Picnic and Caves in Cappadocia

When I decided, in Istanbul, that I would have visited Cappadocia, all
I knew about it was that there were some nice caves with some rocks.
And since then I hoped I might have found a nice cave where to spend
the night. For this reason, when, less than five kilometers after
having entered Cappadocia, I found a cave where to spend the night I
felt as happy as a child.
Being Saturday the general atmosphere was different; at lunch time I
entered the town of Hacıbektaş, where I found, instead of the usual sleepy
people silently sipping çay, a strangely lively cafe, full of people
chatting, loudly playing cards and making jokes (a big difference
between Turkish cafe and the one I found in the Balkans is that here
there is no television, which was literally everywhere in the Balkans,
probably due to the fact that people had to follow the bets about
football they were making).
Immediately before Gülşehir I passed a monument welcoming me in
Cappadocia, I turned left taking one of my loved small roads that was
going to Avanos and rock formations started to appear. The very first
one, however, was full of rubbish and broken bottles, clear signs of
being still close to the town to make it my shelter for the night. Few
kilometers later another rock appeared, with cars parked close to it.
I went to have a look and, to my surprise, I found a whole Turkish
family happily grilling meat and fish, while having their weekly
picnic. It was as if they were waiting for me, I was not even asked
why I was there and I immediately received a chair, together with a
big dish full of food. At the end of the meal, it was almost dark by
now, women started to clean the table, while one man invited me to
follow him, he showed me a room inside the rock that he used as a
kitchen,  and how he decorated the cave inside that rock: a sofa, a
table, few chairs; it turned out that the weekly picnic is a big
tradition for this family, every Saturday they meet on that same place
and that day I was the welcomed and unexpected host/ And I was asked
what I’ve been secretly hoping for, if I wanted to spend the night
there; I didn’t need to think a lot before accepting the offer, with a
big smile in my face!
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But before they would drive home, çay had to be drunk, a proper
Turkish meal can’t be considered finished without it. And what a
ceremony it was! A full set of small glasses were placed in front of
the ‘owner’ of the cave, who dutifully cleaned them, while a woman
brought the kettle containing the tea and the youngest
girl, who was, as all the other women, scarfed (it seemed to be a
quite traditional family, we also had to a prayer during the meal,
something that hasn’t happened to me elsewhere yet), was standing
close to the owner ready to serve us.
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At last everybody left, I had the cave all for myself and I started
going and spinning around to take some pictures, excited as a child,
looking at the sun slowly disappearing.
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Next morning I had a late breakfast under a warm sun and I started to
make my way to Goreme, where I met the first tourists since leaving
Istanbul. I rode along some dirty road on the national park Cappadocia
is famous for, going at an even slower than normal pace, also because
I was extremely tired, a tiredness maybe due to the adrenaline and
excitement of the night before (something similar happened the day
after I arrived in Kotor, after that beautiful descent) or more
simply to the fact I haven’t had coffee in the morning (also in Kotor
I remember not having coffee).
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Also that night was spent inside a cave, this time in the middle of
the national park, not too far from Goreme, silence and darkness were
absolute, until a small moon appeared on the sky. After a very early
wake up (I wanted to avoid people to find me asleep inside the cave,
so I woke up at 5 am. No one appeared before 9) and a breakfast, with
Coffe this time, under the moon I was ready to leave Cappadocia and
continue my ride towards East Turkey.

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