Escorted Tour - Coach
Carousing in Cappadocia
114 people found this review helpful
On this magical journey we have watched in wonder as the lives of ancient people were unfolded before our eyes. We have trod the paths of great historical men and can only imagine what their journeys must have been like. We started off in Tarsus and Adana – where we drank from the well of St. Paul and marvelled at the ruin of the old Roman Road. Wandering through the old town we were greeted by the friendliest people and watched as copper was beaten into bowl shapes – in the blazing sun – I hasten to add!! There were wooden toy makers 'extrordinaire' and cobblers and lace makers and traditional food galore! The bus climb to the central plateau took us through the Taurus Mountains – two volcanic peaks of which erupted centuries ago, leaving us to gaze in awe at what was left behind. Lunch was taken beside a 12th Century bridge in a tree-filled garden beside running water. We then stopped for our first glimpse of the 'rocks' of Cappadocia. Hard to describe. A towering 'family' of three have stood there for centuries – each hard base rising to soft Tufa rock and then topped by hard Basalt – as though they were wearing sun hats!! On the days that followed we were mesmerised by the majesty of nature and what has happened over years to leave behind such sights as 'Fairy Chimneys'. We honestly expected Frodo or at least one of the Hobbits to come popping out of the tiny doors carved into the cone-shaped 'chimneys'! Then there are the mountain side villages where people carved their homes into the rocks, so we saw valley upon valley of quaint deserted homes nestled into the cliffs. Very astute these people were – farmers at heart – they looked at the numerous pidgeons, realised they would be a source of great help to them – so they carved small holes for the pidgeons near their homes, surrounded them with white paint to attract the birds – then collected the pidgeon droppings to fertilise their land! The people of the time were Christian so – of course – churches abounded – over 300! As our guide related – 'Almost a church a day for the year!' Most small but all had the remains of beautiful frescoes – these and the churches carved and painted by hand with the colours found in nature around them. Surely the most amazing experience was thr visit to the underground cities. Some dropping down 5 – 8 floors below the surface. All carved into the rock by hand – tunnel after tunnel and room after room followed. Air vents snaking up to ground level and then dropping down to a fresh-water well. Kitchens and living quarters and churches and wineries – and all protected by a huge balanced rock which was rolled across the entrance when marauding tribes arrived. These could only be opened from the inside so all who dwelt therein were quite safe. These cities could protect up to 5000 people for 6 months at a time. Christians did surely have a hard time of it then!! Caravanserai – had heard of them but never been to visit one. Built by the Sultan [again dating from the 12th Century], positioned about 30 miles between each, they served much like our B&B! They housed upward of 100 merchants with their camels. Entrances – for man and camel alike – were opulent. Carvings and decoration were individualistic. Each side of the entrance has the distinctive carving of the Sultan and above the entrance in Arabic the greeting, which translated says something like 'Allah and the Sultan welcome, bless and protect all who enter here.' Inside, once a huge covered space but over time the roof has crumbled, there are shops on the one side catering to the travellers needs and rooms on the other for housing up to 10 people each. A beautiful, small mosque stands in the centre and at the back the gigantic stables for the camels. Two other 'firsts' for some of us were the visit to see and experience the Whrling Dervishes. The evening started at a Caravanserai with a sound and light show depicting the formation of Cappadocia from the volcanic eruptins to today. Then followed the serene Sema Ceremony accompanied by traditional music, prayers and Koran readings. The whole ceremony was performed in silence and the reverence exuded by the men was tangible. Then there was the escape to the sky in multi-coloured balloons. A sight from the ground but the view from up there – breathtaking, awesome, an experience to become a treasured memory. This is not a place one can 'tick off' – been there, done that, got the T-shirt! It is so vast an area and so steeped in history and so dramatic in what nature has achieved, that we are sure it will remain in our hearts and perhaps even in our dreams for many a long day!
114 people found this review helpful
This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.