goreme photos

sometimes i really wish that i had a super fancy camera and that i could take really good photos. unfortunately, neither is the case, and especially in goreeme where the environment is so amazingly beautiful, i was unable to capture just how amazing the place looks. oh well, even thoough the pictures dont do it justice at all, some of these photos of goreme look ok. check em out!


underground cities and friendly hosts

one of the main things that we wanted to see while here in goreme was an underground city. there are several fo them around here, and one of the most impressive ones is called Desrinkyu. this city was built centuries ago, and at one time about 10,000 people all lived there underground for periods up to 6 or 7 months!! back in the day, many armies would come through this region, so to protect themselves, people built underground cities so they could hide out for several months underground while the invading army passed through. the city of desrinkiyu is extremely elaborate and goes down *8* levels below ground!!

exploring the city was really cool. all the passageways leading down were really tiny (to prevent soldiers from coming into them) and we had to scamper down these tunnels while keeping our heads down. these underground cities were really elaborate… they had churches, places to get married, an underground school, etc. it was crazy how inventive these people were. they built huge airshafts that go all the way down to the bottom to allow air in, but a lot of these airshafts, instead of going directly up, fan out horizontally near the top so invading soldiers wouldnt find the vent openings.

after the underground city, we wnet back to town to hang out for a bit and then went to red red wine again. the guy who works there, Kadir, is sooo damn nice (as i mentioned before). when we told him the other day that we would probably be leaving town and didnt really have enough funds to stay there longer, he invited us to stay at his house. we were stunned! we hardly even knew him and yet he was inviting us to crash at his place. so cool! so, we hung out at the wine house for a bunch fo time during we wich we got a bunch of free wine and free nargileh.

there is this whole crew of friends (including kadir and yavus from the flintsones internet) that hang out there almost nightly. yavus owns several businesses in town, but i guess he owns the wine house mostly for fun and he and his friends chill there all the time, play turkish music, and sing. it was super cool to be able to chill there and watch it all happen. it’s funny, there is this thing here called “turkish nights” where you can go and pay a bunch of money to see people play turkish music etc. it was way expensive, and seemed a bit cheezy as it is set up for tourists. heh, instead of that, we got to see just regular turkish people chilling and playing authentic music for themselves. it was so much more *real* than any touristy hokey thing. the only problem, was that despite anything kadir said, we did feel a little bit like we wee intruding. it was also one of the friend’s birthday, and he got a cake and candles and presents etc.. and we kinda felt like we were imposing a bit. oh well, i guess.

late that night, we went and crashed at kadir’s house, and then the following morning went out to breakfast/lunch w/ him and then yavus joined us too. it’s so random that we’re just chilling w/ the locals around here. i havent really gotten to do that anywhere else on my travels yet, and getting to know the people that live there really adds a new dimension to the place. we exchanged our thoughts on random stuff like tongue piercings, travel, their upcoming tripes (they’re going to kenya and to indonesia) etc.

later on in the day, caryn ad i went for a hike in Rose valley. this place was possibly even more beautiful than the valleys that we were in the other day! so many interesting rock formations! also we found a bunch of random empty pigeon houses that we could crawl up into and through. the people here used to dig out caves w/ pigeon holes so that the birds would stay there and they could use the pigeon droppings. now these caves wewre pretty much empty, but it was quite an adventure to scramble up the rocks and try to use what little rock climbing skills we had to explore.

we had a great time here in goreme, and it was really sad to leave. although we had already had our bus tickets out, it definitely would have been nice to stay longer. i think our time here will definitely stand out among the different memories of the trip. at night, we boarded the bus to head out to the next country…. Syria. we’ve heard and read sooo much good stuff about syria, and we’re really excited to finally check it out!!




despite all of our difficulties getting here, Goreme has been one of the highlights of turkey. goreme is a small town located in the region of turkey called cappadocia. this area was covered by volcanic ash thousands of years ago, and gives it a complete unique and unearthly landscape. there are rock hills everywhere with crazy unusual ridges, bizarre rock formations, “fairy chimneys”, and intricate valleys. because the landcape is made out of ash, it’s actually incredibly soft (for rock) and is quite easy to dig through w/ even primitive tools. because of that, people here have for thousands of years lived *inside* the landscape. people have built homes, churches, and othe building directly into the mountains and a lot of the population to this very day live in these cave homes.

