Turkey for me conjures up this exotic image, a diverse land with such diverse history, culture and people. Yet Jady and I became the exotic this vast land, we got stared at constantly… Never knew I had such people stopping star power!
It took us a good few hours after we landed in Istanbul to get around, first we went to the train station, according to my research there’s an overnight train from there to Ankara, then a bus from there to Cappadocia, our destination. The information people at the station were quite confusing, then we found out there were no more trains to Ankara that day, or the tickets were sold out. So the next option is a direct bus, much less comfortable than a sleeper train, but it’ll get us there, which at that point, is all we wanted. We made our even more confusing way to the otogar (bus depot), the otogar at Istanbul is the mother of all bus depots, with a few hundred shops all hassling you, selling tickets and running buses nonestop, it’s a wonder how the place even stays organised. After asking 2 shops, we found there’s only 1 company in the whole depot that runs buses to Cappadocia, we headed there, got our tickets and had our first kebap while counting down the hours to our first of 3 overnight bus journeys. The kebap was crap, Sydney kebabs are much better…
The bus surprisngly enough didn’t contain much tourists, the passengers were mostly Turks. After 11 hours of involuntary head bobbing and swaying we finally arrived in Cappadocia, changed to a mini bus and got to Goreme. The overnight buses in Turkey are mostly excellent, an attendant brings water ever few hours, tea, coffee and cake are offered either at the beginning of the trip or at the end, frequent toilet/smoke stops keeps the passengers sane through the night.
The strange landscapes at Cappadocia
After we decided on the hostel, we freshened up and headed to a tour of some of the local sights. For your information, Cappadocia means beautiful horse country, yes really. Cappadocia is surrounded by 3 mountains that were once upon a time active volcanos, each erupted at different times, thousands of years of rain washing away the different layers of rocks and made the landscape that we see today.
First stop on the tour is the Derinkuyu underground city, with 8 levels of nooks and crannies, how people carved these out is mind boggling. Derinkuyu was used by early Christains as a shelter during war and raids, with wells, air vents, horse stables, kitchenes, churches, school, graves and traps for enemies, it certainly is a city.
Next was the Ihlara Valley, cause by an earthquake, with a moutain water stream running the length of it, greenery all around and many cave churches to explore on the way, it was a pleasant 4km walk.
Last stop was the Selime Monastery, where one of the original star wars was filmed, it certainly felt like an alien landscape. There’s a shot of Jady for size comparison, the place is huge! 6 levels all up, we got to the 4th level, so many nooks and crannies to explore, you take a slightly different path and all of a sudden you pop out on a different level at a different side. There are not much stairs, most just curved paths, getting up is easy, getting down is the hard part. This place is one of my highlights of the whole trip, I wish I had more time to explore it.
We explored the Goreme open air museum on day 3, pricey and over rated I’d say. Nonetheless, if you’ve already made your way here you might as well go and have a look. The open air museum have tourist groups by the bus load, thanks to it’s central location and having many stairs and railings put in for them boring middle aged tourists, it does lose its charm. Though the best frescos I saw were here, if you are into that kind of thing.
We then bumped into a few guys we met in the hostel in the morning and a few more from the Day 2 tour group, so we all had a nice walk in the Zemi Valley, much fun was had by all. Pictured are Bree, Max, Martin and moi.
And then we had to catch another overnight bus to the Mediteranean Coast, to Fethiye. Here’s Jady getting a bite of gozleme while waiting for the bus, somehow it didn’t occur to her to fold down the paper, perhaps she was just really hungry :p
This bus journey was crazy! These Turks are crazy I tell you! We booked our tickets through the hostel and there were stuff ups as the bus ended up being 1 seat short and we the only tourists on board copped it. We had to change seats 3 times during the night and when more people came on, we were 1 seat short, Jady and I took turns sitting in the attendant’s seat. Next to the attendant’s seat is a storage box right at my head’s height, when I’m alseep on the bus/train/car, my head sways in many directions, so sadly I konked my head on the box literally at least 5 times… My IQ has gone down by 10 points since… Pre seating and head konking saga, when the bus stopped at a servo for people to freshen up, we witnessed stories we’d only heard about. I was outside at the luggage compartment getting something from my bag when all of a sudden a guy ran across the servo with another guy in a black shirt chasing him, the black shirt guy even threw this mental thing at him. I got back on the bus as police cars turn up and all of a sudden, our attendant was getting hit by some guy, I didn’t see much, had no idea what’s going on, but heck, it was fun to speculate. About 30 minutes later, the bus rolled on as if nothing happened.
Day 4 & 5
Our umbrella is the one on the right, that’s Jady under it, correction, that’s me under it.
Day 4 and 5 were spent on the sunny and warm coast town of Fethiye taking on almost identical routines for both days. We would have breakfast at the hostel, grab our beach gears, go buy some bread, sardines, cucumbers, tomatoes and snacks for lunch, then hop on a bus to Oludeniz. Hire an umbrella, go for a dip and settle down to work on our tans. Unfortunate for Jady, I tan very easily and very fast, so on Day 5 I spent the whole day under the umbrella so she can catch up.
Oludeniz is a popular spot for paragliding, it’s very cool to see a sky full of them and some of them land right on the beach. After lunch, we’ll take another dip and when it gets a bit too hot, we’ll go and get some Turkish ice creams. Those Turkish ice cream! They are like mashmallow but in ice cream form, yummy!
Me posing with big fishes! Check out my DIY dress, it’s just a big square scarf tied at the back 🙂
On both days we had dinner at the Fethiye fish market. In the center are about 6 or 7 stalls selling fresh seafood, you buy what you like and take it to one of the restaurants in the market where they’ll cook everything for you, provide salad and bread for 5 lira a head. Tasty! Here’s Jady looking very happy with our spread of food.
Then onto our 3rd and final overnight bus journey back to Istanbul. Part 2 to come tomorrow.