A Travellerspoint blog

Turkey

Driving to the Mediterranean coast

Beautiful sea

sunny 36 °C

We left Goreme with heavy hearts. Such a lovely place to be. We started driving toward Mersin, a very large city on the coast. We stopped in the late afternoon at Erdemli and found a fairly well priced hotel on the beach. After a swim and included dinner we tried to blog but WiFi again a problem. After breakfast we headed out to travel the coast toward Antalya where we will drop off the car on the 23rd. We stopped at a lovely tiny village in a cove as we saw a motel sign. We have parked ourselves here for tonight. An afternoon of snorkeling (yay finally) and a fresh fish dinner (I apologized to my fish) and a lovely night swim (sans suit per Kellie's insistence) we have thoroughly enjoyed this spot.

Hi there (Kellie speaking), it is with a heavy heart that I mention my knee issue, which started in Istanbul, has not resolved. The issue got very bad again yesterday and while trying to rest it and not do inclines or stairs, that almost seems next to impossible in this country. I believe I have an acute knee tendonitis, which is limiting my ability to walk considerably. So, I needed to ice it, which is also next to impossible in this country because no one has ice. On our drive down the coast Shelley popped into several grocery type stores for some frozen item to use as an ice pack. The last store did have a freezer and Shelley emerged with four frozen personal size pizzas. So as we headed along the coast I "iced" my knee with several pepperoni pizzas, which worked just fine. Shelley has been amazing through all of this and has been so supportive and helpful. I couldn't ask for a better travel partner. While I have to face the fact that my knee will not mend if I keep walking as we need to do, I have decided to give it a more substantial recoup period. Shelley and I discussed options and we have decided that I will stay back in Lesvos for an extended period of time. She will head to Athens then on to Prague on her own. After Prague our hope is that my knee will be in shape enough for me to get around and I will then fly to meet her in Hungary. Such a damn shame and I'm feeling bummed out about the whole situation. At this point I am really hoping to complete the trip so this is the only thing that might allow me to do that. Jenny, OT extrordinaire has provided me with taping info and suggested I get a cane, which I will surely do.

We will continue our drive tomorrow and make our way closer to Antalya. Let's hope we find another great little cove for a swim and some R&R.

In the cave church

In the cave church

Open air museum

Open air museum

Open air museum

Open air museum

Open air museum

Open air museum

Ulchisar mushrooms

Ulchisar mushrooms

Ulchisar

Ulchisar

Ramazan with traditional wine decanter

Ramazan with traditional wine decanter

Perched rock

Perched rock

Dawn

Dawn

More caves

More caves

Posted by kelshell 13:06 Archived in Turkey Comments (3)

Stupendous Cappadocia

Natural wonders

sunny 40 °C

We arrived in Kayseri after a quick flight. Hoping that our bad travel luck was over we approached the Hertz desk. We had booked and paid for our car online in March, having ordered a standard as it was cheaper. With Kellie's forgotten and then lost ( it may have arrived in Russia after we left) license, we had changed the booking online in Istanbul to an automatic with all of my license information. That change hadn't registered at the Hertz outlet but he did have an automatic. But he couldn't change the booking from Kellie's name to mine. Impossible on his system - the Hertz system! After attempting to have me pay the drop charge (pending fee) so that my credit card would be linked for insurance, he said it would be best to cancel everything and register in my name. But he couldn't cancel Kellie's reservation. She had to go online do it. With no WiFi (we haven't found an airport with free WiFi since leaving Canada). So he hooked her up to his cellular WiFi and she tried to cancel but the site wouldn't let her. He kept interrupting our transaction as he had other impatient customers. Finally 2 hours later with me paying double for the rental (no cheap fare if not pre-booked and our pre-booking was no longer in existence) we drove off in the pouring rain in the dark, not even knowing if we could get the refund because he didn't know for sure as it was canceled after pick up time! The bonus was it had navigation - in English! Driving for over an hour and stopping just once once in Goreme to ask where Aren Cave Hotel was, we made it! While tired and a bit frustrated, once entering through the lovely courtyard to our hotel, our emotions changed as we looked around at the beautiful hotel that was built into one of the famous Cappadocia caves. Our hotelier was waiting for us and checked us in. We were so impressed with our room and the surroundings we almost forgot about our rental car issues. Having arrived very late and in the dark, we were excited to see what sights the next morning would bring.

