Göreme in the valley

We went for a half hour stroll along the edge of the cliff overlooking Pigeon Valley - great views of ‘fairy chimney’ rock formations surrounding the town of Göreme. There are many hiking trails in this region. Although not that well marked, they’re very easy to hike along - you can easily spend 1/2 a day wandering along these trails through stunning landscapes. Then head back to town for a wide selection of places to find a bite to eat.Avcilar Valley_IMG_5627.jpg

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Avcilar Valley_IMG_5623.jpgA closer look at the village of Göreme.Avcilar Valley_IMG_5625.jpgThe boutique Göreme Kaya Hotel in the foreground - the hotel is outfitted with local handicrafts such as carpets and rugs, tiles and ceramics.Village_IMG_5634.jpg

Town Avcilar Valley_IMG_5634.jpgA small cliff top market and cafe greets us as we stroll along the top edge of the cliff overlooking the valley. Fantastic views from every table.

Here….Avcilar Valley_IMG_5641.jpgor here.. Avcilar Valley_IMG_5631.jpgThis is a nazar - sometimes called an evil eye stone - an amulet which is believed to protect against the evil eye. Glass charms such as this are widely seen around Turkey. It also appears to be a favorite souvenir with the tourists.Avcilar Valley_IMG_5643.jpgAssorted weavings and glass hanging ornaments as seen in the market.Avcilar Valley_IMG_5640.jpg

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Somewhere in Turkey in a valley...

So I think I’ve officially lost track of exactly where I am in the Cappadocia region of Turkey. So many sights, so many interesting ‘fairy chimney’ rock formations and numerous hiking trails and I clearly didn’t take note this afternoon of where we stopped to check out the sights this time.  

Somewhere near Göreme or the town of Ushilar?? Does anyone know?**

Caught in the action!CappadociaRegion_C03665.jpgNevertheless, interesting ‘fairy chimney’ rock formations for sure! Loads of hiking trails in this region. Cappadocia region_IMG_5594.jpg




** (A faithful blog follower has just advised me that I’m here in Pasabag (Monks Valley) - a short distance from Göreme in the Cappadocia region. Thanks Rose Marie!)

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Firca Ceramics up close in Avanos, Turkey

Sorry it’s taken me so long to continue blogging. A busy summer and life happens!

Now back to our trip to Turkey.

Firca Ceramics, Avanos, Cappadocia
region, Turkey - let’s have a closer look at some of the finished products available for purhase at the Firca Handicrafts Centre. Besides the many items for sale in the showrook Firca Ceramics also advertises some of their product online as seen here.Firca Ceramics_IMG_5559.jpg

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Firca Ceramics_IMG_5560.jpgI usually pick up a small bowl from each of the countries we visit on our yearly trip and Turkey was no different. Picked up a bowl similar to these below but ours had a smooth edge.Firca Ceramics_C03642.jpg

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This is a massive bowl displayed in the showroom at Firca Ceramics.  Saw the price tag in Turkish Lira - did a quick calculation - if my memory serves me correctly, I think it worked out to over $10,000 USD.

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More travels in Turkey coming soon.

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Firca Ceramics, Avanos, Turkey

Avanos, Cappadocia, Turkey - A tour of Turkey will likely include a stop at a local ceramics shop. We dropped by Firca Ceramics Cappadocia located in Avanos. This large shop is located in a natural area carved completely in the rock.

Ceramics has been in the Firca family for over 250 years. They have their own ‘ceramics education’ and anyone wishing to be a master potter has a lengthy and strenuous training period ahead of them - well over nine years of training with extremely difficult examinations. Read more about the process here.

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Firca Ceramics_IMG_5564.jpgThese are some of the sights along the indoor paths that lead to the workshops, demonstration rooms and showrooms.  No artifical construction has been used in this center - it is all natural and carved out of the surrounding rock.Firca Ceramics_IMG_5523.jpg

Firca Ceramics_IMG_5522.jpgHere, an artist works with white clay - carrying on the tradition of ceramic culture of the Anatolia region.Firca Ceramics_IMG_5536.jpg

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Firca Ceramics_IMG_5532.jpgA closer look at a couple of the artists at work that create these beautiful pieces of art.Firca Ceramics_IMG_5540.jpg

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Firca Ceramics_IMG_5543.jpgA look at the flywheel used in the demonstration room. The wheel is set spinning with just a few kicks by the potter’s foot and spins allowing the potter to form the clay with his hands into beautiful pieces of art.Firca Ceramics_IMG_5555.jpg

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Firca Ceramics_IMG_5554.jpgNext - a closer look at some of the gorgeous ceramics at Firca Ceramics.

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Ballooning in the Cappadocia region

Taken from the Göreme Open Air Museum, Goreme, Cappadocia region - This area is also very popular for ballooning - a fantastic opportunity to see this amazing surrealistic landscape from above. Some of my fellow travellers opted to take the very early morning journey in the hot air balloons for those breathtaking views. This time I opted to photograph from below.Goreme_IMG_5382.jpg




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Göreme Open Air Museum, Cappadocia

Göreme Open Air Museum, Goreme, Cappadocia - located 15 km (9 miles) east of Nevsehir. About 2,000 ago there was a volcanic eruption from Mount Erciyes and the ash and lava from that eruption created the soft rock that is found in this region. This rock is easily carved and the people of the Göreme region (dating largely from the 9th century onwards) carved out houses, churches and monasteries in this area.

The Göreme Open Air Museum now offers a look into the numerous churches carved into the rock, some filled with amazing Byzantine frescoes depicting scenes from the Old and New Testaments. UNESCO declared the Göreme Valley a World Heritage Site.



