Avanos and Paşadağ

March 22, 2015

Not snowing today, but still no balloon ride. The roofs were all white with snow from last night, but the weather forecast is for higher temperatures… in a few days, when we won’t be here any more. After breakfast we went down the hill—carefully, because there was ice on the roads—to the otogar to catch the bus to Avanos, the larger town just up the road. We had to wait about half an hour for the bus to arrive, but then it was only a short trip and we arrived in Avanos about 11 am.

Avanos is a centre for pottery, so every other shop had ceramics for sale. Rosemary had researched one of them on TripAdvisor, so we walked out of the town centre through the auto-repair district to find it. Its display rooms were a series of caves; the ceramics were brightly coloured and intricately patterned, obviously of very high quality. We spent quite a while in there and even had a cup of apple tea as we browsed. But the prices were much higher than expected and neither of us saw anything which said “Buy me”, so we said thanks and good-bye.

Avanos sculpture

Avanos sculpture

Back in the town centre there were many places with much cheaper pots, but we didn’t even bother looking at those. Instead we caught the bus back to Çavuşin, a small town on the way to Göreme, to do some walking. At the entrance to the town was another rock-cut church, Çavuşin Kilise, so we stopped to have a look at that. We climbed up the steps, paid our admission of ₺8 each, and then climbed another flight of steps into the main cave church. It was built over 1,000 years ago, and like the other cave churches the frescoes depicted the same biblical stories and had been defaced. The frescoes were faded and very close together, so they were hard to decipher.

Çavuşin Kilise

Çavuşin Kilise

Next to the church was a set of cave-dwelling rooms which were open to the public. It was quite awkward climbing from one room to the next, but people would have done that routinely when they lived here.

Byzantine frescoes

Byzantine frescoes

Çavuşin old town

Çavuşin old town

From here we planned to walk to the fairy chimneys at Paşadağ, which was not far away. First we walked into the centre of Çavuşin, where there were numerous market stalls. We stopped at one stall and ended up buying three pillow covers. The vendor could speak some English and some French, and he pointed us in the right direction to find the trail to Paşadağ. He said the trail had lots of ups and downs, and we said that was fine with us.

Paşadağ fairy chimneys

Paşadağ fairy chimneys

So off and up we went, into the badlands. The trail was actually marked quite well, with red and white trail markings, so finding our way through the chimneys was fairly easy. These chimneys were more like our hoodoos, with caps of harder rock still on top. On several of them we could see door openings high above the ground level. The trail had only a couple of tricky spots where we had to be careful, but overall it was fun to walk along. (The local rock looks like slippery mud but actually isn’t.) After about an hour we came out of the badlands to find ourselves above the fairy chimneys of Paşadağ with tourists looking up at us. But the trail carried on for a while, finally dropping us just up the road from Paşadağ.

View over Paşadağ

View over Paşadağ

Paşadağ was a busy place, with tour buses and souvenir stands galore. We bought some things for lunch and then had a look at the fairy chimneys. They are cool-looking, even more peculiar than the other rock pillars in the area. There were also cave dwellings here, but they weren’t anything special.

Camel rides available

Camel rides available

Paşadağ jandarma (police) station

Paşadağ jandarma (police) station

After lunch we wandered around the site for a while before deciding to head back. We found the return trail quite easily with the help of the GPS (and the maps from OpenStreetMap showing the local trails). This trail led down to a path, which led to a side road through the orchards and back to Çavuşin. This time we went through the town without stopping and out the same dirt road we had been on yesterday while looking for the Rose Valley. So the trip back to Göreme was quick and easy, especially since the weather was much better.

Back at the hotel we had tea in the lounge, and one of the staff came over with some good news. When we had gone to re-book our balloon trip this morning, it had been fully booked so they put us on a wait list. But somebody must have cancelled, so now we were on the list for tomorrow morning. We hadn’t expected that! When dinner-time rolled around we had dinner at the hotel, rather than going out. It’s slightly more expensive but the food is definitely good.

Next: Ballooning and Walking

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