Cappadocia album

The dining room at Kirkit Pension is carved out of the tufa stone which famously forms the landscape of Cappadocia, and it was here we were welcomed to a wonderful meal after travelling by bus all afternoon from Ankara.

The gypsy duo -zither, drum – joined by Osman drumming.

Breakfast at the Kirkit was superb: lots of crispy fresh bread, tasty white cheese, green and black olives, egg, strwberry and aprocot jam, delicious strawberries and a lovely sesame spread, plus endless tea from a steaming stainless steel samovar. Thus fortified we commenced our five day hike through the carved landscape of Cappadocia.

We arrived in Avanos via Nevsehir and Goreme, the latter the famous backpacking Mecca with its fairy chimney houses. Particularly taken by the mosque carved into the rock (see below).

in the background, towers and high rise at Nevsehir

Goreme mosques; in the background, towers and high rise at Nevsehir

First a slippery descent into Pigeon Valley, lots of pigeon houses carved into the cliffs. Lunch at Goreme.

Then a steep climb up to Uchisar, and a welcome beer on the terrace of Pension Uchisar,  stunning view across to the volcano Erciyes. Next we tackled the Kale just above our pension:

The Kale is the ancient fortress of Uchisar and dominates the landscape, a maze of windows  and tunnels dug out the rock.

From the terrace, a view across the landscape:

Goreme is nestled in the middle ground

many, many houses in Turkey have affordable solar hot water, leaving Australia for dead…

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A Day in Vienna

A Day in Vienna – from Angie Wednesday 17 June

Coming from Madrid, we are still on Madrileno time, so rose late, as did Kathy, our host here in the Judenplatz. She is very welcoming, and she makes rooms in her large flat available to visitors to Vienna. Her father Emanuel Fiscus was a Holocaust survivor, and led a remarkable life. On the Judenplatz is a large memorial to the 65,000 Austrian Jews who were murdered by the Nazis. I can see it from our window.

p1020672It’s a big concrete rectangle shaped as a mausoleum, and the 4 walls are a relief of rows of books with their spines inverted, so you can’t see what they are. Stories which won’t be told.

Nearby is the Art Forum am Judenplatz, which is showing the Holocaust survivor Adolf Frankl’s permanent exhibition Art Against Oblivion. These are telling and heart-wrenching images in expressionist style. These things must be confronted and never forgotten, although it has taken the Viennese long enough.


Arrival of a transport on the ramp in Birkenau, October 1944

After the morning muesli and rounds of emails, it was down to our local coffee shop and Bäckerei:

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Monastery Valley and Gertrude Bell

Monastery Valley and Gertrude Bell album

Monastery Valley is best described by Gertrude Bell – below. But we had a delightful ramble along this very quiet and lonely spot. anatolia-25

It was evidently a place where monks could isolate themselves from the secular, and find the penance they sought, and maybe visions into the bargain. (Visited by A & R Sunday 26 April.)

Monk's cell carved into cliff

Monk's cell carved into cliff

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Kizil Kilisi is the Red Church

Red Church Album
Kizil Kilisi is the Red Church, half an hour’s drive up and over the hills behind Guzelyurt. Rather fragile, it stands strikingly alone in cultivated fields surrounded by hills.
It is the only byzantine church still standing in this part of the world, many have been destroyed or allowed to crumble by previous Turkish governments as probably a deliberate policy of erasing the Christian past – see Alexander Dalrymple’s From the Holy Mountain.
The Friends of Cappadocia are raising money to restore it before it collapses, but it is a race against time as you can see here…

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Album: NEMRUT DAGI: a colossal folly

We hiked the few hundred (vertical) metres to view the tumulus at Nemrut Dagi summit at sunrise in freezing winds.

East Terrace

East Terrace

But there was no sunrise, and actually some snow, through which we traipsed at some points.
Some of the giant heads of gods and kings were still surrounded by snow, which gave them an unexpectedly comical appearance.
Somehow the bleak overcast made a fitting setting to contemplate the enormous hubris of King Antioch who had constructed for himself the biggest tomb monument since the Pharoahs. Continue reading

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Nafplion is ridiculously historic and also beautiful.

Nafplion is ridiculously historic – link to album

Nafplion was the first capital of Greece after the Independence War 1821-1828, and is only a stone’s throw from Mykinis where Agamemnon and others planned the Trojan War, in his Palace past the Lion Gate. The whole Argos peninsula reeks of history.

Ruins of Agamemnon's palace

Ruins of Agamemnon's palace

We made extensive use of Greece’s terrific bus system to get to Epidavros etc from our base in the cosy Pension Dafni.
Pension Dafni: women gather in the gathering dusk

Pension Dafni: women gather in the gathering dusk

The Dafni is only metres from where the first president of liberated Greece, Ioannis Kapodistrias, was assassinated outside Saint Spyridon church.
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22 hours in Ankara

A day and a half’s travel to Ankara from Istanbul and on into Cappadocia is enough to make you realise that Turkey’s public transport infrastructure is greatly superior to that of much of Australia, despite Turkey being a relatively poorer country. We left the Hotel Ersu and walked to a conveniently close fast tram stop. Cost for any length of trip: a flat YTL1.40, roughly 1 Aussie dollar.
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Hydra is impossibly beautiful

link to Hydra is impossibly beautiful album


Hydra has historically been a fishing and maritime island port, and was an important naval base for the Greeks during the Revolution after 1821. Today it is a holiday getaway for wealthy Athenian Continue reading

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The Grand Prix Maria Callas 2009: Koreans show the world how it’s done! Grand Prix Maria Callas
We attended several sessions of this big international singing competition, held in Athens every two years: one Heat was at the Athenaeum, just below the Acropolis in the Plaka, on Tuesday March 10. Continue reading

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Mount Olympus

Mount Olympus
link to Enipeas Gorge walk album on Facebook
Litohoro is a little town underneath Mt Olympos,

Mt Olympos from our terrace

Mt Olympos from our terrace

frequented by walkers, climbers and some wealthy people who do neither. We were very comfortable in the Pension Papanikolau, run by Martina who came here 20 years ago from Germany on a holiday, and married a local. It’s the kind of place you never want to leave, but we had to journey on to Istanbul via Thessaloniki. Continue reading

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