Hiking with Brooks in Zelve

We had been looking forward to going to Cappadocia since before we even sold our house. We saw a photo and, in our best Liz Lemon impersonations said, “I want to go to there.” So we did. After a few days orienting ourselves in Trabzon, we took a night bus to Göreme, in the very center of Turkey. (The night bus itself is another story for another time.)


Nazar boncuğu (amulet to protect against the

Besides the epic hot air balloon ride at dawn, we also were able to get our Indiana Jones on. We hiked through dusty canyons and scorched ridge lines and felt our skin cringe and shrivel under the relentless sun. We climbed up and into and through only a few dozen of what must be thousands and thousands of cave homes and churches carved into the soft and strangely eroded volcanic rock. It was exhausting and exhilarating and we always stumbled back to our hostel completely filthy.

An olive bush above Rose Valley


A ruined church

Wildflowers near Goreme

Wildflowers near Goreme

Tony and Brooks meet

On one of our hikes near Rose Valley, I had wandered off to stare at some wildflowers, as I am wont to do, and when I returned to the spot where I left Tony, he had already made friends with Brooks From Atlanta. We took each others’ photos and exchanged email addresses and went our separate ways. Later that evening, Brooks saw us having dinner in town and we made plans to meet up the following day and hike through the abandoned cave city of Zelve.

Zelve was inhabited by Muslims and Christians (mostly simultaneously) for over 1,500 years before the citizens were evacuated from their increasingly unstable cave homes in the 1950s. Today you can hike through the three valleys on the nice government-installed footpath, or you can be a little more intrepid and blaze your own trail.

Brooks and Tony starting our hike in the abandoned cave city of Zelve.

Starred Agama lizard.  (I think.)

The little holes across the valley on the right are dove cotes.

Other than the sunbathing lizards and the flocks of swallows and martins zipping through the air like mini fighter jets, we mostly had the whole place to ourselves.



The ladder cut into the rock has worn away to almost nothing.

More dove cotes.  We read that the entrances were decorated to attract the doves.

Inside a dwelling

Climbing up

The red shorts are the source of his power


Spider friend

A tree grows from the ceiling

See the light at the end of the tunnel?  You don't want to know how they got up there.

Tony and Brooks find another ladder to climb

We're the best three friends that anybody can have…


As you are reading this, Brooks From Atlanta is now Brooks From New York City, since he just moved there to go to law school. It’s so great when we cross paths with people who can share our adventures with us for a day or two. Those are the best days of all.