Sam and Ann with my mom and I


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Day 7


Guzelyurt - "beautiful country"

The Imam chanted a passage from the Koran in the Church of Saint Gregory - great acoustics!

An opportunity to ask an Imam all about Islam

Before leaving Guzelyurt, we visited the Church of Saint Gregory of Nazianzus. St. Gregory contributed to the development of Gregorian Chant. When the Imam chanted from the Koran, we learned that the acoustics in this church are incredible.

Listen to part of his chant on my slideshow, Two Weeks In Turkey (Part 2).

After breakfast, we had the opportunity to meet with a Imam to ask questions about Islam. It was a very interesting learning experience.

An Imam is the man who leads prayer at a mosque. In order to be an Imam, one must know the Koran well.

They say this is where Gregorian Chant began
Before breakfast, I took a morning walk around Guzelyurt. Guzelyurt means "beautiful country" ... and it definitely lives up to this meaning!


We were not the only ones exhausted from a long day full of new adventures!

(Listen to music from the wedding on my slideshow, Two Weeks in Turkey (Part 2). )

My mother and I never actually got to see the bride. We stayed at the wedding party for an hour or so, but were told that she wouldn't come out until much later. Given that we had been up since before dawn, we were both ready to head back and find our beds!

Harrison fell asleep in the sitting room at Hotel Karballa


Day 5
The Best of Turkey - A Rick Steves' Tour

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Day 4: Mustafapasa - Greek House ... Day 5: Mustafapasa Walk, Lunch with a Local, Goreme Open Air Museum, Carpet Demonstration (video), Dancing ... Day 6: Balloon Ride (slideshow), Hike, Pottery Demonstration, Underground City, Guzelyurt, Wedding in Guzelyurt ... Day 7: Talk with an Imam, Church of St. Gregory
Day 4

The food was delicious!

The Greek House in Mustafapasa
We enjoyed a fabulous dinner together at the Greek House. (At this point, I was well on my way to realizing that I love Turkish food!) We sat on pillows on the floor at three large round tables in a big, beautiful old room - an intimate, bonding time. Good drinks, great food, and priceless company!

We arrived in Mustafapasa, a sweet little town in Cappadocia, in the late afternoon. After having spent the night on the train and the afternoon in the bus, I think that cleaning up was everyone's first priority. So we all settled in to our quirky and charming inn, The Greek House.

But me, I couldn't just clean up and relax a little before dinner ... I was in a new place ... which means, I had to get out and explore! I took a little walk around the streets of Mustafapasa. I found a little market run by a 12 year old boy. I had a nice conversation with some gentlemen who wanted me to bring back all my friends to buy their scarves.

Dinner at the Greek House - Cheers!

Dinner at the Greek House

Mustafapasa market
The Greek House and Cappadocia, in general, are where I think our group really started becoming a "family" - "cousins." I'm not sure what it was ... maybe just that so much of our time here was spent together ... or maybe we had just gotten through an initial, necessary warming up period.
After breakfast at the Greek House, Sidar led us on a walk through Mustafapasa. When I walked around the town the night before, I stayed on the roads. He took us on walkways and trails that I would have never known existed. Everywhere we walked, we saw structures built into the rock. It was "other-worldly."

Susan K, Miranda, & Debbie relax before dinner at the Greek House

We stopped at a nice place to look out over the interesting fairy chimneys

A view of Mustafapasa from higher ground

Structures built into the rock were everywhere

We walked up to where we could look out over Mustafapasa

We walked deep into a narrow canyon to find another highlight ... I think everyone's highlight of this walk. At the end of the canyon was little outdoor cafe that is built into the rock. I didn't quite understand, but I think that it was the owner's private cafe, not open to the public ... open only to people that he invited.

While there, we were served Ayran, a yogurt-like drink. It was a nice, refreshing stop on this wonderful walk.


Mustafapasa cafe in the rock
One of the highlights of this walk was our stop at a church dug into the rock. It was very special in my eyes. I could imagine a group of first century Christians meeting in this place ... a home church. After everyone, filed out, I took a moment to be quiet and pray there. Later in this trip we would walk in the footsteps of the Apostle Paul, but to me there was something holy and sacred about this place ... maybe more than anywhere else on this trip.

A church from long ago

Mustafapasali boy

Fayrihe's lunch - it was a simple, very flavorful meal
In no time, we were on our way again. We stopped at a place overlooking a valley filled with fairy chimneys. The rock formations in Cappadocia are so interesting. What I kept thinking is that Cappadocia is Turkey's "Utah." If you've visited the national parks in Utah, you know how interesting the geology is there.
After our morning walk, we boarded the bus and left to visit other parts of Cappadocia. Shortly after leaving, the bus started having trouble and we had to stop for Rafet to fix something. Where did we happen to stop? Right in front of a winery! We had a great time, but Turkish wine pales in comparison to my local California wine.

Robert & Reva at our surprise stop at a winery

Beautiful Fayrihe and her grandson


In Turkish, Fayrihe tells Sidar, "You've put my two feet into one shoe," ... he brought us (a group of 28 people) to her house one and half hours earlier than planned. Even so, she was very gracious and hospitable.

Fayrihe & Sidar speak about our early arrival
Our next stop was in Ortahisar at the home of a local woman, Fayrihe. All 28 of us squeezed into a room in her home. We enjoyed her delicious food and we spent a over an hour just talking with her and her family with Sidar translating. She took just as much interest in learning about our lives as we took in learning about her life.

