Saturday, November 22, 2014

Turkey and Georgia: Ephesus, Pamukkale, Cappadocia, and Tbilisi

I left off in Ephesus and so much has happened since then, obviously, since I haven't updated in approximately one million years. Natural wonders, overnight transit, Steve getting hit on in a toilet, arriving in Georgia at 3:30 in the morning, eating the best food of my life...umm, I thought I could complain about gaining weight in Greece, but I ate everything in town in Georgia. It was nuts. Literally. Walnuts are in everything.
Library of Celsus, Ephesus
The ruins of Ephesus, an ancient Greek city, is an archaeological site near the town of Selcuk in Turkey. We flew from Istanbul to Izmir, a one hour flight, and then took the train directly from the airport to Selcuk. Selcuk itself is kind of a nice little place, and there was free Turkish breakfast at our hostel. Our first night, I ate way too many roasted garbanzo beans and had the worst stomachache ever. Lesson learned. (Not really.)

Ephesus is about 3 kilometers from town, so we walked there and spent a lot longer than anticipated wandering around the ruins. The next day, we planned to take a bus to the city of Denizli three hours away, drop our backpacks off at the bus station, take a minibus to Pamukkale, return to Denizli, and take an overnight bus to Goreme in Cappadocia. Things that went wrong: I got a speck of dirt stuck in my eye and Steve had to lift up my eyelid and get it out with a tissue, some middle-aged guy in the bus station bathroom tried to entice Steve into spending some quality time in a stall together, and the bus ticket seller gave us tickets for the wrong day, which we didn't notice until about an hour into our journey when the bus stopped and they were considering kicking us out in the middle of nowhere.
Anyway, it all worked out in the end somehow. We got to see the surreal landscape of Pamukkale (white terraces formed by limestone deposits from hot springs) at sunset and even slept on the overnight bus a little bit.
Sitting on a weird rock
Goreme, the town we stayed in Cappadocia, looks like something out of a storybook. Cappadocia is famous for its fairy chimneys, many of which were long ago hollowed out to make homes. It's hard to believe that the rock formations are natural--they are so weird! 
We spent probably seven hours hiking, it was pretty grand. I must be getting old, because I was really tired for the next few days. Or maybe it was because we had to get up early, fly to Istanbul, wander around for ten hours, then fly to Tbilisi in the middle in of the night and sleep at the airport until 7 am when the buses started running.

Naturally, we were very, very tired when we got to Tbilisi. The lady at the information desk said it was fine to sleep wherever, so we got our sleeping mats out and slept on this fake grass area underneath an escalator. Steve wanted to stay there until probably noon, but I made him get up because really? Why would you sleep at an airport any longer than necessary?

The bus into town was the oldest, most crowded bus I've ever been on. Just when you thought another person couldn't possibly fit, the bus would stop and let someone else on. We took a long nap once we got to our hostel and then went out to a brewery for some food and beer (and vodka). 
 Georgian is one of the best cuisines in the world until it gives you a heart attack, probably. There's a lot of bread and cheese, but there are also a lot of vegetable salads. It's very vegetarian-friendly, especially since lots of restaurants will have a "fasting menu"--Georgia is mostly Orthodox Christian and they have a fasting period, which doesn't mean not eating at all, but rather not eating meat, eggs, or dairy.

Two of the most popular dishes are khachapuri and khinkali. There are various varieties of khachapuri, which is bread stuffed with cheese and possibly other things. We were most excited to try the cheese and egg one, which has some butter melted into it for good measure. Khinkali are dumplings filled with meat, vegetables, or cheese. The way to eat them is to hold the doughy top part and stuff the dumpling in your mouth in two bites. Then, you discard the doughy knob. No one wants a doughy knob.

There are no Georgian restaurants in Seattle that I know of, but if you want to try some Georgian food there is a very good food cart in Portland called Kargi Gogo.
A grand introduction to a grand city
Back to our first day in Tbilisi. We were still dead tired after our dinner so we decided to go back to the hostel. But first, we stopped at a bar because I wanted to try some Georgian wine. We got talking to an English guy who was living Tbilisi and he told us about a show happening that night at a club underneath the Ferris wheel on the hill: Daddy G from Massive Attack was doing a DJ set! Obviously I insisted we attend. It was AMAZIN.

Next time on The Most Shoddy Blog In the World: more Tbilisi, naps, food, and flights!

1 comment:

  1. Ack! Too soon to hear "I must be getting old" from your mouth!