The next morning we awoke to find our view was of other amazing caves and enchanting fairy chimneys that this region of Cappadocia is known for. Our stay at the hotel also included breakfast, which was up on the third floor in an enclosed glass room. Each table was preset with an amazing assortment of cheeses, honey, olives and bread. Once we sat down the cook then prepared a platter for us containing eggs, salad and various sauces. It was a surprise to us to feel so pampered and everything was presented in a thoughtful and artistic manner. Once meeting the hotel owner, whose name was Ramazan, we quickly understood why… he is an extremely talented ceramics artist, and designed all of the elements of the hotel, even down to hand making the serving platters for breakfast. Ramazan offered to come with us in our car to tour us around the must see sights. We saw so many amazing things. The open air museum at Goreme is an area of cave churches. Ramazan explained that these were originally chipped out of the stone by the people. No one is sure where the rock dust and debris wound up but likely amended soil for crop growing. The cave dwellings moderate the harsh climate staying cool in summer and warm in winter. Summer temperatures are up to 40 C and winter temperatures can be -20 C. There are cave dwellings in the fairy chimneys all over the region and were inhabited until the 1950s. Many have homes now built above due to government intervention. The chimneys were formed when 2 volcanic mountains surrounding the area erupted thousands of years ago. Over time wind and rain have eroded the landscape creating these formations. Evidence of Hittite people living in these cave dwellings dates them to approximately 4000 years old. Over our time in Cappadocia we also went to underground cities, again community dwellings dug into and below the earth some reaching depths of 60 metres or more.

On my grandson Keaton's first birthday, August 18th, Kellie and I went for our much anticipated dawn hot air balloon ride. We had booked this in March for 90 minutes. Due to air current conditions we were advised the day before that we would likely only get 60 minutes. This turned out to be perfectly fine. What an incredible experience! We were picked up at 4:30 am and transported to the balloon office where they provided a lovely breakfast. Afterward we were driven a short distance to the launch area. Some balloons were already in the air while others were being inflated. In our balloon were 16 people, 4 per chamber. We were in a chamber with a lady from Hamilton. We also met a woman named Eve from Australia who had quit her job and sold up to travel for a year. She had left in February and was headed home after Istanbul. She was missing her children and grandchildren. The balloon ride got up over the fairy chimneys and valleys as the dawn sun broke. Priceless! Champagne and strawberries upon touchdown. We went back to the hotel to rest. Later on we went traveling around the area, stopping at a quiet lake for a nice swim. First swim of the summer (except for the Baltic Sea dip for me). We went to a wonderful Turkish dinner and dancing night where the action continued non-stop. The next day we did some more sightseeing, had dinner with Eve at an excellent restaurant beside our hotel. All in all Cappadocia is a must see! Uploading photos and videos take forever to upload with really spotty WiFi so will post what we've done for now and add more later. We are currently at a lovely Mediterranean seaside village for the night and need another swim before nightfall.

Nar Lake Cappadocia swim afternoon

Nar Lake Cappadocia swim afternoon

Drinking our coffee

Drinking our coffee

The 3 beauties

The 3 beauties

Cave dwellings

Cave dwellings

More chimneys

More chimneys

Open air museum

Open air museum

Fairy chimneys

Fairy chimneys

Rock perched precariously

Rock perched precariously

Balloons

Balloons

Dwellings

Dwellings

Open air museum

Open air museum

Open air museum church

Open air museum church

Shouldn't have bought sunglasses from the drunk Mongolian guy!

Shouldn't have bought sunglasses from the drunk Mongolian guy!

