In Gnome Land – Göreme, Cappadocia

If you’ve grown up reading Enid Blyton, then you know what a gnome is. Moreover you’d also know what pixies are, where the Enchanted Forest is and when to watch out for Dame Washlot’s tub water. Göreme in Cappodacia looks like a land that might have stopped on top of the Faraway Tree for a week and its one of those absolutely wonderful lands that everybody in the Enchanted Forest wants to visit and it doesn’t have any those nasty, horrible wizards or witches that would put an ugly spell on somebody!

The Enchanted Land of Goreme

I can’t say you feel like you’ve stepped in another dimension in time because that’s just not true. The town center is pretty modern, your average small tourist town feel with trinket shops and tour agents etc. but its…weird. Its like…you’re in gnome land or maybe in a hobbit village…actually I take that back. I really don’t know what a hobbit is and I have readers who are like true hobbit fans and all that! But yeah…its like you’re in a little village with cave houses and mushroom tops and any minutes you’ll see a goblin running past in green shoes!

Göreme is one of the few small towns in the Cappadocia region. How they came to be about, is of those things that nature does. You can read about the geological formations of it here. However what nature probably didn’t really intend to be of anything special had been turned into homes and churches in the Byzantine period when Christianity was the main religion in the area. This is what amazes me about Turkey. Cappadocia is like almost central Turkey. You hear the azan 5 times a day in Goreme but when you visit the caves and the churches deep into the earth, you find Christian art. History is just..amazeballs at time. <Read about Churches of Goreme here>

Entrance to Karanlik Kilise
Restored wall painting inside Karanlik Kilise

My visit to Goreme was…let’s just say could have been better planned. This trip was one of those not spur-of-moment because Cappodocia and Konya have been on my list of places to visit since day one but it was one of those leave till the last minute things which by the time I realized if I didn’t move last Thursday, I probably wasn’t going to get out for a while. I wanted to save some money on the air tickets so I decided to catch a bus. On paper, my itinerary looked like Mosa Lisa. Bus ride to Neveshir from Istanbul, connect to Goreme, spend a night, bus to Konya, spend a day and bus back to Istanbul. In a perfect world it would have worked. The reason I wanted to go to Konya was to see the Sema there. The Sema was only on Saturday nights and unfortunately that just had to result calling in sick to the school. meh. So when I went to buy tickets to Neveshir on Thursday morning, all after 11pm buses were full and I couldn’t go any earlier because my evening class ended at 9.40pm. After walking up and down the different bus offices, I decided change of plans and just to go to Konya. Watching the Sema was more important than Cappadocia. So I bought tickets for the 10pm bus to Konya which meant I had exactly 20 minutes to get from school to the bus office. I cut the breaks short, asked the class for early knock-off, raced to the flat, grabbed my bag, caught the dolmus to the bus servis and made it with 5 minutes to spare.

Photo: peninsularity
A small section of the madness at a Turkish otogar! Photo: peninsularity

Now let me tell you about these Turkish otogars…they are HUGE. I mean huge. It takes a good 7 minutes for a bus to get in and taxi to its stand (taxi because its like a airport minus the ground traffic controllers!). And there are buses leaving every seventeen seconds. And otogars don’t have that polite stand-in-line-wait-for-your-turn etiquette at airports. Its every man for themselves. Either trample or be trampled on but you gotta move when the crowd moves. 11 uncomfortable hours later, I arrived in Konya. I watched the sun rise in Anatolia and couldn’t go back to sleep. And thought…well it’s a bloody shame. To be only 3.5 hours aways from Cappadocia and not go see it? The Sema wasn’t till the next night and that was all I wanted to see in Konya so I couldn’t see why I couldn’t just go to Goreme, visit and come back. At least I could die peacefully if they suddenly came for me the next day! So get off the bus, walk over to ticket sales, ask around and buy a ticket to Goreme leaving in an 1 hour. 4 hours later – Goreme! (see travel tip for ticket problems)

Open air museum in Goreme

Found my hostel, plonked my bag, lathered the sunscreen and off I went to the Open Air Museum. My brain had refused functioning half an ago and every thing after that happened on auto-pilot. I had made it to the ticket office an hour before it closed so had plenty of time to look around. I couldn’t walk back to town center as my feet had turned to lead so I hitched a taxi. Bought my tickets for the next day back to Konya and dragged my sorry self back to the hostel for a nap. I could’t be more disappointed, if only I had planned this better! I would have been able to visit the underground cities. So after a sorry feeling lay down, had a shower and went to look for some grub. Decided to spoil myself and splurge on some good food and had a lamb testi kebap, local dish.

Testi Kebap – A Central Anatolia speciality!

Nothing cures a failed schedule like a good feed and a good sleep. Waking up to the sunrise, I suddenly realized what an excellent location my hostel had and how just right my little room was. I took some photos, had an amazing included breakfast and went to catch my bus back to Konya. The world is a huge huge place. As a traveler, you have to accept that some places you just have to by-pass and the ones you do get to see, count your blessings for every single one of them!

As a traveler, you have to accept that some places you just have to by-pass and the ones you do get to see, count your blessings for every single one of them!

Sunrise in Cappadocia

Travel Tip – If busing from Istanbul to anywhere in Cappadocia, its always better to work out a triangle trip to avoid lengthy to and from trips from Istanbul. Buses from Istanbul don’t really go to the smaller towns of Cappadocia but actually stop at a town called Neveshir. From Neveshir you can get connecting buses etc. to Goreme, Avanos etc. Also beware that bus companies will sell you tickets to Goreme (despite your ticket having Goreme written on your ticket) but will drop you off (more like shove you out of the bus and speed off!) in Neveshir town center which actually happened to me. 3 months of living in Turkey has got me a bit savvy and I was able to make my way into Goreme but that just delayed me more. To avoid this, travel with well-known companies only. I had traveled with Kamil Koc from Istanbul and Suhe from Goreme to Konya, both offering excellent services. Stay clear from Aksaray Buses running in the Central Anatolia region, they are the ones I got duped from. (They didn’t realize that I was going to be back in Konya the next day and oh yes..I did pay them a visit! More in my next post!)

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