Posted by: lindsaygoes | May 27, 2010

More Local Interaction in Turkey

So from Fethiye we caught the overnight bus. Won’t make the top ten in my travel highlights but it wasn’t completely terrible. Although we were told it would arrive in Goreme, Cappadocia at 6:30 am, but it arrived at 4:00am. So there we are at a dark bus stop, no one around, large backpacks on and quite cold and tired. We walked to the hostel because we thought it would be mean to phone and wake someone and when we got there Hostel Guy (remember the name, it will be repeated) was asleep, so we decided to try and sleep in the common area on some ottomans. But it was outside and not very warm so when some other people arrived at 5:00 am we hadn’t got any sleep. Luckily at about this time someone came to pick up people for hot airballooning and he had no hesitation about waking Hostel Guy.

So we managed to get a little bit of sleep and have a shower and breakfast before we went on one of the many Cappadocia tours. So many gorgeous sites! We saw some amazing panoramic view points, went to Derinkuyu underground city. I didn’t admit that I was asthmatic and I was fine but some of the tunnels were very narrow. I was revelling in the fact that I’m a short-arse thinking ‘I don’t even have to duck’ when BANG! But I’ve got a hard head so everything is ok. Maybe not everyone will agree with that though! We also had a walk along the Elara Valley but because it had been raining we had lunch first (good because I was hungry, bad because we had to walk up the 408 steps instead of down them!). The valley was gorgeous and we saw some local boys fishing and it wasn’t too hot because of the rain/ From there we went to Selime Monastery which had such amazing rock formations and cool cave rooms, although it was slightly hazardous to walk round but I didn’t fall over once which is something I’m always proud of! We also took some photos of Pigeon Valley and our guide decided to skip the Onyx factory which automatically makes him awesome, but even aside from that he was a great guide.

Once we got back into town this Turkish woman started to offer us raisins and then asked if we wanted to see inside her house – are alarm bells ringing for anyone else at this point? I declined but Jolene wanted to so I followed her in. We got tea and then started getting shown the handicrafts for sale. Once we’d declined though the woman wanted us to pay for the tea so we ran off – and had to collect our shoes on the way out and keep running. We could be giving Australians a bad reputation.

The next day we started our Mount Nemrut tour and had the same guide as the day before (lucky us!). Our first stop was an old caravanseri Karatayhan, which unfortunately was closed but we got to see some chickens. Then we drove a bit further and after lunch got some famous Mado ice-cream which is so hard that you need to use a knife and fork to eat it. However it tasted very nice! Then we did more driving and that was the day.

The next day we had to wake up at 3am, which was a little challenging, and then had to dress up in lots of layers for the walk up Mount Nemrut. I had one two pairs of trousers, a tank top, a shirt, a tunic thing, two jackets, plus a scarf, beanie and gloves. And I needed all of that because it was very windy and cold. We reached the top at about half past five (ok, we didn’t walk from three, we got driven a lot of the way) after I’d pushed on to the top because the sooner I got there the sooner I could rest (and hopefully start breathing properly again – stupid asthma!) and the view and sunrise was amazing, particularly how the sun gave the stone heads of the gods (and one king) such gorgeous colours! Then we saw the west terrace which had better preserved statues but not as lovely colours as the light wasn’t quite the same. Then, because it was so windy and cold, we raced down to the bottom. From Mount Nemrut we went to the ruins of Arsemia, the Roman Bridge of Cender and Karakus, a large tumulus. By that stage we’d all shed quite a few layers and were getting pretty hungry. Luckily we didn’t have anyone in our group who got grumpy when they got hungry!

After breakfast we all got changed into lighter clothes because we were headed for Harram (Arabic for hot – and well named!) but stopped by Attaturk Dam on the way and a restaurant famous for its kebabs – so that was what we had for lunch. At Harram we wandered around the castle, we were followed by a group of young girls who vaguely tried to sell us some chickpea garlands, but I think they were having more fun climbing on the ruins and racing around us. Then we went into some beehive style houses which were around 200 years old, but we were warned to not buy any illegal goods from the owners. We also saw the ruins of the oldest Islamic University and watched plastic bags circling in the thermals. Then we headed back to Sanliurfa where we saw Abraham’s cave and the pools of holy carp (which apparently aren’t holy, but there are a lot of them. We didn’t feed them). After that it was dinner and bed. Jolene went out for some drinks but I had to decline because of the very real danger that I would fall asleep at the table. When Jolene got back our guide phoned so we could listen to his roommate snoring but I answered the phone so disorientated that I asked if it was a wake up call. If I’d been told that it was 8:30 I would have jumped into the shower, but it was actually 1:00amish.

The next day we had a late start, leaving the hotel at 9:00am, but unfortunately I was awake from 5:00am. We went to Bircuk and saw some endangered Bald Ibises and then went to an amazing mosaic museum. While we were there we saw a group of school children and when one of them said Hello to me I replied with Hello in Turkish (one of the two words I know) and the kid asked our guide if I was Turkish, and he told him I was. So I’ll add that to the list of nationalities I’ve been mistaken for! Then more busing and we had the Mado ice-cream again. On the next part of the journey there was a bit of nausea from travel sickness and I was starting to feel a little nauseous myself (what can I say, I’m highly suggestible). I’d just moved to a forward facing seat when I had to stop the bus (in front of a prison) so our guide could be sick. Obviously I need to improve my conversational skills!

We got back to our hostel and asked Hostel Guy if he could tell us a good place to watch the hot airballoons in the morning. We thought we’d just get somewhere pointed out but we ended up getting a scooter ride. Because Jolene had her backpack I was in the middle and we had a bit of an ‘exhilarating’ ride along some quite narrow tracks. When we got to the top we stopped at a viewpoint and I got a bit of a rub of my knee. Clearly the best response was not thinking ‘Oh shit, what do I do?’ but after that we got off the bike and had a look at the view of Goreme at night. For probably the first time on the trip I didn’t have my camera so Jolene took photos and I stood back a bit. Next thing I know Hostel Guy is reaching out his hand for me and motioning for me to come and kiss him. I’m guessing ‘No, sorry’ is not a particularly effective method of rejection as the flirting hasn’t stopped! Anyway, we got back on the scooter and because Jolene was oblivious to the previous episode she started making jokes about how ‘That would be a great spot to make out’ and ‘You should take Lindsay up there tomorrow night’.

So today (yeah, finally up to today, sorry this has been such an epic email for those of you who are still reading) we got up at 5:30am to see the balloons, which were amazing (have you all guessed we’re too cheap to go on an actual balloon flight!) and then went back to bed. After that we got a lift to Pigeon Valley (yeah, yeah, it was from Hostel Guy but there were four of us in the car) and then realised after we’d done some rockclimbing to get to another path and reached the edge of a cliff, that we were lost. We managed to run into a German Tour group and then followed them for a little while before they told us the way to the bus stop. From there we went to the open air museum which was amazing. We’d planned to go around lunchtime and miss the crowds but ended up getting there a bit later (because of previous getting lost) so took advantage of all the tour groups by listening to the guides. Logically you’d only go with the big groups so you didn’t get caught freeloading, but we ran into a group of two people with a guide and got invited to go around with them so we got some information on a big church with some lovely frescos (some panels were damaged and we were told ‘That bit, I don’t know, I don’t care) and then got a lift to a few valleys which we wouldn’t have got to on our own and also some free water and chocolates. They were sealed! Then it rained, but luckily we’d done enough for the day!

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