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Chris Sayer’s Travel Diary

Monday, 20 Apr 2009

Location: Cappadocia

MapDays 18/19, April 18/19
The surreal landscape of Cappadocia was formed many thousands of years ago when two volcanoes erupted together, and the resulting lava flows then eroded with rain, snow and wind to form conical shaped chimneys and honeycomb cliffs. The amazing landscape is contained within a huge canyon that reminds us of the Grand Canyon in the States – different coloured layers of rock form the deep ravines at the canyon walls, but the so-called fairy chimneys make Cappadocia unique in the world. About 2,000 years ago, inhabitants carved out their homes in these strange rock formations, creating an underground ancient city that can still be visited today. In the centre of this area is a charming little village called Gorome, and our hotel is there, perched on a hill overlooking this entire valley. The view from our windows and the hotels gardens is just stunning.
One night we are taken to a “Turkish Cultural Night”, in a local restaurant that is about 2 flights of stairs underground. Rather difficult for me to achieve on crutches, but Barish already had that worked out with the restaurant owner. Tell you in a minute … First item for the floorshow was an extraordinary religious ceremony performed by a Muslim sect called the Dervishes. Four guys enter the room, under low lighting, dressed in black robes and wearing conical felt fez hats, with their arms folded over their chest and their hands on their shoulders. After a period of bows and prayer, they remove their black robes to reveal pure white, floor-length robes, and they begin to spin on the one spot with their arms outstretched– they twirl around and around so that their white robes flow out like a flower in bloom, and they spin and spin for five minutes while very atmospheric Turkish music is playing. They stop (without any sign of giddiness or unsteadyness), chant some more, and start spinning again. We all found it the most moving, peaceful, and beautiful of ceremonies. It really was extraordinary – the Twirling Dervishes.
What followed was Turkish music and traditional dancing, and the final act for the evening was a belly dancer, who entered the central stage area by being lowered from the ceiling in a sequined and colourful-lit cage. Remember the show-room is 2 storeys underground – the bellydancer’s dressing room was at ground-level, just off the carpark. Yes, you guessed it – this is how I made my dramatic entrance and exit from the showroom. And no, the belly dancer was nowhere in sight when I used her dressing room.
In my current condition, I’m not fit for all the planned activities, and one such activity was a hot-air balloon ride over the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia at sunrise. I just could not climb into the basket, and I couldn’t sit down. But Anne went, and loved it.