the town of goreme in the hills

one of the things hella people that come to this town look forward to is staying in one of these caves. of course, living in a cave has it’s drawbacks… it’s definitely not the warmest place around, but our hotel has central heating (in the caves!). unfortunately, the heating is only on in the evening time, but it still helps! so, the first day, after our hellish bus ride, we went straight to our cave and went immediately to sleep. we were so tired! we didnt get up for hours, and then went outside to trry to get food. it gets dark early here!! by the time it’s around 4:45 pm it’s already getting dark! still even at night, walking around town and checking out eh environment surrounding it was cool. this place is so beautiful!! anyways, due to our incredibly late start that day, i dont have all that much to report for the first day…

our cave room

cave rooms from the outside


the second day here, we woke up and it was raining. actually, it wasnt raining, it was pouring like crazy! this is when we started getting worried. it’s late fall here, and it supposedly rains a lot here in turkey at that time. what if it rains like cdrazy for the resty of our time here? how are we gonna see anything? in other places, where we do as lot of stuff indoors, it wouldnt be too much of a problem, but here, when everything we want to see is outside???

well, we were determnined to at least see something, so we put on some ponchos and ventured out. near town is this “open air museum” which is an large outdoor area with a bunch of rock cut churches. it was pretty crazy. the churches were just carved out of the mountainside, and when you walk in you could see intricate archways, tables cut out of rock, graves cut out of rock, and hundred year old frescos. this outside area had many many of these churches and it was pretty interesting to wander through the random caves, climb the laddres, and check out random tunnels.

churches etc carved into the rock

eventually though, the rain became too much to deal with. we were getting drenched and we were freezing so we headed back to our cave hotel to get warm. at our hotel, we ran into jenny and mitchell, this canadian couple that we keep runnig into. w e first met them when we were applying for our syrian visa in istanbul, and ever since then (since most travelers in turkey follow a similar path), we keep bumping into them in each town we go to. they happened to be staying at the same hotel as us, so this time we got to hang out w/ them more than before.

we had heard about this wine bar called the “red red wine” from the owner of the Flinstone’s internet cafe (we talked to this guy a bunch of times.. he’s really cool and happens to own at least 4 of the businesses here around town). we decided to go down there and check it out, so we went w/ jenny, mitchell, and this girl molly from new york who we had talked to a bunch the day before at the hotel. this wine bar ended up being awesome!! the place was totaly chill, with a fireplace, candlelight, and people playing live mellow turkish music. the wine was cheap (2 bucks for a full to the brim glass) and we all smoked the nargileh as well. we allhad a great time, and it was a lot of fun to just get to hang out, kick back, and have drinks w/ some americans again!

after a while, the bar kicked it up a notch. the people who were playing their musical instruments got really into it, and soon all the turks in the room started singing along. next thig we know, hella people are getting up and dancing and stuff. it was hella cool. it was really neat how all the turks that were there knew all the words to the traditional songs. anyways, all of us ended up having a really good time there, and decided that we had to come back!


the next day, after a delicious Menemen (a mix of scrambled eggs, sweet peppers, onions and spices) from our hotel, we went out for a hike to check out the beautiful terrain. we went to a place called Honey Valley which joined up w/ a place called Love Valley. trying to find the trail to start w/ was quiet difficult. the trail wasn’t clearly markes (read: competely unmarked) and wasn’t exactly always a trail (sometimes we would have to just folow a river). trying to get down into the valley, we accidentally took the wrong path, and ended up at a sheer dropoff that went down several stories. oops!! we retraced our steps and finally found our way into the valley.

the hike we did was amazingly beautiful. the rock formations all around us looked so damn cool, and i realy wish that i had the words to explain just how neat they were. the hike wasn’t super long, but we had a super great time just wandering down through the valley and checking stuff out.

after the hike, we met up w/ jenny and mitchell and their friends Comby and Sarah (irish and australian respectively) and went down to the Red Red Wine again. heh, it’s becoming our local hang out now! not only is it nice to have a local hang out for the 4 days that we’re in town, but we now have a posse as well. we’ve bene hanging out w/ these same people for the last few days, and we’re all gonna come down to syria together. it’s cool to have a clique of people to hang out w/ for an extended amount of time. we’re so used to just saying hello, having a conversation w/ people, and then never seeing them again! Red Red Wine has a dvd player for people to watch movies on, but unfortunately it wasn’t working. oh well… back to nargilehs and beer and wine. surprisingly, no one complained ;). while kicking it at the wine bar, we got to know the waiter guy who works there. he’s incrdeibly nice, and has hooked us up w/ free wine, free beer, and shared his own hookah w/ us. talking to him was hellza interesting as well. after another delicious turkish dinner, we went to sleep.


the night that would never end…

last night was supposed to suck. we had to take a night bus that started at 3:30 pm in selcuk and ended up here in goreme at 4:30am. sounds pretty sucky and rough… but not too bad right? well, unfortunately, it was way worse.

