More Turkey…….

 Second installment Turkey Blog…………. (Today as I type it is the 1st May. Two things.  Happy birthday to Jessica, Susan and Alan! My computer has decided not to be internet savvy at the moment so I cant skype or even send this blog yet – so when you get this blog you will know we are back on line! Second thing, it is protesting day here in Istanbul – the Workers Day.  From here we can hear the protests, chanting and yelling, and of course the helicopters.  Yesterday we were in Taskim Square where the protest was starting from today.  Saw an unimaginable amount of police barricades, army tanks for water blasting etc). The police here carry both hand guns and mostly machine guns as normal practice anyway………….. seems odd to us to pass them in the Bazaars, on the street, on the tram etc with these guns.

Bosphorus Sea Cruise

Caught the boat with heaps of other tourists and off we went up the Bosphorus to the meeting of the Black Sea.  A 90 minute trip each way.  Seeing Istanbul stretching out forever on both sides of the sea all the way! Amazing! The further up you went the more elaborate the houses as well as the more run down e.g. small fisherman villages in wee boats).  We headed for a restaurant for lunch tht Cherie had recommend and had a wonderful meal.  We had a lengthy conversation with the maitre d’ about me not eating fish (it is a fish restaurant you see) but we got all sorted.  Had a wonderful array of mezzas breads and then for Peter a whole blue nose fish and for me, kofta (meatballs). All while sitting on the edge of the sea at a white linen restaurant.  We were slightly amused and very surprised to see a submarine sailing past as we ate! The photo is of a building we sailed past – lots of wealth up the top of the Bosphorus.

Back on the boat (after meeting a NZer from North Shore Akl there – who had attended ANZAC ceremonies at Gallipoli) and then back to Istanbul.  Interestingly, most people we have spoken to who attended the ASZAC ceremony here were a bit disappointed.  Said it was very moving but VERY commercialized and that a lack of respect for the dead – e.g. ice cream vendors walking through the graves to sell etc.

As we got off the boat we went to the Spice Market. Amazing sculptured piles of spices – but even more than that, containers of gorgeous dried fruits (grapes, dates etc) so much larger and juicier than we see in NZ. Lots of caviar and saffron too.  Also the usual bazaar stalls such as gold, shawls and pottery. We bought only some dates for Cherie – I have to hold back being only the first few weeks of the holiday! Here is a photo of a typical stall at the spice bazaar.

Spice Bazaar


After that we caught the tram home and then Cherie came for a drink. Doesn’t it sound so familiar and so domestic! We then went to a local (i.e. 10 mins walk from the apartment, up cobbled streets) Georgian restaurant for dinner. An amazing, tiny restaurant in the front of the woman’s house. Just three tables and we were the only ones there, but Cherie had heard very good reviews of it.  And wow!  We had basically a platter of what the owner called dumplings, served with olive oil and butter, and filled with three separate fillings – cheese, mushrooms and spinach. Very good! Washed down with a local wine of course.

Wednesday and we caught a taski (how it is spelt here) all by ourselves to the airport to go to Cappodoccia. Flight was 1.10 hours, so only like Akl to Wgtn.  But what a contrast in geography.  From sea and coast with high rise buildings to inland central Turkey with no rivers, and stone formations made by nature that are called “Fairy Chimneys”.  It is also a very historic and old part of Turkey so we had a lot to see and learn.  People still live in the fairy chimneys and caves – all made by natural weather patterns

Kelebek Hotel - Our bedroom in a fairy chimney


On the first day we strolled the town and ate lunch at a local café.  Had a “kebab” which was like a chicken stew cooked in a terracotta pot which is made locally.  The top of the pot is sealed with bread and cooked. Then at the table they take a hammer and “smash” the top of the pot off and voila! Lunch!

Had a look around went for a walk then later had dinner at the hotel restaurant.  The hotel we stayed in is built around and in the local caves and fairy chimneys.  It was delightful and we’d recommend it to anyone! Also the people were great. So helpful, friendly and casual. Only 6 indoor tables and similar outdoor so quite intimate.  It was still quite cold there so we sat by the open fire.

The net day was a FULL ON tourist day.  First up at 5am for a sunrise hot air balloon ride. Wow! We had booked the longer ride of 90 mins versus the usual of 45. So we were picked up by minivan and taken to a field in the middle of nowhere.  Lots of people and lots of balloons! Still all lying on the ground waiting to be blown up (is that what they call it??? Blown up…….. maybe inflated…..) a bon fire was burning to keep us warm, and hot tea, apple tea and Nescafe (they all serve it here!) with cake and sweet biscuits was available.  Then the 11 of us on the 90 min flight (the shorter flights had 22 people to a basket!) were back in a van and taken to a delightful valley with amazing fairy chimneys, to launch from there.  It is incredible how many people and how much work it takes to get a balloon up and landed.  Quite a skill and art.

The launch site for our balloon ride

And the flight itself?  Amazing! The pilot was very skilled and we went low in the valleys (e.g. rose valley so named due to the rose colour of the rock) and then up high to get over the next hills etc. We all laughed when one of the other passengers had his phone and played the song “Take my breath away”. Even the pilot had a laugh. 

