After breakfast, disinclined to climb to the caves, I bought postcards. And we left for Hattusa. Enclosed by six-kilometer-long walls, this city was, by the standards of the time, an immense site. Originally settled by the Hatti in 2500 BC the Hittites conquered it in 1375 B.C. and the Hittite city was unearthed by archeologists in the first half of the nineteenth century. The fortress encircled the mountain top, warding off attacking multi—cultures for over 1000 years. Fascinating.
Now they were being attacked by loaded tourist buses. We split as 3 of them drove up the dirt road spewing exhaust. A few miles and 1500 feet lower down, we spotted a large crevice-like opening hidden at the bottom of two mountains. Several cars were parked with people wandering around…so we followed.
As we walked through the narrow opening, marvelous rock sculptures grew out of rock as high as 100 feet. We were later to read that Yazihkaya (Turkish for inscribed rock) was the entrance to the temple now defunk. There were around 100 figures, mostly gods from the vast array of Hittite deities. On to Avanos and finding lodging. Drove through the city and saw only one hotel that was unacceptable.
In the process of turning around to redo main street we found a sign, “Sofa, Hotel” that appealed to me. I entered the office and the owner, Mr. Muharren (who, we discovered later a very fine pen and ink draftsman), spoke English.
He led me to an open courtyard and pointed to all the “rooms” available. Over the years he had acquired 24 rambling small, single houses and loosely connected them with stairs. Many units fronted the courtyard that covered and centered the compound. The first two units he showed me I refused, but the 3rd was charming, albeit 4 floors up. The first staircase was up, the second down and through a cave and two more sets going up. The risers were 13 to 14 inches deep with scalloped stones and no railings. Very difficult for Mike recuperating from a fractured hip 8 months earlier. BUT the room was lovely with a modern bathroom and a balcony overlooking the river and the “fairyland” of Cappadocia. Excellent. (Except for the stairs.)
Dinner at 8 in the open courtyard. Two entrees offered: grilled chicken or kofte. An enormous salad bar in a narrow room at the head of the courtyard had unbelievable choices. No English spoken. Mike lifted his wine glass, and using the most important Turkish he had learned, said “Kirmizi sarap please”. (Red Wine) The waiter grinned.
After breakfast we headed for Goreme and the outdoor World Heritage Site. It seemed like we climbed up and down mountains touring the caves: the home sites, church sites, business sites and a monastery. The Greek Orthodox settled here in the 3/4th century AD following religious persecution by the Romans. The Greeks were firmly entrenched for 200 years and the Roman pursuit ended. Fascinating to see wall paintings, sculptures and furniture carved out of the walls. Our hotel owner warned us about the tour bus arrival at noon. They did and we had to jump out of their way. We then drove through Zelve (nicknamed “penis valley” and aptly so. Mike loved them).
We stopped frequently to view the huge, natural stone monuments. Heading back to our hotel, we stopped for lunch at a cafe over—looking the river that we could see from our room. Then Mike went to wine tour and taste at Turasan Winery which he had reserved by e-mail 2 months earlier. Edward was their French wine-maker and spoke English. I sat on our lovely balcony alternating between reading and the beautiful views. Later we walked around the area by our hotel and spotted a small 2nd floor restaurant overlooking the river. Very local but most hospitable. The major cooking area was right behind our table and they were delighted by our fascination with their preparation: swinging pots on an iron rod, adjusting the flame stirring and seasoning. The fresh trout was superb and we tipped well.