Goreme, October 19th

This place is breathtaking, beautiful and gorgeous with homes dug deep into sandy cliffs and fairy chimneys; these conical rock formations. Dotted about the landscape are small farms with goats, olive trees, apricot trees, etc; depsite the encroaching desert. The whole Middle Eastern flavour seems to be so much more present in Cappadocia than it was in Istanbul.
Having evaded the ever-generous offers of tours, Kirsty and settled in to our fantastic fairy inn room. Our beds, heavy with wool blankets were nestled against the curve of the chimney. The bathroom was scooped out and fashioned, seemingly,from clay. The shower was a shower head jutting out from the wall, our hot water heated by solar panels that gleam from the roof of every house.
We admired the view from the patio right outside our door and decided to change. Istanbul had been feeling like a NY fall when we left. Thus our clothes were long pants, long-sleeved shirts, sweaters and the like. In Goreme it was approaching 80. We bared our alabaster arms and legs with sundresses, sandals and short skirts. We set out in search of lunch, immediately wondering if we were dressed imodestly.
A restaraunt with an upper patio secured our lira and we settled at a table with a view of the small town and a Romanesque rock cut tomb. The Book recommended trying Pide, a Turkish variation of pizza. Since The Book is infallible Kirsty and I ordered Orange Fantas and a pide each. This is the meal that indicated to me that what a tourist in Turkey really needs is a Turkish food guide. Lonely Planet Guide, your information is accurate, your advice sound and your comments entertaining. Yet you fail to give us the whole picture. Had you mentioned, for example, that Pide is Turkish pizza and that to order one is like ordering A Pizza to be shared, Kirsty and I would have shared one. Our waiter came back bearing platters loaded with squares of pita bread covered with cheese, ground meat and vegetables. I maybe ate 2 slices. Kirsty choked down half a slice. Keep in mind this is the first real food that we'd ingested since the Iskender kebap of Istanbul. Yet, dear reader, also remember that we had just lost about 3-5lbs in sweat (who can eat a heavy meal in heavy heat? It's sickening). Our waiter, and also the owner of the restaraunt, sat down with us to discuss our plans for Goreme. Would we be booking a hot air ballon tour? he asked. Because, if so, his family run flights and it's very good and very cheap. His offer came to an abrupt halt when Kirsty turned a very complex shade of green. We paid the bill, got our pide to go, and crawled, so as not to disturb Kirsty's delicate digestion, up the slope to our room.
Safely near a bathroom, Kirsty basically set up camp in it and I sought refuge outside on the patio. Half an hour later I went into the room to retrieve a pen and a book. Kirsty was fast asleep on her bed and there was an unholy smell emanating from the bathroom.
For the next two hours I read, wrote and otherwise enjoyed my surroundings. Around six thirty when I stopped scriblling to crack my knuckles I looked up and forgot everything. Floating silently through the streets of Goreme was an immense hot air balloon. Striped white and blue with Heffe, Turkey's national beer, stamped on the front, it would sail, rise and descend noislessly, like an unoticeable giant striding gracefully through town. Moving at quite a lick it was headed for the cliff face not too far off. When it had passed through the street I heard a gush and saw a spout of flame eject into the balloon. It began to rise, rapidly and smoothly cresting the cliff. Then it kept rising, and kept rising until I had a crick in my neck and it was no more than a dot in the sky. Standing on the ground, I was afraid for them. Not long after, the need to sleep hit me in the head like a ton o bricks and I crawled into bed.
The next morning we breakfasted under the vine leaves of our inn, patting the giant mutt of a dog that guarded the inn, Panda. We had decent coffee (for a country with its own particular style of coffee, Nescafe is oddly consumed by everyone everywhere), figs, apricots, feta, bread and jam, and olives. Normally I hate olives. But there was something about them in Turkey that made them delicious. Having tried one since I returned home, I once again hate them.
Speaking with our German landlord, we were recommended to visit the Open Air museum, take a balloon ride (which he could arrange with the best, Kappadokian balloons) and to find the Dalloman Brothers stable for a trail ride. We set off, a little more covered this time and once more at a slow pace constantly on the lookout for possible toilets.
A good portion of our day was spent scurrying in and out of ancient rock cut chapels nestled in the cliff faces and valleys. Truly they were amazing with ancient graves everywhere (one with the bones displayed) grooves sanded in the walls to hold candles, domes rounded out and, in every chapel, jewel toned frescoes.
