The Nine-Hour Green Tour

The Nine-Hour Green Tour

While in Cappadocia, tourists who don’t have cars have the option of joining a tour to see different sights. The two most popular tours are the red and green tours. The red tour covers a lot of sights closer to Göreme, whereas the green tour brings you further out to the Ihlara Valley as well as the underground city of Derinkuyu (both of which were the reasons for us picking this tour).

The day officially started at 10AM, after all the guests were picked up at their respective hotels. Our group consisted of two other Americans who are WFH in Turkey and Croatia, a Ukrainian who is also WFH in Istanbul, some Russians and a couple of Turks. It is interesting that we are meeting more and more Americans who have chosen to become digital nomads, and have this wonderful opportunity to travel while working.

First stop was Göreme panoramic viewpoint of the Pigeon Valley portion that we had bypassed yesterday.

We got in line, along with all the Instagrammers, to get a picture on this rock. Ladies all dressed up wearing boots with heels trying to get on top of this rock was entertaining to behold. And the various poses! We didn’t know you could hold your arms out in the air and make yourself look like a goddess. Note to self, must try.

After a bit of a drive, we arrived at Selime Cathedral carved out in the 8-9th century during Byzantine times.

The Selime complex has four stories
One of the 2 most interesting rooms is the kitchen with a large chimney.
And the second is the Cathedral itself
Notice the pattern above the entrance
Columns and arches carved out of the rocks. A little crude, but still impressive.
Frescos date back to the 10-11th century
Frescos were darkened by smoke when later occupants started cooking in the cathedral.

Our third stop was my favorite, because I got to get some hiking in.

The Ilhara Valley

But first, we stopped by to check out one of the churches in the valley.

The Agaçalti Church is carved into the rock
The second level is the monastery
The crude fresco inside
Certain parts of the valley remind me of Yosemite
Even the name of the river, Mescid, sounds like the river that runs through Yosemite – Merced.
While others look like the American Southwest
However, none have a cute mosque
Or a small tea house carve out of rocks for the park rangers

The best part of the hike was tasting wild blackberries along the way.

Here’s my attempt at an Instagram pose
More cave homes along the hiking trail

The hike was rather short as we didn’t hike the entire trail. The guide estimated that it would take us an hour, but I think we took longer because people kept stopping to take photos.

Next stop was the underground city, built by the Hittites 4000 years ago. The first 2 levels were built by them, and subsequent levels (a total of 8 levels reaching 55 meters below ground) were built over the next 1500 years by different groups of people.

The purpose of the underground city was to provide shelter against enemies as well as the elements. The subterranean homes provided a constant 8 degrees Celsius versus the minus 20 degrees Celsius above ground during the winter. It’s estimated that 5000 people used to live here.

Stone doors could be rolled across entrances to block out invaders
Narrow steps led us further down underground
Living quarters
Ventilation shaft leading from the 8th level all the way up to the surface
Some chambers were rather spacious

Honestly, I don’t think I would do very well living in a subterranean city. Imagine what COVID would do to an entire community living in these conditions. Decimated.

Finally, our last stop was at the Pigeon Valley viewpoint. We got to see the “Ritz Carlton” of pigeon hotel from down below yesterday. Today we got a bird’s eye view of it.

Ritz Carlton is the big structure on the left

If today’s blog is more like a pictorial, then that’s because 9 hours of touring has fried my brain, so I’m taking the short cut today.

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