We decided with Olivier that in the future we will be on the same track with our respective articles otherwise it becomes difficult to follow our journey, if one (me in this case) is running behind with the narratives.
So we left Istanbul on Saturday the 19th of October with one destination in our minds: CAPPADOCIA. But off course we couldn't drive more than 600 km in one day so we took several days to get there.
Our first real stop was in a little town called Mudurnu. A town of 5.000 inhabitants which was a huge difference with the big agglomeration of Istanbul. One of the reasons we had to stop in a town, was to have our conversation with our favorite french journalist, Eugenie Barbesa from the Radio station Aligre FM. We had to call her first thing Monday morning. After our interview we decided to go and visit the town. Quickly we met Ismaïl, a turkish gentleman who lived for ten years in Dreux (French town south west of Paris). He was so happy and proud to speak french with us, that he invited us in his tea house to have coffee and tea. We had a nice conversation and we invited him for lunch. During the conversation and lunch time, we remarked that one of the reasons why Ismaïl liked France was because of the wines.
After lunch he wanted us to visit his former employer in Mudurnu, the municipality. So we did!! With a big image of Ataturk on the facade of the building, you couldn't miss the municipality house.
Off course you cannot enter the municipality house without paying a visit to the mayor. Mr Ineçöl was busy talking with some people, but that didn't stop Ismaïl from coming in joining the meeting and presenting us. We were served turkish coffee and tea. Ismaïl was happy with this mayor as he is socialist. The former ones were as he said "bad" and spend their time in the Mosque and forbitting things. This one not, he was a good one. Afterwards we took pictures with the mayor.
Time was passing by, but that was the least of the worries of Ismaïl, he was so happy to show us arround that it was difficult to leave. The next stop that would take only a few minutes was his house where his wife was. So there we were eating cake with Ismaïl and his wife and looking at pictures of the years spent in France. After this visit, we kindly thanked our friend and headed for our final destination.
When we finally left Mudurnu we took the direction of Ankara. We didn't stop at the city but drove by to continue to the east. Turkey was our second country where we wouldn't be visiting the capital of the country. On the Tuesday 20th of October we celebrated our 7.000 km milestone in a small village called Toklomen. The kilometer stand of the van was showing 129.446 km. The village was at a lake, Olivier took a swim (off course!).
Following the indication provided to us by our friend Ismaïl from Mudurnu, the town of Kirsehir was the beginning of the region of Cappadocia.
Indeed the scenery was very beautiful, but when ones we were in Kirsehir they told us that you need to go to Nevsehir to be in Cappadocia. We still decided to spend the afternoon in the city and in the evening we went to this wonderfull hamam. We had a better explanation also and it was just perfect. You go in this room filled with hot steam. You lie down on this marble bed in the middle of the room. You have warm or cold tapped water all along the walls. You can poor the water on your body. You really sweat in this steam room. After a while the person providing you the scrub in massage will come and call you. Then you go in another room without steam, but still good temperature. Olivier and I were massages by a man. I had to work with my towels to protect all intimate parts. First he uses a glove to scrub your body taling off all the dirth on your skin. Then he pours hot and cold water over you. Then you get a massage, using soap. Then again he pours hot and cold water alternatively over you. You sit down and he pours it over your hair, face and whole body. When you finish he provided me some other towels to change from the wet ones. When you go out, you get other softer towels and a bathrope and some tea. Olivier came out totally shaken up from his massage. He thought the guy was a brute, but at the end he did feel good. A friend of the owner of the Hamam was there discussing and invited us afterwards to have a drink at his house. He was living just in front of the hamam and he wanted us to meat his youngest daughter who spoke a little bit of english. After conversing essentially with the daughter and drinking hot chocolate we left the new acquaintances and the city of Kirsehir.
The Thursday morning while taking our breakfast we had a visit of a Turkish gentleman passing by. He could speak two words of French and us two words of Turkish. He told us that if we were going to Cappadocia, we needed to stop in the town called Ugurp. We decided that Ugurp will be our most eastern destination of this trip.
Before arriving in Ugurp, we stopped just outside the town called Gülsehir to look at some cave monasteries. We arrived at Ugurp in the evening. It seemed a very touristic city, everybody was talking english and there was no doubt we were in the middle of Cappadocia. That night we listened to two Turkish musicians playing saz and guitar in a restaurant. We didn't record them, but we had a nice conversation with Necati Duru, the guitarist.
On the day of my birthday (23/10) we woke up in what was the most beautifull place we parked our van until now. We had a wonderfull panoramic view over part of the Cappadocia region. So what is this Cappadocia ? I think pictures can say more then words.......
Millions of years ago, lava from the volcanoes covered the region. After the lava cooled down, men arrived in the region. They date this arrival at 10.000 years ago. History, nature and mankind created many important wonders in this region:
- unique landscape with rock formations and valleys
- rock-hewn churches decorated with frescoes dates from the 6th - 12th century
- underground settlements
This region has been occupied by different powerfull kingdoms and also the dominant religion beliefs changed.
We went to visit the town called Uçhisar, which had a wonderfull citadell and houses digged in the rock. There were also houses built, but thought very well for the preservation of the environment. Olivier invited me in this wonderfull pension, called Kilim Pension. We had this nice room with the view over one of the valleys.
The owner of the pension, Mehmet, suggested us to go to this wedding celebration the day after to listen to a orchestra and maybe record music. So that Saturday we went together with two other friends of Mehmet to a wedding celebration in Urgup. We were flabbergasted. It seemed more like a big show then a party. There was this big automatic machine in the middle of the room with a camera haning on it. Every single corner of the room could be recorded with this device. We sat at a table with a friend of the bride who gave us the insights. This was considered a medium sized wedding in Turkey. You have to count at least 25.000 euros to have your wedding celebration. We thought that most of the money was going in all these gadgets (camera's and picture). There was a band playing life music and especially the singer had a nice voice, but the acoustics in the room were so bad, that our recording are worthless. We still tried to provide you a quick impression of the wedding celebration, by posting a video on our blog earlier. On all the tables there were softdrinks, juices or water. For people who wanted acohol, there was another party going on outside of the premises. The bride and groom sit on a stage looking and from time to time they go dancing. Olivier and I were invited by the maid of honour to join the guests dancing with the bride and groom.
At a certain moment, the couple stands in the middle of the room to receive the gifts from their guests, which is either golden coins or money. Around midnight the party was over. We were somewhat disappointed with the recording result, but you can't alwyas win. In any case this wedding celebration was so different of what we have seen before, that we continued talking about it for a while.
That night we started our journey heading to the west. With the feeling that we deffinately need to come back another time in this region of Cappadocia. To have the different walks, enjoy the wonderfull scenery and discover more (for exemple the underground settlements).