In the cave church

In the cave church


https://youtu.be/O1AdlRgEMcs
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHW4YYCy960

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JxIu0PKyp5A

Posted by kelshell 00:35 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

No Topkapi Palace for Kellie

Bum knee

sunny 30 °C

On day 3 of our Istanbul stay as we were walking up the hill to go to Topkapi, Kellie was hobbled by her knee. She has had problems in the past but this was different for her. It felt to her that a tendon had popped around her kneecap. After settling her back in bed for the day, I continued to the palace. I had seen it in 2006 but not the whole thing so spent some time there before going to buy us tickets for a whirling dervish show. A nice carpet salesman told me we could see a dervish show for free at a cafe near the Blue Mosque so I continued to my next destination, the carpet shop for Kellie's certificate of authenticity. After returning to the hotel, Kellie was well enough to join our hotelier and I for the free dervish show. He drove us so Kellie could save her knee which was really nice. The next morning we double taped Kellie's knee with the kinesiotape she had brought and went out to the Blue Mosque and a public transit ferry adventure to the Asian side of the city.

We found the prices cheaper for everything over there and spent the afternoon exploring. The food was just okay in Turkey, not what I remembered, but we did have a few tasty meals in local joints. On Wednesday we thought we would have most of the day in Istanbul before leaving for our Kayseri flight so Kellie was supposed to see Topkapi then but she luckily noticed Wednesday morning that we were flying out of Istanbul's secondary airport which is very far away so that plan changed quickly. I had bought our airport transfer Tuesday night for Atatürk airport and quickly went around the corner to change it. They said we had to leave within the hour! So we went back to our rooftop terrace and said goodbye to Istanbul. For now.

KelShell in Blue Mosque

KelShell in Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque

Panoramic shot of Blue Mosque

Panoramic shot of Blue Mosque

Kellie on the Asian side of Istanbul

Kellie on the Asian side of Istanbul

Crossing the Bosphorous to get to the Asian side of Instanbul

Crossing the Bosphorous to get to the Asian side of Instanbul

On the ferry returning to European side of Istanbul

On the ferry returning to European side of Istanbul

View of the Sea of Marmara from our roof terrace

View of the Sea of Marmara from our roof terrace

Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace

Posted by kelshell 13:01 Archived in Turkey Comments (2)

More to come on Istanbul and Cappadocia

Having too much fun!

sunny 37 °C

We have been having full days and nights here in Goreme. Driving down to the Mediterranean coast tomorrow. Will try to write more posts tomorrow night or the next. All is well - lots of laughs and adventures!

Posted by kelshell 05:10 Archived in Turkey Comments (1)

Our stay in Istanbul

Horray!!

sunny 27 °C

As our last night in Tallinn comes to an end I am a bit sorry to be leaving such a wonderful city. Shelley and I both found the people lovely, friendly and helpful. While thoroughly enjoying the small country of Estonia I was super excited to finally be going to Turkey. Shelley, who had visited Turkey in 2006 was still up to visiting this country again because she liked it so much. I was glad because Turkey was a bucket-list country for me. Our mode of transportation was flying from Tallinn to Istanbul on Turkish Airlines, which we were looking forward to, having had heard many positive things about the airline's service. All the fuss about Turkish Airlines turned out to be true. The plane was great, food was very good (silverware and glass plates - Ohh my!), and staff were lovely. Arriving at the airport Shelley and I once again were determined to navigate to our hotel via public transit. However before doing this, we had to go through passport control, which given the size of the airport and various visitors, took over an hour. Once passing through, showing our visas(which they didn't seem to take much notice of), we were off to find the metro. Our trip was successful thanks to Shelley's careful googling, and we found ourselves in the heart of Sultanhament square in Istanbul, now needing to get to our hotel. With our backpacks strapped on the back and our day packs hanging in the front, we started the ever familiar stopping of locals and showing our hotel address and asking for further directions. Right away I noticed several things: all people were willing to try and help us, English was easy to use, and out on the streets were mainly men. After several twists and some turns we headed down the steep cobblestone streets to our hotel ( yes steep hills so you can imagine how happy I was) ;(. Finally after about 20 minutes we found our hotel tucked away on a small side street. We easily checked in and headed up the travertine tile spiral staircase. Shelley arrived there first yelling down to me - only one flight up Kellie! This was a welcomed change from some of our other hotels. Even though breakfast was on the third floor and the roof top terrace was on the fourth floor I was glad not to have a huge climb several times a day. Our room was lovely and it had the one thing no other hotel room so far had - air conditioning! Ohh happy day. Well we quickly settled in and then walked up the street to eat.

