Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue

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Göreme Goreme, Turkey, Sunday, 10 January 2010 7:07pm

Woke up before dawn, packed up, and caught an airport shuttle. Weirdly, you have to go through security twice at Ataturk's domestic terminal, once just to get in to the terminal, and then again to get to your gate. Sadly, the airport shuttles were spaced so that I was an extra hour early. Happily, my plane started boarding nearly on time. I was asleep again before we even started taxiing for takeoff and I only really woke up again when the captain made the final descent announcement.

My hotel had arranged a pickup at the airport. I can't remember if this is the first time someone's been waiting with a laser-printed sign with my name on it, but I suspect it is. No more marker on a sheet of paper, I've hit the big time!

There was almost nobody on the road from Nevşehir to Göreme. The driver and I talked about the weather a bit (it's much warmer than usual for this time of year, and there's been no snow yet), but the drive was otherwise quiet. It was pretty flat for most of the way, but started to get hilly as we approached our destination.

This part of Cappadocia is famous for its "fairy chimneys", which are like the hoodoos you see in places like Bryce Canyon, but a lot larger and less delicate. They're big enough that people enlarge the natural caves that form in them and carve buildings out of the soft rock.

Like my hotel room. Yeah, that's right, for the next two nights I'm living in a cave. It's a really nice cave, though. Running water, multiple radiators, electricity, tea lights and a sheepskin rug for the romantic touch. After checking in and stopping downtown for a pide (kind of like a pizza, without the tomato sauce), I walked over to the main formal attraction in town.

The Göreme Open Air Museum is a set of conserved fairy chimneys that hold churches dating back to the 4th century. It's funny that a week after visiting the Meteora, I'm again looking at churches built around odd geological formations. These are actually inside the rocks, rather than on top of them. The interiors are fairly similar to the greek orthodox churches I've seen elsewhere on this trip, but in miniature. They have murals, mostly done in fresco, in various states of repair, depicting biblical scenes and personages. Interestingly, one of the churches had images of all four of the Archangels. Michael and Gabriel have been in almost every church, but this is the first time I've seen Uriel or Raphael.

After visiting the museum, I walked back vaguely in the direction of town, leaving the road and hiking along paths between the fairy chimneys. Many of them have enlarged caves and carvings, and some were decorated as if they had once been churches. The views were impressive even while it was overcast, and the sky cleared a bit in time for sunset.

I reached town as night was falling, and had an early, tasty dinner at Alaturca restaurant.