Ghost Village Escape

Today’s tour started by driving back up the hill we had taken to The Olive Garden yesterday… I wasn’t best impressed, but we had booked this tour to see the ghost village so stuck with it while the bus stopped at several laybys for photo stops… Everyone piled out and had a go at taking a better photo than the one they had seen in the brochure when booking the holiday…

The days excursions were catching up on me, and as much as she hated to admit it, Aimi too. After her telling me off for wanting to take it easy, I caught her head lolling to one side sleepily on the bus.

Finally we got to Butterfly Valley and stopped for some tea in a locals shop. Here was a very nice terrace looking out over the valley. It was covered by a metal frame which had a grape vine trained up over it providing cool dappled shade. There were literally thousands of little grapes hanging down, ripening in the sun. We drank some sweet apple tea before moving on. That was the sole purpose of driving up here.

Now we were headed for the ghost village and Ferit (Ferret) gave us a very detailed historical account of what happened here. This is what I understood of the history ( but by no means use this rambling idiots blog as the basis for your school report…)

At end of WW1 Greek army was close to occupying the capital of Turkey and the Turkish Royal family did not protest. A famous general in the Turkish army disobeyed the Royals and took his own army to fight back. This started a war between the Turks and Greeks and meant that eventually when a peace treaty was signed, there was a lot of bad feeling between the resident Greeks in Turkey and visa versa. Part of the treaty was the return of their citizens. Over 1 million Greeks had to leave their homes and return to Greece and over 500 thousand Turks came back to Turkey. This meant huge towns across Turkey became deserted, like this one we were seeing, in 1922.

This was a shock to me because I thought the ruins looked hundreds if not thousands of years old. Certainly the technology the guide was describing, of having flat roofs to collect rain water channelled into big underground tanks because there was no running water or sewage, seemed ancient. This all happened barely 100 years ago and means that recently, living descendants have started to return.

The reason it had a nickname the “ghost” village is because when the Greeks left, they thought they would be back after a short while. They literally left their lives in place and walked out carrying only the essentials. We were told that it was quite dangerous travelling around this time because of the ongoing war so they hid and buried their jewellery in their homes. Later, ghostly torches and lights flickering up in the village were spotted. This was from the few that returned as they hunted for their treasures by night. 

The tour guide was good but whipped us around only the bottom level of the hillside that was covered in ruins. In about 30 mins we had arrived, had our “tour” and were being ushered back into the bus. This was ridiculous so we left the group and stayed for lunch in a local restaurant. We sat cross legged on raised wooden platforms on cushions and ate olives, bread and salad under the trees. Away from the sweaty, noisy and uneducated masses, we were able to actually relax and enjoy the place.

We walked up and around the abandoned village on our own exploring the houses. This was much better and more like what I enjoy while travelling, exploring at my own pace. They had all collapsed to some extent but the doorways and windows were visible. So too were bits of the red and blue painted walls and the water tanks that each house had. It was really fun imagining what the place looked like Back In The Day™.

I don’t think they would have had camels, but never the less, there were some chilling out at the side of the road waiting to give rides. They had fluffy beige afros and floppy lips and amazingly flexible necks that they swished around to frighten away flies. They were a bit intimidating being so large, but I remembered Terry Pratchetts description of them and laughed.

We were back at the hotel by 4 and at last had a chance to relax by the pool. Its nothing special, the pool, but after walking around the hot dusty ruins, it was like dunking my body into ice cold vanilla milkshake. I could just feel my body temperature slowly coming down from boiling point and my poached brain-egg relaxing. We sat around by the pool till it was dinner time and then had an early night, to tired to do anything more.