Monday, May 6, 2013

Land Travel In Cappadocia

What happens when a group of like minded yachties goes on a little land travel? A very good time is likely and that was the end result from 2100km of travel from Marmaris into Cappadocia and return.
The gang, Americans, English, Australians and Germans.
One of the long term live-aboard ladies here in Marmaris is an organizing enthusiast and has been putting together yachtie tour groups for years. We had wanted to see some of interior Turkey and planned on renting a car and doing it ourselves. At the last minute she threw together a tour and we jumped at the chance to go traveling with some friends on what was a very good deal both from content and cost. We had a nice Mercedes bus, a great tour guide and driver and a good plan. We were off!
Taz, our tour guide and a friend.
Off into very rugged mountainous terrain that was much more alpine and beautiful than we expected. The Taurus Mountains rise almost directly out of the sea to around 13000'. The tree line seems to be about 6-8000'. There's still plenty of snow in April and May and to see these mountains above the southern coast of Turkey is spectacular.
Tauras Mountains
The travel went smoothly, the roads are generally very good, and we stopped frequently enough at scenic spots. Once in the interior mountains it feels very much like the central Sierra of California or the Snowy's of Wyoming. It's lovely country, thinly populated with small villages and some grazing of goats and sheep. There are big high altitude lakes. It was also cool to the point of being chilly but sunny and high-altitude crisp. We stopped for an afternoon at Sagalassos, an ancient Roman city at about 6000' with a fantastic setting on a mountain side over looking the main trade route through the valley far below. The ruins of the highest Roman amphitheater in the world over look the what remains of the city, a beautiful place I'd never heard of before.
Amphitheater at Sagalassos

The Library
 And that's pretty much how it went. I could write a long blow-by-blow description of the entire trip and bore the hell out of everyone but I'll try to avoid that temptation. Suffice to say we descended down into the central plains of Anatolia and on to Cappadocia.
Interior of the mosque at Beyshir
 We visited the very good 12th century Esrefoglu wooden mosque in Beyshir. This place,  despite the much smaller scale than Hagia Sophia or the Blue Mosque of Istanbul, impressed me much more in its mystic beauty.  The local Imam gave us a tour and he was a very modern, kind and respectable gentleman. Definitely a good guy.

Cappadocian scene
We visited under ground cities.We toured scenic valleys with amazing erosion formations. We toured churches built into earthen teepee formations. We hiked all over the place. It was not a really lazy tour. The highlight of the trip was a great early morning balloon ride over the Imagination Valley and the area near Avanos. Janet got another animal fix with a camel ride. We did most all the stuff you're supposed to do in Cappadocia and had a great time.

Great balloon ride.
Janet harassing the local fauna.
Eventually we headed back over the mountains to the coast at Antalya which is a big, big tourist destination for Russians and eastern Europeans. It's a lovely setting but far to developed for us and I wouldn't want to be anywhere near during the height of the season. Then it was back through the coastal mountains and down into Marmaris. A great trip!
Not what you think of as the Southern Med.
So we spent six days with very nice people and a great tour guide. I highly recommend that if you have time in Turkey to get out of the coastal scene that you do something similar. The interior is often very beautiful and always interesting. Tourism is a factor at the major sites but you will see much of the real Turkey going about its business.  Everyone we met was extremely friendly and helpful. It is not a difficult country to travel in however you decide to go.

Imagination Valley
 Now we hope we're in the final stages of getting out of Marmaris. Its been fun and very social but its time to move on. With a little luck our sails will be done today and the new inverter will arrive. We'll get final provisions aboard and be gone day after tomorrow, heading to the southwest along the coast.

Love to all,
Bill and Janet
SV Airstream

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