Overview: I really was feeling the pressure here. visas were essentially dominating my mind set. I took a time out and traveled to Goreme in central Turkey. Here I was revisited by my past travels, and found a lot of answers.
Itchy Beard, Reagan and myself all arrived at Istanbul’s giant bus station. This thing tops my list at being the biggest bus station I have ever seen. It’s a mini city unto itself. Shaped like a giant football stadium, brightly colored signs advertised bus companies from all over Turkey on this 7 level metropolis. Notice I mentioned bus company advertising and not destination advertising, and so this was our first introduction into the Turkish bus system.
Vendors called out city names from open doors, people hustled by with suitcase and three backpackers were stuck in the middle of all this in search of just one company that would take us to Goreme, Cappadocia. It was 8pm an we d been ensured at the hostel that it would be no problem to get one. But this was Ramadan, and we couldn’t find any. Itchy grumbled about going straight to Ankara and then to Goreme, but I dismissed this instantly. It made no sense, this many bus companies and nothing going to Cappadocia? We enquired in a host of companies, and through mis-pronunciation and full seats were bounced back and forward across the giant mini city.
Finally I found a little Turkish man who not only spoke English but also had what we were looking for, kind of. He was offering us a ticket to Aksaray, from where he assured us we could catch a 7 am bus directly to Goreme, but like many vendors he hastened to add the bus was nearly full. I consulted the LP and then was happy to see Aksaray was not listed on the map. Mini Adventure time, I put my money on the table as we agreed for three tickets. It was then as the ticket e didn’t want to go now! And he forgot his money?!!
I should mention here that a few hours before our stringy bearded companion was once again on the verge of eco self termination for the amount of oxygen he was consuming. He also mention a new element, a girl had emailed him and he wanted to meet and live with her in Turkey… This all out of the blue. Though there was mention of another girl somewhere in Turkey too… Even with all this, he agreed that Cappadocia was a better and cheaper place to be than Istanbul, so he checked out, packed up and came with us to the station.
Now I really did not care. Itchy Beard had finally added the proverbial straw that broke the camels back. Without even the hint of persuasion I kindly apologized to the ticket man, and asked that he remove one seat. If Itchy wanted to come, then let him do it by himself. I was not risking the loss of our seats or another change of plan.
Reagan became the justice of the peace here, and started to work on persuading Itchy to come, but even he had become tired of the Eco warriors lack of stability. We headed into one of the many stalls and ordered Kebab’s. Itchy Beard followed us, and then we said out goodbye’s to him. A nice, harmless guy (aside from his companions blood pressure), but I do not think I have ever met a person so unplanned and indecisive as a cross eyed Lemming.
Reagan and myself are Kebab’s and pondered on our night buses final destination, were we being led astray or would be end up in Syria? After a slightly chaotic scramble for the bus we were off, on the Nevasher Bus companies large A/C monster, squished down the back in the fully occupied bus. This was made a little more barely by the fact that this was one of the best buses I have ever been on. (read this Eurolines). Aside from being on time, and the drivers speaking more than one language. The A/C worked and a little man came around to give us hand sanitizer, followed by a glass of water. Not satisfied with just that, our next spot of Turkish luxury came in the form of soft drinks and chocolate cake!!
My only complaint would be concerning the plumb Turkish man sitting next to me, and the large pile of Turkish porn comics he read through. Nonetheless with Rambo 3 playing on our tv sets we headed off to sleep on the way to to some obscure town.
We arrive on time at Aksaray and quickly learned that a direct connection to Goreme was not feasible, we had to get another bus to Nevashir, another town bordering the little cave valley we were trying to get to. We waited around the tiny bus station for 1.5 hours, watching locals chase pigeons and contemplating whether the kebabs we had stored away in our daypacks the night before were good enough for breakfast.
Our next giant bus came, and once again we were treated to hand sanitizer, sodas and cake. The scenery outside our window was one of dryness. But still nothing compared to Morocco. This was still disappointing to me, but to dwell on it was not going to help. Out bus driver asked where we were going, after some more mispronunciations he jammed on the breaks, ran outside and proceeded to wave another bus down. Was our attempts at saying Goreme that bad he wanted to be rid of us? No, it was Turkish hospitality, he was in fact waving down a bus heading directly to Goreme for us. This is something that no longer happens in Europe. Hence I was no longer in Europe.
My first glimpse of the mountainous valley’s of Goreme was from our tiny little local bus as it weaved its way down into Rock Valley. Along the way we past giant tour buses, strange conical shape rocks, tourists on foot and a camel with a tourist on top of it. Hmmm. Our little bus adventure had ended, and as the conical shaped rocks grew larger, and little windows started to appear in them I began to wonder if it was a mistake to come to Goreme. 5 Euro hostels were great, but not at the price of tourist hell. What would this place really be like? And why had I sacrificed Olympus, Troy and Eupsuses for this little valley. Much like Europe I found myself moving ahead like an unstoppable freight train, the only thing that mattered were the VISAS. A mistake in the making?!
Travel Resources: If your looking for information on how I was able to get Iranian, Pakistani and Indian visas in Turkey, you’ll find them in my Overland travel visa help section