Sunday, September 27, 2009

Hiking in Rose Valley - Cappadocia

It was scorching hot on the day we hiked in the volcanic Rose Valley, Cappadocia. The valley gets its name from the white colored rocks that change in pinkish hues and intensity depending on time of the day, season and weather. The 3.5km hike takes about 2 hours depending on individual speed.The heat made our journey much tiring than Ihlara hiking but the scenic view was intoxicating and mesmerizing. Now let the pictures do the talking!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Hiking in Ihlara Valley - Cappadocia, Turkey

Hiking in the stunning and lush Ihlara Valley, Cappadocia, is the best experience in Turkey. We arrived at Ihlara early morning and our hiking for the day was 7km. My heart sank as I glanced deep into the gorge we are about to descend. I could hardly believe that I’m going to make it on foot into the deepest gorge in Asia Minor. From the top of the gorge, the Melendiz River can be seen flowing in shades of blue and green through the valley. The breath taking scenery took my fear away!

The canyon is about 100m deep and 16km long cutting into the volcanic rock formed from the eruptions of Mount Erciyes. The valley unfolds the ancient history of its inhabitants, the Christians who escaped from the Roman soldiers during the Byzantine period. We were told that about 8000 people once lived in Ihlara Valley.

It was a pleasant walk through the valley with vineyard, poplars and pistachio trees along the way. The soothing sound of the rushing Melendiz River made the journey so much less tiring and half way we had a brief stop for a cup of tea at the Jungle Cafe by the river.

Beautiful rock formation

The Jungle Cafe

Lunch at the Belisrima Restaurant

Several churches were carved in the rock
Top view of Ihlara Valley
Top view of Ihlara Valley just before we got down

A village at the end of the hiking route

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Istanbul Spice Bazaar - Turkey

Go nuts!
The Famous Spice Bazaar in Istanbul
Located in Fatih, the Spice Bazaar is the second largest after Grand Bazaar. It is also known as Egyptians Bazaar because during the Ottoman period most of the spices were imported via Egypt. The building itself is part of the nearby Yeni Cami (mosque). The Spice Bazaar is just a few stops from our hotel in Sultanahmet and its location is pretty close to the Eminonu tram station. The aroma and the colors are so enticing that we ended up spending more time here! 

It is best to go to this bazaar in the early morning as it gets crowded approaching afternoon with buses of tourist making their stops here to shop for Turkish lokum, spices and food. The place is so lively and being here the first time can get you crazy looking at the sweets, nuts, spices and of course the crowd.  But the beauty is Turkish vendors are very camera friendly and that adds up the charm of the Bazaar.

Dried Tomatoes
Dried pineapple
Yummy pistachios lokum
Sweet roses buds for tea and beauty
Mountain of aromatic spices
Soft lokum
The nutty lokums with natural sweetness of honey
Chunks of Turkish Delights, Sun-Dried Tomatoes,Raisins, Dried Chillies and Dried Cherry Tomatoes

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Fairy Chimneys in Pasabag - Cappadocia, Turkey

Natural rock formation in Pasabag
Pasabag is on the road to Zelve, not very far from Goreme. This site is also known as Monks Valley, deriving its name from the cones carved in tuff stones which stand apart. Pasabag contains striking fairy chimneys with twin and triple mushroom-shaped rock caps. The hermitage of Simeon monks was said to hide at the top of a 2m high column and later moved to 15m. The hollow of the chimney from bottom to top is 10-15m high. 

It was late summer and the weather was perfect when we visited this place. The place is hilly and we need a bit of extra energy to climb the slopes and the hills but the higher we get the more beautiful the view around us. Even if you opt not to do any climbing, just walking around the area will give you a magnificent feeling like you're somewhere out of the world, surrounded by tall chimneys like in the fairy tales. After a long exhausting walk we sat down to have the cool Turkish ice cream from the vendor on his bicycle parked near the area.

Goreme - A Rare Landscape

The view from our window
We took a flight from Istanbul to Nevesehir and the hotel shuttle picked us. Approaching the town, Goreme, I was perplexed with its rare sight. Felt like I was somewhere in another planet or in another dimension of time. Strange landscapes and “fairy chimney” pinnacles of volcanic rock fill up the town of Goreme. Goreme National Park was added to the UESCO World Heritage list in 1985. 

Goreme is a small town in Cappadocia with adequate facilities for tourists; restaurants, bank, ATM machine and cyber cafĂ©. We stayed at Sultan Caves on Aydinli Hill in Goreme and the scenery from our cave suite was breathtaking. In the evening we would stroll downtown to dine and shop. Visiting Goreme in early autumn was just perfect but it can get pretty cold in late autumn.  

Building in downtown
Strange rock formation in downtown
The stunning view of Goreme from our balcony
Kelebek Hotel
                                                              Another cave hotel in Goreme