Carpetbaggers and Cappadocia Caves

Dear readers, we are now proud owners of two Turkish carpets which we bought this p.m., our last day in Istanbul. What got into us? A good sales guy and real desire to have a couple of area rugs that we really think we will enjoy. So there you have it. Actually there is more to the story. Stay tuned.

The experience may have been worth the price. This nice fellow we met on the street had a carpet shop on a side street near the Koptaki Palace which we were going to visit. His carpet shop was 7 stories high and was filled with old tribal head gear and a massive amount of carpets. We had done the carpet buying thing a few days earlier so we had learned quite a bit about prices and quality of rugs from that experience. But that is all we knew. We also knew what we liked so finding something that would meet our need… not too large as we don’t know where the heck we’re going to end up after the sale of our house…was important to the process. Of course, the sales guy was certain that these sizes would fit anywhere. So we ended up with a runner and a rectangular carpet…oh, here are the pictures. What do you think?




So, here we are up in the air on the way to Cappadocia. I’ve had a 4 hour sleep night, very little to eat and I’m sitting on a plane with lots of head scarves. The flight attendants don’t wear them. The young girls don’t wear them. The men don’t wear them…but pert near everyone else has one on.

I was able to get free wi-fi at the airport after a bit of trying. That was good. Power stations are in short supply and I only have 39% of my battery left. The flight is a short one. Only an hour. We saw some snowcapped mountains but snapping pictures of them would have required me to climb on top of the nice young man next to me and I’m afraid he might give me a karate chop to the solarplexis so I decided to let that photo op go.

Last night the family got together again and after eating, the Rayman and I went to the hotel next door to peer off their rooftop patio to see the fading sky and the lit up mosques and landmarks. Extremely exotic and hypnotic all at the same time. Here’s some pictures. Please note the airplanes in the sky.

The Blue Mosque at evening time.

Our flight was to leave at 7 a.m. We left at 10:00 a.m. Will miss half the tour of day one. This will require some letter writing and stern talk with the tour operators. Had I not checked the flight status last nite, they would have retrieved us from our apartment at 4 a.m. But because i did check at 11 p.m. last night, I called the company and got the pick up time changed from 4 a.m to 6 a.m.

The fellow is speaking over the plane system and I have no idea what he is saying even when it’s in english. His accent is way thick. Hoping it’s not something like, “Ladies and gentlemen, we just make an unexpected landing. One engine fell off.” Oh, well. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. Judging from the fact that no one seems alarmed, I have just kept on blogging.

Istanbul as a reflection here, is beautiful. The mosques, churches, frescos, mosaics, cisterns…the list goes on and on are ancient and beautiful. The people are friendly and helpful. It’s a must-see place if you want to visit a secular muslim country with a rich history. As I said in one of my earlier blogs, it is a city of contradictions.

Just took a peak out the window. Looks like Bonneville Salt Flats or the Great Salt Lake below us. A large expanse of white. But I digress.

Istanbul is built on many hills around the Strait and beyond. It really reminds us of San Francisco in some fashion. Quite beautiful even with the lack of building codes. Most of the old structures have been fitted with braces as columns are leaning. The ayasofya was almost scary in that regard. Huge marble columns on one side lean like the tower of Pisa. Only they are massive support beams inside the structure. Oh, my. I would not be surprised to see them close it one day to either fix it or condemn it. But, what do I know. Just an impression I came away with by a cursory observation.

So, I’m skipping ahead to the end of the day. It’s 2136 in military time and I’m tucked in and ready for some well deserved sleep. In the past few hours this is what has happened. When we arrived at the Kayseri airport, our guide met us and he did not speak a word of english. Because our tour was late, he drove like a crazy man to get us together with the group we were to have been with. He drove in the middle of the road whenever he could. He passed with free abandon. The sights were a blur. I was too busy watching this maniac race toward the finish line. We were to hook up with the group near Cappadocia. As we screeched in to a plaza full of people, he stepped on the brake and we were there. At that point we joined the group and we were placed in the back of a van that held about 16 people. Maybe 2 seats were empty. The van was stifling hot. Much hotter than outside but in their infinite wisdom, the Mercedes people designed this particular van with the inability to open a window. OMG. It was so hot. Our own private sauna.

