by Fred Moore - September 2006
We did a fast overnight trip this past weekend. Jim and Chelly had spoken with us on Wednesday about traveling to Nigde and we said, sure, we're always up for a new adventure. And we have never been to Nigde.
I mentioned the trip to a Turkish friend, Omer, and he told me about Bor, a small community just minutes from Nigde so I thought we could visit there as well. I did some research and found that Bor was a carpet center of some significance at one time and it has a number of historical sites as well. (We didn't make it to Bor this time though.)
Our plan was very simple; Jim would drive us up Friday night and he would return us home Saturday night. That's certainly not a trip plan I would be for 'IF' I was doing the driving but I'm glad to ride along anytime invited if we're free for the time in question. Carol has commitments on Sunday usually so without some advanced planning a weekend is often hard to get away for, but we were very pleased to be making this trip.
I made the usual e-mail contact with our friend Yuksel at the Ottoman House in Goreme for our Friday night stay. We booked two rooms; we were set and ready to go!
I had been checking weather status (now that it's fall) and the reports indicated rain; I contacted Jim and he said thanks but it didn't bother him to drive in a little rain. Friday afternoon however was beginning to give me second thoughts but Jim was not dissuaded from our spur of the moment trip plan. As Carol and I waited for Jim and Chelly to pick us up at home the weather began to take a turn for the worse; the wind came up and the rain began the fall in extremely large drops. As we saw Jim and Chelly turn the corner of our street half a block away, the rain began to fall with great force and the wind drove it nearly sideways. I was still concerned but when Jim pulled into our drive he was ready to take on the afternoon and evening drive come what may. We loaded our few bags in the van, in the rain and Jim was off. Jim drove us to the autobahn through a torrential down pour and we slipped out of Adana with little challenge at all. Then, just out of the city it was clear and the road didn't appear to even be wet; no rain had fallen on this side of Adana at all.
We're on our usual drive now to the end of the autobahn and up through the back-country. As you know by now, we really enjoy this drive through the valley between the mountain ridges. Today we can see the apples are far more mature and closer to harvest; this valley, as you might remember, is full of apple trees and today they are bowing with their abundant loads. There are many fruit stands along our route selling the early harvest. We don't stop at any though but there is one I wonder about each time we pass it; I took some photos of a young lady at the one stand last year and have always wondered IF she got the photos we mailed to her.
Our road has an expanded width; the new asphalt surface makes our drive much faster and safer but as I've said in the past, it makes our travel less unique. Some of the curves have been straightened and some of the hills have been cut lower to make the roadway safer. As we get nearer the end of this road, we discover it still lacks some distance from completion. We wonder aloud if the surface will be finished by the time winter makes its first appearance. The new built-up road base is in place and so we have a wide gravel surface now, but the asphalt would appear to be weeks or even a month away. There is intermittent rain and that's great for keeping the dust down but not good as it creates mud on the unfinished road surface. However we make it to the end of the road without incident and we discover it's about 30 kilometers of highway yet to be completed.
We've lost our natural light now too; the sun has dropped well below our horizon but Jim presses on. We have a tiny set back in Nevsehir where the roads have been rebuilt (there's a wonderful new overpass and clover leaf at the intersection where we must turn to Goreme, we slipped right by it) but it throws us off only a moment and we're back on track.
We stop at A La Turca Carpet shop in Uchisar before going to the Ottoman house. It's still early and we want to see Tanner about a couple of carpets. Jim and Chelly want one they've seen here before, Carol and I want another we know Tanner has; a friend has asked us to buy them a Taspinar sample piece. Tanner's dad had a collection of these samples at one time and Tanner is now selling them. Tanner is not in the shop; his friend phones him for us, he is on the road driving back from holiday on the south coast. We simply make an appointment to see him first thing in the morning and leave for our hotel.
