Lessons from Abroad: Study Abroad Returnee Conference, Living Abroad, Traveling

Kapadokya (Not Cappadocia)

October 25, 2015

Last weekend I bought a last minute ticket to a coordinated trip to Kapadokya, one of Turkey’s greatest treasures. After a ten hour bus ride that provided no sleep at all, I arrived, groggy and admittedly pretty gross and unkept, in the presence of the unforgettable landscape of Kapadokya. When the tour guide announced that we would be taking a “refreshing hike” most of us groaned internally (the majority of us had not slept, eaten a proper meal, or changed our clothing since our departure) but went we stepped out of the bus everything was justified. We made our way into a little canyon surrounded by fairy chimneys and beautiful rock formations on a small path that paralleled a thin river. As someone who spent most of their life in a mediterranean climate, it felt very familiar to me. The foliage was identical to Grass Valley. throughout the rest of the day we visited various panoramas and got a taste of the indescribable features of Kapadokya.

Different areas of Kapadokya have specific formations. One area was filled with “mushroom” shaped rocks while another had a more fluid water-like ripple effect. Between walkabouts in the rocks we bought tourist trinkets in little bazaars and splurged on freshly pressed pomegranate juice. We also visited an ancient castle, which involved a significant amount of dusty and crumbly climbing to observe, and ventured into the claustrophobic tunnels where Christians used to hide. The latter experience was actually more terrifying than expected. The tunnels were extremely small and went deeply downward. Many times the group would need to stop and we would suck in stale air, crouched in some awkward position begging the person in front of us to move. No doubt these Christians had it even worse considering they were hiding in this condition while people were coming at them with the intention of murdering them. Overall: creepy.

A large portion of my travel group went on the famed Kapadokya air balloon ride, but I didn’t. Too expensive. However, I’m told it was some sort of amazing experience so maybe I’ll go back someday. Nevertheless, I did decide to rent an ATV and ride around tasting Kapadokya at sunset (in fact I probably still have some Kapadokya dust in my eyes.) On another note, the hotel food was delicious and I want to explain to everyone how great it is that Turks believe pistachios belong in every dessert because they truly do.

The last night was Fasil Night. We went to a venue that provided a show of traditional dancing while everyone in the audience drank Raki in a mesmerized state. There was belly dancing, an aggressive manly dance that reminded me of some sort of Scottish folk dance, Dervish twirling and lots of intricate footwork. (Video below)

IMG_3676 from Kayla on Vimeo.

IMG_3664 from Kayla on Vimeo.

Finally on our way home we stopped at Turkey’s second largest lake. I’ll admit I was expecting some water. It ended up being a beautiful salt flat. It gave me the feeling of something extraterrestrial, just an expanse of whiteness. As an added bonus, the salt made my skin very soft.

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