Beauty and the Beast: Cappadocia and a toddler

Z and I did a “Top 100 Places to See Before You Die” checklist (we’ve seen 24 on that specific list) the other day. We agreed there were some places missing, and after our time in Cappadocia, Turkey the past two days, it definitely deserves to be on the list. Maybe even top 50. 

We have loved this part of our trip, and right now we both are thinking it may be our favorite place. We are so glad we decided to take a quick trip here, it’s been well worth it.

We arrived yesterday and took a nice long nap- that’s right, using our time well. D has not been sleeping well at night the past week or so, which makes us tired (of course!) and stressed (oh wait, that’s mostly me). It was actually one of our biggest fears before we left- what if D doesn’t sleep?!?! And the answer has largely been: well, then we don’t get good sleep, we sleep in if we can, and we take a family afternoon nap. Sometimes we’ve adjusted plans due to our sleep needs, but since we are traveling on our own agenda, we can pretty much do that, except for on travel days. So we have survived, even though some of those nights have been dark indeed my friends.

Back to Cappadocia. Yeaterday we wandered the town, shopped, and ate a delicious meal cooked in a terra cotta pot that gets cracked open with a giant sword right in front of you (Z almost ordered another one, since he didn’t snag a picture of the opening in time). Mostly though, we just stared in wonder of the scenery around us. Cappadocia is an area of Turkey where there are unique volcanic rock formations they call ‘fairy chimneys.’ They are like nothing I’ve ever seen and they are beautiful.

All of those towers are fairy chimneys, and they are an amazing ivory color.

Sunset with fairy chimneys.

We loved wandering the town (which is called Goreme) and marveling at the amazing structures, many of which are now restaurants or more often, hotels (including the one we’re staying at, which is great). We had a great evening.

Today we did an all day tour of Cappadocia with a guide and a mini bus. It’s the first guided day tour we’ve done this whole time, and we found it to be a great deal. It’s hard to get around this region using public transportation, and renting a car would have cost us more money. During our trip, we stopped at a place to get some panoramic pictures, went to the deepest underground city in the region, went to a monastery, ate a pretty good lunch, hiked in a canyon along a river for 3.5 km, saw more rock churches, and took some more panoramic pictures. It was a very full day.

The underground city tour was neat, if a little, ok, quite a bit, terrifying for me. Z and I like to go see caves (which I must be crazy because it always freaks me out a little bit on the inside), and this was quite the experience. We hiked “8 floors” underground in this city, at one time going down about 100 stairs. It also got quite short in some of the tunnels, and they were pretty narrow as well. The floor was very uneven, and it’s pretty much a miracle we made it out alive, with no sprained ankles or panic attacks. It was pretty awesome to see, and pretty different from the caves we have visited since it was created by people to use as living/hiding space.

Touching the walls of the underground city to see how they were easily created into homes.

Walking down stairs together.

Not the best picture, but lighting is terrible in underground cities.

D loved our visit to the Selime monastery, because he got to play in the dirt. Seeing the monastery required another dangerous climb up the rounded rocks to see different areas of the complex. (The more I think about it and write this, it really is miraculous we didn’t get injured today. Well Z got a scratch, D scuffed his hands a little, and I scraped my back in the underground city, but it could have been much worse). D enjoyed finding holes filled with sand, dirt, and rocks, and then throwing said materials from one hole to another, typically covering himself in more dirt than what made it in the nearby hole. He had a blast.

Moving dirt in a hole, a favorite pastime.

Steep stairs to climb down from the monastery.

Z lives for adventuring in tunnels and finding spaces at sites.

Family pic (D is playing in a hole behind us).

Inside the church of the monastery.

Family pic at the Selime Monastery.

We enjoyed our walk through the Ihlara Canyon, as we got to walk along the river and see holes and hideaways carved ink the cliffs. We got to play in the river for a few minutes, which D loved.

Walking the trail in the Ihlara Canyon.

Gorgeous canyon views.

Playing in the river.

And then. There’s always an “and then” when you’re talking toddlers. We finished our walk, and D had fallen asleep in the ergo baby carrier for the last 20 minutes or so of the walk, and we had to load in to the minibus for an hour long drive to the next stop. He woke up and we tried to get him resettled in the back seat. And then, our little guy who had been pretty good all day lost his ever-loving mind. He screamed for 20 minutes straight no matter what we did, and would appear to calm for a second before arching his back in full meltdown mode for more screaming. Needless to say, the other passengers on our minibus were concerned, and I’m sure kicking themselves that they were stuck on the tour with a screaming toddler. It was a long hour that was really an hour and twenty minutes (But who’s counting? Answer: EVERYONE). We got to take a few last pictures, D was happy to throw rocks around the parking lot, and eventually, after a few more years, we made it back to the hotel.

INSERT MENTAL PICTURE OF TANTRUMING TODDLER HERE (because it’s never as entertaining in the moment, and we don’t take pictures when we are questioning our life’s decisions listening to the screams of our offspring).

Oh my friends, you thought that was the end of this story? Not today, this saga continues! We had dinner reservations for a really well rated place nearby our hotel for 7pm. We got back at 6pm. We let Sir Crankpants nap for 45 minutes, but then had to get him up to eat. He was thrilled. Actually, he was fine until we set him down in the restaurant, THEN he began to cry. So he waited about 20 minutes. We quickly distracted him in any way possible (sugar cubes on the table for the win!).  Our dinner was delicious and made it to our table in record time (we speculate that the restaurant may have wanted us to get out of there as fast as we wanted to get out of there). D yelled a couple more times, but we were able to distract him and we both got to eat and enjoy the delicious flavors in our food. And true to form for the day, D enjoyed a dinner of sugar cubes, pita bread dipped in a balsamic vinegar sauce, and a piece of carrot. Fastest dinner yet in our travels. We collapsed after dinner. Another day done, though this one almost killed us, in more ways than one.

Inside the restaurant where we had tasty dinner, at the TopDeck Restaurant.

Cuddling for 2.2 seconds to finish the day.

We head back to Istanbul tomorrow and then on to Chicago on Wednesday as our trip ends. Conflicting feelings right now about 2 days remaining in our six week adventure. Look forward to more reflection as we go on. And please pray, send good vibes, do a burnt offering, or whatever you believe in, that we survive the next two days of travel, hopefully without endless screaming. I may have to go buy some sugar cubes.


One response to “Beauty and the Beast: Cappadocia and a toddler

  1. Pingback: Europe 2015: It was the best of times… | MeanderingMadcaps·

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