This van transported us to lunch and then to an underground network of caves. They were incredible. The ceilings were very low and I managed to knock my head on the ceiling 5 times. And it hurt. The people that lived in the region took it upon themselves to carve caves in the for protection. They hid in the caves from enemies. The stone is soft as it is sandstone. Soft unless you hit your head on it, that is. And it goes down, down, down. We only saw 1/10 of one underground city of seventeen. Here’s a link to the right so you can read about it if interested. And here’s some pictures.



Notice the tall guy in the back. These caves were, well, low-ceilinged.

Delighted to be there. It was very cool in temperature. Almost scary.

Actually, some people had a place in the tour where they could bail if it was too…well, too. And many in our group did. Rayman and I soldiered on. It was way to interesting…unbelievable to forgo.

After we emerged from the caves, the tour van stopped at a jewelry shop. That’s one of my pet peeves. I don’t like to pay a lot of money to be hustled. So, we ran through that and jumped across the road to where the real interest lay. Here’s some pictures of Pigeon Canyon so named because there were fruit trees planted in the valley and they bred pigeons for a source of fertilizer. The orchards are gone but the birds remain. We saw one white pigeon mate with another while there…no sense of modesty at all.

We then boarded the steaming hot van to travel to a castle. Here it is.


Some chap decided to add interest to the scene and make a little money but placing a camel at the site for picture taking purposes. That is where I took a picture of these camel toes. The castle was a “stagecoach” stop for caravans of camels and people making some sort of trek. Impressive.





Then the hot van delivered us to our hotel. What a dive. We were both hopping mad because we had paid a sizable sum for this tour and 1. we had missed 25% of it and 2. the van was hot 3. the bathroom had mold everywhere and the room was a dump. Oh, an aside. The call to prayer just started. It sounds really good in this land of mystery. The acoustics are great. When one mosque starts the call, the others join in one by one. It’s sort of like row, row, row your boat except the voices aren’t harmonizing and the words are all different. Still, it is very impressive.

But I digress. So, I wrote the company an email with my complaints and demands. No sooner had I sent it from the lobby of this place, the phone rang and it was for me. Negotiations ensued and we ended up in the suite of this place with not one bit of mold, a private tour all day tomorrow, and upgraded hotels for the rest of our tour. And…after suffering buyers remorse on the carpets, I received an email from the carpet sales guy who threw in another rug free gratis for our trouble because he was answering an email I sent him. I complained about his modus operandi in some many words. Well…we were both so happy at the outcomes of my letter writing campaign, that we found a restaurant and preceded to drink and eat ourselves into a state of euphoria given the surrounding views. Here’s some pictures
Our first room above.
Our second room, same cave hotel. From the outside below.
See the people up there?


Rayman at the gate of a cave hotel.

Cappadocia is a designated World Heritage Site. There is nothing on earth like it. Or maybe there is….I just haven’t seen it. And it is fabulous. There I go again.

So, it is time to retire in my bed of silk sheets, with the Rayman, and pleasant thoughts of this unusual land. Tomorrow is another day in our Turkish trip and it promises to be a long one culminating in late flights, rides from Izmir to Kad….and a check in at an upgraded room around 0130. That’s 1:30 a.m. I’m exhausted but so high on scenery that I’ll just soldier on with the Rayman to see what’s next here in the land of mystery.

Today after we returned from our carpet buying/Palace touring experience, Kristen burst into our apartment and said, “I really screwed up. I bought the wrong detergent. It was bleach. I’ve ruined my new dress.” OMG. Luckily for us, about the only clothes I had washed were whites and lights. Susie washed one levi shirt of the Rayman’s with their dark clothes today but it came through okay, possibly a bit lighter. So, I was really, really lucky. Not knowing the amount of detergent and because I thought it smelled, well, a little bleachish, I only used about 3 tbsp. of liquid thinking the detergent might include bleach. Many ways to have an adventure…who knew it would involve laundry detergent.

We leave at 4 a.m. tomorrow for our Cappadocia tour.

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