Cappadocia, Turkey

As we were strolling through the streets of Istanbul Blessu decided to mark near a travel agency. As we waited for him to conclude his business an ad for touring the ruins of ancient Cappadocia caught Lucy’s eye. We stepped into the office and booked a trip over a few glasses of apple tea. The journey was an easy domestic flight just over an hour long. We were met at the airport by an attractive, young, well spoken tour guide, a stark contrast from the grouchy, old man we had in Istanbul. She was also very open to all questions, even more personal ones about marriage customs such as courting and education. We arrived at the tourism office where they tried to sell us a hot air balloon tour, which we declined to do for Blessu’s sake.

Blessu overlooking the ruins of Cappadocia, Turkey.

We continued with a great road trip through the country side passing encamped gypsies, ancient Roman ruins, and stopping for a traditional Anatolian countryside lunch at a large classical estate. After lunch Lucy had a brief chat with a little old lady making a living hand crafting lace outside the entrance and even bought few. I may have neglected to mention that it had been snowing all this time which had made the journey a tad slower but, as it was Blessu’s first ever encounter with snow, he was having a blast! We then visited the Cappadocia ruins. These were an intricate system of caves carved out of the mountainside by early Christians in order to escape Roman persecution. It was all a marvel to behold especially as we were seeing it covered in snow, a rare occurrence for tourists. Blessu in tow, we went up and down escarpments and weaved in and out of secret passage ways and ancient chapels. We then made our way to a traditional pottery and glass making factory where Lucy got to buy some precious stones and even try her hand at the clay pottery wheel while Blessu and I watched her make a simple but elegant bowl and stamp Blessu’s paw in the wet clay, he didn’t mind but unfortunately the bowl did not survive the trip.

Blessu mingling with the locals. Turkish lace anyone?

Who's fluffier? Blessu or his friend the Camel?

Finally at dusk we made our way to visiting a working carpet looming factory. We got the standard spiel about Anatolian carpets versus Persian carpets and even bought a few of the works of art after hours of deciding over apple tea. Blessu just sat there patiently as if expecting the carpet to fly. We were driven to our accommodation for the evening which would have been a real treat as it was room after room carved into a cave, the only problem was that they had not turned the heat on until we arrived and it takes a good long while for a cave to heat up. On the bright side this forced us, as tired as we were, to sit in the common area hut and meet fellow travelers from Australia and Europe and take in some Raki, for me, and tea for Lucy, over a roaring hearth fire. The following day a huge blizzard came in grounding all flights (it was a good thing we didn’t book that hot air balloon ride). After much confusion and haggling we managed to book a fifteen-hour bus ride back to Istanbul where we would later connect with our flight to New York. As we had plenty of down time waiting for the bus we went around the small town living as the locals would, shopping at the local grocery store, playing card games in cafes, and shooting the breeze with all the different tour guides at the office.

To boldly go where no Shih has gone before!

Blessu, the little trooper, slept through the entire trip like a good boy, only stretching his tiny legs and relieving himself at the rest stops where we would play in the snow by the side of the road as eighteen-wheeler trucks sped by, well as speedy as the snow would allow them. The night bus arrived at Ankara in the early morning light and we had about an hour to look around while the bus took in some much needed maintenance. It was more or less a typical capital city. We later arrived in Istanbul tired and haggard but very pleased with our unique and harrowing excursion.

Worst part: having a wonderfully plush and unique cave for a hotel room but not sleeping a wink due to the coldness of the cave. Best part: Letting Blessu help us decide between two carpets by laying on the more comfortable (expensive) one (or the wild look in his eyes as he touched snow for the first time ever)!

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