Shannon’s Super Sexy Blog. Music. Travel. Randomness. And a Lot of Wine.

Salih and the Alis

It turns out I need not have worried about the heat in my room at the Elif Star caves.  I think maybe the room had not been booked for a few days, so the heat was not on.  Once I got that baby going it kept warm inside, even with the heat off during the day.  I almost did not want to get out of bed, it was so snug and comfy in there.  But I did.

There are two guys who run the Elif Star caves – both named Ali (I think.)  They are both very nice.  I asked for a coffee and one of the Alis handed me a menu of some breakfast items I could have.  I ordered eggs and one of the Alis brought me scrambled eggs on top of bread, and a basket of bread with some delicious jams.  Unfortunately my coffee was instant coffee.  Blech. I had crap coffee at the hotel Sarnic in Istanbul too.  Good thing I brought some Peet’s French roast with me, for when I have an apartment.  Anyway, while I was eating breakfast a movie started on the TV in there, one that I had a hard time breaking away from.  I think it was from the sixties (though one of the Alis said 1950, or 1955, but he doesn’t know this stuff like I do).  It was black and white and set in Istanbul.  A guy who’s job was to take people around in sort of a bus/cab combo falls in love with a schoolgirl.  She has long blond hair and an angelic expression; he is very suave looking.  He gives her a ride in his cab thing and gives her a note which she reads and then crumbles up and throws on the ground, but of course the friendship/love continues.  He drives her around Istanbul in a sort of sixties travelogue and there is a lot of her looking at him all Botticelli-like.  She has an evil aunt though, with a tight black bun for hair, and the aunt brings her to buy some fancy clothes and then gets her engaged to an older businessman guy.  There is an engagement party, and a short separation but during my second horrible instant coffee she runs away and goes to stay with the cab driver and his mom, where she learns to cook his favorite dish.  I think the scorned businessman was going to track them down and cause some havoc, but it was time for me to leave the TV and the Alis and see what else was going on in the world.  One thing I did learn from one of the Alis is that here in Turkey they have got rid of any cigarette smoking on TV, so where the cab driver is smoking, his hand is all blurry.  Weird.

I left the hotel and started to walk up to the Goreme Open Air Museum about a kilometer out of town.  It is an incredible walk through an amazing landscape of sculpted rock formations that through the centuries, people have lived in.  The museum is a smattering of these formations became churches in the 10th, 11th, and 12th centuries – but even before that, people were living there.  I was absolutely blown away by this place.  When I first got in, there was one tour group (French) and a handful of other tourists.  By the end though, I was almost completely alone.  There are a number of tiny churches in the caves with frescoes in various conditions.  My favorite was the “apple church” – a tiny, tiny space with the most beautiful, colorful frescoes.  I cannot believe that they are in such good condition.  Sadly, in many of the caves vandals have scratched out the eyes of many of the saints and Mary and sometimes Jesus.  There is one cave with Byzantine imagery instead of religious figures.  The place is just jaw-droppingly amazing.  And to have these churches to myself… well lets just say it was worth freezing my butt off walking home from dinner, just to have this remarkable experience.  I loved it.

I was on my way down the hill to eat some lunch somewhere when I walked by a taxi and a guy who offered to take me around to some places in his taxi, for 25 Turkish lira.  He would take me to the Love Valley to see the rock formations, to some other place, to a pottery place, and it would take an hour and a half.  Hmm.  To be driven around in a taxi for an hour and a half for only about $13?  I am totally in.  My drivers name was Salih, and he did not speak so much as grunt a lot.  He took me to Love Valley first, and while he drank a tea or whatever with one of his cohorts at the little bar there, I walked along the edge of the canyon.  It is a stark, stunning landscape with these truly strange mushroom things poking up high out of the earth.  Then Salih took me to another place to see a view, I am spacing on the name but there were a number of tourists there; Salih told me to follow him, and took me up a hill away from all the tourists.  Well, Salih is maybe 60, but he walked up that hill so fast he may as well have been 21.  I tried to keep up but at the top I was huffing like I had just completed a triathalon.  Salih, of course, was fine.  And the view was incredible and there were no other people up there.

This is where it gets kind of funny.  Salih took me to a carpet place!  Aha, the catch!  Once there I figured what the hell and went on in.  A really nice guy showed me around and the making of the carpets and told me how people come to Istanbul all scared because they have been harrassed so badly there.  I saw the whole process and looked at the carpets and of course did not buy one, but the guy was cool.  It is easy to say no when you have no house in which to even put a carpet.  He did show me a huge carpet and said, when you buy a house in California, maybe this one?  (About $6500.) I wish.

After that Salih brought me to a pottery place, where I saw some people painting in the most half ass way imaginable but I still bought a few things in there.  Then Salih took me home.  All in all, quite an adventure.

I worked for a couple of hours in the common room of the Elif Star and then, not having any lunch, decided to treat myself to another dinner at Seten.  When I walked up the owner opened the door for me, and I said I am back.. and he said “I am very happy! Same table?” It was wonderful to be welcomed like that.  I ordered a better bottle of wine – again from Turasan but a blend of two local grapes that I am not going to remember right now.  One thing I had loved about Seten the night before was, they bring out a piece of plain bread, and a piece of garlic bread, and a little dish of olive oil and a dish of za’atar – a spice mix.  You dip the bread into the oil then the za’atar and it is oh, so yummy.  I could just eat that, but I ordered too much food – a starter of cold green beans stewed with tomato and a beef saute on an eggplant puree.  Once again, my lovely server kept my glass at exactly the right level and once again, I left with half the bottle, to drink a glass in my cozy room watching Project Runway.  Heaven.  I am falling in love.

One Response to “Salih and the Alis”

  1. Colleen Says:

    As I read I remember looking at your photos of the Open Air Museum, and the tiny churches with their frescoes. Amazing!

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