we bought our bus tix from our hotel in selcuk and the ticket said goreme (thats where we wanted to go). but when we gave the ticket to the guy at the bus station, he handwrote a ticket for us that said Navshahir (10 miles from goreme). i asked him why this was and he told me not to worry about it, and that the main bus goes to Navshahir, and then there are free minibuses from there to goreme. hrm… seemed weird, but oh well.

i somehow manages to catch a cold (second time in 2 months!) so the bus ride sucked. it was hard to sleep, i was uncomfortable and constantly blowing my nose. i just kept watching time tick by, hoping that 4:30 would finally arrive. finally, it did, and the bus driver told us to get off the bus. when we stepped off the bus and asked where we catch the next bus to goreme, the driver vaguely waved in the direction of the bus terminal. we walked over there, and were told that there are no free minibuses to goreme. the only way to get there is buy dolmush and they dont start running till 7am. WHAT!!?? so there we were, stuck in the freezing cold in the dark next to a bus station. we were exhausted, hungry, sleepy, i was sick, and we knew we would just sit there dor another 2.5 hours.

i was sooooo pissed. someone majorly screwed us over. i dont know if it was Artemis Guesthouse where we bought our ticket from, i dont know if it was the bus company Can Elbistan… but thanks to someone, we were stuck and old and angry. we called the hotel, on our phone card which was almost dead, only to have the phone answered by sopmeon who spoke no english and coulnt help us. wehn we called the hotel we were staying at in goreme, they said they would send a car to come pick us up. YAY!!! except half an hour later, there was no car. we called back and were told that the guy had called his boss, but the boss wasnt answering the phone, so no ride. finally around 7:30 we arrived goreme. tired, sick, and angry… to find out that our room wouldnt be ready for another 2 hours.

we finally went top bed around 10am. what a night. UGH!!


ephesus and the end of ramazzan


yesterday, as usual, we took another long bus ride. we’ve been taking long bus rides practically every other day now, and this one was about 6 hours from cannakale to selcuk. i havent mentioned this before, but in many places in turkey, they pour a few drops of this special lemony cleanser stuff into your hands. you then rub your hands together and they get disenfected and smell nice. they’ll do this on buses sometimes or in public restrooms. well, the bus guy was walking up the aisle to pour a few drops of the stuff into my hands, and somehow the little filter thing came off and he ended up dumping like a whole cupful of this lemony stuff all over my hands. doh!! my hands were completely drenched!!!

after the lemon incident, we got the rest of the way unharmed. the hostel that we’re staying at is pretty crazy. on one hand it’s hella cool: they have a chef to cook food, drinks for sale, tons of dvds to watch, guidebooks to use, and a travel agent on hand to help book trips… but they’re all crazy anal here. there’s tiny little signs all over the walls about not doing laundry in your room, or not taking your key w/ you when you go out, and not to take boardgames upstairs, etc etc etc!! they even gave us a tour when we got there and went over all these rules w/ us personally!


it’s halloween!! well, maybe not exactly halloween, but sorta! ramadan ended yesterday and everyone here is psyched!! after ramadan they have this 4 day holiday, and hella shops and restaurants are closed. we walked up to a standto buy a coke today, and the guy had a plate full of all sorts of different candies and cigarettes that he was just giving out to people for free! it turns out, that this is a common thing during this holiday, and kids actually go door to door and get candy from all the different people, just like halloween.. but they dont even have to dress up!

would you like some candy and lemon antiseptic?

the main reason why people come to selcuk is because of the ruins of ephesus nearby. we spent a few hours wandering amidst the ruins and it was really cool. the two biggest things were a *huge* theater with rows and rows and rows of seats, and the (rebuilt) remains of a library. it was unfortunate that the most interesting here was actually a rebuit reconstruction, but it still looked very impressive.

when we got back from the ruins we were starving, but on the way to dinner, we got intercepted by a carpet salesman. he invited us into his shop as a lot of the carpetsellers do. usually we say no, but i figured what the heck, may as well try it once and we made sure to let him know that we were not in the slightest bit interested in buying a carpet. the converstaion we had w/ this guy was actually really interesting and we learned a bunch of stuff. for instance, girls are often told by guidebooks to buy a fake wedsding ring to wear, or to tell people that their “husband” ias waiting in the hotel. well, apparently, the shop owners etc are not dumb. they’ve seen this trick a million times, and if you’re wearing a cheap cheezy ring, they’ll know instantly if you’re lying. these guys deal w/ customers day in and day out fopr years…. they know everyones little tricks. this guy also talked about what he thought about toursists of different nationalities, difficulties of dating in turkey, that people in this coun try were brainwashed into thinking that Ataturk was a great leader when according to this guy, he was a ruthless dictator, and lots of other stuff. this guy was a bit odd, but talking to him was really interesting.

