovecotes within these structures so they could collect guano for fertiliser. Also to be found are the many rock-hewn churches carved into the fairy chimneys. Many still have colouful frescoes, but others are a bit delapidated. Exploring these churches is a bit like being inside a giant block of Swiss cheese. Rose Valley, Red Valley, Ihlara Valley, Love Valley (named for the phallic-like formations) are all worth a look and you can poke around inside many of these churches along the way. The Goreme Open Air Museum is also a must see. The complex is made up of chapels, churches and monasteries, some which date back to the 10th-12th centuries.

Another highlight in Cappadocia is a visit to one of the underground cities carved out of the soft volcanic rock. We visited Derinkuyu which is a maze of tunnels and assorted “rooms” over 8 levels. The complex housed cellars, wine and oil presses, chapels, etc, and extended to a depth of approximately 85m. The city was large enough to provide shelter for 20,000 people along with sufficient food stores and animals to keep them going for quite some time. Such cities we used by early Christians to hide from marauding Roman soldiers, then later from Arab Muslims, where they’d hide until it was safe to come out. They built an elaborate security system that could ingeniously seal off the city using a system of massive stone doors rolled across the tunnel entrances. Indiana Jones eat your heart out!

We found the government funded carpet-making school interesting, seeing how they harvest silk from the silk worm cocoons. Managed to resist the temptation to buy a carpet for Loki. Of course we couldn’t leave Turkey until we’d seen a Whirling Dervish performance. It’s amazing they’re not completely giddy after all that spinning!

We then farewelled Turkey and cleared into Greece at Samos. Whilst in Samos we took the ferry down to Patmos for the day, well known as the place where St John is said to have lived in a cave whilst writing the Book of Revelation in AD 95. The fortress-like Patmos monastery crowns the hill of the Hora. It was built in honour of St John in 1088 and is one of the most sacred Christian sites in the world.  A visit to both the cave and the monastery, both UNESCO World Heritage sites, is obligatory. The monastery museum houses a collection of religious art, relics, vestments and numerous original parchment manuscripts, some dating back to 1073. On first pass you could be forgiven for thinking all are printed documents, but as the printing press wasn’t invented until 1440 this is obviously not the case for the older ones. They are so meticulously crafted and illustrated its hard to believe these were created so long ago. Unfortunately no photography is allowed inside.

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4 thoughts on “One for the bucket list

  1. Hi Kate
    Fabulous photos !
    I enjoyed the same experience in Cappadoccia last year… it was the highlight of my trip to Turkey.
    We stayed in one of the Cave Hotels.
    As usual, I am very envious of your trip…. trying to enjoy it vicariously !
    4c here this morning brrrrr !
    Hi to Adrian

  2. Great pics Kate. Makes me want to have a break.
    The next few weeks are going to be pretty busy so may need to think about mid year trip.
    Moving house is a great chance for a purge (although no rubber bands or glass jars or Xmas paper to be dealt with in our house)
    Half the work already done as we moved most of our furniture out for the sale as it took up too make space and moved in stuff from a stylist to make the room look better.
    All of that is being removed today so we will be sitting on folding chairs till next Wednesday when the movers come.
    Was going to send you a link to our new rented accommodation but they have taken it offline as we have done the deal.. Frequent stayer program continuing from new location.xx
    Will send pics when we move in so you can see our new harbour views

  3. How hilarious! These balloon “kisses”….are they balloon on balloon or fixed wing aircraft on balloon? 😉

  4. Fabulous update Kate! Just amazing! Missed you at book club last night of course 0 you really did have a better offer though! Love to you both 🙂

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