Sunday, June 17, 2012


A warm Merhaba to our beloveds back home :)

Sophia Rashid here, intern at the Istanbul Center .... just throwing a coupe d'état for today's blog. I shall therefore subject you all to my version of today's adventures -- sans Jessica's eloquence/professionalism (t'is 2 in the morning, you see. And I am writing from an IPad).

Today a group of us woke up at the crack of dawn and endeared ourselves to the hotel concierge (with our groggy determination) that he may allow us on the roof to watch the sun spill onto the volcano Erciyes, dormant now for millions years. Nature blushed in pink, peach and orange ... For we stared at her, and called her resplendent in every language and prayer we knew how lol. It was so, so beautiful. After which, we dived into our beds for a few more hours of sleep before hotel checkout/breakfast at 9.

Our morning would consist of an hour and fifteen minute drive into Kapadokya, wherein an underground village dating back to the fourth century. It had seven levels of caves, passages, rooms and nooks ...carved by the Christian Hittites as a refuge from the persecution of the Romans. We descended five levels into the Hittite haven, crawling through tunnels, laughing, snapping photos, chasing our guide, and always, always marveling over the complexity/simplicity (intentional oxymoron) of this ancient place. From air ventilation to enemy booby traps, it was awe-inspiring and the majority's favorite excursion thus far.

On the bus again to the Panorama site, the likes of the grand canyon, but with rock formations throughout the valley that had caves/homes and churches carved into and through them, again the work of the Hittites. After many a pose and picture, we headed for a quick Turkish buffet lunch.

From there, we drove to a family owned pottery shop. They demonstrated their trade, let one of us give it a spin, then led us through their gallery of vibrant, exquisite pieces. Their artistry inspired our Turkish Lira. We then finished our sight seeing by walking among the fairy chimneys (fascinating natural rock formations that legend says could only have been so oriented by fairies).

From here to a small church with gorgeous frescos dating back to the ninth century, carved into one of the Hittite rock formations. Scenes from the Bible were depicted on on every wall and ceiling surface, beautiful and moving. The church did not come into Turkey's protection until the 1920s, an infuriating fact that looters had taken advantage of...After a kabob filled dinner at a lovely restaurant, we boarded a plane back to Istanbul.

Now we are cheesily dreaming of tomorrow's adventures :)

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