Entry Info

The Roads of CappadociaGyoreme National Park and Rock Site of Cappadocia is registered as the "mixed (Nature and Culture)" world heritage which is in fact quite rare among number of world heritage sites. Pillars of strange shaped stoned around there, the surroundings look totally in another world. I heard that some parts of Cappadocia were used as the sets of Star Wars Episode1. In fact, I could possibly believe if someone presented a photo of Cappadocia as "from another planet". The local people had been living inside of the rock caves until recently and there are still many caves remaining over the area.

The accommodation at Gyoreme

The Roads of Cappadocia>What's more, an interesting thing about Cappadocia is that you can sleep inside the caves. Besides, not only the expensive touristic hotels, there are some reasonable backpackers hostels available too. At this time, we stayed at "Yashin's Backpackers Cave" which is reviewed in avery good manner at hostelworld.com. Although Shin and Tomoko, who were travelling with me, hadn't booked there, the owner, Yashin, kindly gave us a three bed private room. Yashin knows everywhere about Gyoreme since he's been brought up there. Restaurants, tour info, Turkish Spa etc., his advice(with discount!) helped us a lot. I found 20TRY(15USD) per night with a deliciously cooked breakfast was very reasonable. Though the quality and cleanness of the facility were not as good as the decent hotels', their personal service and hospitality could be on a par with the 5 star luxurious hotels.

As the weather was bit tricky, Cappadocia in early May was a kind of off season in Turkish local tourism. In fact, there were a few European groups at the accommodation and Gyoreme town didn't look very busy. However, quite a few Japanese tourists were walking on the street. Besides, they were not backpackers, but ordinary tourists who used huge tour buses and went to luxurious cave hotels with spa and pool. I knew Turkey is one of the favourite destinations among Japanese tourists, but when we thought about it carefully it was the middle of a Japanese holiday week, the so called the Golden Week. We have to be careful for that we could lose the sense of days easily during the long journey.

Pros and Cons of package tours

The Roads of CappadociaIn terms of package tours, I don't really like them. In fact, because of that I'm bad at travelling with groups, I'd rather choose travelling alone. Nevertheless, so vast is the area of Cappadocia of which a number of famous spots dotted within several ten kilometres radius that we were encouraged to join the local tour. The tour was so-so, just as we expected. In fact the guide efficiently took us through many places, which were not really reachable as a personal tourist, such as the underground city and the old monastery but "the efficient guide" was bit argumentative as he hurried us when we wanted to stay longer whereas he remained longer where we didn't care much. I know he had to make his pace for "the greatest common good" of the all participants but I painfully realised that I should avoid the tours attempting to cover a lot of places. Probably, the best way is chartering a taxi and asking the driver just to take us to the entrance of the places but the budget no longer allowed the ordinary backpacker to do so.

My best form of travelling

The Roads of CappadociaTherefore, for the near spot, disregarding to the efficiency we decided to go there by ourselves with the local bus info from the accommodation and a rough map from a guidebook. Following to the advice from the local people and the intuition of travellers, we made headway to the destination. If I'd travelling completely alone, I could've been a bit worried about daring this kind of adventure but my amiable fellow travellers could change the situations drastically. Even losing and recovering the way became a sort of fun. Speaking so, I suppose a couple travelling together is a kind of ideal form. Though sometimes they have to overcome the ordeals, as far as the couples I know looked keeping their distance moderately and enjoying themselves travelling together.

The Roads of CappadociaAfter walking on the wild land with strange stones, finally we arrived at the destination. This mushroom shape stone is a kind of icon of Cappadocia as the photo of it is overly used on every guide book about this area. Not caring about the geologic instructions, the different layers which were eroded blah blah blah, we were just stunned by the shapes of the stones which were different from the ones around Gyoreme central. Incidentally, we found out from the view on the stones that we didn't use the proper paved roads but just wandered along the local farm roads. Thanks to not being led by an experienced guide, we could enjoy this type of adventure. In these days, I strongly believe that travelling is not just having fun at destinations but it is literary 'travelling', I mean the whole process of going to and coming back from the destination is an entertaining part of travelling.

The Roads of CappadociaOn the way back to Gyoreme, we were challenged by going back on foot as the bus didn't come soon. When we came there it took less than 15 minutes by bus. So it should take no more than 1 and half hours even on foot. It would be pleasant walking as the view on the street was quite nice even though we'd already walked more than 3 hours. After walking 30 minutes under the intense sunshine on the early May, we were called by the local guys driving a car. They asked us "Where are you going? You can come with us." It's very kind of them indeed. "To Gyoreme!", we replied and they gestured "Come in." Thanks to them we skipped a one hour walk. Although I could've had a bit of serious concern if I had been alone, we had three people and they were two. Considering the locality, we judged it wouldn't be very dangerous. Though sometimes it sounds bit tricky, the kindness from the local people always cheers me.

