Off we went early Sunday morning, four teachers and two family members, to hike the amazing Ihlara Valley in Cappadocia. At least for me, it was early for a weekend–6:45a pickup by taxis to take us to our rendezvous point with a tour bus. The three-hour ride began with tea and two biscuits for which I was grateful. Half way to the start point, we stopped at Lake Tuz, a very large salt lake which is mostly dry this time of year. Salt chunks crunched beneath our feet as we walked out onto the lake’s surface.
Onward to the village of Ihlara. From the bus, we hiked to the top of a hill then descended to walk on a mostly-shaded trail along the Melendiz River.
Along the trail were churches carved in the rock. Kokar Kilise (the Smelly Church or the Church of Sweet Smells) is thought to be from the early Byzantine era.
And on we walked.
After a lunch stop, we walked for a couple more hours and met up with our bus near the Selime Monastery. The bus driver had a huge skillet heating up with chicken and some undetermined food products which when cooked were delicious heaped onto a large roll. After dinner we had 30 minutes to climb into the monastery and explore all the rooms carved high above the road.