It's nearing nine o'clock when we arrive at the hotel; there is a light steady rain but nothing to dampen our evening. Yuksel greets us as we bring our bags into the lobby. Jim, Chelly and Carol want to have dinner but I'm not interested at this hour; I find I don't sleep well on a full stomach. With the light rain outside, Yuksel suggests we have dinner here at the hotel, on the roof; he tells us it has been enclosed for the winter months. I decide I can at least be company at dinner and we take our bags to our rooms and meet on the roof for dinner.
I simply order a bowl of local soup and the others get the hotel dinner special. My soup is great (ezogelen) and I ask our host for another bowl of it. The special is called Goreme kabob, but then everything is a kabob in Turkey, HaHaHa; this is a tava (a baked entrée) more than anything, as it comes served in a pottery crock. Carol says the special is very good and Chelly even cleans her serving crock with a slice of bread. After an hour of great food and good company, we decide to meet for breakfast right here again at 7:15 in the morning.
As is my nature, I meet the morning early; our room is filled with daybreak and I'm on my feet. I shower then dress to head for the roof. The air this morning is perfect with just the slightest chill and the clouds off to the east are a beautiful pink. It's nearing 6:30 and once again I sit watching the sunrise over Goreme. The tranquility on this roof in this village is so inviting; I find myself dreaming of living here always!
I'm lost in solitude when, like magic, there they are - the first three balloons of the morning - Anatolian Balloon this time, red and white and rising as if in formation. It won't be long and the sky will be full of balloons but these are my first sightings this morning. Chelly is still talking about all of us ascending one morning in a balloon; the more she mentions it the more I too think it might be great fun.
The sun hasn't yet crested the hilltops to the east but it's just out of view below the horizon because the dawn is gets ever brighter by the minute. The lift in the balloons today seems far swifter than I've noted in the past. Maybe it's the crisp cool morning air; I'm not a flyer so I'll leave that conclusion to you. The blast of flame from each gas release, in each balloon, carries across this landscape like the roar of a distant lion. Then I hear a lone aircraft above it all - I search the sky but don't see anything, there is no contrail to mark the planes location either.
Here comes the sun and just between it and me are another two balloons that seem to be bobbing on the hilltop, first below my line of sight then on the horizon. Now, there go two red, blue and yellow wavy-striped balloons aloft. I've seen all of these balloons before but I can't help but be captivated by them once more.
Goreme is still very quiet; all I hear is the occasional rooster and the gas propelled flame from the balloons overhead as they inject fire into their belly to maintain inflation for flight. Surprise! There are now 4, 5, 6 rising out of the fairy chimney hills just between the horizon and me. These seem to simply materialize by magic. As I watch them, they ascend in totally different speeds and some stop suspended in space while others seem to shot for height records.
The clouds have turned several shades of gray now; the sky above me is crystal clear making my viewing panorama look like hair on a bald head. No matter, my viewing screen is now hung with 14 balloons in multiple colors and they simply seem to be pasted against the sky. The air is so clear; I can hear several people talking in one of the balloons closest to the hotel. My spell is suddenly broken by the arrival of other guests and I bring my thoughts back to the roof.
A young man with a British accent has broken into my serenity; he speaks of the morning air and the sun rise. I tell him how much I really enjoy the first hour of the morning here on the roof. Sadly maybe, I don't pursue a lot of chit-chat; his friend appears and pulls him off into the breakfast area.
Carol comes to the roof shortly after the Brit's friend pulls him away and we too go into breakfast. We're not but a few minutes into the buffet when Jim and Chelly appear. Chelly says Jim is not a morning person; 7:15 is hard for him. As always, breakfast is good and there is plenty for everyone. We eat leisurely and talk of what we'll do today. Our first stop of course will be A La Turca to get the carpets that we've come for. Then we'll be off to Nigde and IF time allows, on to Bor.
With breakfast finished we check-out of our rooms and load the van for our day's adventure. The room was great and we're rested for the day ahead. We thank Yuksel and head out for Uchisar.
We arrive at A La Turca a little earlier than Tanner and the young man in attendance has to run and get him. It's only a few minutes though and Tanner appears; he tells us about his horrific drive back from the coast (curving roads, lots of rain and a friend who does not drive) and says he didn't get in until two in the morning. He immediately offers us tea and we apologize for getting him out at such an early hour. He brushes our apology aside graciously and asks us into the lower floor of the shop to see what we've come for.
