|The Cappadocia region, famous for its ancient underground cities hewn into the soft volcanic rock ‘tuff‘, is the place where nature and history have come together most beautifully. While geographic events formed huge stone mushrooms known as 'peribacalari' (fairy chimneys), local communities were responsible for carving and decorating houses, dovecotes and churches within these earthen pillars. Surrounding the fairy chimmneys are soft ridges, deep valleys, acute edges and mild undulations all created out of tuff.
Enroute to the village of Goreme we stopped to look at underground cities (actually, I didn‘t go in), fairytale landscapes and fresco-filled rock-carved churches. The fairy chimneys are incredible and not only do they form a fascinating and unique landscape but they are also a functional part of the town of Goreme, providing shelter and religious structures for the residents in and amongst the usual building of the village.
Whilst in Goreme I decided to give the hammam another try and went to the very recently opened Elis Hammam with Nikki. In order to ensure that I got the hammam etiquette right I asked the staff if we were to be naked or clothed and was told ‘naked’. So we stripped off and wrapped the provided towel around ourselves and commenced hammaming. Firstly I had my face covered in a mud mask then proceeded to the sauna to bake for 15 minutes. It was in the sauna that we realised that everyone else had swimmers on and so we hastily went back to the change room and put bikinis on (which had fortunately brought with us) and sheepishly went back to the sauna.
Following the sauna was a rinse and scrub courtesy of a very efficient, professional (and fully clothed) Turkish woman. The scrub was followed up with laying down on a large circular marble table (with in-slab heating no less!) and given a thorough soaping and massage. I was rinsed off and then went for a swim in the indoor pool, followed by a shower and being dried off and wrapped up in towels before an oil massage then I was done.
The whole thing was fantastic, the place was gorgeous and clean. It all took about 2 hours in total and cost the princely sum of $50AUD, well worth every cent. I feel I have sufficiently recovered now from my Syrian hamman experience and very glad I gave a Turkish one a try.
They serve a local dish here in clay pots that are sealed together in the oven with the stew inside them. In order to get the food out you have to break the pot open with a hammer. Great fun although care must be taken not to smash the pot into little pieces of you end up eating a lot of clay (I learned from experience).
I’m catching the bus to Ankara this afternoon then the overnight train from there to Istanbul. I’m so excited about Istanbul and can hardly wait!