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    Posted June 25, 2014 by
    Goreme, Turkey
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Travel photo of the day

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    A Winter's Day Hike in Cappadocia

    The first time I visited the Cappadocia region of Turkey was in the summer of 2008. On that visit, I met some locals who invited me back. In the December of 2008, I decided to take them up on their offer and spent a week staying with them in the small village of Göreme .

    On a cold, blustery winter’s day, my friend Şahin suggested we go on a hike through Güvercinlik (Pigeon) Valley. It’s a 4km trail between the villages of Göreme and Uçhisar and a very easy and enjoyable walk but with skies threatening, I thought he was crazy to want to go out. But, in the back of my mind, I was thinking that going on winter’s day walk in Cappadocia, with a local resident, was not something that I would likely get to do again so I finally agreed to go.

    Şahin packed food for a picnic lunch and along with his friend, Ersin, we set out. It really was not exactly a picture perfect day for a hike - it was cold and blustery and there was the occasional drizzle. But, one look at the surreal landscape that is unique to Cappadocia and I was completely let go of any discomfort I might have had.

    With every step, there were spectacular views of the fairy chimneys, natural cliffs, hand hewned dovecotes, caves and even a few tunnels carved into the rock. The trees had long lost their leaves, making the strange looking white rocks stand out even more against the sky. Occasionally, we would stop just to take in a vista. For treats, we picked wild grapes, which were as sweet as sugar. Berries, naturally dried on bushes, also helped tie us over until our picnic lunch.

    By the time we made it to the end of the trail, it was late afternoon. The sun was already beginning to set. I don’t know what it is about the winter sky but the colors were so intense - shades of deep pink, orange and red. At times, it looked like the hills were on fire. As day gave way to night, the temperatures dropped. We sought shelter in a cave as we waited for our ride to come pick us up. Seeing the landscape and the lights of the villages in the distance was just magical.
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