After a memorable two nights in Cappadocia it was now time to move onto our next destination on the Topdeck Turkey Explored Tour, today we are heading to the conservative city of Konya for an overnight stop. Along the way we will also make a stop at a Cappadocian ceramic factory and explore one of the famous underground cities at Kaymakli with a local guide.
Cappadocia to Konya – 11 September, 2013
This morning we are up early to check out of our hotel and head on the bus for our next journey onto the town of Konya. Our first stop for the day was just a short trip around the corner from the hotel to a local ceramic factory where various items from plates, jugs, mugs and all sorts of ceramic items are created and hand painted ready to be shipped off to places such as the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul.
We were greeted by the man running the factory, he then gave us a guided tour explaining the process of making a plate from the beginning to when it is fired in the kiln right down to when it is painted and then finished for sale. We were also given a demonstration on how a clay pot is created on a pottery wheel while drinking Turkish Tea.
As we were taken around the rest of the factory we were shown where the items are hand decorated, the slow process can take a number of years depending on the item that is being hand painted with the same artist starting the process having to finish it no matter how long it takes. At the conclusion of the tour, like all tours such as this we are taken to the shop which was full of thousands of items to choose from which have all been created locally. A swarm of about 5 salespeople come out from nowhere but you are free to just look around the shop at your own pace without being pressured to buy anything.
Next was another short drive to one of the areas many underground cities, Kaymakli Underground City is an amazing nine levels underground with four of these levels accessible to tourists for a 15 Lira entrance fee. It is well worth going down and checking it out, for me however it was a bit of a difficult adventure considering I am well over 6 foot tall and I could not stand up straight in any room unless it contained an air shaft to the surface, on top of that my head was spinning a little still from the previous night.
Don’t wear your good clothes today as there are quite a number of small spaces that require you to crawl through and it is quite dirty and dusty down there. We were taken around the many rooms and tunnels and were told what each room was used for, the entire first level was purely for animals to be stored with remnants of stables and holes for water still present.
This is a truly impressive part of Cappadocia and a must see if you come to the region, it shows what sort of conditions the people at the time were living under, and how short these people must have been (or at least no giants like me were living in the area at the time). Outside the entrance is a small market area which also includes a few food and beverage stalls, you will get a bit of time to explore and get something to drink if you wish. After we are done here it is now time for the journey on towards the city of Konya.
We arrived in Konya in the early evening and checked into the Selcuk Hotel which had only just been refurbished and been open for a few days, score new hotel! It was a pretty nice hotel and right in the centre of the city with the rooms being quite large and containing the best bathrooms of any hotel we stayed in on this trip.
Tonight it was up to us to sort out our own dinner so a small group of us met in the lobby and decided to go for a walk around the city to try and find somewhere to go for dinner while checking out the sites. There isn’t really much to see in Konya, the main attraction being the large park near our hotel and a museum devoted to the whirling dervishes. We check out the park and then headed down some of the side streets to see what we could grab to eat.
Little did we know that we were about to have one of those moments that you will never forget on your trip. While walking down the street as many people do when they own a restaurant they stand out the front trying to attract your business with this guy speaking perfect English advertising his restaurant to us. So we thought why not we have been wondering around for a while let’s just eat here.
The restaurant owner introduced himself to us and wanted to know where we were all from, the five or six of us were all from various cities around Australia, once hearing where we all were from he proclaimed how he loved Australia and goes there all the time, reciting many suburbs in each city that a local would only know about.
With his excitement and friendly nature in mind we though we would ask him what we can see or do tonight as we are only here for one night. He told us that after we have finished eating he will give us a map and show us where we can go to see more of the city. Once we had finished he came over with a map and a small plastic bag and told us to follow him outside, he then took us around the corner and down the street which at this point started to feel a bit suss.
We were then taken inside a rug shop which had a few guys working inside the shop, as we entered he told these guys to leave and he then proudly proclaimed that he owned this rug shop and for us to take a seat. He then whipped out his map and started drawing on it suggested routes for us to take when walking back to the hotel to see more of the city, then out comes this mysterious bag he is carrying with him…
Out comes an Australian flag stubby holder and an Australian flag head rest along with a pile of photos. He then goes on to say “see I love Australia” and starts showing us all his travel photos of Australia and him standing in front of many Australian icons. It was reminiscent of being taken to your grandmas house and being shown her travel photos when you really are not that interested at all.
Then the moment we had been waiting for came around where he started showing us his rugs and spreading them out on the floor while rattling off prices, we all looked at each other trying to figure out our escape plan. After a few attempts of saying we have to go we were given the saddest face ever as if we just grabbed a little puppy dog and held a revolver up to its head in front of him, but he was good about it and let us go on our way.
We then checked out the rest of the city, it is a dry city so no alcohol is sold anywhere, but that doesn’t stop the nightlife with many cafes open all hours of the night with music pumping and neon lights flashing. You will also be encouraged to buy a few supplies from the supermarket tonight as the trip tomorrow to Fethiye is a long day on the bus.