Thursday, June 24, 2010

Istanbul to Goreme to Antalya to Olympos (Turkey)

Hey Everybody,

First just wanted to say a massive thank you for all of your comments to posts and emails to me at Whenever I am waiting for a late bus, or trying to fall asleep in an overheated hostel, or caught in the rain in my only pair of clean shorts, it means a lot to me that you're all "with me" in some way.

I'm now in Olympos, Turkey, on the western Mediterranean coast. It's a bit of a hippie/party beach town, but it's got cool old ruins and a nice beach and is in a gorgeous valley and very near Chimaera, a cliff that naturally lights on fire, and has been for the past few thousand years. I'll be here for the next couple days, though I may move over a kilometer to Cirali, which is a bit quieter, especially on a Friday night, tomorrow. Over the past three nights I've been on overnight buses for two, so I'm pretty tired from all of the collective non-sleep. The one night in between buses I stayed up late watching a world cup game and was woken up at 4:30 by the call to prayer from the mosque a block away, so this chiller area feels quite good right now.

But let me back up a bit. On Monday night I boarded a bus in Istanbul for Goreme, Cappadocia. I had a woman's ticket, meaning I had to sit next to a woman on the bus, and I thought I might have gotten a seat to myself but about an hour into the ride a rather large woman filled up the seat next to me. And then her kid-not an infant, I might add-got on top of her lap. It was one of those things where you just realize that it could, possibly, be worse somehow, so you don't want to jinx it by feeling too sorry for yourself. Sure enough, they played a world cup game VERY loudly for several hours, but when all was quiet I managed to stay asleep, on and off, for a decent period of time. When it got light we were amidst fairy chimneys in Cappadocia. If you don't know what they are, google them, I honestly cannot explain the science of it even after going on a tour with an expert, visiting a museum, and reading about them in my guidebook. They stopped in Nevsehir, and tried to get us Goreme-bound backpackers to board a minibus, but I had been warned not to do this because they almost always try to charge you extra for the ride. It all worked out and I found myself at Rock Valley Pension in Goreme. I didn't get a chance to see other hostels, but I would HIGHLY recommend Rock Valley. For about $10 US per night, you get breakfast (real breakfast with eggs, bread, jam, veggies, olives, cheese, etc) and a perfectly cool swimming pool, which is amazing when it's hot during the day. I arrived right in time for breakfast, which was perfect because I got to meet all the guests. There were three Canadian guys who had just finished university and two girls from Liverpool who went to college in Newcastle and London. Despite the bus ride, I rallied and spent the day with the girls, Jess and Beth (who were awesome! if they're reading this, hi!). We bought a picnic for about $1.50 each, visited the Open-Air Museum with lots of ruins of old carved churches and buildings- it was cool but a bit repetitive- then got on a local bus to a neighboring town where we hoped to hike to some fairy chimneys. We ended up hiking through a ghost town, which was cool during the day but would have been super creepy at night. The old towns are carved into the rock of the cliff, so they're essentially elaborate abandoned caves. Anyways, we got to the top of the hill and saw fairy chimneys for miles and miles in the distance. It was quite hot so we finished out hike there and had our picnic. That afternoon we hung out by the pool and I researched the end of my trip and then we went out to dinner. Cappadocia has these sealed-clay-pot dishes, so Jess and Beth split that and I got vegetable borek, kind of like cheesy veggie spring rolls. It was a fairly expensive restaurant but it had an amazing few of the sunset and the whole town, which was good because the Canadian boys had rented scooters and were supposed to be back, but Beth and Jess were worried because we hadn't seen them. It turned out they were fine, because after dinner we found them at Fat Boys, a local bar/cafe, where they were watching a world cup game. They were with this really nice Mexican man whose wife had planned a whole trip through Turkey for him since she herself couldn't make it. It's really cool meeting all these people!

The mosque woke me up quite early the next morning, and I had expected the girls to wake me up at 5 so we could climb up the hill to watch all the hot air balloons float through Goreme in the morning, but they decided not to so I slept in a bit. That day I went on the Green Tour, visiting rock-cut churches, a gorgeous valley, an old monastery carved into the rock that was kind of like a playground with all the climbing and jumping and scrambling we did, and a seven-story underground city, complete with tiny passageways and rock doors and a huge winery (of course-what else would you do if you lived underground all the time?). On the tour was a university student from Spain who had managed to study in Spain, Germany, France, Switzerland and Australia. I talked to him a lot and we had the idea to rent a car in Antalya with the English girls and do a bit of a coastal road trip. We got dinner when we got back and the girls weren't sure about the road trip, so we met up with them after that night's overnight bus, in the Antalya Otogar (bus station). We researched cars and found that gas was almost as expensive as the actual cost of the rental, so we backed out of that idea and the idea of visiting some local waterfalls with it. Andres, the Spanish guy, and I got breakfast for free at the hostel (White Garden, I believe it was called) that Jess and Beth were staying at in Antalya, which was awesome! We wandered around old Antalya, which is quite touristy but still pretty and nice, then got lunch. Andres and I headed out to the bus station again. We had both been headed toward Olympos, where I am now, but Andres changed his mind at the last minute and went to Fethiye or Kas, not sure which, so he could hike part of the Lycian Way, which I would actually have loved to do if I didn't have to go back to Boston in a few days!

I'll update you all on the rest of the trip soon, but for now, I'm going to get some dinner! Keep the comments and emails coming!


1 comment:

  1. i'm so excited you are meeting up with all these cool people :) i'm also happy to hear of all these bus rides. haha. spain. i love buses. i also love you. <3