Thursday, October 16, 2014

Güllüdere (Rose Valley).


We kick started our day with breakfast in the hotel's restaurant which is located on the terrace on the floor below the one that our room is on. The place doubles as the communal space for hotel guests. Inside, there's a small prep kitchen, a small buffet table, a few tables and chairs for diners, a small couch and a small wood burning stove. We took a table with a view of the town. Pretty spot to sit.

It was a modest meal - bread, cheese, eggs, some cold cuts, tomatoes, cucumbers, tea, coffee, and juice....the usual Turkish tourist hotel breakfast fare.   The man overseeing our meal was the same guy who helped us with our luggage last night.  It's a small hotel.....everyone chips in where they can to get the job done!


I had arranged for our car to be dropped off at the hotel at 9:30a.  I made my way down to the front entrance a few minutes before then and promptly at 9:30a, give or take a minute or two, a man showed up. We did the usual exchange.....are you Julee?  are you from the car rental agency?  I nodded at him and he at me.  I breathed a small sigh of relief, I think he did the same.


He led Bro and I to our car -  a compact Nissan.  Nice color I thought.  We can easily spot it in the parking lot.  While Bro handled the paperwork and walked around the car to check it out, I got myself seated and got to looking at the map.   Before he left us, we agreed on the dropoff time for the car.

When we asked the guy how much gas was in the tank, he replied that it was empty.  Yes, empty. Who drops off a car with no gas in the tank?  Seriously.   When I was in Göreme in 2008, there was no gas station in town and apparently, that has not changed 6 years later.   We would have to drive to Avanos, about 6 kilometers away, to fill up.  As Bro started up the engine, we both joked about whether or not we would make it all the while comforting ourselves with the fact that the empty tank light had not yet come on.

Our sightseeing plan today is to visit as many of the places that we can that are listed on the Rose Tour. Erdoğan just so happened to have a handout of the tour in his office so we picked one up.  We'll begin with a visit to Güllüdere (Rose Valley) and then follow the route highlighted in red.  I figured all of the places we're visiting are landscape sites so Bro won't be missing out on anything by not going on the actual tour itself except for visits to a pottery factory and a winery, which neither he nor I would enjoy anyways.


In the 6 years since I was last here, Göreme has changed little. 


The streets are still the same though the some of the storefronts have changed.  I recognized enough to easily navigate Bro to the road that leads towards Avanos.  Understandably, Bro was not feeling comfortable with my recall but with few roads come few signs so it wasn't hard to spot the one pointing to Avanos....yes, the road that I was leading him to!


One thing for sure, I had never rented a car before so even though I could put Bro on the road to Avanos, I had no idea where there would be a gas station.  As he drove along, I kept my eyes on the lookout for one.  At the same time, I was pinching myself at the realization that I am once again back in Cappadocia.  For many people, a trip to this magical landscape is a once in a lifetime event.  How lucky am I to be able to come back three times?

From Göreme, we past Çavuşin and the a short distance arrived into Avanos.   We easily spotted the gas station.   Bro bought 30 lira's worth of gas to start with.  Although we'll be driving a lot, the distance to cover all the sights we want to see is relatively short so we weren't sure how much gas we would really need so we'll fill up as we get low.  I think Bro is determined to return the car with as much gas in the tank as we got it.....that would be close to zero. :-)

Last night, when Erdouan gave us the handout on the Rose Tour, he told us where we had to drive to too see the best of the Rose Valley.  I decided we might as well have Bro start his visit of Cappadocia with one of the popular sightseeing destinations.  I remember Erdouan mentioning that we had to go near the horse stables.  When I was here in 2008, Lei and I went horseback riding in the Rose Valley so I vaguely remembered what the stables looked like.  From Avanos, we drove back towards Göreme and when I spotted the building that matched my memory of what the horse stables looked like, I had Bro pull over.  As we drove along the dirt road, leading to the long white building, I was virtually jumping up and down in my seat as I knew it was the stables.  The paddocks behind the behind confirmed it for me.  Damn, I have a good memory! :-)


When we got out of the car, the craggy landscape of the Rose Valley stood in the distance, before us. I'm not good with words so it's really hard for me to describe the surreal landscape here so I'll let the pictures do the work for me.






We hiked our way up to the highest point on the ridge of hills.  Looking on one side, I could see the knobby hill that is Uçhisar Castle.  I've never been there so I'm hoping we'll find the opportunity to do so on this trip.


In the other direction, we looked down in to the valley.  Beyond that were the pink and white layered rocks that gives this valley its name.  The fairy chimneys here don't have the distinctive mushroom like shape that they have in other parts of Cappadocia; they tend to be more conical in shape. There's also large clusters of large, white colored rock formations that I can only describe as lumpy looking.

Panorama Rose Valley
Panoramic view of the Rose Valley. Use the scroll bars to pan to see the entire photo.


A path cut through the valley and occasionally, we would see people walking along it.  Erdouan had mentioned that the path began off the road that leads from the village of Göreme to the Göreme Open Air Museum and ends in the town of Çavuşin.


Cappadocia is a grape growing region.  Now that it is fall, the leaves of the vines were turning a brilliant shades of yellow and chartreuse, adding nice pops of color to the landscape.


We walked around the ridge, taking in views of the landscape from different vantage points.



Looking down at the path, we both wondered how we could get down there from where we were standing.  Hmmm.....no clear path.....steep hill.  Of course, Bro would easily clamor down like a mountain goat.  Me?  Hmmm....I would start up upright but part way down, would most likely end up sliding down the rest of the way on my backside.  Not a pretty picture.

As we stood contemplating how to make our way down, a young French couple crossed our path with their Turkish guide in tow.  We watched them pretty much scamper down the hill, on a stretch of dirt that was so well tread upon that it was pretty much a path.  Hmmm....okay for Bro but I was still reluctant to follow.  A nightmare flashed before my eyes that I would take a bad tumble and end up in a clinic somewhere here with Bro acting as my surrogate doctor.  No, not taking the chance.

So, we continued to explore the area around us.  Bro caught sight of a small grapevine that we both suspected had been deliberately planted by a farmer.   A cluster of ripe grapes tantalized Bro and I told him to try one and he did.  As I told Bro, it would most likely be sun ripened to be super sweet as the day is long.  Sure enough, a sugar bomb it was!


We also spotted several cave churches carved in to the boulders.  Bro had never seen one before so I pointed them out to him.  I told him, he would see much better examples when he goes to the Göreme Open Air Museum.





Glancing back down at the valley path, we spotted two familiar faces walking along - it was Marg and Rob!  They spotted us as well and we all waved to each other.   They climbed up the hill to meet up with us.


Amazing to see them again!  We chatted briefly - they told us that they had just walked over from Çavuşin and that the town has several sights that are worth seeing.  They highly recommended we go so I kept in the back of my mind that that would be our next destination - might as well since we're so close by.  Before we bid each other goodbye, for the second time, I asked Rob to take our photo.  That's the shot that opens up this posting.  I returned the favor.  Hopefully, I took a nice shot.


We explored the area around the ridge for a bit longer and then decided to head off.  I mentioned to Bro about going to Çavuşin and asked if he wanted to do the walk.   Well, I think that if we hadn't had the car, he would've but since we had wheels, he voted we drive.  So, that's what we did.

We're off the Çavuşin and I don't know that we'll be back to the Rose Valley but for some reason, I'm not sad to be leaving probably because I know that what's ahead of us is just as interesting as what we've just seen! And....if I'm lucky, I'll be back one day!

#ThrilledtobebackinCappadocia :-)