Sam Bowker: The Grand Tour Diary (2005 - 2006)

This is the archived journal of a 2005-2006 'Grand Tour' around the Eastern Mediterranean and along East Africa, written by Sam Bowker, whilst in search of his PhD topic.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Turkey - Goreme

Hey guys,

The last two days have now been spent in Goreme, one of the top ten backpacker havens of the planet. I'll be bussing down to Konya tomorrow, so here's a quick overview of what I've been up to.

I've been concerned about my time limits for the wealth of activities here in Cappadocia, so I took a day to myself, and two days to different tours. Both were cheap enough and loaded with stuff, so I feel fully justified in taking tours. Silly Tourist-vs-independent-traveller Stigma!

The first day was probably the best. I was in a group of 11, with 5 English-speakers (inc. me) and 6 Japanese mates. This was a seriously fun group - even the less English-speaking Japanese blokes had a real sense of adventure, and as we scrambled up mountainsides they whooped and screamed with great gusto! The other four were two couples - Emma (from Kenya) and Giovanni (our Italian apple thief), based in London, and Meltama (Turkish - studying towards her PhD in Marseilles) and Sam (a French postgraduate). They were a brilliant mix of extroversion, interesting stories, useful skils and a keenness to experience as much as they could on the tour.

Subsequently, we went deep into underground cities, climbed mountainsides in search of ruined Byzantine churches, discovered secret tunnels and roling-door passageways in pitch darkness in unmapped complexes, reclined for a long lunch in an apple orchard, and didn't spend any money in a pottery shop. The sunset that evening over the Valley of the Fairy Chimneys, with one person (or couple) perched upon each outcrop, was something I never want to forget. We had dinner in a restaurant where pots were broken to serve our meals.

The next tour was a bit lacklustre by comparison. It was larger, had a more informative guide and covered more ground, but the energy wasn't there. It didn't help that it rained throughout the the afternoon, but we did hike through the beautiful Llhara Canyon and made plenty of jokes about Smut Valley.

Anyhow, time's up, I must be off. Next post from the much-praised home of the Mevlana - Konya.


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