Turkey – part 3: Goreme – Cappadocia

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Goreme – Cappadocia, land of fairy chimney rock formations/valleys, the hot air balloon, and the nice people.

On the first day, we walked to Cavusin with a nice Australian woman who settled down in Turkey, to see the Church Of St. John The Baptist, which was built as a cave on the rock mountain.

Church Of St. John The Baptist

Church Of St. John The Baptist

We wandered how did they do that?

From Cavusin, we firstly tried to reach Pasabag by the trail, in order to see the Monk valley. There was a little boy who convinced us to follow him on the shortcut, but we skipped after we figured out that road leads to nowhere. Suddenly, he was angry asking for money, and well, we calmly and steady moved back to the big road.
After 15mins or so, a car stopped and the driver asked: “Pasabag?” even we didn’t ask for.
“Yes, thank you” we replied. And it was the first surprising hitchhiking experience in Cappadocia. By the way, the driver is an Italian expat.

And this is how Monk valley looks, in winter.

Pasabag - Monk valley

Pasabag – Monk valley

On the way to Monk Valley, we saw many vineyards which had been harvested in autumn. Inside the valley, there was a small tea/wine shop.

Pasabag - Monk valley 2

Pasabag – Monk valley 2

 

On the second day, we visited Goreme open air museum, and trekked to the Red/Rose valley.

Goreme open air museum

Goreme open air museum

There are many stray dogs and cats in Goreme. The special thing is: cats are very beautiful (yes, Turkish Vans are everywhere), and dogs are friendly. The dogs will follow you until you reach the destination. Our loyal accompany to Red/Rose valley – a local stray dog.

trekking to Red/Rose valley - with loyal guider

trekking to Red/Rose valley – with a loyal guider

And finally, here it is: Red/Rose valley in the late afternoon

Red/Rose valley - late afternoon

Red/Rose valley – late afternoon

On the way back, there were 4 other travelers joined us. It was dark that time (around 6pm) and 6km more to walk. Fortunately, again, we had chance to see how kind-hearted the Turkish people are: a driver, with an old small 4-seat car, was so nice to give six of us a ride to the town.

 

The third day was our busiest one, with great rewards.
Firstly it was the hot air balloon, and there was a story about it. Before traveling to Turkey, we were pondering upon whether booking balloon tour or not. It was said that it was once in a lifetime experience (my best friend also regretted because he didn’t fly there). However, it was quite expensive (180 – 250eur for 2 persons). In the mean time, we tried to ask some Couchsurfers for a couch. One guy accepted to host us 2 nights, and then he suddenly refused on the day we arrived with unclear reason, and convinced us to register his day-tour-service :-D. Well, of course we said No, but then he offered the good price for the balloon (170eur for 90mins for 2 persons).
And we were lucky, because the day we flew was the only sunny morning, with clear blue sky during the windy-snowy winter period.

Take off

Take off

Up

Up

And we could enjoy the sunrise, and see all the fairy chimmeys down from the sky

Sunrise, with balloons and chimneys / valleys

Sunrise, with balloons and chimneys / valleys

Breathtaking sunrise

Breathtaking sunrise

It was amazing, breathtaking, worth every penny we spent for.

After having breakfast, we trekked to Pigeon valley.

Pigeon valley

Pigeon valley

We had a break here to enjoy the panoramic view.

Nice spot to see Pigeon valley

Nice spot to see Pigeon valley

Close to this place, there is a coffee shop with Turkish coffee, tea, ice cream, nut and dried grape. All of them have excellent taste, good price, and especially the typical friendly owner.

We crossed to Uchisar Castle (but didn’t get inside), and trekked to Love valley.
It was from 2:30pm to 5:00pm, and we got lost between the farmlands. It was a bit nervous, because the sun went down at 5:30pm in December, and it would be colder at night, and we didn’t prepare the food. There were also many barriers (hills, stone walls, and big holes) separated us from the Love valley. Finally, we decided to follow Electric Pillars, hoped it lead to some village.
And we run, and screamed HURAAAAAAAA out loud when getting to this field, seeing the air balloon, knowing that we did escape from the lost:

HURAAAAA - back to track

HURAAAAA – back to track

The Love valley was neither imposing nor romantic as we expected, but the road leading there is definitely unforgettable.

Love valley

Love valley

It’s called the Love valley because the chimneys look like penises :-)
But it’s not the end. Again, on the main road back to town (yes, we chose highway: longer, but safer). When crouching ourselves from the trucks, a new bus stopped, and 3 guys said: “Alezzz” and gave us a lift to town.
What a wonderful day!

 

The last 2 days, we registered for a horse-riding session and spent time to rest in Goreme, and Mustafapasa.

Horse ranch, where we started our first riding

Horse ranch

The horse ranch where we hired 2 horses, and had our very first riding experience.

A lovely decoration of a museum, in Mustafapasa (an ancient Greek village).

History museum in Mustapabasa

History museum in Mustapabasa

In Goreme, there is a place called “Sunrise point”, which is the highest place in-the-town. People usually come to catch the sunrise, but we came in the late afternoon.

Goreme village from sunrise point

Goreme village from sunrise point

The view of the whole town from the Sun-set point. It’s not only the chimneys/valleys, the air balloons, the call from Muslim minarets every morning and 5 times a day, but also kindness of local, and the ambiance of the town made us feel like living in a fairy tale.

