Sunday, March 3, 2013

Turkey - Cappadocia

Damn that Brazilian soup opera!
- Christine Lagarde

So, after sailing the waters of the Blue Coast and taking a rest in Olympos from the rest we took on the cruise, we went to Göreme, Cappadocia, with a marvelous night bus.

Göreme is a small town merged with the rocks, caves and fairy chimneys that compose the landscape of Cappadocia. It's a very touristic place, but still a must go in Turkey.

Following some typical routes on the first two days, we were able to visit huge underground cities with vast halls and interesting ventilation systems. It's really impressive that people could make such big cities just by digging a soft rock with a harder one (apparently the rock formations around Göreme were soft enough at first, becoming harder when exposed to air). We also visited the open-air museum with its cave-churches and had a first view of valleys with fairy-chimneys and famous groups of caves used as homes in the past.

The judgement of the little fairy-chimney.

One classic experience in Göreme is the hot air balloon flight - a bit expensive, but certainly one thing we couldn't miss. Best thing is to take the earliest flight to see the sunrise and the other hundred balloons around you (which are as fascinating as the landscape itself). This was our first time in a hot air balloon - the ride is very smooth, definitely recommended. I really don't know how this balloon ride thing started, but now it's certainly a part of Göreme. Every morning it's possible to hear the sound of the balloons being inflated all around.

Many balloons and a surreal landscape.

Our restless companion.
After a couple of days checking the mainstream of Göreme, we spent the rest of our time there doing one of the best things one can do in Cappadocia: wander around. This region is perfect for hiking. The landscape and its colors change a lot within a few minutes walking. In one day walking over 25 km, we had a wide range of experiences: hidden grape crops, thousands of caves, giant professional rock-sliding cardboards, a misguiding salesman in the middle of nowhere (and whose suggestions could send you even further than nowhere) and a guide-dog. This dog was amazing - he followed us the whole day (actually, many times we had to follow him), eating lizards and greeting tourists he had guided previously. Though renting a scooter is a good alternative to reach farther places faster, hiking is the only way to get to the least accessible spots - definitely recommended.

Tisso's finger and  a rock-sliding cardboard we found on the ground.

Coming to an agreement during hiking. 

Well, this was our last experience in Turkey. From Göreme we took another body-punishing night bus to Istanbul and from there a flight to Tel-Aviv, Israel. To finish the posts about Turkey, here goes one last comment: during the time we were there, a Brazilian soup-opera depicting Turkey started on TV. From now on, it's likely that travelers will find swarms of Brazilians there (still very few compared to Paris, though). Therefore, sorry, folks - we have just given an extra nudge to a country pretty good in keeping a high inflation.

Now I leave you, dear reader (aka grandma), with the piercing-gaze cat:

Take a seat here and I'll make you an offer you can't refuse (Göreme, Turkey).

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Metapictures - the crouching traveler, a tribute

This is our friend Rodolfo "Tisso" Maciel (though it could be anybody in the picture), a good friend of ours since college. Once a good employee in the consumer goods industry, he also succumbed to the traveling spirit and quit his job to travel after getting a position in a management consulting firm, a most adequate calm before the storm.

Though not properly mentioned earlier, this young man traveled with us in the Middle East and during a good part of our trip in Europe (which makes him also responsible for the lack of posts as we would rather drink together almost every night).

As he had a job starting in the beginning of 2013, his trip has already come to an end. He's back in Brazil to start working his ass off and to tell travel tales in bars.

This is a tribute to our fellow who was a great snoring company during the first part of our trip. Not every day you come across a guy who gets emotional in the Delirium Café in Brussels - a metapicture tribute is therefore the least we could do. And yes, we just did the least.

Tisso, thanks for the company. We wish you success and the minimum exposure to assholes possible.

Taking pictures of skirts in London.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Turkey - Blue Coast

OK, time to break the silence again. The last days have been busy with preparations for India and French wine.

Though this seems a distant past right now, we have to pay tribute to the beauty we saw in the rest of our trip in Turkey. After Istanbul, we made our way to the west coast of the country. We went to Ephesus, Pamukkale and Afrodisias.

Ephesus is very touristic, known for its ruins of ancient Greek/Roman city. It's quite interesting (and full of cats), but a better option for enjoying ruins is Afrodisias. With way less people and better conserved ruins, Afrodisias was a very good experience (except for the scourging sun - and as ruins usually don't have roofs, it was quite unpleasant in this sense).

One nice thing that can cannot be seen in Ephesus is the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World - now a bunch of rubble, as many of its stones were used for building other stuff.

Ephesus as seen in most pictures in travel agencies.

Pointing to the rubble - I mean - Temple of Artemis.

Ephesus, the favourite city of the girl from the eHarmony video.

Smashing tourists in Afrodisias.

Theater in Afrodisias.

Pamukkale was definitely something. Its carbonate formations make it deserve its name ("cotton castle" in Turkish, according to Wikipedia). After walking around the immense white, we went to a enclosed pool with water from a thermal spring (supposedly a place where Cleopatra used to bathe). Though a bit expensive for a pool (30 TL entrance), it was very interesting to find out that the water had gas (carbon dioxide, nitrogen, among others) - it was just like swimming in sparkling water.

Carbonate reflection (Pamukkale).

Amazing carbonate formations (Pamukkale).

Although it was already late October, it was indeed really hot in Turkey - hot enough for us to take a cruise on the Blue Coast after frying n ruins. This was definitely one of the highlights in Turkey. We were on a very cozy boat with about other 16 people for 4 days and 3 nights. We basically went snorkeling, had Efes beer, explored islands with goats and graves and swam to a pirate cave. We spent every night on the deck, looking at the stars (and shooting stars, very nice ones) - we even went to a middle-of-nowhere-night-club! The people we met were simply amazing, some of our conversations even contributed to our route plan. We would definitely like to meet them again, let's see how this goes. Here are some pics of this cruise:

Busy sailing days.

Island near the place where we spent our first night.

Good food for the good people.

The pirates' cave.

After the cruise, we stood for a while in Olympos with our friend Rodolfo (always with us in Tukey) and a couple we met on the cruise (Doug and Akemi, also doing a round the world trip). Olympos was a nice city for resting (from what?). Not a lot to do, except for visiting mount Olympos (one of the many with this name), a mount once mentioned by Homer and now a place for Turks to grill sausages on the fires that come out of the ground due to an everlasting flow of natural gas.

From Olympos, we took an overnight bus (yes, those ones) to Göreme, in Cappadocia, which deserves a separate post. Now that we are moving to India, where less busy nights are expected, I'll try to write about Cappadocia soon.

See ya!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy New Year!

And what a happy new year this one can be (starting from the fact that we didn't have to go to work today).

We spent New Year's Eve in Paris, where we had to stop for a while to get our visas to India. Here we saw swarms of people being frustrated by a regular Eiffel Tower "light show" on a rainy December 31st (with good champagne and a nice party this turned into a minor detail). Anyway, got the visas, been to a lot of parties, now it's time to start the Asian part of the trip. On January 4th we fly from here to Delhi.

For now, we would like to wish all our readers/followers (basically old widows who own 13 cats) a truly happy new year! May 2013 be a year of joy!