Archive for June 2014

Pamukkale

To wrap up the Turkey photos, here's Pamukkale, originally my most coveted destination. I first stumbled upon photos of these insane tiered cliff-pools on Pinterest and it's been up there on the Do-Not-Die-Before-You-See-This list ever since.

In this sense, however, it was disappointing. It was certainly cool, and beautiful, and we had great weather (also the only place in Turkey, perhaps, that is so overrun with foreigners that you won't feel completely out of place and immodest in a tank top and shorts or a bare midriff). But whereas I found Cappadocia to be cooler in person than in photos, I found Pamukkale to be not as. There were simply too many people, it's expensive to get to, and some of the pools are actually man-made.

But if you're in the area it's a great day trip!

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alien landscapes (Cappadocia)

We're finally close to the end of the steadfast trudge through the (already outdated) Turkey photos, and aren't you lucky because I've saved the best for last.

Cappadocia can only be described as cool-cool-coolio, or perhaps as the most alien terrain I've ever seen. If I'm not wrong, parts of Star Wars were filmed here, and if you've got an active imagination wandering this landscape is the perfect fodder for your make-believe.

The most fantastical part of all is that it isn't make-believe - people actually LIVE in caves carved out of these strange stone pillars, going back far before the foundation of my fledgling home nation. Also a great place to get your fill of Jesus because there are a whoooole lot of cool churches hidden in these caverns.

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Göbekli Tepe

Not gonna lie, these ruins make it right up to the top of my Coolest Places I've Ever Been list, second perhaps only to Iguazú/Iguaçu falls on the Brazil/Argentina/Paraguay border.

But that might be attributable to the fact that I'm a bit of an architecture nerd, and I think history/anything old is kind of cool and so the gravity of this possibly being the FIRST BUILDING EVER comes crashing down very easily and very hard on silly little me. This is supposedly where ancient man first decided to give up the hunting & gathering gig and set up camp - and it's 9,000 years older than Stonehenge. (My brain is still wrapping itself around that!) But if that sort of magnitude is lost on you, then it's probably just another pile of rocks that's a little out of the way to get to. (It's a long taxi ride out of Urfa, and cost us about $40 between the three of us - agreed upon beforehand with the driver.)

P.S. Apparently there used to be stone pillars in each of those poles, so it would appear our obsession with phalluses is just as old as our species.

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Urfa & the prophet Abraham's birthplace

Urfa, the prophet Abraham's birthplace, seemed like an appropriate side trip to commemorate the wrapping-up of our Bible study. The city center is wholly unimpressive from up close but a rather breathtaking view from the castle ruins on the complex that also houses the cave where Abraham was born.

Getting into said cave was one of the more intense moshing experiences I've had - women were only allowed into, it would have appeared, the less impressive half, and boy were there a lot of women eager to get in. The cave itself was claustrophobic (although this was more due to the crowds than to the cave itself) and very cave-y. It suffices to say that its historical and symbolic significance is infinitely more impressive than its temporal manifestation. Also, seriously, Abraham's mom is the true hero here - way to give birth in a cave thousands of years before modern medicine. I bet that was a total hoot (not).

We were also made to believe that this was where Abraham was flung off the mountain into a giant fire only to find himself falling into a comfortable pool of sacred fish and roses, cited to the Bible. But we've read that thing cover to cover and not found such a story anywhere - any scholars out there that can lend a hand?

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