Kapadokya, some bombshells, and a whole lotta digression

On the road with Benelope, the dynamic duo of Ben and Pen from Tasmania. We got on so well with these two that we decided to charter a car for some exciting roadtrip adventures in Kapadokya.

Hey everybody! Laura’s got a write-up coming about our last week or two. Me? I’ve got some photos to share. But first a few bombshells and a note on spelling.

Bombshell number 1: We will be getting our visas to visit Iran within the next two days, although it’ll be a month or more before we go. After lots of research about the situation there and speaking with other travelers (as well as Turks), we’ve decided we’d be crazy not to visit this amazing and hospitable country. Stay tuned to the blog for some more information about why Iran (as a country) is not the bogeyman you hear about in your newspapers every day.

Bombshell number 2: We’ve got tickets to Italy. We’ll be flying there on March 26 from Istanbul. We have plans to spend the better part of a month in Laura’s old stomping grounds of Lanciano, visiting her good friend Cris and Cris’ family, as well as seeing her other old friend Christine. For those who were at our wedding, you may remember these lovely ladies as two of Laura’s five lovely bridesmaids. (Laura just told me that’s a lot of “lovelies”)… but hey, if the shoe fits…

Bombshell number 3: We didn’t get into the video finals for the CIRA Showusyour.ca contest. Oh well, life goes on. At least one lady thought we deserved to win. Thanks to everyone for the kind words and support. We’ll just have to keep making movies. After all, even Spielberg was misunderstood at first. And speaking of Spielberg, did we tell you that he was at the Imperial War Museum in London the same day we were? A curator we spoke to told us he was checking out the First World War displays at the same time we were (as research for a new project). Laura and I figured we walked right by him without noticing. But I digress.

And an anti-climactic note on my choices of spelling: throughout the blog, attentive readers (such as my former Gauntlet colleagues) may have noticed some inconsistencies of spelling in place names. This has been done in part to preserve phonetic pronunciation since I don’t have access to all of the Turkish characters, and our English-speaking audience wouldn’t know how to pronounce them anyway. In other, more rare instances, my inconsistencies have been intended to provide a sense of authenticity. As any traveler in Turkey can tell you, place names are often spelled in multiple ways, at least unofficially, often due to poor attempts at English translation. So, for instance, Kapadokya becomes Capadocia, even though in Turkish C’s are pronounced like J’s.

It certainly is not pronounced “Japadojia,” although according to Turkish phonetic spelling (which is very consistent) that’s exactly how it should be pronounced. Anyway, now I really digress. On to the photo magic!

At first sight, the badlands around Goreme, in Turkey's Capadocia region, seem devoid of life. But it doesn't take long to spot the small and isolated blotches of colour that mark the spring blossoms.
The rock formations can be deceiving in scale, making it hard to judge distances. The outcrop on the left becomes more dramatic and dominating when you notice the tiny forms of Laura and our friend Pen in the bottom-right.
Pen and Ben, our two Aussie friends keep turning up like bad pennies. This time around we just threw in the towel and decided to hang out with them. We rented a car together for two days.
We hiked up a few valleys in search of rock-cut churches and other signs of habitable life. The scenery is dotted with caves.
…like this impressive rock-cut church. The outside of the place is deceptively lackluster, just a few holes in a cliffside. It's hard to describe how downright cool it is to discover this stuff. Of course, thousands of people have discovered it before us, but when you have a place like this to yourself, it's hard not to feel at least a little bit like Indiana Jones.
The three Amigos. The high point in the far background is Uchisar, one of the highest points in the area. We went up a day or two after this was taken.
The luckiest tree in Turkey. These evil eye tokens are everywhere in Turkey, embedded in masonry, worn on jewelry, and on offer in every souvenir stand from Istanbul to Lake Van. They are believed to ward off the evil eye and protect the wearer.
We also came across an abandoned Greek community in a village next door to Goreme. This church cum-mosque was among the abandoned buildings. During the 1920s, Greece and Turkey went through a massive population exchange, where some 900,000 Christian Greeks left mainland Turkey, and some 400,000 Muslim Turks left Greece. Because of the differences in migration, several old Greek settlements remain in ruins, unsettled to this day.
This is the interior of the mosque pictured above.
And a newer mosque built at the bottom of the hill, in the newer Turkish settlement of Cavusin ("Chavushin").
Laura and Pen explore one of Capadocia's holiest sites. Get it? Holiest.
Ben channels his own personal Indiana Jones.


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