Posted by: David Stewart | June 16, 2013

Cappadocia Turkey: Cool Rocks, Big Bills and Whirling Dervishes

This is part of a series of posts about our Spring 2013 trip

Cappadocia, TurkeyCappadocia, TurkeyCappadocia, Turkey

Thursday, April 25

This was the day we planned on a loop tour through a number of the sites north and east of Goreme. We started in the little town of Urgup. This is another cute little village amongst the rocks with little cave hotels. although I was glad we were staying in Goreme.

Cappadocia, Turkey

Part of Zelve Open Air Museum

Then we stopped in what is called the Imagination Valley. This is because the rock formations are evocative of all kinds of things. It’s like you are seeing animals and shapes in the clouds. This was fun clambering around the rocks.

Then we visited the Zelve Open Air Museum. This was another cave city which was occupied for years by Christian hermits and later abandoned. Then when Attaturk declared the state of Turkey, he force moved Turkish Greeks back to Greece and Greek Turks back to Turkey. These new immigrants were Muslims, and were forced to occupy this cave city until the 1950s. Evidence of their stay include a rock Mosque.

Rather expensive lunch

Really expensive lunch

Our lunch bill

Our lunch bill

In the parking lot of the Zelve ruins, we ran into a Turkish man who chatted with us a little and recommended a place to have lunch in Avanos. The place was called Dayinin Yeri, and he drew a map for us. It was just on the end of a major bridge in town, so if was fairly easy to find. This place was another good Turkish lunch place, and we really loved the staff there. For example when Court asked if they had a restroom, they pointed across to the other end of the bridge until they broke out laughing. When we asked for the bill, we were served with a bill for $1,000,000. When Court pulled out a tooth pick from the dispenser, all of the toothpicks came popping out, because they were all connected. Somewhat low humor, but fun nevertheless.

Kunefe

Kunefe

The kunefe is the must-have desert, strands of cooked batter over creamy sweet cheese base, baked in syrup and covered with pistachios. Yum.

After lunch, we drove on to the next stop in our loop tour: Pasabagi. This was where another hermit named Simon came to live in seclusion. Again, cave homes and churches, but the most prominent rock formation is a fairy chimney with three tops.

Cappadocia, Turkey

Pasabagi

The next stop in the loop is Cavusin. The cave church here is very old and worth the long climb up to see its terrific paintings. Further in to town, there is a cliffside full of contemporary dwellings in the caves.

Cappadocia, Turkey

Cauvisin church painting

The final stop on loop day was a return to Ugisar, where we first spied the castle-like rock, which was actually used as a castle. You can climb to the top of this rock and get a terrific view of the entire loop that we took.
Cappadocia, Turkey
Then we dropped back into Goreme, crossed the city and drove up to a ridge above the city for a terrific sunset view and a beer. The road was pretty scary, as many of them were, but the sunset was outstanding. For efficiency, we had dinner again cooked by mama back at the hotel.

Then Ahmet dropped us at the bus station for a ride out to see a whirling Dervish ceremony.

The ceremony was held at an ancient caravansari, a kind of way station in the desert where caravans would stop for trading, rest and refueling.

The Dervish ceremony, called a sema, was dark, solemn and mystical. There was a brochure explaining the various parts of the ceremony but there were still parts which were not fully explained. The six dervishes and their leader begin with a silent bowing greeting, then the dancers shed their black cloaks then move into a series of whirling sequence s in their white robes while the black-garbed leader observed them. Each sequence has some meaning in the progression of a devotee moving into a higher state of perfection. In the final whirling sequence, the leader holds open his black cloak to reveal his own white garment underneath. Then after more greetings, all of the participants file out.

After the one-hour event, we were ushered out of that room and into the courtyard of the caravansari, where the wall was taken over by a vast, wordless, computer graphics animated movie about Turkish culture in Cappadocia with an ear-splitting soundtrack.

Deb and David in Cappadocia

Deb and David in Cappadocia

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