One would have thought that we'd have learnt our lesson about visiting popular tourist sites at noon but evidently we had not. I suppose one is quick to forget the crappy parts of an excursion. We'd decided to visit the open air museum of Göreme, like fools, on one of the hottest days since we'd been in Turkey, at noon.
First I should probably mention why Göreme is special and why every single visitor to Cappadocia will probably visit it before visiting anywhere else: it is central, and confirmed to be one of the oldest sites in the region. According to my Cappadocia guide it was mentioned in a book from the 7th century (called The Doings of St Heiron). The open-air museum is a closed-off region that you buy a ticket to enter and it is dense with caves, many of them churches, and nearly all lined with ancient frescoes that were painted from the 6th century onwards. That's very old, and people love old churches.
Perhaps we were still spoilt from the multitude of activities on the day before because we found this museum to be very hard work. After queuing to get in, one has to queue again to get into the individual caves and it was filled with the bad kind of tourist who are pushy and selfish.
For the first time we'd decided to get the audio guide which we shared (hoping that it would offer more satisfying explanations). Scott wasn't that into the idea but eventually agreed to it. Thanks also to the blazing unbearable heat we'd panicked and bought a cheap hat for each of us so that we wouldn't roast off our heads and faces. Between the audio guides, Scott's backpack, the cameras hanging off our necks and the stupid hats, we had become terrifying perfect tourists. (pic of me by Scott)
The audio guide was comically bad. It had a slow-talking British announcer who painfully mispronounced Cappadocia each time. I was sure that Scott was going to crack under the circumstances any moment and insist on leaving and waiting for me in the car park but he held it together very well. Scott is a highly patient person but he has his limits. We measure Scott's ability to go on in a museum in what we call his 'museum calories'. He has a limited amount of museum calories and each time someone shoves into us or we have to queue to see something, the calorie depletion rate rises rapidly. Once there are no more calories, you'd better be ready to beat it out there in a hurry or risk a crisis. Calories may be topped up with beer (in some cases), or a quiet and cool place to sit that has internet access. But not a whole lot else. I think Göreme came dangerously close to running him into a calorie deficit..
In all our sightseeing in Cappadocia so far we'd felt frustrated at the lack of information provided about what we were seeing. There are a lot of information placards that have been translated from Turkish to English (albeit poorly… Turklish?) but nearly all of them are focussed on informing us of the religious meaning behind the sites rather than the historical or geological. For example, telling me that Saint Joe is said to have passed through this valley is far less useful than explaining, for example, that people from Iran and Saudi Arabia migrated through in the xyzth century. We'd bought a little book to try and get around this and have more info, but it turned out to be fairly limited in its information and also written in Turklish. Göreme was no different in these challenges, and the information was far too vague and religiously detailed in spite of having rented the audio guide. Ok: we know where these people worship and we know where they store their food and bury their dead. But where do they actually live? There were so many churches, honestly nearly every site within the Göreme open-air museum is a church.
After leaving the open air museum we decided to walk the 3km back to our hotel instead of getting a taxi. It was very hot but a beautiful day and we loved our walk (thank goodness we had the stupid hats). We got a fantastic view of Göreme's valley and there were no other people anywhere to be found, which was blissful. We detoured on the way home and so ended up walking a fair bit longer, and got slightly lost but in the good way. Eventually we found our way back to our village, stopped for lunch and some fresh cherries and then made it back to the Hezen, where we vegetated blissfully for the rest of the day and watched the sun go down over the castle on our last night in magical Cappadocia.