Stuff I Know

Just stuff by me about me and my life, such as it is.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Cappadocia Part 2

So if you are tired of wandering around in the snow (or heat in the summer) you can always get away from it by going underground. In the Cappadocia area there are approximately 150 - 200 known underground cities. Most of them are more of a village in size with maybe only three levels, but several are rather large with up to 7 or more levels below ground. These dwellings were dug out of the same layers of tuff as seen around Goreme.

The church inside the underground city. This area was thought to be a church.

It is believed that the early people of the area used these underground settlements to hide in and escape from raiders that frequented the area. The subterranean cities were also used by early Christians who fled to the area to escape persecution from the Roman empire.

Rooms and storage rooms. Rooms and storage rooms.

The underground city I visited was at Kaymakli. Now I have done my fair share of wandering around abandoned mines while living in the Southwest, so I am no stranger to subterranean travels, but I have to say, this city was really amazing.

A door. That roundish stone is a door that could be rolled in place to keep people out. It can't be moved from the outside tunnel, only from inside the room.

There are arrows and signs pointing the ways down and up, and without them, a person could easily get lost within the different levels of tunnels and rooms. Thank god for electricity. I can't imagine what it would be like to live in that place with only oil lamps and torches. In a word, wandering around that place was, neat.

A stairway. Looking up a stairway.

My only regret was that since I was traveling alone, there were several tunnels I didn't get to check out. I found a couple of tunnels that just kept going on, or down, into the darkness. I had a flashlight and would have continued further than I did, but the idea of never being found if something happened to me down there made me pause.

A dark tunnel. A tunnel into darkness.

I did make it out and then it was back to wandering around the tuff valleys around Goreme. George was my companion for this day.

George. Meet "George."

There are numerous dwellings scattered around the canyons. Most of them no longer have any interior artwork remaining, but there are a few exceptions now and then. An interesting feature of some of the churches is that they occasionally buried their dead right at the threshold. They would just carve out the niches and lay the bodies in.

Grave niches. Grave niches at the front door.

From inside. Inside looking out.

I enjoyed wandering around just looking at the beautiful scenery as much as climbing into the rooms and houses. The snow adds a certain quality to the rocks and pillars. I would love to see and explore the area again someday in a different season.

Eroding cliffs. The eroding canyon walls.

I hope you enjoy the photos from Part 2 of Goreme.

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The region of Cappadocia is probably one of the most visited locations in Turkey. It is known for its scenic beauty, history, and religious significance.

An over view of the volcanic sediments. The many different layers of volcanic sediments.

The Goreme (Göreme) area in particular is well know for the houses, churches, and monasteries carved out of the soft volcanic sediment deposited over the area approximately 9 million years ago.

Pillars, some with houses, in the city. Even today, some people still use the rock pillars as houses.

The rocks also naturally erode into spectacular winding canyons, large pillars, and intricate "fairy chimneys." The location is truly a sight to behold.

Some rather phallic pillars. A few pillars, and yes the phallic resemblance is common knowledge. This area is called Love Valley.

It may be a popular location on the tourist road, but if you go in winter, you can have much of the area all to yourself. Of course you do have to contend with a few difficulties such as less of a choice in accommodations, closed eating establishments, limited transportation, and the cold and snow. Still, I am glad I went during the winter and hope to go back some day in the spring or fall.

Probably the biggest obstacle for me was the snow. I could deal with the cold, but having to tromp through knee deep snow sometimes just wears you out. I would have loved to do a lot more exploring, but the thought of wading through more snow keep me to more well trod paths. Having your pants freeze while walking back to the hotel in the evening can be a bit of a pain.

Snowy valleys. In some areas, the snow was just too deep to try and walk through, though sometimes I did make the mistake of trying.

Even if you are a solo traveler, you can usually pick up a hiking companion from the area.

Spot. My friend for a day, "Spot."

I actually had to rescue "Spot" once when he fell into a hole and couldn't get out. After heaving him out, I was stuck in the hole myself for a while.

Church structures at the Open Air Museum. A couple of the church structures within the Open Air Museum. (I nearly died climbing down those icy steps!)

The Goreme Open Air Museum highlights a number of the churches that were carved into the rock. From the 4th through the 10th centuries, early Christians populated the area and carved numerous houses, churches, and monasteries into the rock pillars and cliff sides. The frescos in some of the structures are still very colorful and often very beautiful.

Frescos in one of the churches. Part of the frescos in one of the churches.

Part 1 of the Goreme photos deals mostly with some of the scenery around the city and the frescoes of the churches. Have a look.

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

On to Konya

Between the coast and Konya. A stop on the way to Konya.

