Thursday, November 25, 2010

Cappadocia - Balloons, Cave Churches and Goodbye

Posted by Melissa
Balloons over Göreme
September 21 - 22, 2010
This morning we awoke with a start.  What was that noise??  Huge whoosh, whoosh sounds.  Loud.  Close.  We got up to take a look and this is what we saw! A sky filled with hot air balloons.  Some were just above our room, so close we could see the passengers faces!  Absolutely beautiful in the cool, crisp morning.

With our time in Goreme beginning to run short, we decided to head over to the "don't miss" Goreme Open Air Museum, a short walk from our sweet home in the village. We came upon this interesting pottery display just outside of town.
Pottery Tree outside Göreme
The museum is a complex of medieval churches with beautiful Byzantine frescoes, carved into the hillside.  This is another UNESCO World Heritage Site and it was easy to see why.  The complex included several churches, chapels, a refectory - with long stone benches, and monasteries.
Overview of Goreme Open Air Museum
As these are all cave churches, the light is not the best. I've included a few pics so you can get a peek inside.
Chapel of St. Barbara
St. George and St. Theodore in the Chapel of St. Barbara
Us in the "Snake Church"
The church above is actually the Church of St Onuphrius.  It was misnamed when the painting of a dragon on the wall was mistaken for a snake. The dragon was used in Byzantine times to symbolize paganism.  The shot below was taken looking back out of the "Snake Churck."
View from the "Snake Church"
The next couple of pics are of what's left of the large rooms at the entrance to the "Dark Church."

The "Dark Church" or Karanlik Kilise is the most famous church here, filled with well preserved frescoes.  Photos are forbidden, to preserve the condition of these lovely paintings. After a quick search on the net for some pics, it appears that lots of folks have ignored that rule though - so here is a link to a page with lots of interior pics of this church.  We did not take any, just enjoyed the amazing paintings, while listening to explanations of each though our audio tour headphones.  I can only say that these were amazing!!

After a big morning of hiking around the museum, it was time for lunch.  Meals out in Turkey can be very inexpensive.  Pide, sometimes called Turkish Pizza, is one of the least expensive meals around.  We watched as these pide bakers prepared our lunch, which was then cooked in the wood fired oven.

Delicious!  A simple, freshly made dough crust, with minimal toppings.  This one is the combo pide which has the most toppings.  Others have only one topping.This was about $3 US.  Very tasty!

This is a typical afternoon for our good friend, Ahmet.  He is playing okey, a Turkish game similar to rummy and played with tiles.  You may notice that it is only men playing here.  That was so typical throughout Turkey - men playing tavla (backgammon), okey, and drinking tea in small cafes with sidewalk tables.

It is finally time for us to say good by to our much loved home in Goreme.  We felt so welcome here, so included.  By the time we left we had a larger, extended family here, waiting for us to return.  We hope it is not long.  We miss you Ahmet, Ramazan, Mehmet, Ibo and Goreme!!  You are the BEST!
View from a roof top restaurant for our last dinner in Goreme
Up next: A week of lazing around on a beach with a view of the island castle just off shore in Kizkalesi

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