Sunset

Sunset

 

Bonus:

This is how a (stone) cave hostel looks like. Very unique.

cave hostel

cave hostel

This is the food we like most: fried fish with rice salad cooked in a tasty way, and the yummy pottery kebap which is the specialty of this town.

typical dinner, with pottery kebap

typical dinner, with pottery kebap

A coffee shop, run by mother-and-son, provides the very good coffee and ice-cream, so that they are confident enough to put “NO BULL SHIT” “Best Coffee” on the sign.

NO BULLSHIT, (only) Best Coffee

NO BULLSHIT, (only) Best Coffee

Hitch-hiker is named for a tour company.

Hitchhiker tour, nice name

Hitchhiker tour, nice name

(to be continued)

Turkey – part 2: Pamukkale

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People come to Pamukkale in order to soak themselves under the hot springs at special place: the white travertines.

Next to the entrance, beneath the hill, there is a wide picturesque view with the crystal lake and mallards.

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It’s in the winter, but the white color isn’t snow. Yes, it’s white limestone hill.

We walked up by bare feet, and there were many places we felt like bitten by needles because of cold water (the temp outside was 1-3 degree Celsius in mid of December), but fortunately, there were some place the water was warm (I guess because of the reaction between lime and water).

the travertine

the travertine

On top of the hill, there is an ancient ruin: the Hierapolis
We could see the temple of Apollo:

Apollo temple @ Hierapolis

Apollo temple @ Hierapolis

And this is the Plutonium (Gate to Hell), which is believed the portal to the underworld in Greco-Roman mythology and tradition:

Gate to Hell (Plutonium)

Gate to Hell (Plutonium)

It’s quite calm in the villages/towns around Pamukkale. If you have chance to visit there, we would suggest to come to any small coffee shop and give sahlep a try. We had a good time with this kind of drink, from an old lovely couples :-)

(to be continued)

Turkey – part 1: Selcuk & Ephesus

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It was a great time in Turkey, and off-season travelling was a good choice for us. Even it’s a bit cold, but there were not many people, and we did enjoy 4 weeks in this charming country.

Landing Ataturk airport at mid-night, and sleeping at airport is always convenient, money-and-time saving :-)

sleeping @ Ataturk airport

sleeping @ Ataturk airport

We took the early flight to Izmir next morning, then moved ahead to Selcuk by train.

This small square really impressed us: blue sky, ancient pillar, and many locals gathered for coffee and tea.

Selcuk square

Selcuk square

There are also many restaurants around here, with good price and good food.

14-km far from Selcuk is Sirince village, where we could get there by bus (there are many buses, hourly, to connect these 2 points).
The ambiance here was great, and we felt relax wandering there in the afternoon.

Sirince corner

Sirince corner

On the way moving from Selcuk to Ephesus, we would pass-by the Temple of Artemis (Artemision), one of the Seven Ancient Wonders. But all available today is here, unfortunately, because of arson by Herostratus and plundering.

Temple of Artemis

Temple of Artemis

 

And Ancient City of Ephesus was very worthy spending a day, especially for ones who love ruin sites.

Walking through/across Arcadian Way and Curetes Street, we could see the Ephesus Theatre. I think it’s less monumental then arenas in Italy, but this was the first of this type I’ve ever seen.

Ephesus theatre

Ephesus theatre

Selcuk Library is the 3rd biggest library in the ancient time. We stood there wondering how people could build it from the stone, and imagined how was the atmosphere when people came there to study/read.

Selcuk Library

Selcuk Library

There are 4 statues in front of the gates of the Library, who are: Sophia (Wisdom), Arete (Virtue), Ennoia (Intelligence), and Episteme (Knowledge).

Sophia (Wisdom)

Sophia (Wisdom)

Arete (Virtue)

Arete (Virtue)

Ennoia (Intelligence)

Ennoia (Intelligence)

Episteme (Knowledge)

Episteme (Knowledge)

Next by the Library, there is an ancient market, where the trading rules were set in stone.

Ancient market in Ephesus

Ancient market in Ephesus

And we wish to have time-travel-machine, in order to see how ancient people exchanged goods at least once in our lives ^^

(to be continued)

Transfagarasan road

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Finally, we were here!

The famous road in Top Gear, was built from mid of 1970 to 1974, with more than 6000 tons of explosive. 40 workers died when constructing it.

Transfagarasan winding road

Transfagarasan winding road

Between the Carpathian mountains, where it is supposed to be the count Dracula’s birth-place, the 90-km road can bring you the fearsomeness as same as facing the vimpire. It’s the Transfagarasan road.

Transfagarasan winding road

Transfagarasan winding road

In my opinion, it’s more dangerous and breathtaking on the trails inside ZJJ national park, still we had a really nice experience on the Transfagarasan.

Somewhere in the middle, there is a very nice lake named Balea. The water is from the snow of the mountains around, thus the lake is crystal.

Balea lake

Balea lake

 

The sheep with shepherd

Sheep and shepherd

Sheep and shepherd

 

Tam looks really like a colorful Gypsy shepherd :-)

A colorful Gypsy shepherd ;-)

A colorful Gypsy shepherd ;-)

Inside the Danube delta

This summer, we had the great-time inside the Danube delta, “the second largest river delta in Europe, after Volga Delta, and is the best preserved on the continent” (Wikipedia).  Also, this is the first time we’ve made a video. We hope you will like it:

The photos were taken by Nikon-D90 (lens Nikkor 55-200 f/4-5.6). The videos were recorded by Galaxy Note 2. And the final result was made by Power Director 11.