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

Tales from Different Strange Planet

When I booked my ticket from LA to Istanbul back in July, my plan was to stay in Istanbul the whole time.  But many people told me I must visit Cappadocia, east of Istanbul and almost the center of the country.  All I really knew about Cappadocia was that they have a weird landscape of these sort of mushroom shaped (or penis shaped, according to some) stone formations sticking up out of the ground.  And I knew that many of the accommodations were in caves.

But that is about it.  I didn’t even read about Goreme in my Lonely Planet guidebook until I got here.

I had booked before I got here in the Elif Star caves, which my friend Letha had told me about.  They set up a shuttle from the airport and sure enough when I got out there was a guy holding a piece of paper with my name on it.  The shuttle made several stops and we drove through the flat, desert like Turkish landscape, through the city of Nevsehir and on to Goreme.  When we got to the Elif Star caves one of the owners, Ali, came out and helped me to my cave room on the third “floor” of the caves.

The room is really cute, very basic, but I was a little concerned at first because it was freezing in there.  Ali told me the heat would come on after sunset.  Brrr.  I headed out into the cold day.  It is about a five minute walk into town, and I was hungry so the first place I passed that said “wine, 5 lire” I stopped.  (It was pretty quick.)  The woman who opened the door looked like one of the women I would see selling puppies or fresh corn in bowels of the Budapest subway but she bellowed out in the most friendly manner, “welcome! How are YOU!” I had a glass of white wine and some chicken kebabs and rice.  The food was just OK – but she was so nice, and the wine went down so easy, that I didn’t really care.

After I ate I walked around Goreme a little.  It is not huge and I started to get worried – what on earth was I going to do in this place for three and a half days?  I did not know at that moment that I would end up completely falling in love with this little town, with the surrounding landscape, and with some of the people I would run across.

As I walked, I passed by a little wine bar called “Red Red Wine” so of course I wanted to go in there.  I poked my head into the dark space but there was no one.  As I was walking away one of two men, about sixty I guess, called out to me.  He said “I am working!” and I said not to worry I will come back later.  They were sitting next to a little canal in the sun.  I kept walking and found another place, with a terrace upstairs, and decided to drink something and read my guidebook.  There was a guy inside who said I should not sit on the terrace because I would freeze my whatoogee off (well, that is not exactly what he said, but you get the drift) but it was actually kind of nice up there, as long as you didn’t take your coat or hat off.

I walked around the town a little more – I think I had pretty much covered it, but on my way back to the hotel I passed by Red Red Wine and as I walked by one of the men I had passed earlier, who were now in the bar, jumped up and opened the door for me.  I went in and sat at the back of the small room and ordered a glass of white wine.  The men were just starting a movie on a fairly large flat screen TV, Dragonball 2.  They asked me if I wanted music or movie, and I said don’t worry about me just keep watching your movie.  So the three of us watched Dragonball 2 in the dark room, me drinking my wine, the men drinking raki, the local beverage of choice.  I felt like I was in someone’s living room watching the only thing on TV on a slow winter day.  I was part of the two men’s universe, just for that moment, as though it was the most normal thing in the world.  After the intensity of Istanbul, I felt like I was in the twilight zone, but the good kind.

As I was leaving (there was only so much of Dragonball 2 I could take – it was pretty silly) the men offered me a raki and when I declined one of them told me to at least taste his.  I did, and it was good – a very light anise taste.  At this moment I am not sure they were even open at Red Red Wine.  I think maybe they just let me in for a little while.

I went back to my room – still freezing – and went down to the common area of the Elif Star to check email and do a little work.  The heat in my room came on, thrilling me to no end. Then it was time for dinner.

To date, I had not had a really great meal in Turkey.  I’d had a couple of decent things to eat at Sofa in Istanbul, and also a good pizza at Faros in my soon to be neighborhood of Beyoglu.  But the rest was pretty much just OK.  In my Lonely Planet I read about a place called Seten, up on the hill above my hotel, where they are making traditional dishes and have a decent wine cellar.  So I headed up there in the freezing cold night.  I mean, it is FREEZING.  Brrr.

At Seten, I was greeted warmly and shown to a cute little table sort of set in the back with some pillars separating me from the rest of the room, right next to a fireplace.  Love it already.  I asked about some wines on the list but I think the owner did not really understand me (understandably) and he sold me a bottle of Turasan Cabernet Sauvignon, which was the cheapest wine on their list.  For dinner I had a starter of little filo pastries of cheese and spinach, and then a plate of “Kayseri Manti” – tiny little raviolis stuffed with meat.  I sat and read “Istanbul – The Collected Traveler” and observed my fellow tourists. There were three other tables – a four-top of Americans (loud), a six-top of Venezuelans (I know they were Venezuelan because they were on my flight and I saw their passports, also loud) and a two-top with two Chinese girls (amazingly, also very loud.)  I did not care that it was so loud, until the very end.  The Americans had a long conversation about rabbits, the teenagers in the Venezuelan group were playing with an app on their IPhone where you can say something and it will translate into Turkish, and the Chinese girls were obviously feeling the effects of the one glass of red wine they each drank.  A young girl working in Seten, who was lovely and very sweet and reminded of me of one of the best friends I have ever had, Lisa Wood, kept my wine glass at the half full for the two hours I was in there.

Back out into the night, I left through a different door and managed to get slightly lost, though briefly.  It was a little scary due to the fact that it was about one degree outside.  You do not want to get lost in this kind of cold.  But I retraced and found my way back and was soon all snug in my cave where I drank the rest of my bottle of wine, ate some chocolate and watched the first few episodes of Project Runway season one.  How fun to be all snuggly in bed in Turkey and watch my old friends Austin Scarlett and Jay McCarroll.  I am not worried about how I might spend my time in Goreme.  Not anymore.

One Response to “Tales from Different Strange Planet”

  1. Colleen Says:

    Shannon dear, I cannot believe I am just now reading the rest of your Istanbul posts! Loving them.
    You are an insightful, brilliant writer, and I am honored to be able to read your work. Thank you for sharing your world with us. XO, Colleen

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