Ihlara Valley

Deep in the heart of Turkey, in the middle of what looks like a desolate flatland, the earth opens to reveal a hidden valley.

People have lived in caves alongside the valley for generations. Along the way, they left behind chapels, tombs, tourist restaurants, and even the occasional horse. It made for a beautiful walk.

Derinkuyu underground city

Imagine knocking down a wall in your house and discovering a labyrinth cave system. That seems to be exactly what happened to someone in Derinkuyu, Turkey. Except these aren’t just ordinary caves. This was an underground city built to house 20,000 people.

The narrow passageways between the levels could be sealed off with large wheels that were built into the walls. The Indiana Jones theme song played in my head the entire time we were exploring.

The narrow passageways led to giant rooms like the school room below.

While others held livestock, stores of grains, and even served as wine making facilities.

Göreme Open Air Museum in Cappadocia, Turkey

Since the fourth century, people have been digging churches and refuges into the cliffs in this part of Turkey.

Some of those caves are pretty impressive, like this dining hall that has a table and bench carved out of stone. The ceiling is still sooty from a thousand years of cooking fires.

Requisite tourist shot follows.

The landscape was stunningly beautiful. Wandering among the caves, I felt a bit like Indiana Jones.

The hail storm seemed to come out of nowhere. Thankfully it lasted only a few minutes.

Cappadocia is known as a hot air balloon wonderland. Each morning, hundreds pass through the beautiful landscape. We got up early and decided to walk to the top of the ridge instead.

These are called Fairy Chimneys. The technical term is a Hoodoo. I’m not sure which name is more unbelievable. The centres of many of these naturally forming stone columns were carved out for houses.

I liked this hobbit-sized door in the side of one cliff.

Ankara’s yellow taxi boxes: Better than uber?

Ankara has an awesome system for calling a taxi. On nearly every street corner is a little yellow box.

All you have to do is push the button, and within minutes a taxi arrives.

Brilliant. It’s certainly easier than trying to convince an Indian Uber driver to actually pick you up by following the map.

Slimer says…

I liked this graffiti of Slimer. Google seems to think that the writing next to him says, “Artvin Halki is not ALONE! JUNE.” I’m not so sure.

Signs of Saskatchewan in Istanbul

A small store in Istanbul is selling shopping bags made from recycled Canadian grain and pulse sacks. Saskcan and Simpson Seeds are both from Saskatchewan, and ILTA Grain is a BC company. They were surprisingly expensive.

Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar

It was overwhelmingly large and busy. That’s what made it such an interesting place to wander.

Our only purchase was some delicious freshly pressed pomegranate juice.

Random shots from Istanbul

We were horribly disorganized tourists while in Istanbul, but despite arriving at nearly every attraction after closing time, we still had fun. Here are some random shots.
See the photos