Category Archives: Turkey

The Colors of Cappadocia

The Cappadocian landscape is legendary as a ‘moon-land’ and ‘unearthly’. But all those brown and other earth tones can start to look all the same after a few days. Breaking the monotony are the vivid colors of the local pottery, one of the other things that Cappadocia is famous for.

If you’re keen, you could even try your hand at a pottery / ceramics workshop in Avanos, the pottery hub of the region – and buy at source, so you’re sure your Cappadocian souvenir isn’t made in China!

Don't you want to just buy them all?
Don’t you want to just buy them all?

Carved by the Wind: Cappadocia, Turkey

Wind and water erosion create magic in the Cappadocia region of Turkey.

Chiseled by thousands of years of non-stop pounding and grinding by the Forces of Nature, the Cappadocian landscape is dominated by rocky valleys of varied hues and towers shaped like mushrooms, cones and chimneys. What’s even more interesting is that some of these rock formations were (and a few still are) inhabited by people who carved into the towers and chimneys to create their unique dwellings, some above and some even below the ground. You could explore the region by foot with many easy-to-moderate hikes in the valleys (check out our hike in the Rose and Love Valleys here) or rent a scooter or even an ATV. Even better, take a hot air balloon ride at dawn to witness the unique landscape coming to light from the air. And definitely stay at one of the cave hotels around town, for your own experience of living it up like the Flintstones.

Earth or Moon? You decide.

(A segment of one of the Star Wars movies is claimed to be shot here – I wouldn’t be surprised)





Look what Spring Brought in…

Bombay (or Mumbai) doesn’t really have spring – we have two seasons for the year – 1) hot and humid; and 2) raining cats and dogs. So I was happy to make this trip down memory lane to pull out these reminders of a spring in Turkey a couple of years back. When we landed in Istanbul in the middle of April on an overcast afternoon, there was a sharp chill in the air. As the next few days progressed, the weather decided to cast aside its dull winter robe and finally take on the full-fledged brightness of spring.

Like I said, we don’t get spring in Mumbai (where I currently live), so I was excited to experience the transition from winter and the newness and freshness of things around me – the aroma of roasting chestnuts left over from the winter, the clouds clearing up to make way for sunny days and bright blue skies and the blossoming of flowers of every shape, name and colour, at every stop of our trip.

P.S. Go see the tulips welcoming spring in Istanbul at the annual Istanbul Tulip Festival in April.  There's going to be millions of them (seriously)!

Exploring the Depths of Istanbul

This post is in response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Depth.”

The Depth of Basilica Cistern
Scores of columns lined up give an impression of depth in the Basilica Cistern (click on the picture to view a larger version)

The Basilica Cistern of Istanbul is an architectural wonder, yes, but it is not exactly a cheerful place. It literally lies a few floors deep into (i.e. below) the ground near the Hagia Sofia and was built to store water delivered from the Black Sea, for the Great Palace of Constantinople (modern day Istanbul). The cistern is huge and stands with the help of more than 300 columns (some of them ornately carved, and two of them having the famous Medusa heads at their bases), plundered from temples and other buildings in other parts of the Byzantine empire.

It was dark inside, as expected. As we walked on the damp and sometimes slippery wooden walkways over the water, we would be surprised by a sudden tingle at the back of our necks caused by a drop of water that had fallen from the roof of the cistern. Ghostly looking fish that would raise their faces to the surface added to the spookiness of the place. Mysterious, fascinating, unusual and a little creepy – that’s the Basilica Cistern for you. There’s a cafe at the entrance / exit of the cistern, but I’d like my coffee with some daylight and a little less eeriness please, thank you!

This Valley or That Valley? – Hiking in the other-worldly landscape of Cappadocia

We were in Turkey in April 2013 and Cappadocia (with Goreme as the base) was our second stop in the country. After a cloudy, stormy first day in the area, we were absolutely thrilled when the clouds began to clear on Day 2.

Having received very strong recommendations, we headed to the Goreme Open Air Museum as our first sight for the day. Maybe we had the wrong expectations, but it turned out to be a bunch of ancient cave churches with long, snaking queues of senior citizens and high school tour groups. After an hour of under-appreciation of the place, we decided to cut our losses and head to the next thing to do on our agenda – hiking in the valleys of Cappadocia. On a recommendation from our pension’s front desk staff (lovely place that cave pension, but a post on that later), we zeroed in on the Rose Valley. A personal guide and a drop and pick-up came for a nominal price (when split across four of us) that I fail to recall. Continue reading This Valley or That Valley? – Hiking in the other-worldly landscape of Cappadocia

Friday Flashback – Blue Skies and Minarets

This picture portrays Istanbul just as I had expected it to be.

Photo taken behind the Sultan Ahmet Mosque a.k.a. the Blue Mosque (April ’13)

Quintessential Istanbul
Quintessential Istanbul