Fayrihe's mother helped her serve lunch
The Goreme Open Air Museum is full of rock-cut Byzantine churches and monastaries adorned with amazing frescoes. Once again, to say I was in awe is an understatement.

Another Cappadocia photo opportunity!
On the way to Goreme Open Air Museum, we stopped at another beautiful overlook location. I wish my photos showed the detail better. Behind us in this photo are hundreds of pinnacle shaped rock formations - fairy chimneys.

Fayrihe's friend puts her scarf on me

Sidar explains one of the frescoes

Goreme Open Air Museum

A tourist trap camel!

I was not too interested in actually riding a camel around in circles, but I did want to get a photo on one for my kids sake! So I paid this camel's owner just for the photo op.


A Goreme Open Air Museum fresco

Bonnie and the dancing man
Carpet Making Demonstration
After eating another fabulous dinner at the Greek House, Sidar asked us all to gather in the main room for something special. The music started and, one by one, we were pulled up to dance. The "dancing man" sure was one lucky guy getting to dance with so many beautiful women!

Carpet Weaving Demonstration
Our day had been so full, but we weren't finished yet! Everywhere you go in Turkey, you can find a carpet for sale (especially in Istanbul), but here we got the opportunity to see how they are made.



Donna & Mika


Me, my mom, Debbie, and Jan

Ballooning Over Cappadocia Slideshow & Video

My mom and I and few others rose before dawn on the sixth day of our tour, to go hot air ballooning over Cappadocia. This was an extra/optional activity, but it was well worth the missed sleep and the extra money! Words cannot express how I felt gliding quietly through the air over this gorgeous landscape.

We went with Goreme Balloons and had a delightfully charming pilot, Suot. He was very funny! If you watch my video, try to pay attention to him.

A view of Cappadocia from our hot air balloon
Day 6

Wow, what a day!


While we were hiking, some of the cousins who didn't want to hike went to a nearby farmer's market



Breakfast at the Greek House
After ending our balloon ride with a glass of champagne, we returned to the Greek House in time for breakfast.
Dancing at the Greek House

Robert climbing up the "pigeon cave"

Fuad, our leader for the hike

Stephanie and I were climbing buddies


The structures were several stories high

A restaurant carved into the rock
After breakfast, we said our "goodbyes" to the Greek House and most of us went on a hike. It was nice to be out in God's creation and, once again, Cappadocia proved to be facinating!
Along the hike, there were structures carved into the rock. Many of them, I think, were places that formerly people used to collect pigeon dung. We climbed up a structure that was currently unused. (Had they been in use, I don't think anyone would have gone in!)

After lunch, we went to a pottery demonstration. They showed us all the steps from beginning to end. They even let me take a chance at the potter's wheel!

Can you tell which one of us is the professional?

This master potter created a work of art in a matter of minutes

I am attempting to create a bowl!

Lunch in a Cave

It started to occur to me that building materials in Cappadocia are inexpensive ... just build it into the rock! ... We ate lunch at a restaurant, Sarikaya, carved into the rock. Those of us who had gone on the hike appreciated the rest.

We arrived in Guzelyurt, another charming town in Cappadocia, in the late afternoon and checked into a beautiful hotel that was once a monastery, Hotel Karballa. After settling into our room, the first thing I did was wander by myself through the town. I quickly fell in love with this beautiful place and its people! I stumbled upon a group of children who with their broken English began to teach me their language. I took photos of them and they were all excited to look at the back of my camera and see themselves. They walked me around their neighborhood and brought me to a curbside where they had scarves for sale. The girls then began to try each scarf on my head showing me how to put it on. It was an absolutely priceless experience.

Hotel Karballa

Mika makes her way through one of the many passageways

Our next stop was the Underground City of Kaymakli. This is yet another of Cappadocia's amazing attractions. This and other underground cities were used when invaders threatened the farming communities above ground. Thousands of people could live in this underground fortress for up to 6 months at a time. It extends 8 floors below ground in a maze of passageways and rooms.

I couldn't help thinking of how fun it would be to play "Sardines" there.


Kaymakli Underground City

The detail with which they painted the pottery was exquisite

Fatih, the oldest boy, wanted to try taking a picture

Our room at Hotel Karballa

The views from Guzelyurt are stunning

Fatih and his brothers. Fatih was the most outspoken of my new friends.

We had a little more time to wander around Guzelyurt. Then we boarded the bus and rode off to our next destination!

Goodbye Cappadocia!

Sidar and Sam dancing with other men at the wedding

Donna and Mika (center) dancing with the women at the wedding

My mom gets henna painted onto her palm
I returned from my walk to find the "cousins" enjoying a happy hour together in Hotel Karballa's courtyard!

After the kids had wrapped my hair in the scarf, I didn't want to take it off. I knew that I probably wouldn't be able to put in on again.

"Cousins" happy hour at Hotel Karballa
At dinner, Sidar told us that there was going to be a wedding in town and that we were invited to attend. Wow! (Does this kind of thing happen on any tours other than a Rick Steves tour?) So, we walked into the center of town where music was blaring. Men were gathered at one end of an open space, the women at the other end, each dancing as a group.

Henna is traditionally placed on the hands of the women attending a wedding



A precious Guzelyurt woman

My new friends