Hangovers can be a traveler’s worst nightmare. Luckily, this time it was not me who had too much to drink the night before (for once).
Huge suitcase in tow, my first visitor arrived in Istanbul late one afternoon, and after we grabbed a quick bite to eat in Sultanahmet, it was time to head to the bus stop for our ten hour night bus to Goreme, a small village in the Cappadocia region.
Her visit was off to a foreshadowing bumpy start as she wheeled her cumbersome luggage around the city streets of Istanbul, attempting to avoid all the perilous curbs and other obstacles along the way. Upon arrival at the bus station, we found ourselves amidst a chaotic celebration of sorts. It felt like we were in the middle of some feeding frenzy, as mobs of people swelled the station and surrounded the buses. Yelling, chanting, dancing, screaming, running people were everywhere. We sat aboard the bus awaiting departure, treated to a free show of fireworks and Turkish flags flying everywhere, with the occasional human body tossed into the air. Apparently a football victory was cause for all of this raucous celebration. Welcome to Turkey!
Somehow the bus weaved itself through the waves of people, in avoidance of crushing limbs I am not so sure, and we were on our way. Three pitstops and ten hours later, we had arrived! It was my plan to introduce my friend to the idea of CouchSurfing, so we found our host waiting for us at the bus station. As an added surprise bonus, I found out that we were two of his six guests for the night. Literally a two minute drive from the bus stop we found our charming little home for the two days in Goreme, complete with a donkey tied up in the yard.
Yes, somewhere amidst that pile of rubble was our living quarters for two days. Our lovely host had to work that day, so he ordered his brother and French-speaking cousin to take us around and treat us to a free tour of some of the many sights in the region. Somehow I found myself separated from my friend and the other CSers as I was chosen to be the passenger on the scooter. Not content with my role as passenger, I talked my way into the driver’s seat. I wish I had a picture of this. Cappadocia is such a feast for the eyes, with its unique landscape of various types of rock formations.
First stop was Love Valley, where we treated ourselves to the pleasures of some wild grapes whilst enjoying the scenery.
I found the name for this particular valley inadequate as there is a more appropriate (or should I say inappropriate) alternative that I would have come up with myself. It wouldn’t be so family friendly though.
After running out of dirty jokes, we went to an open air museum where we could climb around and explore the ancient caves, and then finished the day at Sunset Point, which offered an amazing view of the village of Goreme and its cave homes.
Yes, people actually live in caves here. Before prehistoric cavemen-like images run through your mind though, I’d like to point out the fact that these caves come completely equipped with electricity and plumbing. It’s like the modern-day Flintstones.
The evening is where things all went downhill for my poor friend. We had a few beers with dinner, and then went to a billiards bar where we smoked some nargile (also known as hookah) and treated ourselves to some more alcoholic beverages. The bar closed and we headed home. Throwing all sense of responsibility out the window in complete disregard for our 8 am wake-up plan the next morning, we polished off a few bottles back at the house before drunkenly passing out, bodies strewn across the floor and couches.
Waking up, I felt great. My friend, however, did not. A combination of her long travels and jet lag led to a dreadful hangover for her. I will spare her the embarrassment of posting pictures of her state of well-being (or lack thereof). The tour we had signed up for that day was an all-day affair, and I saw so many amazing things while my poor visitor mostly saw the back of her own eyelids as she slept on the bus. Myself and the tour guide did everything we could to make her feel better, including a MacGyver moment for me as I made her a pillow out of a plastic bag and a piggy back ride from our guide up to the monastery. I think he went above and beyond his call of duty on that one.
Embarrassingly enough, after spewing the previous night’s indulgences in the underground city, my friend decided to sit the rest of the day out. After the hike through Ihlara Valley, I found her lazily relaxing in an attempt to recuperate on the cushions at the restaurant where we had lunch. The torturous day was only a predecessor to an even more torturous night, as we found ourselves boarding the ten hour night bus back to Istanbul. Oh god, I can only imagine how she felt! Needless to say, I think that the two of us had quite different experiences and I am sure that Turkey’s Efes beer has left quite an impression upon her.