As a seasoned traveler I pride myself with the basic assumption that I figure things out. I take it for granted that I get around in a city unfamiliar to me, book accommodations which are just what I am looking for, catch the right plane, etc. But this time I goofed! And on such a trivial thing… I am still very upset with myself as this could have (and almost did) caused some real inconveniences.
I had arrived at the bus terminal in Konya in plenty of time to take the 4 o’clock bus to Goreme and as always I marveled at the sheer number of buses which regularly went everywhere. You could flag the local buses down any time, take the minibuses every 10-30 minutes anywhere near distance, or 3-4 times a day, the 2-14 hour bus to almost anywhere in Turkey.
Distances between places I visited on this trip had been vast, so I had typically traveled via Pegasus or via Turkish Air. But once before had I taken the 1+2 bus (a single seat on the left, 2 seats on the right) to Istanbul. Air-conditioning, wifi, luggage service, drinks — this is a fine way to travel. This time, I was heading to Göreme, my final destination in Turkey.
I settled in for an almost 4-hour ride, checked in my suitcase, unpacked the computer, got my notes out to write the blog, stuffed various drinks in to the pocket in front of me, and crammed the camera bag into the overhead. 5 more minutes until departure. I was happy, until… an older Turkish man boarded the bus, who claimed my seat.
But I had seat #4. No, he had seat #4! Nobody spoke English, but finally, someone looked over my ticket: Metro! Yes, I had booked with Metro, so what? But this wasn’t Metro… How could two identical buses leave to the same destination at the same time? How idiotic! But this was not the time to debate bus schedules.
3 minutes or so had passed. I grabbed everything I could, and with two arm loads of stuff was out of the bus and on the platform. But where was Metro? It would leave in less than 2 minutes!
Nobody knew which direction I had to go. There were over 20 platforms here! I literally panicked (this was the last bus for the day) and started to shout at any and all that someone should stop the Metro bus, while I frantically tried to consolidate my two armloads into a manageable bundle. I ran (leaving my suitcase behind) in the likely direction of Metro and eventually found it. I shoved the bundle of stuff into the bus attendant’s arms and gestured that I would be back, running back to get my suitcase…
Well, eventually, I found myself again, getting settled in the Metro bus, organizing my computer, external drive, drinks, camera bag, etc. as we rolled out the terminal. Whew! I was dripping wet (sweating), fire-hydrant red in my face, frazzled, and for a long while worried, that I had lost some valuable items in the move, my image chip, a cord, my external drive, my phone… But I hadn’t.
This was pure oversight and negligence on my part and I scolded myself for a long time. Mistakes like this should not happen, not to a seasoned traveler!
I had picked Göreme as my last destination because I had been there on my previous trip. I was familiar with this out-of-this-world bizarre landscape and had visited some of the must-see sights before. I knew I would have to do several days of work grading my two classes as the semester came to an end. That is crunch and panic time for some students and I did not want to leave them hanging… I wanted to be in a beautiful place, where I could alternate fun and work.
I had carefully picked an AirBnB location with a unique room — a cave room in a “Fairy Chimney”, as the towerlike eroded outcrops in the landscape are known. I had picked a place overlooking the town. I had picked a place with a terrace, and had pictured myself sitting there, working, and drinking tea.
And that’s exactly what happened. The Anatolia Cave Pension exceeded my expectations because the owners, Brit and Bekir, were even nicer than they had been described in reviews. Brit is from Norway and about my age. We bonded, chatting about family and living in a foreign country. Bekir grew up in this region. Both truly care about their guests and help you in any way they can, to get to places, to book tours, to enjoy yourself. Bekir and his staff put on a daily, full-spectrum breakfast buffet, that is out of this world beautiful and tasty. The staff, Loraine from Canada, and the brothers Ethem and Mustafa were incredibly helpful and trustworthy.
And I loved my little suite in the chimney. I had my own bathroom, a small “ante-chamber” with a sofa and even a TV, and a bedroom just big enough for a queen-sized bed. The room was chiseled out of this “chimney”, but it had electricity added to it later. Two niches next to the bed acted as furniture substitutes for small things like an alarm clock or a charging phone.
A tiny window overlooked some roofs, but in the morning, I could see when it was time for the balloon spectacle. About 100+ balloons rise from the grounds around Göreme up into the valley every day (weather permitting) between 4:30 and 6:30 am.
Even at my size, I had to bend down to enter my rooms. The doors are small and for historical-preservation considerations, cannot be altered or enlarged. This is very close to how the people way back when lived. And that’s what I wanted. Would I want it all the time? Probably not. But for the next 7 days, this was my heaven.
Bekir’s incredible breakfast got me going every day and about 3 out of the 7 days, I spent between 10 and 12 hours on his terrace, working on my classes and on my blog. But the days in between, I had fun.
And that will be tomorrow’s topic.