Destination Turkey: Cappadocia

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Amber Ashcraft
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
With my time beginning to close at Incirlik, I was given an opportunity to reflect back on my tour. This place is definitely a culture-filled country that I never expected to experience. Being the adventurous type, I couldn't imagine becoming a dorm-dweller at my first base. So one of the first places I ventured to within the first few weeks I was here was Cappadocia. 

My now-husband, Brandon, and I groggily departed the front gate around 7 a.m. on a Saturday with other members from Incirlik on the overnight International Tickets and Travel office trip. The bus trip was an interesting four hours consisting of conversations with new people, stops at "gas go" stations the breath taking Taurus Mountains and the Kaymakli Underground city. Now, this was a sight! 

We ventured into cave-like dwellings about half a mile underground. As our tour-guide bemused us with ancient history, Brandon and I befriended another couple with two young children and explored the caveman-esque rock rooms. The rock was cool, temperature wise that is, and we felt small, odd drafts of breeze throughout the underground city. Only four "floors" out of the eight total are open to the public; each floor consisting of either stables for domestic animals, living rooms, a cemetery and church, storage rooms or wineries with grape storage. The city was carved out in subdivisions to confuse enemies when trying to search and attack. It was amazing to imagine the families living amongst this underground safe-haven, hidden away below the surface.
From there, we moved on to a few other places, including Uchisar Castle Carpet, Pottery & Onnix workshop. The individuals there immersed us in the process of dying the many materials for making carpets, the actual looming process and where they kept their silk worms. I'll admit it was slightly creepy to see a large wool bag, four feet tall and filled to the brim with silk worm eggs. Of course, they also introduced us to the finished carpets, bringing us into a large "viewing" room, rolling carpets out with finesse at our feet. We enjoyed wine, or "shut up" (how we Americans can spell the Turkish word for "wine"), and admired the rest of the tour of Uchisar Castle. 

We stayed overnight in a beautiful "rock" hotel and shoveled down the traditional Turkish breakfast buffet of fresh fruits, breads, vegetables and coffee and tea the next morning. 

We were "let loose" in Pigeon Valley and Fairy Chimney to explore the mountain sides and rock formations. Never have I seen natural earth creations so odd looking, but beautiful. We found out later these "fairy chimneys" were sculpted by wind and flood water running down the slopes of the rather immensely large valleys. These sculpture-like creations are conically shaped tufa and volcanic ash with a "cap" of more resistant rock like ignimbrite, a hard rock formed from fallen volcanic ash.. Below the valley, near the road, were vendors selling miniature Cappadocia fairy chimneys and landscapes, jewelry, brightly colored pashminas and basically anything you could really imagine. We bought Turkish ice cream and wandered around until we came upon a small Turkish man with a rather tall camel. Of course, I hitched a ride and probably looked like a child, giggling the entire time. I look back now and remember that this was my favorite part of the trip and one that I'll remember for always. 

Our trip wrapped up about 3 p.m., and we loaded back into the bus with Incirlik as our final destination. There was a lot to cover in just over a day, but our time was filled with breath taking views and amazing history lessons. We made new friends and experienced a part of a new culture together that was unforgettable. You don't have to take the I.T.T. group trip; Mr. Suleyman would be more than happy to help you plan a getaway on your own. 

Cappadocia is definitely family-friendly and for those in the dorms, "get out"! Go see the beautiful country that's surrounding you. It's definitely worth the road trip.