At 1:00am we finally arrived at the apartment in Istanbul. The chill of the unheated rooms were strung together by the stairway that connected the 5 rooms on 5 different floors. We foraged through the shelves for extra blankets skimming past the owner's clothes and personal possessions he left behind. We were welcomed intruders.
Two days later we headed back to the airport. This time for an hour long flight to Cappadocia in the center of Turkey. Off to explore the centuries old haven for Christians and ancient relics of the cave dwellers.
In order to get around to all the things we wanted to see, we rented a car. And since there are 6 of us, the only option that could seat us all was a van.
Since the kids had just locked up the ipod touch, they saw this as their new toy. This 5 star van being driven by this 2 star family.
We would have to stay in a cave to make up the 3 star difference. And we did. The Legend Cave Hotel.
We spent two days outside hiking and traversing the caves and canyons. And since it isn't tourist season yet, we had it all to ourselves.
We climbed the hills.
Poked our heads through holes.
Marvelled at the unadulterated emptiness of the archaic dens.
Crawled up to the second, third, fourth and fifth levels of the adobes. (Which was much more fun than the stairs of the 5 floor walk up in Istanbul.)
Some of us clawed more than crawled. My huge purse loaded with the passports, guidebook, camera, water and everything else slowed me down a little.
And some of us even bouldered.
But we all got up here to take this picture. Except for Craig, cause someone actually had to take the picture.
On the second day we headed even further off the beaten path. To the tiny town of Mazi to find a man named Ihsan who is a guide for the underground city there. The van was a magnet for all the locals who came to gawk at the tourists in their huge gas guzzling vehicle. Within 2 minutes we were introduced to Ihsan and we were headed to the underground city that is still being unearthed by the locals.
The stark blackness of the cavern was cut by 3 flashlights, a camera flash and Ihsan's voice urging us to be cautious. There was still ice from the last frost covering the floor of the entrance like a welcome mat. We moved from room to room as Ihsan explained what they were used for. Or what they thought they were used for. When the tour was over, he invited us to tea. We politely declined in favor of finding lunch we explained. That's when he told us Mazi has no restaurants, but did we like barbecue he asked. Yes. Of course.
So he started a fire out of a cardboard box. And singed his tools right there in the parking lot in front of the cave.
He went to the market next door and bought some vegetables, chicken and bread. And began to cook. First the vegetables.
Then the chicken.
He took the chairs and desk from a nearby office that he topped with a carpet and urged us to eat.
And it most definitely was the best meal I've ever eaten in a parking lot cooked in a cardboard box.
We paid Ihsan for the tour, the meal and a day full of memories right before we took this picture. Then we packed ourselves in the van and headed back to the airport. And reluctantly started the sojourn back to Istanbul.
To be continued...