I (Shelley) was determined to buy fresh figs as we had passed a corner where a man was selling fruit. But we didn't see anyone and ate at a nice local family run restaurant. The next morning we headed to the Grand Bazaar after strategizing our 5 day stay according to the open and closed days of the major attractions. Of course there were carpet shop stops along the way. It is impossible to avoid this Turkish custom and especially hard these days due to the incredible drop in tourism to this country over the last couple of years. After a carpet stop of an hour or more where our host was unhappy we didn't purchase, we entered the havoc of the Grand Bazaar. For those who have been in this place you will know about the labyrinth of hallways that wind up, down and all around. Escaping without a purchase, we went to the Spice Bazaar and bought some spices. Walking back to our neighborhood seemed especially far and we still wanted to go to a hammam (Turkish bath). Imagine our surprise when 2 nice Turkish men offered us a seat on their bench and eventually asked us to go to a nargali (hookah) bar. It was a nice local place that had once been a madrassa (religious school) Kellie was talking to one about our rug store experience and after about 45 minutes we found ourselves being led to a rug wholesaler. This man has a brother who lives in Edmonton so was very familiar with Western Canada. He also showed us pictures of himself with a number of Canadian politicians. After quite some time Kellie bought a beautiful embroidered carpet to be shipped home. She had already said that if she ever visited Turkey she would like to buy a Turkish rug. Our gentlemen friends walked us back to the hammam and insisted we meet them for a special meal the following day. The hammam experience for Kellie could be it's own post but suffice to say we got squeaky clean and I had a massage - heavy backpack taking it's toll! As we walked back to our room I told Kellie I was not interested in meeting the men for a meal the next day. She said, "I was wondering if that was all some elaborate sting. Do you think it was?" And so we went to bed with our original Sunday plan in place. Regardless of the method, Kellie got a beautiful carpet at a very good price.

On Sunday we visited the Hagia Sophia (aka Ayasofia). It has rich with history and was stunning to visit. We will leave our blog here for now and show some beautiful pictures from our first two days in Istanbul.

Inside Hagia Sophia

Inside Hagia Sophia

One of the many amazing ceilings in the Hagia Sophia

One of the many amazing ceilings in the Hagia Sophia

Another great ceiling

Another great ceiling

Example of tile work outside of past sultans and their family members

Example of tile work outside of past sultans and their family members

Mother of pearl inlay on door outside of tomb

Mother of pearl inlay on door outside of tomb

Outside of Sultan's tomb

Outside of Sultan's tomb

KelShell in front of Blue Mosque

KelShell in front of Blue Mosque

KelShell selfie in Hagia Sophia

KelShell selfie in Hagia Sophia

Giant marble jug used in Hagia Sophia when transformed into mosque

Giant marble jug used in Hagia Sophia when transformed into mosque

Hagia Sophia archway

Hagia Sophia archway

Shelley at Hagia Sophia

Shelley at Hagia Sophia

Example of Christian mural in Hagia Sophia

Example of Christian mural in Hagia Sophia

Picture of Blue Mosque taken from upstairs window in Hagia Sophia

Picture of Blue Mosque taken from upstairs window in Hagia Sophia

Turkish couple on their wedding day - this picture does not do her dress justice, it glittered in the sunlight

Turkish couple on their wedding day - this picture does not do her dress justice, it glittered in the sunlight

Having a smoke with some Turkish men

Having a smoke with some Turkish men

Old hookah (nargali) bar

Old hookah (nargali) bar

Our box of Turkish delights!

Our box of Turkish delights!

https://youtu.be/_9iP5fYhqg4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m2mOBmUAhsk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYfYLEXmPbE

Posted by kelshell 00:21 Archived in Turkey Comments (4)

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