So, continuing where Alexi left off, let me just talk about some of the highlights I enjoyed on our adventurous hike.
One: laughing at Leah shimmying through a crevice in the rocks, watching her freak out for a second thinking she was stuck, and finally climbing to the top of the plateau.
Two: the awesome view at the top. Way down below you could see hikers going along the valley’s pathways, while we were the sole people on top of the ridge. It was amazing, we could see for miles, and I received a wonderful sunburn on my chest, which my studio mates insist on calling a red “bib.”
At the top of the plateau looking down into Rose Valley.
Three: the swale down and back up through the swale. As we continued our exploration to the other side of the canyon, we discovered a place we had visited the day before known as Zelve, a village carved into the cliffs. Unfortunately you had to pay to enter. So like the cheap college students we are (even though we’re abroad, our thinking makes no sense), we thought it’d be a great idea to attempt to find a way into Zelve that bypassed the gates. We decided hiking down one of the swales would be a good bet, thinking the water runoff would allow a gradual descending. We were not expecting four to eight foot drops into a tiny swale canyon that rose up on either side of you about fifteen feet high.
We got to the point where we could see the green of the grassy valley below, but the last drop was about thirty feet and common sense for once won out and we decided to turn back around and find another way down (if it was even possible). By the time we got back up the swale I would consider us all possible candidates for Assassins Creed (one of them does take place in Istanbul after all). After our frustration of getting so close to the bottom, Leah set out to find another swale down. Setting off after Leah and Alexi, it was awesome to discover that Leah had found ancient footholds forming a ladder into the rock face. Unfortunately, it had been worn down over time by wind and water, but there was still enough of an impression to act as foot/hand holds. They eventually disappeared, but the slope of the swale allowed for some easy foot/butt sliding down the rest of the cavern. When we eventually touched green grass we were so happy! After the long hike up, the frustration of the previous swale, we were all so gross, covered in sweat and dirt, that the lack of having to go back up to our original point seemed like a blessing.
It also helped that we appeared right next to the Zelve gift shop and craft shops, where we all got postcards and trinkets. We asked the owner if it was possible to call a cab, but he told us that they don’t pick up from this area. So possibly stranded for a while, I debated on asking one of the tour buses where they were going. However, the owner then simply offered to drive us back in his own car for 40 lira! (It was 35 lira to be dropped off at Rose Valley and Zelve is just a little further) He wasn’t even trying to rip us off! He was so sweet and kind and his wife waved as we drove off heading back to the hotel. Along the way, he pointed out to us major sites, at one point asking us if we wanted to get out and take photos. I am constantly dumbfounded and humbled by the kindness we receive from the Turks. Overall, it was a day I’ll never forget. The adventure of off-the-track hiking and climbing and the stunning originality of the Kapadokyan landscape will be ingrained in my mind forever.