Cave dwellings in the region of those that lived here so many years ago.Goreme_Panorama1.jpg


Goreme_IMG_5380.jpgThe day we happened to visit, many of the churches and cave dwellings were closed to the public and in those that we were able to go inside, we weren’t allowed to take photos. And so I obeyed.  The presence of a park guard at some of the entrances also put a damper on my enthusiasim to take any photos inside!Goreme_IMG_5414.jpg



Goreme_IMG_5418.jpgSo I took photos of some postcards I purchased to show some of the beautifully painted frescoes in some of the churches here.

Karanlik Kilise (the Dark Church) - built in the 11th century - this is a frescoe of Christ Pantocrator on the ceiling.



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Heredan Kervansaray Restaurant

Stopped by for lunch at Heredan Kervansaray - a large restaurant in the Avanos, Cappadocia region of Turkey.  Each of it’s numerous dining halls are individually decorated  and tasty Turkish cuisine is served. As is sometimes the case when one travels with a tour group, this seemed to be built to handle those bus loads of tourists passing by.  Overall, the food was tasty!Hanedan Kervansaray_SC03626.jpgLoved this old wooden door.Hanedan Kervansaray_03626.jpg

Hanedan Kervansaray_C03624.jpgThe walls are tastefully decorated with interesting cultural artifacts.Hanedan Kervansaray_C03620.jpgTasty breads and salads were served as starters.Hanedan Kervansaray_C03623.jpg

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Turkish Carpets - Gorgeous!

Turkey - It’s inevitable that you’ll end up at a carpet shop at some point of your visit to Turkey.  And although you may be telling yourself you don’t need a carpet, it’s hard not to walk out with one - either carrying a carpet under arm or having it shipped directly to your home!  We came very close to owning a Turkish carpet!  And perhaps had we not purchsed two gorgeous large carpets on a prior trip to India, we probably would have walked out with carpets shipped home!

Knowing the labour of love that goes into the hand-woven Turkish carpets makes them truly a work of art. Turkish Silk Carpets Collage.jpgWool and cotton carpets.Turkish Rugs collage.jpg

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The making of Turkish carpets

Turkey and carpets.  We had the opportunity to get a peek behind the scenes of how carpets are made. (I hope I’ve got the many details of this process correct!)

How do we go from this……..                                                                                  to this?SilkWorm to carpet.jpgSilk worms (which are actually caterpillers, not worms) eat the leaves of mulberry trees and, in time (about 45 days), spin a cocoon aournd themselves using just one single thread.Goreme Carpet Shop_IMG_5485.jpgA closer look at the cocoons, the remains of the pupa inside the cocoon and the strands of silk harvested from the cocoon.Goreme Carpet Shop_IMG_5482.jpg

Goreme Carpet Shop_IMG_5481.jpgThe harvested cocoons are soaked in a vat of hot water to loosen the fibers.  Using a brush, such as this one, the cocoons are tamped down into the water to keep them moist. This brush also helps the workers separate the single fiber (thread) from the cocoon. The thread is then placed into a spinning machine which unravels the thread.  Goreme Carpet Shop_IMG_5480.jpgThen several threads are grouped together and respun - creating another thin yet incredibly stronger thread.Goreme Carpet Shop_IMG_5484.jpgThe threads are then dyed - natural means are preferred over synthetic dyes.  Natural dyes are derived from plant roots and flowers.Goreme Carpet Shop_IMG_5483.jpgCarpets can also made with wool or cotton such as in these photos.Goreme Carpet Shop_IMG_5474.jpgThere are carpet factories where women hand weave carpets - a very long and laborious task. There are also cooperatives whereby women are able to remain in their homes and weave.Goreme Carpet Shop_IMG_5472.jpg

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Next - a closer look at some of the gorgeous carpets made.

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The Whirling Dervishes

The Whirling Dervishes of Cappadocia, Turkey - we had the opportunity to observe the Sema ceremony at Dervish House Cappadocia - in the town of NEVŞEHİR near Göreme. (Photos were allowed to be taken after the ceremony when the Whirling Dervishes returned to the stage to provide the visitors with a short demonstration).

The Mevlevi order (probably better known as the Whirling Dervishes) was founded by the Sufi mystic, Celaleddin Rumi (1207-1273), also called Mevlâna. He believed that music and dance represented a way to begin an ecstatic state of universal love and offered a means to free the individual from the stress and pains of daily life. Central to the practice of the dervishes is the whirling ceremony or sema. It consists of several stages, each with its own meaning. The central theme of the mystical cycle of the sema is love - symbolizing the sharing of God’s love among earthly beings.

The dervishes extend their arms, to allow divine energy to enter the right palm, move through the body, and pass through the left palm into the earth. They move from right to left, pivoting around the heart. Whirling is the climax of the sema. The sema consists of seven parts - the first three are prayers, greetings and musical improvizations. Then the ritual moves into the fifth stage consisting of four selams or salutes - truth through knowledge, the splendour of creation, total submission before God and coming to terms with destiny. The sixth part is a reading from the Quran. The Sema ceremony ends with a prayer for peace.Whirling Dervish_03569.jpgThe clothing worn for the sema has symbolic meaning. The conical headdress symbolizes the tomb of the ego and the wide white skirt symbolizes the ego’s shroud.Whirling Dervishes_03572.jpg

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Welcome to my travel photo blog. Photography has been a part of my life for a long time – back in the day the Pentax Super Program was always near at hand. But it wasn’t until I started travelling around the world that photography became a vehicle for me to show others about the absolutely amazing and complex world we live in. My hope is to share with you glimpses of what I’ve seen. Enjoy!