Food. / Tourism / Travel

Throwback Thursday: The Treasures of Cappadocia, Turkey

Disclaimers: 1) Photo-heavy post. 2) This adventure occurred almost a year ago and was a bit of a whirlwind in the middle of a busy semester, so a lot of specific names and info have left me. Sorry about that. 3) EDIT: Technically, I did publish this on Thursday, but my laptop is still set to American time so WordPress said I did it on Wednesday. Whatever, wordpress.

Cappadocia is a region shaped by the elements, quite literally, and the resulting rock formations have been inhabited for ages.

Cappadocia is a region shaped by the elements, quite literally, and the resulting rock formations have been inhabited for ages.

Cappadocia. Kapadokya. Whichever spelling you prefer, it’s a part of the world that generally evokes a lot of ooohs and ahhhhs from any member of the populace familiar with it. I’ve drooled over fantasy-worthy photos of hot air balloons floating over the “fairy chimney” rock landscape for years, so when I found out that we would be headed that direction during my spring break trip to Turkey last year, I was pretty over the moon about it. Oh, the photos I planned to take from both ground and air! How beautiful the sunset would be! How much fun I would have scrambling up the rocks!

Nazar: The evil eye talisman common throughout the Middle East (but particularly heavy in Turkey) made to protect you from just that. My friends and I discovered a tree FULL of these things swinging in the winds.

Nazar: The evil eye talisman common throughout the Middle East (but particularly heavy in Turkey) made to protect you from just that. My friends and I discovered a tree FULL of these things swinging in the winds.

Well, turns out our trip to Cappadocia was more like a trip THROUGH Cappadocia, with multiple stops for us to shuffle inside various artisanal stores and spend far more money than I will ever have in my life. I’m not going to lie, I was fairly displeased about that–even though the weather wasn’t the greatest, I still would have much preferred running around outside or hot air ballooning-it to simply shopping for trinkets I did not need/could not afford. That being said, we were given roughly two 30 minute periods in some picturesque spots to scramble about a bit to pacify those of us with such complaints, and more so, even though I couldn’t afford them, the shops we visited had some truly amazing stuff.

First up, we visited some caves a bit further away from the main hive of rock sculptures that were inhabited at one point by highly persecuted Christians of the area. The rooms and tunnels they managed to construct were really quite impressive, unfortunately none of my pictures turned out too great, so we’ll have to let those go. However, should you wish to look it up, it’s called Kaymakli Underground City. Immediately after we visited our first shop of the day where marble was being shaped into beautiful decorative and practical artifacts for the home. I was particularly worried about my dad in there as they were carving beautiful stone eggs, of which he has inexplicably purchased several in the past. But, we escaped with no financial damage.

A craftsman slowly polishing and smoothing stone into a decorative egg...or something like that.

A craftsman slowly polishing and smoothing stone into a decorative egg…or something like that.

We hopped back on our tour bus and immediately went to shop number two…a fine jewelry store. With just…an INSANE amount of jewelry. I mean, seriously. Precious and semi-precious stones everywhere, including a room that was practically filled with Turquoise jewelry alone (a Turkish specialty, we learned).  Many pieces caught my eye, and thus my camera, as they glittered around the rooms, and some were just so lovely and unique. We spent WAY too long in this store as the majority of the tourists in our group were females, and thus, I am going to take this moment to post an abundance of photos. Deal.

IMG_5957EDIT

Some of the simpler pieces, believe it or not.

Just thought this necklace was so unique, had to take a picture!

Just thought this necklace was so unique, had to take a picture!

Because red.

Because red.

The Turquoise I mentioned earlier. The pendant in the middle is an example of the Turkish turquoise, which is much lighter/more green in color than it's super-blue counterpart.

The Turquoise I mentioned earlier. The pendant in the middle is an example of the Turkish turquoise, which is much lighter/more green in color than it’s super-blue counterpart. It’s more rare, and more expensive. Gulp.

After we had emptied our wallets, it appeared that everyone was hungry for lunch, so we headed into a restaurant called Uranos & Sarikaya (yes, I destroyed Google looking for the name of this place for you people) inside some of the caves for a very unique dining experience. The warm lighting reflecting in the cozy caves made for quite a lovely atmosphere, and there was even live music to go with the delicious food. Definitely a place I’d want to work as a chef.

Passing through Pigeon Valley in Cappadocia, one of the more photogenic parts.

Passing through Pigeon Valley in Cappadocia, one of the more photogenic parts.

Entrance to our restaurant, possibly a bit contrived? Whatever, not mad.

Entrance to our restaurant, possibly a bit contrived? Whatever, not mad.

Main dining room of Uranos & Sarikaya, with little grottos spawning off the circle to sit and eat in.

Main dining room of Uranos & Sarikaya, with little grottos spawning off the circle to sit and eat in.

One of my friends on the trip (very) closely watching the musician in the restaurant.

One of my friends on the trip (very) closely watching the musician in the restaurant.

Our final shopping trip to the day also happened to be my favorite at Sultan’s Ceramic in Avanos, Cappadocia. (Again, just broke Google trying to find the name of this place for you–aka it was on the first page–so be sure and thank me if you ever go!) This place produces some of the most beautiful hand-made pottery (and general ceramic tiles and whatnot) that I’ve ever seen. Hand-built, hand designed, hand painted…everything is incredibly complex and detailed and just beautiful. I believe it’s overall a family-run business, likely with outside help though. My inner failure-of-an-artist was totally jealous during this tour/shopping experience, especially when they let one girl get to play on the pottery wheel, so I just took it out by taking photos of EVERYTHING. Enjoy the results.

In the process of decorating.

In the process of decorating.

How how HOW can someone POSSIBLY freehand that design?!

How how HOW can someone POSSIBLY freehand that design?!

Drawing the design, later to be painted, on a nice vase.

Drawing the design, later to be painted, on a nice vase.

Some of the finished products in the showroom.

Some of the finished products in the showroom.

At long last, many purchases later, we filed out of the store. As much as I had really enjoyed the craftsmanship of the day, I was still put out by the fact that I had SPENT the day indoors, in shops where I made no purchases, rather than viewing the scenery. Luckily, before we headed to the airport to fly back to Istanbul for the last day of the tour, our bus pulled over at a cluster of the rock chimneys and we were allowed to run amuck for a good 20 minutes. And thus I leave you on this Throwback Thursday with a few snippets of the beautiful natural landscape to be found in Cappadocia–which someday I hope to visit again.

-B

Wasn't the prettiest of weather, but the colors do contrast nicely.

Wasn’t the prettiest of weather, but the colors do contrast nicely.

A few shrubs of flowers here and there...

A few shrubs of flowers here and there…

And finally, yours truly, with a pretty spectacular background.

And finally, yours truly, with a pretty spectacular background.

6 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday: The Treasures of Cappadocia, Turkey

  1. If you weren’t such an awesome person, I would totally hate you for all of the traveling you’ve done. Actually I may still hate you. Just a bit. All I did in Turkey was spend a week in Istanbul.

    • Thanks Raphael! I agree, Turkey is somewhere you just can’t really SEE in a few days, there’s far too much history and nature to explore. Hopefully we’ll both get to go back someday. 🙂

Share your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s