Sunday, December 24, 2006 Turkey Turkey

Overnight bus to Ürgüp

Ahmet refused to tell us when he would be transferring us to the bus station at Denizli for our 21:00 bus, even though we asked him at least three times. "No problem, no problem" was the stock reply. This is a very common reply in Turkey, and true enough, there usually is no problem if you just trust that things will happen in the right order.

We were drinking tea and talking to a Canadian-Filipino guy (who owns a guest house in British Columbia and has some sort of exchange programme going on with Ahmet in Pamukkale) when Ahmet suddenly said "Right! We go now". We were bundled into a Renault Clio driven at usual Turkish speed by our guide from earlier in the day, along with the Japanese guy (the one who had lost his passport earlier) and his girlfriend. We found out that we were all going to the same hotel, the Cappadocia Palace cave hotel in Ürgüp. We arrived at Denizli, just as Ahmet had promised, with "no problems". The bus turned up at 20:45 and we got on. We had the front seats on the other side from the driver. Usually this is a good thing as you get a better view, but on a night bus it means: headlights in your eyes all night, second hand cigarette smoke from the driver and steward all night, weird Turkish pop music from the stereo that the driver presumably has on to keep himself awake all night, and cold air up your trousers every time the door opens, yep—all night. And no legroom because of the barrier thing in front of you. Not that we are complaining, but suffice to say that we got no proper sleep at all.

The experience was very surreal. You try to sleep and the rocking, strange music and hypnotic lights from cars coming the other way send you into a sort of trance. Eventually you are so tired that you start dozing and waking up every few minutes, unsure of whether you've been asleep or how much time has passed. We woke up at around 03:00 in the large town of Konya. As we came round, we were doing a U-turn on a dual carriageway. When we finished the manoeuvre the driver opened the door and the steward jumped out, and the driver shouted something at him (probably instructions on which brand of cigarettes he wanted the steward to buy). But then the door closed and we drove off, through two sets of traffic lights, and then stopped again at the side of the road. Then the driver got off too. We stayed there for at least 20 minutes watching boy racers doing burn-outs on the other side of the road and listening to the snoring of a large Turk behind us, before the driver and steward finally got back in and we drove off. We still don't know what it was all about (or even whether it was a strange communal dream we both had, but we both definitely remember it happening).

At 05:15 we were again brought round from our strange half-sleep by the driver saying "Ürgüp—off here. Servis!" This wasn't in the script, as we thought our bus went all the way to Ürgüp, arriving at 08:00. Glenn went to the back of the bus to wake the two Japanese backpackers (they seemed to have no trouble sleeping) and tell them that we were being thrown out.

The engine of the servis (mini-bus) was off, and the bus was freezing cold. It had a thermometer on the dashboard which was reading –8°C (17°F) and warming up by a degree every few minutes. This confirmed to us that the temperature inside the bus was indeed minus 8. There was no sign of a driver. After 20 minutes or so, the door flew open and someone shouted in "Ürgüp! Otobus!" and pointed at the coach which we had got off! (It was still at the bus station for a stopover.) We were not particularly impressed but we complied as we just wanted to be in the warm. When we walked over to the coach however, we saw that another coach had pulled in beside it and it had a sign for Ürgüp in the window. We got in to the haven of warmth and luxury and shortly afterwards it pulled out of the bus station.

The journey to Ürgüp was quite short and we arrived at the small, deserted bus station (actually a square of tarmac) just after sunrise. There was no sign of our transfer, Yuki Tours, and we resigned ourselves to another trek through another unknown town to our hotel. However just after we got off the coach a minibus hurtled in and stopped alongside us. It had a 'Yuki' sign stuck in the windscreen. Before we knew it we were in the warmth of the Cappadocia Palace hotel lobby.

It was 06:45 and we had a tour of North Cappadocia starting at 09:30. Before we had booked the tour, we were promised by Hayden in İstanbul that we would be able to check in to the hotel at this point, take a shower, change our clothes, have some breakfast and maybe even lie down for a short while after the overnight bus. It really would be "no problem". This was not how it turned out. The hotel was full so we couldn't check in (the previous guests in our room wouldn't be checking out until 10:30), and breakfast was most definitely not included until the next morning. If we wanted some, it would be 6 Lira each (GBP 2.17 / USD 4.26). Oh, and we were free to use the toilet in the lobby if we wanted to. Have a nice day.

Christmas Eve and no room at the inn. How apt.

The toilet was actually large and very clean and we were able to wash, change our clothes and clean our teeth. On principle we refused to pay for the breakfast so our first meal of the day consisted of a large bag of Doritos each from a shop round the corner. At 09:15 we came back to the hotel, tired and a little battered, but ready to start our tour.

Map of Day 029

Day 029
Pamukkale to Urgup

This map shows the route we took in this post. Click it to see larger maps of our whole route at flickr.

Maps are taken from the CIA World Factbook.