We apologized once more about having little time today and Tanner gets right to the pieces we've come to see. Jim and Chelly make their deal and Carol and I begin to look at the pieces we've come to see. Hanging on a couple stacks are two pieces that captivate me thoroughly and I must ask about them. Both pieces are Kayseri/Konya prayer carpets in the 100 to 150 year group; the colors are sharp and the carpets are worn. One of the pieces has little pile left but the color is quite striking. Tanner quotes me a price and it's extremely fair but I'm not here today for these and I simply note their existence for later consideration. The piece that most captivates me would need to be mounted on a backing of burlap or some such material to save the piece from sure disintegration. I'm a firm believer in kismet and should these pieces be mine, they will be here when I return.
Anyway, we looked at a number of carpets in the design we'd come to see and we bought our friend what we thought to be a nice example. We also bought ourselves another large 'old' sample piece. As I've spoken of it before, carpet collecting is a disease (there is no cure); one must simply do what one must do! When a carpet cries out to you for adoption it must be listened to; there are so many carpets and so little time, we must adopt those we can.
With all our business concluded and even business we did not come for, we thank Tanner so much for his time and his hospitality at this early hour. We loaded our pieces and got back on the road to Goreme. Chelly needed to make a stop at Tribal Collections to visit with Ruth for a few minutes; she had to check a funds transfer to be sure Ruth was paid for some carpets a friend purchased weeks ago. All was in order on the funds transfer and we visited with Ruth only a few minutes before getting on with our day's travel plan.
Jim had made arrangements to meet with a lady in Nigde about some carpets he is interested in looking at. The lady had phoned us a couple of times so we could get directions. We got to Nigde about noon and made our way to the city center. We parked by a statue of Ataturk on a horse and waited for the lady to phone us again. As it happened, we were parked immediately outside the lady's building; within seconds after her call, she was at the side of the van.
She rode with us to show us a more appropriate parking space and then we walked with her to her building about a block away. We learn her name is Yildiz (star in English) and once in her building she offers us tea, as is customary for all encounters in this great country. After a bit of conversation and tea she takes us to the roof and showed us the carpets from her warehouse that Jim and Chelly have come all this way to see. The carpets are unrolled on the roof in the beautiful bright sunshine. WOW! These are very lovely and very different carpets; they are very bright colors and bold designs but NOT my type.
Jim and Chelly make a deal for a couple of pieces and we tote them to the street; Jim offers to go for the van and we let him. We see no reason to carry these pieces any further since the van is just up the street and we can load them here when Jim returns. In minutes Jim pulls up next to us and we load the carpets and set off down the street.
We leave Nigde about 3:00 and head home. We've decided to put off our visit to Bor until we have adequate time to explore it fully. We resolve to return here and to Bor on another trip. On our way out of Nigde we see the directional sign for Bor and see it is only 10 kilometers away but press on for home.
We drive home over Caykavak, a mountain our literature says is 1,584 meters high; Carol and I have never been on this route before. It's a very lovely ride, the road winds up the mountain and then back down; we come to Ulukisla in about an hour. We decide we need a rest stop and while stopped Chelly goes off to photograph giant cabbages at a stand out along the highway. The fields along the road in this area are full of cabbages and potatoes. We're ready to get going but Chelly is still gone, so we decide to drive out to the edge of the road. As we get turned around, here comes Chelly with a cabbage almost larger than she can carry; she says look what I got for just 2 Lira! This cabbage must be 18 inches across! It's HUGE.
We make a space for the cabbage on the back seat and finish our trip home;
we wonder collectively what in the world will be done with a cabbage as large
as this one. Then we all talk of ways to devour it!
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Alexandre Vallaury - Architect Alexandre Vallaury was born into a Levantine family in İstanbul in 1850. Apart from the years he spent on architecture education in Paris, he lived in İstanbul for the rest of his life. more...
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