Fairy Chimneys from BalloonIn front of the bvalloon as it is being inflatedView from very high up in the balloon

Note the clouds in this photo it was very high and very cold!
We landed in a field of wild flowers which was very pretty then to have a glass of champagne each to apparently celebrate landing safely – a balloon pilots’ tradition. Back at the hotel by 9am to be picked up for an 8 hour tour. Phew!

The tour was a party of 7 with a driver and a guide.  It was much more physical than we had been told (e.g. a 2 hour walk through rose valley with steep hills, ravines, slippery sand etc.  This was Ok for us but not for the nearly 80 year old, New Yorker, with a walking stick (Richard).  He had not been told of the physical requirements.  So the 2 hours turned in to a long trek with all of us taking turns holding and supporting Richard through mud and water. Anyway it was a lovely valley and saw the rock formations up close. Then off to an ancient city built in rock – 2nd Century.  Phew! Was that steep climbing (huff, puff………….. (Richard stayed in the van).  There is a church there (like a whole in a rock) that is the John the Baptist church.  We happened in there when there was a ceremony being performed.  It was a Georgon Orthodox ceremony with three high priests who were anointing people to join their religion.  Candles and incense made it seem surreal.

Double fairy chimney

At last, then it was lunch time! It was a “tour” restaurant but done very well.  Mezza of mint yoghurt, lentil balls, and a salad translated as smash salad.  Literally a salad of tomatoes, garlic and peppers smashed together.  Very nice on the bread they serve here with EVERRRRRRRRY meal. Then soup of lentils and chickpea with tomato and a main of chicken “curry”. Dessert of semolina balls with pistachio ground nuts. We have been very surprised by how much rise is eaten in Turkey.  Both locally grown and imported from China. 18 million people in Istanbul alone……….

The afternoon started with visiting some fairy chimneys and is where I saw up close, a camel. 


Then to a local pottery place.  Pottery is very common as the soil is pink and white volcanic and very good for pottery. It was amazing to see how they hand paint such detail.  Peter bought a “wine jug” of a very old and local design. 

Phew! Just when you thought you had seen the local district we then went to an underground city – built in 2000 BC. We have never seen anything like it – the age, the amazing planning, building etc.  Well actually it is not building but carving of the rock.  Today you can go to 4 stories deep, but they think there were ten, although some have collapsed.  

The city could house 3000 people and their animals.  It is thought it was only used as an “emergency” shelter for when the people were at threat from war. Cleverly they had tunnels that are false (dead ends) so if the war soldiers got in then they might get lost.  We saw their kitchens, bedrooms, animal shelters and winery’s.  Yes, on each floor they had a winery.  Once we got down to 4th floor underground it was a little scary for me – a bit uncomfortable and I was keen to exit.  It was like a maze and although there were arrows pointing out, you could easily get lost. But once I was above ground again, I was reflecting on the immensity of the tasks those people had achieved and in awe. Even writing about it I can’t explain the immensity.

Us four stories down in underground city

So dinner at the hotel again – it was so good but more so, we were so tired! We met a lovely American couple on the tour and spent some time with them later that night beside the fire over red wine. It seems this is a universal currency J

Flew back to Istanbul and doing so, right over Ankora – the capital of Turkey.  So large! When we landed we had instructions from Cherie how to get the local bus to Taskim Square.  And we did it! Last night Cherie took us to dinner, with a friend of hers, to a flash restaurant here that Peter Gordon (NZ chef I follow) advises on the menu.   It is in the museum overlooking the Bosphorus sea. It was amazing. The treat for me was a starter of haloumi cheese baked in vine leaves. Oh yes! Then of course we all couldn’t go straight home, so, we went to a local bar here where we had eaten dinner on the first night.  The DJ remembered Peter and we had Barry White (Peter’s favourite) playing all night! So cute.  Then when the DJ had finished work the four of us went next door to another bar / nightclub for a bit of dancing.  

We leave beautiful Istanbul on Monday heading for Gallipoli and Troy. Both of us love Istanbul so much – it is not just another city, but one of the contrasts, of old and new and how it can blend.

Here are some random photos……..

Other balloons taken from our balloonOld and the new on Bosphorus CruiseView from our hotel window, Goreme, CappodociaPeter in front of a fairy chimney house

Love to you all. xx

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This entry was posted on May 2, 2010 at 7:43 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Responses to “More Turkey…….”

  1. Jacqui & Bruce Fallow Says:

    Great to hear you’re having such a wonderful time. Turkey sounds fabulous, as does the food! Love your blogs, it’s a great record of your adventures. Love the Fallows xox

  2. Toddy & Sheila Says:

    What a great narration. We were glued to every word and picture. It really does sound like you’re both having a wonderful time over there. Keep the stories coming, we’re hanging out for the next one.

    Love to you both


  3. Kay and Alan Says:

    Hello. Thanks for phoning on Alan’s birthday. That was very thoughtful of you.
    I do not seem to havereceived any more updates after Turkey. Are you still there??
    Hope you don’t mind but Su asked me to copy your blog site to her so she can read up on what you are both up to.

    We have big meeting at ST Clair golf club tonight.
    Should be fun.
    our Love to you both

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