Like this and that, we spent 5 nights in Gyoreme. The next destination will be Istanbul the bridge between Asia and Europe. At last the travelling on the Middle East is close to the end.

Entry Info

26th (Thu)
Aug 2010

[day119] The Road to Cappadocia

Although I had enough time there, I decided to move on to Cappadocia located in central Turkey, as written in the previous entry that I felt enough in the Middle East. The backpacker couple Shin and Tomoko came with me as well. In those days, I began to realise the Japanese saying "Dumplings rather than blossoms", which means the person who prefers something to eat rather than those to see, definitely applies to me and in terms of foods among Japanese people Turkey is regarded as one of the top three delicious countries as well as France and China. I don't know why these three were chosen but certainly it would be better than the other Middle East countries which I was bit tired of.

Aleppo, the Second Biggest City in Syria

As Syria borders on Turkey, there are plenty of bus lines between these countries. However since there was no direct connection from Hama, we had to move to Aleppo, the second biggest city in Syria, at once. Although Aleppo is quite popular among travellers for its world heritage registered souk and castle, being preoccupied with the thought of Cappadocia we just stayed there one night for transit. Incidentally, there was one surprising point there. Aleppo has quite a few number of liquor stores. Although we had to bother a lot of passersby in order to find the liquor stores in Damascus and Hama, we could just see a lot of them on the street. Besides, the local people seemed using them too. I presume we were just entering the circle of influence of the Western culture.

According to the bus company at Aleppo, the only bus going to Antakya, which is the border town of Turkey, leaves at 5:00 every morning. On the next morning 4:30, we went to the bus station rubbing the sleep from our eyes. Though a heavy rain stroked us and the baggage inspection somehow took so long, the border crossing was as easy as usual. Having a Japanese nationality, we got the stamp to enter Turkey without visa. O.K. I entered Turkey which was the 13th country of the whole trip.

At the Antakya Station

After a couple of hours on the bus, we arrived at the Antakya station from which we had to find the connection route to Gyoreme at the central Cappadocia. No sooner had we stepped out from the bus than many local guys try to sell us the ticket to the next destination. The annoying hassles again. Though the people in Syria and Lebanon were quite shy - they wouldn't approach us unless we made eye contact intentionally - people here were quite aggressive. The building in front of us was too magnificent to make us realise it was the very bus terminal we should've enter and being weary and sleepy from the early departure, we just followed one guy who offered the bus to Gyoreme.

"No problem" was his favourite phrase. Whenever he answered our question, he added "No problem". "We wanna go to Gyoreme" "No problem, use this bus", "How much?" "No problem, XX lira(a rip off price, of course)", "Too expensive! Our guide book says XX lira" "No problem, it's OK.", "We don't have the Turkish lira yet." "I can take you to the money exchange. You can put your luggage on the bus." Like these, his attitude was quite dubious. Nevertheless, we anyway embarked on the bus as the price became appropriate and we had confirmed the bus was going to Gyoreme.

Is This the End?

The long distance buses in Turkey are famous for their high quality service. Usually, they have a dedicated cabin attendant and started with a wet towel, some snacks and amenities are served during the trip. What's more the reclining seats were large enough to get relaxed during 10 hours of travel. When I was looking at the scenery through the window with a little snooze, I realised the bus had stopped at the big terminal named Kayseri. And the cabin attendant told us that the bus would terminate here. What? We were on the bus going to Gyoreme, weren't we? We showed the ticket to her and she said it was written "To Kayseri" in Turkish language. Oh no, the guy tricked us! The memory of the guy saying "no problem" made our bloods\ boil. Even though we explained our situation to the people of the bus company, they didn't really understand us well due to their poor English. According to them, we could go to Gyoreme with a few dollar extra. Perhaps we could have accepted the deal as we really wanted to let our hair down at the accommodation.

"We paid for the bus to Gyoreme! You should bring us there! It's very unfair!!" Yelling at the staff of the bus company was a Taiwanese girl who was using the same bus as us. Since it was better to let the strong one negotiate, we, three Japanese and one Thai girl, were just watching how things went. As the driver and cabin attendant couldn't handle her, they brought us to their ticket counter and she kept howling. Even though the bus company offered a discount price, she didn't have the faintest idea of paying any more cents. After some 15 minutes, thanks to her amazing negotiation skill, the bus company yielded the free bus tickets to Gyoreme for all of us.

Strictly speaking, the people in Kayseri were not at fault. The culprit was the guy who sold the ticket. Thinking like this, we Japanese are prone to obey the absurdity while the Taiwanese girl fought against being mistreated. Probably, we should learn from her strong ego. Besides, it was the bus company's fault that they just let the irresponsible guys deal with their customers. I hope they make some improvements at the Antakya station due to the number of claims like ours.

Chewing some gum given to me by a vulgar looking guy (he was actually a nice friendly guy!) sitting next to me, my eyes had caught some strange shaped stones through the window. Finally, we arrived at Gyoreme the centre of Cappadocia.

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