after dinner, caryn and i had some beers and plahyed backgammon. i didnt really know how to play, and caryn hadnt played in years, so we both kinda sucked. i wont mention here who the winner was, but lets just say it wasnt caryn ;).

late at night, around midnight, we got hungry again, and went searching for food. we could find only one place open. the guy who owned the place had his wife cook up some really really good food for us and talke dto us for a bit. he was sooo proud of his wife’s cooking and also of his restaurant. i guess bill clinton or maybe the secret service that was w/ bill clinton ate there several times and his business cards had a photo of bill and bhis family at ephesus. he also had like 10 humongouis guestbooks full of people’s thoughts on his restaurant. i guess he’s owned the place for 17 years…




it’s crazy that i’ve been out here for this long! i feel like i’ve seen and done so much already… i’ve been to 7 countries and have seen more stuff in these last 60 days than i would normally get to see in years. i’ve been able to live out of a backpack, be constantly on the go, and change languages on the fly. i’ve ridden buses, metros, cable cars, trams, ferries, taxis, planes, and even camels. i’ve gotten from eating fish and chips to snails to tapas to shish kabobs. i’ve battled off carpet sellers, camped in the desert, seen ruins, gone clubbing, and even took a turkish bath.

it’s been a wild crazy ride, and i still have 10 more months of it to go!! and, from now on, the countries will only get crazier… we’ll go to the middle east, deep into africa, and all around asia. i can’t wait!

i hope you guys have been enjoying reading abouit all of it. i totally appreciate all the comments etc that i’ve gotten from all of you. anyways, i’d love to know exactly who all is reading my journal, so if you’ve been reading, or if you’re kust reading now… leave a comment in this post to let me know who you are. i’d love to hear from ya… and that means you too elena!!!

oh yeah, one more thing… i’d like to appologize for the spelling etc in this journal. honestly, i am really not terrible at spelling, and i know how to use punctuation. it’s just that i’m usually in such a hurry, and tired, and using weird keyboards etc!!



we saw the battlefields of galipoli today. yesterday was spent on a bus traveling. the buses here are actually pretty sweet. they give you muffins to eat and water and sodas to drink every hour or so. thats more than we got on our last few flights!! we arrived in the city of channakale on the west coast of turkey last night and had another delicious turkish dinner… the food here is so good!!

the battlefields of galipoli ais where there were crazy battles during WWI between the turks and the british and anzac (australian new zealand army corp) forces. the allied forces invaded turkey and there was this crazy standoff for months, but eventuall turkey was able to drive the allies off. the trench fighting was insane, and i guess the trenches were sometimes only like 25 feet apart!! you were soo close to your enemy, for days an days on end!! we walked around the area and got to see a bunch of the actual trenches and barbed wire and stuff. there were also cemetaries. tons and tons fo cemetaries. it was insane to think just how many people died here… and this was just one battlefield out of tons during WWI. it was all so eerie to think about… and also to think about how so many of the soldiers were only 18 years old (as they are today). kids practically!! little kids living in trenches for days on end with bombs flying everywhich way and bullets whizzing by constantly. if you poke your head out of the trench…. it’s over!

there was one particularly interesting story we read up there. at one point ther was a cease fire. all the troops in the trenches were treating their wounded. all of a sudden the british general saw one of his men laying on the ground in the middle of the battlefield, badly injured. but there was nothing to do! if he crawled out to help, he would be shot instantly. no one could leave the trench. then all of a sudden he saw someone in the turkish trench raise a white pair of underpants up high in the air. everyone was dead still and quiet. at this point a turk crwaled out of his trench, walked through the field, picked up the injured british and carried him to the british trench, dropped him off, and ran back. everyone was in shock!! this guy risked his life to save an injured enemy. anyways, i thought that was really cool.

we walked around these battlefields w/out any water unfortunately and soon were extremely tired and thirsty. the hike back down was another 3 km!! doh! we started walking back when all of a sudden this Turk in a tractor pull sup and offers us a ride! there wasnt anywhere really to sit in the tractor (one seat) so we just sat on thes panels by the driver and held on to dear life!! it was a crazy bumpy ride and so rough, but it was really cool anyways!! after he dropped us off, another random minivan pulled up and gave us a ride the rest of the way. sheez… turks are sooo nice!!

for dinner we took a break form turkish food and had steak and macaroni and cheese. both were way different than what we expected, but still very good.


third time is a charm!