As I moved on from the sunny coast to the snowy interior of Turkey, I realized I didn't really have much with me in the way of winter clothes. After all, I had just came from India. But I did have enough items to add in layers to keep me from freezing.

A mosque. The mosque from the back.

Dervish art. Dervish art.

Konya was more of a transfer stop than an actual destination, but it was still a nice visit. The city is know as the home of the Whirling Dervish. And one of its most famous sights is the Mevlana Museum, which is also the mausoleum of Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, a Sufi mystic and poet.

IMG_1986 The mausoleum with the green dome, an iconic image of Konya.

A sarcophagus. A sarcophagus in a museum.

There are a couple of smaller museums around the city that house various and interesting items. It was a quick stop for me, but I expect maybe in better weather, and during the time of local festivals, Konya is probably a pretty nice destination.

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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Side and a Side of Some Caverns

No, that isn't a typo in the title. That first "Side" is actually pronounced 'see-day' and is the name of an ancient costal town in Turkey.

Arches around the theater. Some arches around the outside of the theater.

Side is a small resort town, but it is probably more famous for the seventh century port town. Or more correctly, the ruins of that port town which was an important center of trade in its day.

Ruins along the coastline. Ruins along the coastline.

There are lots of ruins to explore such as the theater and the agora (open marketplace), but maybe the most iconic ruin is the partial reconstruction of the Temple of Apollo. It sets on the edge of the sea and must have been quite a sight to sailors of the Greek era.

The temple of Apollo. The Temple of Apollo.

Additionally in this photo set are some pictures from inside two caves near Alanya, Turkey. The closest cave to Alanya is sometimes know as the 'asthma cave' due to the belief that spending time breathing the humid air of the cave can reduce the symptoms of, or supposedly cure, asthma. This interior of the main cavern is a large room with few of the traditional cave accoutrements such as stalagmites and stalactites. There really is just the one main room in the cavern, but it is interesting and offers a respite from the sun of the seashore.

Small stalactites on the ceiling. Small stalactites on the ceiling of the 'asthma cave.'

The other cave complex is about 20 - 30 minutes east outside the main city and up in the hills. There is a bus that goes that direction, but during the winter it only goes as far as the cave once or twice a day and doesn't allow for a lot of time to look around. I take what I can get, though. The road winds back and forth as it heads up the canyon to the cave entrance. If you get the bus driver I had, you may want to keep your eyes closed seeing as he tends to use one hand to hold his cellular phone and the other hand to talk with (gesture) leaving no hands to hold the steering wheel.

Stalagmites in the larger cavern. Stalagmites in the larger cavern outside of the city.

You walk down down some stairs into the cave and then have a choice of going left or right. Go ahead and go left first, since that trail is shorter and then come back to the stairs. Following the path to the right leads you off into the cavern, up and down ramps, and through some spectacular cave scenery.

Lots of cave structres to see. Looking back through the cavern.

I had the whole cavern to myself on my visit. I didn't have a lot of time to explore, but I do think I saw almost everything and did make it all the way to the end of the cavern. The views of the canyon and coast in the distance are also quite nice.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Some Downtime in Alanya

In just saying the name of this costal town, you get the impression that it may be a bit different. The name just flows off the tongue more smoothly. And in fact the town itself is a bit different from the other towns in Turkey I had been to previously. Life seems to have a slower pace there. Things feel more laid-back.

The main harbor. The main harbor, near the Red Tower.

And I expect I am not the only one to feel that. Alanya is a top destination for Europeans, and many people have gone there to set up a second home or as a place to begin a new stage in their life. After visiting Alanya, I can see why so many people want to spend time there.

The castle and town. Looking back over the castle to the town.

My main reason for going to Alanya was to visit a good friend. I also took advantage of her hospitality to just slow things down a bit and relax the schedule I had been on. Though the main attraction of the city is probably the beach area and its associated nightlife, there are other things to do and see in Alanya.

My friend Maryanne. My good friend Marryanne in Atatürk's house.

Up on top of the hill near the marina is Alanya Castle dating from 1226. There are some interesting ruins at the top of the hill that are great to explore.

Castle ruins. Ruins of a Byzantine era church within the castle.

Down at the bottom of the hill is the Kızıl Kule or (Red Tower). Again, another imposing structure that offers some magnificent views out over the coast.

The Red Tower. The Red Tower at night.

Alanya also boasts of Atatürk's House and Museum. Though it was never actually his home, he only visited there for a while, the house does offer a glimpse into early 20th century Turkish life and information into the life of the man known as the founder of the Republic of Turkey.

A bust of  Atatürk. A bust of Atatürk in Atatürk's House and museum.

Around Alanya there are also some Greek/Roman ruins, waterfalls, and a couple of caverns. I'll mention those in the next post.

