After my nap I went out to see the town on my own. Tours are quite popular in Kapadokya, but it’s possible to see all of the sights oneself (I’ll explain tomorrow why you might want to consider at least one tour, however). One easy place to get to in Göreme is what you probably came there for in the first place, the Open Air museum. This is a UNESCO site containing the remnants of monasteries and other buildings built over a thousand years ago. Rooms were carved out of the naturally soft rock occuring in that region. The obvious thing for the monks to do at this point was to cover the walls and ceilings of these rooms with amazing, amazing frescos. I’ll let the pictures do the talking from here.
Stop being fresco with me. (groan)
It’s 15 TL to enter the museum, and another 8 for the special Dark Church. I went to both since that was the main thing I was doing that day. The frescos in the Dark Church have been preserved more because of less light there.
After the museum I figured it was time for a tea-break. I had looked online for any live music in Göreme. There really wasn’t much happening, especially in the off-season. I DID however, find this webpage and video: http://www.captivatingcappadocia.com/tag/nazar-borek-gozleme-cafe/
Figuring from this that the owner, Refik, seemed like the sort of unabashed music lover that would know what was happening, I headed over to Nazar Borek cafe to see what was going on. I didn’t pull any punches and asked about the music scene right away, at which point Refik pulled a saz off the wall and started playing. After this enthusiastic, if rough around the edges, start, I explained that I love Turkish music and play some of it myself. This prompted Refik to thrust the saz into my hands and say, okay, you have to play, and I will sing. I explained that my instrument was trumpet, and I was even a worse saz player than he was claiming to be (he preferred percussion instruments, which I also am terrible at). I offered to sing and let HIM play. We performed an impromptu “Gel, yanıma, gel” and “Penceresi yola karşı” for the other 3 folks in the cafe. It was fun and definitely the sort of thing I really want to do while traveling. He told me that he had bought a property outside town and that he was aiming for it to be a sort of artists/musicians’ and music lover’s hang. My friend is going to Turkey this summer, so I told Refik I’d send him along to jam and check it out.
His brother owned a carpet shop up the street, so I headed over to get the rundown on what made the various types of carpets unique. I had read about the shop online as well as the “education” you get from friendly sellers, so I was looking forward to this. I think he could tell that I was a broke college student, so no tea was offered and he showed me many carpets (all of which were huge and much bigger/more expensive than anything I’d be able to consider buying, as I told him), but you could tell he was not super excited. I guess I don’t blame him, although I DID end up buying a very small carpet somewhere else (with a better price, more willing to haggle, and more friendly. What can I say?). I learned a lot about the various patterns and designs of carpets from different regions. Carpets at the shops in town hailed not just from the local area, but from other regions of Turkey, and even Iran, Turkmenistan, and Afghanistan! I thought it was kind of curious, why would you want to buy something that’s not the local style. Apparently Göreme has some history as a crossing-point for traders, so that’s why all the carpet shops sprung up there. And of course there are tourists to buy them which certainly helps.
Of course I also wanted to check out some music. Again, as Refik mentioned, there wasn’t much going on in town. There’s a restaurant in town, Göreme restaurant, which usually has stuff going on but because of the winter season they didn’t have music when I was there. I headed to some CD shops instead. The first one I went to was okay, but there wasn’t anything that was totally exciting me, and the guy who was there was rather disinterested and didn’t know much about the music. This was a small place just down the street from a pide place which was one of the few places open. It’s also very close to a cafe where a ton of local dudes were outside smoking and drinking tea, and across the street from a little produce setup.
I headed back toward the center of town, and a few doors down from the Rose souvenir shop (heck this place might even be part of it) was another CD shop. THIS place was really great and the owner was super enthusiastic. It was definitely the best CD shop I went to in Turkey. The owner had burned every CD he was selling onto his computer, so you could point to a CD and a track and he’d bring it up and play it for you. Awesome! I found lots of artists I never heard of before, and learned that this CD of music I chanced upon recently on the internet, “Fanatik Ankaralılar 3”, is really representative of the area, it’s what’s played at weddings/parties there, and even on some radio stations. I decided to go for the holy grail and ask about a singer I really like but have never found any CDs of on the internet, Hülya Yıldız. He wasn’t familiar with her, but was excited to learn about a new person he didn’t know. We found a record he had with a song of hers on there which my pal in LA kindly has translated for us
This isn’t a joke.
The owner got really excited by this new artist and immediately used his computer to search the internet for videos of Hülya Yıldız using a certain website that may or may not be legal to use in Turkey. I picked up a couple CDs of Anatolian music for 15-20 TL each and that of a fusion project out of Istanbul, and left singing “Dar geldi sana Ankara” with the owner. Any time I passed by the shop he waved to me. Highly recommended!
After this I headed back to the hotel to try their hamam and eat dinner. I’ll get to hamam in a subsequent post. Dinner was not great there, I would have eaten in town, but didn’t feel like hiking back. Oh well. They served wine as well at the hotel, which was really excellent.