Cairo to Istanbul 2010 travel blog

Richard negotiating a tunnel at Derinkuyu underground city

Our lunch stop in Ihlara Valley

Love Valley

Weird rock formations in Cappadocia

We arrived in Goreme (Cappadocia) yesterday afternoon after a few sightseeing stops on the way.

First stop was at Derinkuyu Underground City - this was where ancient Turks would go underground when they were in danger of being attacked, and stay there for up to 2 months. It was a complete city dug out of the rock underneath their village where they could escape with their livestock and families and their enemies were not able to find them. There was even a morgue down there. There were big rocks that could be rolled across tunnels in case the enemy did get in and as you can see from the photo the tunnels were really small so easy enough to pick off the enemy one by one if need be. This city is one of many in this area.

After this we had a short drive to the Ihlara Valley, a deep gorge full of churches cut into the rocks, which date from Byzantine times. Very pretty scenery and we hiked for about 3km alongside a little stream until we came to a village and had lunch at a restaurant. I had fresh trout - delicious! Our tables were located over the stream where we could watch the ducks fighting for scraps of bread while we ate.

Back onto the bus for the last leg of the trip to Goreme, a beautiful little town located amongst the "fairy chimneys" Cappadocia is famous for. These were formed when the volcano Mt Erciyes erupted millions of years ago, and erosion has removed the softer layers and left the harder "chimney top" sitting on top of the stalk. These rock formations were used as homes in years gone by (even up to 35 years ago they were still occupied), with rooms carved out of the soft rock and many churches set up for the population. This morning we hiked to "Love Valley", see photo above - no prizes for guessing why it has that name! Following our hike we went to a local carpet shop run by a New Zealand woman who explained how to pick a quality carpet and weed out the rubbish. Most of her carpets were out of our price league, but they were beautiful and are collectors items as there are not many of the nomads making these carpets these days. This afternoon a group of us hired quad bikes and went for a 3 hour ride among this amazing scenery, stopping at different places along the way to take photos and wander around the rock houses. At our last stop the tour leader produced a couple of bottles of wine and bread and cheese - no worries about drink driving here! We went over terrain that I would never have attempted on my own and it was exhilirating, but very dusty! He did bring out the air hose at the end to blow the dust off us.

Now I'm just waiting for tea time - we are going to a restaurant for a "testi kebab", which our leader assured us does not contain testes! It's just meat cooked in a clay pot and is supposed to be delicious.

We have most of tomorrow free here before leaving at 4pm to travel to Ankara to board the overnight train to Istanbul then we say goodbye to our travelling companions before embarking on the last stage of our holiday - Crete and London.

Will keep you updated.

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