Kayaköy, Lycian Coast, Turkey

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Norma from Perma Ranch outside of Feythie on the Mediterranean Coast of Turkey is a true horse lover. She takes small groups on day and week long riding excursions from Perma Ranch. Norma is British. She fell in love with this part of Turkey while on vacation here and decided to move.
She led us to the deserted city of Kayaköy in the town of Kaya. On the ride there, we passed lots of small farms, stone fences and family run restaurants. We also passed Roman tombs and had the chance to do a short canter down some suitable roads. Kayaköy was once a town inhabited by thousands of Anatolian Greeks.

The Greeks were forced to abandon it during the population exchange agreement between the Greeks and Turks in the 1920′s. Norma talked about this book, “Birds Without Wings,” which I really want to read after riding through Kayaköy. It’s really eerie to ride through this large deserted town. The people that lived here were forced to leave their homes and lives in Turkey, taking basically what they could carry, and head for Greece.

karakoy-733254We rode through the old cobblestone paths. We tied up our horses and hiked up to a church further up in the town, where Norma described a bit more about what life might have been like here. I could imagine the activity. Children running up and down the hills, flowers outside of the windows of the homes.

For dinner we headed to a local kebab place, where we were able to grill our own food by the table. It was really good, especially after a long day on the trails.

Learn more about Equitrekking on PBS and the Turkey episodes and learn about exceptional equestrian vacations, including Cappadocia equestrian vacations, at EquitrekkingTravel.com.

Avanos, Turkey

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We are based in Avanos for our riding in the area and staying at the lovely Kirkit Pension, a destination where travelers on the EquitrekkingTravel.com Turkey: Cappadocia with Istanbul equestrian vacation may stay. There is great food, live entertainment and a charming courtyard.

Every Friday in Avanos, there is a large market where everything from fruits and vegetables to carpets to spices to household items are sold, so we took a break from the saddle to check it out. Ahmet took us fruit shopping. Now, this is a small town and the market was amazing and huge. The produce was beautiful.

avanosmarketwithAhmet-726372Ahmet introduced me to a woman from a surrounding village who was at the market to sell her produce. She is Alevis, a people whose faith is related to Islam as well as other traditions. There are millions of Alevi in Turkey. Ahmet could recognize her religion and the village where she lives by her dress. I do not know much about the Alevi, so was interested to hear about them and their beliefs.

After the market, we ventured to meet an Avanos’ potter, who specializes in making musical instruments from clay, including the Udu drum. His shop and work center was really neat. He even performed for us, with an impromtu jam session.
Avanos is a big pottery making center in Turkey. By the banks of the longest river in Turkey, which runs through Avanos, potters get red clay that they use to make their pottery. They have done this for a long time.

Learn more about Equitrekking on PBS and the Turkey episodes and learn about exceptional equestrian vacations, including Cappadocia equestrian vacations, at EquitrekkingTravel.com.

Chavusin Village, Turkey

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Today, Ahmet and I went riding in Chavusin Village on our Cappadocia horseback riding vacation. Chavusin is not too far from Avanos. Before we even began the ride, I was able to experience more of the generosity of people in Turkey. Everywhere that we have traveled, people are always inviting us over for tea or Ayran, a yogurt drink that is very popular here. We have witnessed the Turkish people being very generous to each other as well. Granted, we are not traveling on the main tourist routes. We are seeing villages and natural setting where we are the only tourists. It is pretty neat.

Chavusin’s old rock homes and churches are carved into a large high, cliff. They are situated in what looks almost like a castle. We were able to ride up on top of these dwellings, stopping below the St. John the Baptist Church from the 7th century. Above us there were also these cubbyholes carved into the rocks. These are what the locals call pigeon houses. They paint the rocks around these indentations red to attract pigeons to these spaces. The locals collect the pigeon droppings and use them for fertilizer.

We took a break after riding to have some tasty Turkish tea and I did a little shopping. I purchased two really neat necklaces and had my first trial in the sport of bargaining. I am pretty sure that I paid way too much. I have heard that in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, they raise the prices for tourists by two and a half! I unfortunately was in a time crunch and didn’t feel like haggling too much, but will be sure to be a bit tougher on my next purchases.

Learn more about Equitrekking on PBS and the Turkey episodes and learn about exceptional equestrian vacations, including Cappadocia equestrian vacations, at EquitrekkingTravel.com.

Kiliclar Valley, Cappadocia

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The scenery changed on our horseback ride through Kiliclar Valley on our way to the Red and Rose Valleys (Gulludere and Kizilcukur) in Cappadocia, Turkey. Here there are white ice cream cone formations and narrow passageways between the white domed rocks. Our horses took the sometimes challenging rocky terrain with stride, much more surefooted than I would have been on these trails.

The lookout point over the Red and Rose Valleys wowed me, and Ahmet said it was one of his favorite spots as well. It was late afternoon, so the sun was at a perfect point in the sky to illuminate the soft, pastel colors of the valley. The colors and rock formations reminded me a bit of some of the more spectacular areas of the American West, except that we were in Turkey and below us a woman was driving a horse cart, which she used to haul produce from her farm to her house. For many people in Turkey, the term horsepower still holds true.

We headed down a path into the Rose Valley, where we were able to canter along a flat straight trail through a series of rock covered passageways. In this valley, there are a myriad of hidden churches. It was exhilarating for us, and the horses were glad to pick up the pace as well. I would certainly sleep well tonight and look forward to exploring again tomorrow.

Learn more about Equitrekking on PBS and the Turkey episodes and learn about exceptional equestrian vacations, including Cappadocia equestrian vacations, at EquitrekkingTravel.com.

Baglidere Fairy Chimneys, Turkey

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We continued our trek through with Ahmet through Baglidere Valley in Cappadocia, where there are skyscraper tall fairy chimneys. We gave our horses a break here to have lunch in the shade of a tree. There aren’t a ton of trees in this part of Cappadocia and the sun can be intense in the summer. I was happy to have cold water and lots of Turkish food for our picnic lunch on the trails. We munched on juicy melon, homemade bread stuffed with cheese- a type of Turkish pizza- thin bread topped with cooked lamb, tomatoes and various spices and of course, Turkish tea.

People are so friendly and generous in this part of Turkey. A man who owns a nearby vineyard offered our horses water on the trails. After our horses drank, we rode over to an apricot tree, where we picked sweet apricots from the branches, before continuing our trek.

Learn more about Equitrekking on PBS and the Turkey episodes and learn about exceptional equestrian vacations, including Cappadocia equestrian vacations, at EquitrekkingTravel.com.