July 25th 2010
Took the overnight bus from Istanbul to Goreme (about 12 hours total including stops). Goreme, which is located in the Cappadocia region, has some really interesting rock formations (nicknamed “Fairy chimneys”) that resulted from volcanic eruptions eons ago. I believe the region was underwater as well then, so that’s how the pointed rock formations resulted (bottom heavy, sharp-ish tops).
I stayed at Yasin’s Backpacker Hostel, in an underground cave room. It got cold and the beds got damp at night but it’s a cave, so there’s nothing we could do about it. The Japanese guy who slept in the bed beside me had the worst snore in recorded history. It’s in the top 3 of worst snorers I’ve encountered in my lifetime. It was impossible to sleep the first night. At one point, I lay awake and mockingly fake-snored as loud as him, hoping he’d hear me. But outside of the damp room, the odd smell of shit near the toilet area (I’m sure the sewage system isn’t the best), the squat toilet, the difficult to use shower system (you had to stand at a certain angle in the corner or risk wetting all your clothes that you hung up on the wall, as the shower head sprayed water all over the place), the hostel was as charming as a cave hostel could be. Breakfast was cooked by Yasin’s mom, so good.
Goreme is a small town of about 2100 people. The place is catered for tourism but it maintained its localness. I particularly enjoyed the little bookstore that sold used English books. I sold some of my books, picked up “Dracula”. I ate claypot beef stew twice that day, each at different locations. Absolutely delicious.
I spent the first day exploring the Goreme Open Air Museum. It’s basically a well-guarded enclosed area of rock formations and caves that people used to live in maybe thousands of years ago.Tourists can walk in/out of these caves and check out old frescos, and rooms which used to be refectories, storage areas, sleeping areas, churches etc. In fact, a lot of people still live in caves like these around the Cappadocia region.
I had originally wanted to spend two nights in Goreme but difficult sleeping conditions, on top of the fact I had troubling thinking of things to do in such a small, remote region of Turkey, I decided to stay only a night instead.
I spent the entire second day on a special tour Yasin put together (in addition to running the hostel for 3 years to date, he’s trying to start his own tour to add to the already available commercial Green/Red tours, which apparently had their flaws so he’s trying to improve upon it). We explored lots of cultural regions of Cappadocia, hiked hills to check out remove cave churches and places, ate fresh apricots straight from the trees growing in the area (they were SO good), drank apple tea with a local man and his wife who took care of certain cave churches, ate an amazing lunch (chicken claypot stew, bread with fresh cheese/honey, fruit), exploring an underground city (which had up to 7 layers and many intricate tunnels connecting them, but we were restricted to only a few), checked out local excavation sites that had Roman ruins, looking out our van window as we drove past amazing Cappadocian landscape, watching a local potter show how us how he works…It was a fantastic day I will never forget.
I left on the overnight bus that night. One more night in Istanbul and I’m going to Cairo.