so today we went back to the syrian embassy for the 3rd day in a row. this time, finally, we were able to fill out a visa form. when we had come to turkey, our visas had cost us 20 bux each. we didnt know how much the syrian visas would cost, but just to be on the safe side, we brought 60 bux each. well, it turns out that the syrian visas are crazy expensive (for americans. they are cheaper for other countries)!! the visas cost $105 each!!! so, we forked over the money and were told to come back later.

the syrian visa application is pretty crazy. it asks all sorts of questions like what is your religion and what are the names of your mother and father. one of the questions on the applications was whether or not we had been in “occupied palestine”. it’s pretty crazy that syria (and most of the other middle east countries) wont even let you in the country if you’ve been to israel. if you have an israeli stamp in your passport, you’re automatically jacked. most of these countries dont recognize israel as a country at all, and the syrian visa form wouldnt even mention isreal by name. it seems so wrong and backwards to me that a country would impose rules like that… but then i guess our own country has made it illegal for its citizens to travel to cuba, so we have some hatin’ it laws of our own. oh, and another interesting thing i learned about syria: it didnt allow the interent until the year 2000, and even to this day, certain sites are blocked by the government and are illegal including yahoo and hotmail!

anyways, 3 hours after we dropped agfter our applications, we came back and *finally* had our visas!! it only took about 1 million days, but we finally got them. oh, and the other thing that we got today was ISIC cards (international student identification cards). sure we’re not really students, but we were at one point right?? that’s good enough!! these cards can get you discounts in tons of different places, and i hear that in syria especially, the savings can be huge!

so now it’s our last day here in istanbul. although i’m excited to be seeing something new tomorrow, i really did have a good time here. this city is really cool. as i said, it’s super modern, but witha slight middle eastern twist and tham makes it really interesting. the people here are really friendly and really funny as well. we’ve had so m any random conversations on the street w/ turks who are standing in front of their stores. yeah, sure, they try to get you to come and sample their wares, but there’s no high pressure like there was in morocco. they have no problem taking no for an answer. they say random funny stuff like “hello, i am here, let me help you spend your money!” or “you must come in.. you break my heart!!” or “please, maybe you come back tomorrow, you will see us by my beating heart!” etc etc. so many rando lines, and they are alsways smiling and laughing along w/ you. unlike in morocco, where people dont really give you the time of day if you dont buy from them, here everyone wants to shake your hand, help you with directions, give you advice, etc etc even if you dont go into their shop.

we’ve definitely met and interacted w/ some interesting characters. from the waiter at a restaurant “hello, i am here! i am charisma!!” to the people who work at our hostel. for example: for dinner tonight we went to the grocery store and bought pasta, tomato paste, etc. we thought it’d be interesting to eat in for a change. well, the gvy that works in the hostel saw how much paste we were using, and exclaimed that there is no way we could use that much and that we only needed to use like one tenth of it. at this point, he grabs the pot from us, and cooks the sauce, mixing in oil, pepper etc, drains our spaghetti, and does absolutely everything for us! he doesnt take no for an answer, and pretty much wouldnt let us do any of it ourselves. so nice!!

even though we didnt do anything really substantial over the last couple of days, it’s still been really cool. wandering around the ramazzan festival at night, eating at our favorite restaurant over and over again, checking out the Taksim area, and just hanging out. today, while we were waiting for our visa applications, we wandered around taksim (the main shopping district), and i started really wanting to buy some new clothes. here in turkey, everyone dresses all stylish, and the whole place is filled to the brim w/ all sorts of clothing shops: Diesel, Puma, Adidas, armani… you name it, they’ve got it. all i have is the same damn clothes that i’ve been wearing over and over for the last 2 months, and i really wanted something new. i bought some pants, but even that doesnt seem to be enough… i wanna buy hellza stuff. another thing i really wanna buy is new music. i have an mp3 player, but no real way of getting new music onto it. i cant buy cds, since i have nothing to play them on! oh, and i want to buy a cell phone since i miss having one… and i wanna buy…. heh, the list goes on and on.

after the visa place, we went to this outdoor cafe on Divan Yolu (the main stret in the old town) and got some coffee and smoked a nargileh, with honey tobacco this time. this particular shop was really cool. really chill outdoor place, with mellow music, lots of couches and chairs, and it was just really nice. also, lots of other people were smoking nargileh as well, so we didnt feel that weird. we also had some apple tea and turkish coffee. turkish coffee is sooo good! they mix the very fine grounds right into it, so it tastes extra good. of course, that means you cant drink the last few sips or you’ll get a mouth full of grounds!

following the coffeeshop, we came back to the hotel and had the pasta dinner that i mentioned earlier, and that’s pretty much it for istanbul….