The city is full of Turkish culture, good food, and nice people. Real estate prices are rising in Alanya with the influx of foreigners, but if I had the money, I would definitely consider it as a location for my own "retirement."

Here are some photos of the area. As a bonus, there is another rare picture of me in this photo album of Alanya. Enjoy the pictures.

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Thursday, July 03, 2008

A Twofer

I am including two cities in this post just because one of the cities wasn't that interesting. Well, it wasn't that interesting on the day that I visited.

Calcium cliffs. No, that is not snow or ice, and I am not in Dover.

Pamukkale is probably a nice place when the conditions are right, but I arrived late at night and the next day was gray and rainy. Gray skies are not the best conditions in which to see the white travertine cliffs that make the city famous. The cliffs tend to take on the color of the sky making everything look faded and worn.

More calcium. The springs bring up the calcium which deposits as the water cools.

The showers didn't help either. I am sure the place is nice most of the time, but wandering around in the rain with nothing but a small umbrella for protection did not make for a nice day. You may be saying, "Gosh what a wimp. It's just a little rain." True, it may have been just a little rain, but it still was the winter season, and not having a place to dry wet clothes, it certainly is no fun hauling around one's wet garments.

A pool fed by the springs. A spring at the base of the cliffs. It's not warm, though.

Anyway, I saw the main attraction but missed the local ruins. That means I do have a reason to visit again some day when I can maybe see the city in a better light. Literally.

On to Antalya. Now Antalya was a very nice city. Its seaside location makes for a beautiful back drop to the sites and the old city with its warrens of older buildings.

An old building. Old buildings yet to be restored into shops or hotels.

The museum is very nice too. It has some very nice pieces. Several of the larger items are really incredible. And I hate to bring this news, but ...

Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. But he is dead.

The bones of Santa Clause. It kind of spoils Christmas when you see Santa Claus' bones setting in a museum case.

Saint Nicholas is the person credited as being Santa Clause, and there are his bones displayed for everyone to see.

The beach. No one is swimming because it's February.

The city has a nice beach area. It is a pebble beach, but the rocks are small enough not to be uncomfortable. And you can wander up and down the beach and find wonderful stones that just beg to be picked up. I had to stop myself so I wouldn't end up carrying too much weight around.

Shiny, pretty stones. Lots of interesting stones.

And again, the water has an unbelievable blue/aquamarine quality to it. I never failed to be amazed by it.

The beautiful blue. Makes you want to take up cliff diving.

Enjoy the rest of the few pictures I have.

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Saturday, June 28, 2008


The ancient city of Ephesus (Efes) is probably one of the best set of ruins you can visit in Turkey. They are a quick three kilometer walk from the city of Selcuk, and, for what you get to see, a pretty good value.

Buildings in Ephesus.

The ruins are pretty extensive and built up enough to give you a good impression of what the location may have looked like, yet not so rebuilt as to erase the fact that they are so ancient.

The main harbour street.

One of the more impressive building to be given special treatment by the archeologists is the Celsus Library. It held probably 12,000 scrolls and in it's day was likely even more impressive.

The Celsus library.

Another impressive structure is the Greco-Roman Great Theater. It held approximately 25,000 people. It is interesting to think that the people would undertake building a structure such as that for entertainment. It shows how prosperous the city was at the time. For some nice panoramas of the theater, visit its page at The Ancient Theater Archive.

The Great Theater.

When visiting Ephesus, be sure to take the time and to wander around and notice all the little details like sewers under the streets, the water delivery system for the baths, the mosaics along the streets and the few remaining frescoes in a couple of the buildings.

Mosaics along the street.

Try to visit the structures at the very western edge of the site. They are less frequently visited and the columns and doors there were built to a much larger scale. They are huge.

Fallen columns.

There is a separate entrance fee for a particular structure at the ruins site. They have covered over a section of a hillside that holds the remains of several houses which supposedly give a good picture of what the life of a city dweller would have looked like back in the day. I didn't go in because I thought the price was a bit high, and the museum in Selcuk shows some of the material and structures on display.

Some of the Terraced Houses.

Outside the gates of the ruins to the north and east a bit is the Grotto of the Seven Sleepers. The site itself is not overly impressive, but what is more interesting to me is the story that goes along with the location. I think the fact that the story is mentioned in both Christian and Islamic texts, with slight differences, is rather interesting.

The Grotto of the Seven Sleepers.

I shot my own panorama of the ruins of Ephesus. It was taken from near the top of the mountain to the south of the main site. The photo is a bit hazy so I'll apologize in advance; but then it was a hazy day and I was pretty far away.

Click to see the full image.

Be sure to visit the ruins of Ephesus if you get to the area. Until then, click below to enjoy the rest of my pictures from that day.

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