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TurkLaunch Hits a Crossroads

That next morning in Guzelcami, we pulled ourselves out of bed just in time to catch the large group breakfast at the Ecer Pension.

We spent the first part of the morning wandering through Guzelcami’s market and running little errands. The market had some truly stunning products for sale:

After the market, we headed to a certain healing sulfur spring outside of town, dedicated to the god, Zeus, which proved startlingly crowded. Regardless, we decided to hang there for a while, taking a dip in the spring and having a picnic of all the leftover foods from yesterday’s picnic.

Having eaten and had our sulfur baths, we found ourselves at a crossroads. What to do next? Where should we go?

We had heard many good things about the beaches farther south, but we had also heard great things about the fabled inland city of Cappadocia, where houses are built into the stone faces of the local geology. Call it the Petra, or the Pueblo of Turkey. In the end, we decided that we’d seen enough beaches, and that Cappadocia was the move.

So off we went. We drove for hours, listening to NPR’s Radiolab on compact disc.

Our next stop was to eat again, this time at a very interesting food truck we spotted off the side of the road, in a rather industrial part of the city of Denizli. They were serving up some wicked pressed sandwiches, and were more than happy to give us a knife to cut the melon that we’d bought earlier that day at the market.

It was well after midnight by the time we arrived in our final destination of Konya, where we had booked a room at a hotel recommended by the lonely planet, but we had still another two hours of driving around to do before we actually found the place.

When we did, the owner was standing in the doorway looking sleepy and waiting for us. Claudia and Diane headed in and began to handle logistics, which Scott and I drove off to find a place to park the car amidst the maze-like alleyways.

It seemed like we had only slept for two minutes when it was all of a sudden time to leave in order to adhere to the 11:00 am checkout rule. I scarfed down some bits of sandwich and some coffee in the lobby and then we headed out into the city.

Konya is an amazing place, highly recommended – one of my favorite that we had yet visited in Turkey. It was much poorer and much more Arabic than any Turkish city we’d been to yet, more like Syria. Scott and Diane went off to mail a package to a friend, while Claudia and I headed over to investigate a nearby event raising funds to support Muslim causes; it was broadcasting some entrancing Arabic music.

We wandered around looking at the gallery of posters explaining the fundraiser.

Most of the causes were things our government would describe as terrorism, but were here being presented as God’s work. It was a very interesting perspective to experience.

As Americans we felt totally welcome to visit the stand, and view the materials. When the fellows running the fund raiser found that Claudia could speak Arabic, they even gave us free lighters bearing the name of the Chechen Separatist Movement.

We spent a few more hours wandering around Konya, looking at some of the amazing goods for sale, like these variously shaped heating coils before getting in the car and heading off toward Cappadocia.

We stopped part way to Cappadocia to snack on some pide in the town of Aksaray, where we found an amazing place, featuring this fantastic poster illustrating the journey of man through life.

The place was run by goofy teenage boys and pide was delicious.

We stopped at a  small bakery for some sweets and the owner came outside to let us know that one of the tires on the Doblo was getting flat. So we stopped and filled it up a little more before splitting. We had to wait in line behind a man filling his bicycle tire while we did so. We felt proud.

Our next stop was a monument to all the leaders of Turkey. We wandered around viewing the busts of each leader. It was startling how many of them were Mongols. We took a moment to consider how important a place Mongolia was. We were excited to wheel the place. It was not far off now…

Meanwhile, imminent arrival in Cappadocia was being heralded by some very interesting changes in the surrounding geology, which continued to get stranger and stranger. Soon we were surrounded by giant towering phallic-like structures. This must be the place, we thought, as we pulled into the town of Göreme.

We pulled the Doblo into the center of town and turned into a construction site to investigate the lonely planet pdfs, and collect addresses and phone numbers of potential hotels. Scott raged on his computer while the rest of us lazed and attempted to look useful.

After some brief comparison shopping, we ended up checking into The Dora Motel.

After throwing our stuff down, we parted ways, Claudia and Diane heading off to do some shopping, and Scott and I heading out for a little inaugural wheel of Cappadocia.

The wheel consisted mostly of a savage uphill climb through the striking geology. These bizarre towers were all around us, and now that we could get a closer look, it was obvious that most of them had been carved into homes and businesses, evident from the windows and doors scraped out of the rock.

We wheeled all the way over to the next city, where we found plenty more hotels, both conventional and those which allowed people to rent carved out “cave” rooms. We also noticed this classic car, the brand of which has no Wikipedia page, hidden behind the window of a repair shop.

Anyone who can shed more light on this vehicle is heartily invited to do so in the comments.

We continued to wheel on, past ruins, “cave” houses, and finally through the town and back into the countryside.

With the sun setting, we decided it was time to call it a wheel and head back to reconvene with the rest of the TurkLaunch team.


  1. Kathryn | November 6th, 2010 | 2:48 pm

    Great post & beautiful photos! I’m a big fan of Cappadocia. Hope you guys were able to check out the underground churches

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