A view from a cave...
Cappadocia is synonymous with ballooning. There are dozens of outfitters that launch hundreds of ballons each morning. Even if you don't spend the money to go, it's worth getting up early to see the rainbow of floating airships pass overhead.
While the afternoon light can be harsh and glaring and really hard to get a clean image in, I found pleasure in getting some contrasty black and white shots in.
So called "Pigeon" valley. The names of the valleys changed depending on the whims of the mapmakers it seemed. The local farmers make safe places for pigeons and doves to make their homes, and then harvest the by-products to fertilize crops.
It was a dreamy, other-worldly landscape, reminiscent of some of the cave dwellings I've seen in Arizona.
It was also densely packed with groups of tourist and tour buses. Which, I mean, isn't terrible, but it was stiflingly crowded in places. Places that are dense are crowded for a reason, and it's usually because it's amazing and beautiful and you shouldn't deprive yourself of the opportunity to spend a few moments contemplating the smallness of your life when you see such things.
Local merchants were sure to take notice, and there wasn't a single scenic overlook where you couldn't go without tea and parting with some lire.
The plan was made though: we would spend a day seeing the more visited but worthwhile sites, and then hit the far reaches of the trail system for some peace.
A visit to a vast underground city- Derinyuku Yeralti Sehri. Parts were more than 8 stories under ground, with places for livestock and dwellings and churches, and tunnels connecting it to other underground cities. The dark, narrow, cramped tunnels offered a chance to take crap photos, but it was amazing to see.
Nearby, Ihlara valley was packed- it's a deep canyon with houses and churches carved into the cliffside- but it thinned out a bit once you veered off to hike some of the steeper trails.
The trip down into the gorge was via a narrow stairway, filled with people who perhaps had not navigated stairs in quite a while.
The whole area is notable for the lovely cave churches- hollowed out and frescoed, in various states of decay. Most were built more than a thousand years ago.
Despite distance rumblings of thunder, the day was marvelous.
A local specialty that was embraced:
Gözleme. It's a thin rolled-out piece of bread, stuffed with cheese and tomatoes or whatever, folded and blistered on a hot oven over an open fire. They were always homemade, always made by a woman literally slaving away over the coals and completely homemade and delicious.
The way the kitchen was set up, the women just sat there next to the flames, ofttimes with children at their feet, doing all the prep work and cooking from the same spot. With a deft flick of the wrist, she made an amazingly perfectly blistered smokey crepe that was to die for, and usually for about $1 USD.
Very fit, lithe people lived in these hills. Passing much huffing and puffing and puffing on cigarettes and trying to pass people obliviously blocking the narrow trail while on their phones...well, it was a lovely place despite.