Monday, April 28, 2008

Kapadokya to Ankara

We spent all day Sunday enjoying the Cappadocian landscape. In the morning, we toured an underground city - one of many in the area. The guide we hired had actually been born in one of its caves and lived there until 1964, when the government paid everyone to move into modern houses so they could turn the complex into a tourist sight. (Some people later moved back to the caves because they were more comfortable than the houses - warmer in the winter, cooler in the summer, quieter and darker.) It's definitely smaller and darker than I'm used to (even after basement living in DC), but brilliantly designed and constructed. Stables, wells, ventilation shafts, communal kitchens and dining rooms... I wish I could have seen it in action. A living history set-up would have been great.

We had tea at a panoramic viewpoint and then continued to the Göreme Open Air Museum, which has a concentration of very old churches (approximately 11th century). Some had frescoes, and some had simple red ochre painting. Originally, Christians lived in the area to escape persecution, and later they lived there as hermits, monks or nuns to pursue a solitary way of life.

After lunch, we hiked through Rose Valley and soaked up the (mostly) natural landscape. There were a few farmers tending grape vines and 2 postcard shops, but besides that it was just the soft, organic windswept stones. Some are snow-white and some are rosy, and some are yellow. I can't wait to post pictures.

Today, we had a relaxed morning in Ürgüp - Mom and I went shopping and stumbled into a ceramics store, tended by the artist herself. We each bought a very pretty plate - it's one of the things I'd been looking for as a souvenir of this trip, so I'm happy to have found such a nice one. Mom also found a really cool rug for her kitchen, so it was a successful morning!

We took the bus to Ankara, and had a terrific dinner at Margaret's apartment - cooked by Uğur, her boyfriend. Dessert was asure - the story goes that at the end of the voyage, everyone on Noah's Ark brought whatever food they had left and added it to the pot. The result is a sort of rice pudding that includes barley, chickpeas, nuts, dried fruit and other stuff. I'll definitely try to make a batch when I get home.

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