More Cappadocia

On our next day, we toured the fairy chimneys, notable for their unique mushroom shape. They are two different types of rocks connected to each other.

Fairy chimney exterior

Fairy chimneys closeup

 

Fairy chimney – moving in?
Fairy chimney
Fairy chimney police station

 

 

 

 

 

The Devrent or Imagination Valley boasts strangely shaped rocks that provoke your mind to see these shapes like animals, people kissing, or other things.

Imagination Valley
Imagination Valley rocks
More unique rocks

 

 

 

 

 

Buildings built into the rocks
Final time in Cappadocia

Time to return to Istanbul for a few days before returning home.

Cappadocia

A short flight from Antalya and we were in Cappadocia. Before we left, I Googled how to pronounce this area. On Wikipedia, they pronounced it capa-DOK-iya but actually, it is capa-DOSH-iya. At least that is what it is called in Turkey.

As I mentioned before, this famous area is not a town. It is a region and you will not find it on any map. It is an area where a number of towns exist, the largest one being Goreme. We drove to all of the towns to experience the rock-cut churches dating from the second half of the 9th century, the Devrent or Imagination Valley with its quirky animal-shaped rocks, Pidgeon Valley, and of course, the Fairy Chimneys.

Map of towns in Cappadocia

Our first stop was to see a typical Turkish home in one of the caves. It isn’t what you would expect, mainly for the male elders of the household. They sit in one of the many rooms, which are all similar. They smoke, drink tea or coffee, and are waited on by the children and females of the family. Whether this is the way it is currently, we didn’t find out.

 

Turkish home in the cave
Same home, different room

We had Turkish baths (no cameras allowed there – too wet) in Goreme and visited the underground cities. Our room in Urgup was quite unique. It was a cave room, of course, and had some unusual features…

 

Cave bathroom
Cave bedroom

 

 

 

 

 

The best part was our hot air balloon ride on our second morning.

Balloon heating up at 5:00 AM
Feeling a little hesitant
So many balloons taking off
Sunrise from the balloon
Balloons at sunrise
Flying over cave homes
Crop field designs from the balloon
Balloon basket landing on the truck bed
Sunrise on the fairy chimneys
Champagne toast awaiting us
Toasting our ride
Hot air balloon virgin no more!

 

The third day, we visited

 

 

 

 

 

Antalya, Perge and Aspendos

We had another three-hour drive to Antalya from Fethiye through the mountains and areas that resemble the area near Taos, with sandy hills dotted with scrub pine. We saw lots of farms but not many animals, like sheep, goats,  or cattle. I guess that this is not the area where they are raised.

Antalya is a coastal town, actually a good size. We only saw apartment buildings, and lots of them. I imagine that there are single family homes somewhere outside of the city, although we didn’t see any. It is very modern, though.

The next day, our first stop was Perge, a very well-known ancient city which came under Roman rule in 133 BC, a little before our time. Their amphitheater held 15,000 people. The columns are of various kinds of marble. They are beautiful on their own. The main street is covered in glass with ruins that have not been excavated. You literally are walking on history.

Entry to Perge
Marble columns
Different marble columns
Ruins in Perge
Ruins under the street
More ruins under the street

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From there, we went to Aspendos, built in the 2nd century. Their theater holds 20,000 people and is currently used for concerts, operas, and other events. The banner shows the various cultural events this summer, with chairs still set up for the previous evening’s event.

Aspendos theater events
Aspendos event the night before

 

 

 

 

 

Pictures in Pamukkale, Hieropolis and on to Fethiye

Pamukkale is the location of the hot spring pools called “heaven on earth.” The healing properties of these calcium carbonate springs were a draw for people seeking a cure for their ailments. The terraces are formed by running warm spring water at a temperature of 35C. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is a most unique place to visit.

Here are pictures of people on the terraces, where you can wade into the healing water. There also was a swimming pool, to relax and enjoy the warm water. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to take pictures of the pool because the unique aspect of it was that there were ruins in the water! What a shock when you were walking in the water and suddenly there was a part of an ancient column or statue. Hard on the toes, that’s for sure.

Cotton Mountain of Sodium Bicarbonate
Wading in the hot springs

 

 

 

 

 

Hierapolis was next, with the biggest Necropolis in Anatolia, 1200 gravestones. It has the typical theater, the agora, and houses.

Hieropolis Theater
Hieropolis Theater with Mountain View

 

 

 

 

 

The three-hour ride on our comfortable Mercedes van was easy. The road took us through mountainous areas that could have been Colorado. We both marveled at the similarity.

We arrived in Fethiye, a coastal town on the Mediterranean, where beautiful sailboats, yachts, and shuttles were lined up for the next day’s travel. Because our hotel was right at the port, we could see the daytrippers getting off and the crew restocking for the next day’s visitors.

Our boat for four days, the Esenye
Typical cove for swimming and an overnight
Grocery store ship

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jim enjoying the clear sky and water

Did I mention that there is a ship that trolls the hundreds of coves and is really a grocery store, with fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, and the staples anyone might need?

There also were boats that went around selling ice cream, clothes, and other goodies. Love those Magnum Bars after a wonderful swim.

 

Pictures in Kusadasi and Ephesus

Our next stop was Izmir and on to Kusadasi. This port city is fabulous and the destination for many people who want a seaside escape, especially in the summer. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of apartments, condos, and houses built for those folks. And, they come from all over Europe, not just from Turkey. The hillsides are filled with them.

Our hotel was right on the water. We saw the first cruise ship in two years there. It was a smaller, Russian ship, although we didn’t see the tourists disembark. At the end of the day, the ship said goodbye, and off they went to another stop.

There is an area close to our hotel we were told to check out. It is a plaza filled with tables from a plethora of restaurants, all serving mainly fish. You can go to the restaurant, or the market adjacent to the plaza, pick out the freshly caught fish you want and they cook it right there. You can’t believe the variety. There was a stage set up with a band doing a soundcheck for a later performance. They were amazing, even though they were not performing at that time.

We had our new favorite beer, Efes, and some extra crispy fries to relax before we were ready for dinner.

View from Kusadasi Hotel
First cruise ship in 2 years – Russian
Fish Market

 

 

 

 

 

As I have mentioned before, Ephesus is an ancient city, built during the first century AD and once upon a time hosted 250,000 citizens. With its library, the third-largest in the ancient world, and its Roman theater that was the largest in Asia at the time, it is well preserved and definitely worth a visit.

A frieze depicting the Amazonian women who built Ephesus

Ephesus Library

There were three baths in Ephesus. One was very hot, heated by hot water under the marble. You then moved to a more tepid bath, followed by a cold bath.

Mosaics on the agora or market street
Baths at Ephesus


Details on arches

 

There is evidence that there was a Jewish presence in the ancient world. It is difficult to see but there is a menorah, a seven-armed candelabra carved into the library’s stairs.

Menorah on library steps

Ephesus menorah plaque

The toilets in Ephesus are worth noting. They are unisex, with men and women sitting side by side. The waste goes down into a trench (not easily visible in the bottom left corner) that whisks it away to minimize odor and an unsavory view.

Ephesus Toilets
Ephesus theater information