Ellen gave you the history of Cappadocia. Now Alex will give you the story of our trip to the tiny town of Göreme.
Fethiye was a great way to end our Mediterranean adventures. Getting in as much sun and salt water swimming as possible on our last boat cruise left us feeling refreshed and well seasoned. The mini-bus picked us up from our guest house in the afternoon and dropped us at the otogar for our over-night bus to Cappadocia. We had heard a lot of stories about the long-distance buses from travellers we'd met. They had advised us on which companies to take, which to avoid, and when not to fall asleep in case of missing the ice-cream man!
Leaving Fethiye at 7.30pm was the perfect departure time. Watching the sun set behind the vast mountains and pine forests that surround the north-west outskirts, was an absolute gem of a farewell. As it dipped below the horizon, Ellen set about busying herself in attempting to sniff out what treats they had in stall for us, whilst I checked out the on-board entertainment. The Turkish coaches really are just like aeroplanes. Each person has their own touch-screen tv with movies/live TV/music/games, and every couple of hours a steward passes down the aisle offering refreshments and wet-wipes. Ellen fell in love with ours, as he was wearing a gold bow-tie and brought her favourite selection of chocolate-filled biscuits, cakes, herbal tea and sour cherry juice...unfortunately no ice-cream:(
Whilst Ellen attempted to sleep during the 12 hour journey, I was content amusing myself watching an array of Hollywood films in terribly dubbed Turkish. We stopped every couple of hours for either toilet/smoke breaks or so the driver could wash the entire bus (for some reason the Turks have a burning necessity to always drive with a freshly polished bus..) At some stage around 3am we wound up in a bizarre city that was completely lit up with neon lights. We felt like we'd stumbled into the Turkish Las Vegas or something. The only difference was instead of Casinos, bars and hotels, it was still just full of banal commercial businesses like kebab stands, hair dressers and carpet warehouses. We walked around for about 15 minutes to stretch our legs, feeling like moths in a light store...except that every light was mortifyingly scary and making us nauseous.
When we finally reached Göreme we were both ready for a proper sleep. Thankfully the tourist info centre was open and directed us to our hotel. The hotel only had one dorm room and it was converted from a traditional cave dwelling, it was really cool to experience some slightly authentic living. Thankfully our beds were already vacant so we jumped straight in.
Ashwin was from Bangalore, currently completing his phd in the Netherlands. Martino was from Milan, easily discernible as being Italian before he even introduced himself, as he was having a stereotypically elaborate phone conversation with his mother as we walked in. There were three Spanish girls who just sat around talking about godknowswhat, in high-pitched voices faster than the speed of sound. Lastly a Chinese boy, who only referred to himself as 'Orange'. He had travelled all through the Indian sub-continent and middle-east into Turkey, wearing only flip flops.
It wasn't very far to the lookout from our hotel so we arrived there with plenty of time before the balloons took off. Just as the sun began peaking its head over the horizon, a bunch of small dots began to appear in the sky. Then a load more. Within 15 minutes the sky was littered with about 60 hot air balloons. All of a sudden 50 year-old men lugging cameras with 2m lenses began running past us to find perfect vantage points for them to set up their tripods. They definitely had no idea how to use the equipment as they were struggling with the camera settings for about half an hour before they actually started taking photos...(the problem was the lens cap hadn't been removed...ah, oldies and technology). We sat up there for about 3hrs watching the balloons. Breakfast started at 8am so we headed back to the hotel, ate, and then went back to sleep for a couple hours.
An older Korean guy checked into the dorm the next day. He didnt really talk to any of us so we assumed he had possibly missed out on getting a bus ticket before they filled up, so had to wait til tomorrow. This turned out to be the case, except he had also booked himself on the Balloon ride and not set himself an alarm. Like all ageing persons he was able to sleep quite heavily. At 3.30am a Turkish man from a tour agency began storming around our room shining a flashlight in everyone's eyes demanding us to get up immediately if we'd booked a balloon ride. We all groggily stated that the man must've walked into the wrong room. He left, spoke to the receptionist for confirmation of the room number, then waltz back in, once again harassing each of us to get up. The Turkish man kept going back to Orange's bed as the name was obviously an Asian sounding one. We told the driver to go ask the Korean man in the corner. He said he'd already asked, but went and shook him awake once more. "no, no. Go away." We heard the Korean man reply. "its not him. It must be one of you!" The driver demanded. Martino got out of bed. "ok, I'll go on the balloon ride so you stop pestering us". The Korean man sat up. "oooh, did you say Balloon ride? That's me." He started getting noisily changed. We all glared at him in the darkness reaching for the salted cucumbers under our pillows.
|Hasan's tea house in Pigeon Valley - go there!|
As it was currently Ramadan, every evening at 8.15pm (or there abouts) the mosques would project the final prayer of the day, signifying you could now eat and drink again. To reward the community in for their diligent fasting, the mosques set up a banquet for Muslims to enjoy a free meal. Orange took it upon himself to also enjoy this free meal, rocking up and dining with the exhausted locals. It was quite hilarious seeing the tables of turkish men all dressed in their shirts and suit pants, respectfully sharing the communal bread and salad dishes and then seeing Orange rock up in his boardies, singlet and thongs, usually with an opened can of coke already in his hand, and sitting down next to them, scoffing his meal and then heading off. Sometimes if he wasn't in the mood to sit on the hard plastic chairs outside the mosque, instead preferring to lounge on the hotel couches with us, he would waltz down, ask for them to package the meal take away and then eat it in comfort in front of us. He truly was a special one.
We could easily have stayed another week in Göreme, but we wanted to keep exploring other areas of Turkey's vast countryside, and I had smashed my jaw on the bed frame, chipping my tooth, so needed medical attention from a Dentistry office that wasn't built into a cave. So we booked an overnight bus to Pamukkale and jetted off.