a blog entry finally!
The scenery on the drive to Ilhara Valley was worthwhile itself. Farmland with rich volcanic soil that could grow just about anything - and the Turks tend to eat what is in season only.
Our first stop was Derinkuyu underground city where 10,000 Christians lived for a few months at a time hidden from armies. The dark, damp, spaces extend several levels underground, although (thankfully) just two levels are open to the public. I felt a bit panic-stricken and had difficulty breathing, so wasn’t keen to hang about. I tried to exit but somehow got caught in the middle of a tour group so progress was slow in the one-way passages. Rex and Oli spent much longer exploring every nook and cranny, even the burial chambers that were in complete darkness.
Our next stop was Guzelyurt, which has its name spelt out in stones on the hill. We bought some savoury and sweet breads from the back of a bakery van then found some fruit which became a picnic en route. The peaceful town with a beautiful view overlooks stone houses and a lakeside monastery.
Onto Ilhara Valley where we escaped the heat of the day in the canyon. We walked below towering cliffs alongside the river through trees that echoed birdsong and harboured some sticky bugs that dropped foamy liquid on us (not so pleasant!). We stopped to pat the donkeys and a nice local lady offered us some plums from her tree. We had to turn back before Selime Monastery as daylight was running out, however we saw what we could of the lovely valley on the drive home.
Stretches of road did not make driving easy - narrow, often no centre line, big potholes and ditches to the side of the road that we had the misfortune to encounter. The result - a blowout which cost us a tyre and our last precious day in Goreme. Also lots of roadworks going on which has necessitated diversions from the main route and thrown the GPS. Despite the minor hitches, we are very happy to have our own wheels and the freedom to stop when and where we choose.
Now to the subject of food. The seasonal table includes green plums, cherries, potatoes, tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant and chilli peppers. Add to this meat and more meat, fish, cheese, yoghurt and bread. What better way to start a meal than with a meze (or assortment of dips with fresh crusty bread). Doner kebabs are a quick cheap option for lunch. We’re partial to the sweets, particularly baclava and the soft-jellied jewels known to the Turks as ‘Locum’ and to us ‘Turkish Delight’.