Cold Turkey

“Next time that I come back to Turkey it’s going to be in summer,” said my wife as she turned over in her bed and pulled the wool blankets over her head. She, like myself, had been to Turkey over twenty years ago and remembers being cold the entire time she was in the country. The only time she ever warmed up during that November was while taking a Turkish bath. Now, we were in Goreme, in central Turkey’s Cappadocia region, and we were freezing our behinds off in early March. To top it all off, we’d decided that in Goreme it would be a fun and representative experience for our family to stay in a “cave hotel.”

Ordinarily, this might be a lot of fun in Cappadocia. The region is famous for its lunar landscape of caves, fairy chimneys and rock formations as well as underground cities and byzantine frescoes. Over the centuries, the local inhabitants hid in these caves as invading hordes ran across central Turkey conquering everything in their path. Christians even hid from religious persecution in these caves and have painted beautiful frescoes in many of them. At various times, Hitites, Persians, Romans, Seljuks, Ottomans and now modern day Turks have ruled this region. We walked to the nearby Goreme Open Air Museum, a UNESCO World Heritage site that displays rock-cut byzantine churches, chapels, monasteries and convents, set in the tuff landscape. Ten million years ago several types of volcanic products (ignimbrite, ash, block and ash flows, etc.) from calderas and volcanoes left several layers of tuff with amazing colors and textures. The tuff layers were later eroded by wind and water to form plateaus, valleys and various types of fairy chimneys. We walked around for close to an hour but because of the cold, we decided to head back early and I’m sure I heard my wife mutter, “When I come back here it’s going to be in summer.”

We returned to our hotel and entered our cave. The room was interesting and gave us an idea of how the locals lived, but inside it was cold, musty, dark and clammy. While inside we had permanent nasal drip and our noses never really got warm. In addition, I hit my head a few times on the low cave doorways. The ultimate insult came when I got hit in the side of the head by our portable travel clothesline -- one of the suction-cup ends gave way and like a slingshot grazed the side of my head.

By consensus we decided to cut our Cappadocia visit short and head straight for the Turkish Mediterranean in order to thaw. Istanbul had been very cold (in fact there were snow flurries the day after we left) and our cave in Goreme had been downright chilly; we were ready for some sunshine. Like my wife’s previous visit, the Turkish bath was the warmest we’d yet felt. Sometimes your enjoyment of a place has as much to do with when you visit as it does with the place itself. And sometimes your enjoyment of a place is better if your spouse isn’t complaining about the weather.

1 comment:

  1. We're dying to try out a cave hotel! But good to know it is not a very fun adventure in the winter ;)