Those were stunning. Some of them were red ocher depicting biblical events in symbols rather than images. These were from the iconoclast period which also destroyed several miraculous mosaics in Hagia Sophia. Others were fully intact with scenes from the Passion of Christ, patron saints, Constantine and Helena with the True Cross, the Harrowing of Hell all rendered in such deep purples and reds. Some of them had their faces scored off, also a sign of iconoclasts paying a visit, but clearly those vandals had been unable to completely sunder such beauty.
Some chapels were sunk within the caves, others were perched on ledges with terrifying staircases worn to slopes by monks and then thousands of tourists scrambling up them. Only love and fear of God would induce me to routinely scale them for my devotions.
The Open Air Museum is, apparently, another United Nations convention site and we would have to wait a few minutes for one tour group to clear out of the tiny spaces. Members of Il Tour Groupo and Hai Tour Groupsan meandered the dusty roads like droves of zombies insatiably hungry for a good shot and/or angle to devour with their canon or fujiyama.
Kirsty fled for a bathroom fairly early on, arranging to meet me at the bottom of the hill. I wandered back at a slower pace, stopping to buy postcards and gaze at the tourist bazaar that lined the autobus parking lot. A Turk selling leather goods stopped me to ask after my unicorn pendant. I explained that I had it ever since I was a little girl when my father gave it to me and that it has my name on it. "Ah, I have something like this!"
I steeled myself to politely refuse his generous offer of Turkish crap. Instead he drew a necklace around his neck, hidden within his shirt. It was a horshoe with a prancing horse in the middle and a stetson perched on top. "For luck," he said. I smiled and said, "well, this one isn't lucky. It's just a unicorn."
"Ah, but it's special, because your father gave it to you."
"That's true."
"Have a good day, miss." He turned away to answer a question about the price of a snow globe. At no time did he mention money to me. I felt cynical and jaded, but also a bit warm inside. At the bottom of the hill I purchased a cool pommegranate juice and watched the Turk crush FOUR (4) pommegranates to fill a frosted stein. I stationed myself outside the public bathroom to keep watch for Kirsty. 20 minutes later she still hadn't appeared. My sister and food have a very give/take relationship (in that some food "gives" her diahrrea and she "takes" antibiotics for it) and sometimes it can get pretty severe, but even for her 20 minutes is a little excessive.
This is because she wasn't in the bathroom. Kirsty had moved onto a restaraunt down the road where she had ordered a water and lentil soup. She found and retrieved me just as they set her soup on the table. I ordered a testi kebap, a dish of meat and vegetables roasted in a sealed clay pot that is then broken open in front of you. Spectacular and delicious. To quench my dusty thirst I also asked for a fresh melon juice. What Easteners (save the Former Soviet Union)do with fresh fruit juice is truly amazing. I wrote about the pommegranate juice I had in Istanbul and how it was the elixir of life. It tasted to tangy, so thick and so RED. At the fairy inn I had a fresh squeezed orange juice for breakfast and I know everyone says this, but it's true: It does taste like sunshine.
Fresh honey dew melon juice, however, tastes exactly, but exactly, like a cool ocean breeze.
Thus refreshed we strolled very slowly past huge tourist hotels with emerald green lawns back to our own more authentic lodgings. Very slowly, indeed. Kirsty's bowels were very upset. At first we thought it was the kebaps the night of the potential riot in Istanbul. Later we would blame the Bosphorus fish sandwich.
At the hotel we talked with our landlord, wrote postcards, read, made tea and generally relaxed in sun.
Dinner was at the Lonely Planet recommended A'Laturk. Kirsty played it safe with a chicken shis kebab while I indulged with the Lonely Planet Guide recommended sliced beef with fried potatoes and yoghurt. She looked on enviously as I enjoyed a sahlep, or yoghurt drink made from powdered 0rchid roots and spices. It tasted of luxury.
It also reminded me of something strange in the pharmacy where Kirsty picked up her first choice of antibiotics (sans prescription). The brand of feminine products were called "Orkid." If you don't understand the conumdrum, google Orchids and see what has to be said of them.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, the Turkish youth was safe after my sahlep.
Fruit and Vegetable Servings: 3. Kirsty gave up counting since her body refused to retain anything.


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