Welcome downtime in Black Sea town....
Vancouver Sun

I arrived by night bus to find a landscape of peach mousse run amok. Staring at the sun rising over windowed anthills of pudding, I pinched myself in case I was still dreaming.

When the bus left Fethiye last night, I was definitely in Turkey. Outside the bus window, it looked like a different planet. Welcome to Cappodocia, a region in central Turkey famous for its fairy chimneys, extraordinary beauty and historical cave-dwelling villages.

Three million years ago, a huge volcanic eruption covered the hills with tufa, a soft mixture of ash, lava and mud. Wind and erosion got to work to create rock flows and bizarre phallic structures that exist nowhere else on the planet.

Our ancestors discovered how easy it was to cut into the rock and proceeded to carve out homes, fortresses, and later churches and whole towns.

While modern homo sapiens have since moved out of caves and into condos, Cappadocia still has a thriving troglophyte (cave-dwelling) population, including tourists like me, who get the unique opportunity to stay in a genuine cave hotel room.

I based myself in a village called Goreme, choosing a budget cave hotel unsurprisingly named The Flintstones. The heat outside was oppressive, but inside my cave (complete with a modern bathroom), the air was cool and damp.

The best way to explore the area is by scooter, which I called my 100cc Mars Rover. You don't need an imagination to believe you're on a different planet in Cappadocia.

The rocky fairy chimneys were so perfectly positioned I felt like I stumbled on to the set of a science fiction movie. I had few expectations for the so-called "underground city" at Kaymakli -- how many people could possibly fit in a cave?

Up to five thousand, it turned out, living in eight levels deep beneath the ground. Originally used by the Hittites over 2,000 years ago, the Christians developed it further as a refuge when under attack in the Middle Ages, herding the local population underground for up to six months until the invading army moved on.

Later I caught a spectacular sunset on a rocky outcrop in an area called the Rose Garden, celebrating my six-month anniversary since I left Vancouver to see the world.

Thirteen countries, three continents, meaningful conversations with more than 700 people (as recorded on my website), I treated myself to a glass of red wine and decided to visit Ankara, because apparently nobody else does.

In 1923, Kemal Ataturk, the Turkish nation builder, moved the capital from Istanbul to Ankara primarily for strategic reasons. Located in the middle of the country, it has a population of four million.

With no hostels, the only cheap hotels were located in an area as unsavoury as syrup, and I was forced to break my budget to explore this unlikely capital city. Unlike Istanbul, Ankara holds little attraction for tourists.

With universities, consulates and corporate headquarters, Ankara is a modern city committed to getting on with the job while everyone goes bonkers in Istanbul. I walked through nice, leafy neighbourhoods with the usual suspects (McDonalds, Starbucks, Benetton), and coffee shops packed with students playing backgammon.

Other than Ataturk's mausoleum, there was little to see, so I promptly fell ill and spent two days floored on a friend's couch with a fever. After that, I couldn't face the prospect of two more nights on a night bus, so I ditched my plans to return south to the Mediterranean, and headed north to the Black Sea instead.

On the advice of locals in Ankara, I went to investigate a small town called Amasra, off the tourist trail but a popular holiday destination for Turks. It won me over instantly. Located within and beneath the walls of a 500-year-old Byzantine castle, Amasra is famous for its seafood, enormous salads and laid-back charm.

I found a cheap room with a gorgeous view and watched the rain approach over the Black Sea -- so called for its heavy winter fogs and sudden storms.

Drinking sweet tea and reading a good book, the crackling storms were magical in that thunder-lightning kind of way. On average, I move every four days, without onwards reservations or a guidebook. It can be exhausting, so it's a treat to find a quiet place like Amasra that forces me to grind to a halt.

I soaked in the sound of the sea, caught some sun on the beach, and took long walks among the seafront cliffs. Amasra is beautiful, off the beaten track, and a bright jewel for any traveller's treasure chest.


Welcome downtime in Black Sea town....
very nice and informative Merlin, How far is it from Altinkum as I would like to take a trip out there if I have the time.

P.S Thanks for the music. :ukflag:
Welcome downtime in Black Sea town....
what a really nice article...lovely to read and you could picture everything. Ta


Welcome downtime in Black Sea town....
shirleyanntr said:
what a really nice article...lovely to read and you could picture everything. Ta

I couldn't agree more Shirleyann!!!


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