Dateline: Cappadocia Region, Day 2 – The Better Tour

Cappadocia, Turkey
27 June 2009

Sleeping felt great. Waking up, not so much. But we had to get an early start on the day as we day yet another all day tour before we had to run to catch another overnight bus, joy! Shazia had left for Istanbul last night, so we made friends with Cecilie and Finn.

We’ve actually been “stalking” them since Istanbul where we both stayed at the Mavi Guesthouse. They booked a tour with Ali’s help as well, and we (unbeknownst to either party at the time) booked essentially the same tour all the way to Samos. The only difference was Cecilcia and Finn had an extra day in Cappadocia before their tour.

We started with some more rocks just outside of town, but today’s tour eventually took us down to Kaymaklı to see the Kaymaklı Underground City.

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Uchisar, Nevsehir, Turkey


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Derinkuyu, Nevsehir, Turkey


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Derinkuyu, Nevsehir, Turkey


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Derinkuyu, Nevsehir, Turkey


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Derinkuyu, Nevsehir, Turkey


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Derinkuyu, Nevsehir, Turkey


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Derinkuyu, Nevsehir, Turkey

Being almost 50 meters down was a nice change of pace from the beating Turkish sun, although the cool relief did not last long.

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Derinkuyu, Nevsehir, Turkey

We did a short (about 4 kilometers, or so) hike through Ihlara Valley and then stopped for a quick lunch over the river before finishing out our day. It wasn’t nearly as good at yesterdays buffet, but it filled the belly enough.

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, Aksaray, Turkey


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, Aksaray, Turkey


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, Aksaray, Turkey


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, Aksaray, Turkey

Funny picture of the day: What a bunch of tourist look like photographing a mountain in the middle of nowhere.

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, Aksaray, Turkey


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, Aksaray, Turkey


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, Aksaray, Turkey

We finally headed over to Selime Monastery to finish up the day.

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, Aksaray, Turkey


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, Aksaray, Turkey


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, Aksaray, Turkey


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, Aksaray, Turkey


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, Aksaray, Turkey


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, Aksaray, Turkey

Getting back before our bus left had its moments of excitement. The bus was supposed to leave at 19:00 and our tour was supposed to get back by 18:30. However, we had a late start in the morning because they didn’t have enough seats and had to get a second bus for the tour. It was pushing 18:50 by time we got back to the hostel. Fortuneatly our bags were packed and ready to go. However, I needed to check my email to see if Ali had sent me any last minute information. Meanwhile, Charlie went to go take a shower after we decided that he was no longer allowed to ride next to me without taking one.

Ali actually ended up calling the Shoestring Cave and leaving a message. So I called him back. It was lucky I got a hold of him as there was a change of plans. It basically boils down to this: We were going to stay in Selcuk, which is about 25 minutes from Kusadasi, which is where we catch the ferry to Samos. The ferry leaves at 08:00 in the morning. Ali thought that he could get us a ride, but he couldn’t. So he’s going to have us stay at a place in Kusadasi instead so we can just walk to the ferry!

I wrote down all the contact information for our new hostel and was off running to the bus station with Charlie 45 seconds behind me. As it turned out, this bus didn’t leave on time and we had an extra several minutes to spare.

We took the short ten minute ride to Nevsehir, where it started raining buckets. As we arrived, the streets started looking like Venician canals. This was unfortunate for the sheer fact that none of us, save Cecilie, had any sort of rain gear. Finn used his backpack as a shield, I threw on my fleece zip-up, and Charlie just sucked it up.

Once we got on the bus, it was okay though. The AC was on, Charlie had take two showers, and we on our way to the cooler coast.

Dateline: Cappadocia Region, Day 1 – You Rock My World

Cappadocia, Turkey
26 June 2009

I’m going to start by appologzing profussely for all the pictures of rocks. Cappadocia is, in essence, a giant collection of cool looking rocks and I’m pretty sure I got a picture of every single one of them. Out of 215 photos I took today, I ended up only rejecting 84 of them. Typically, I reject just over half. Not today.

Anyway, the bus ride was less than ideal. Charlie smelled like a sweaty rugby player after an all-day round robin tournament and the bus driver refused to keep the AC on. We awoke in Nevsehir and were called off the bus. A bit dazzed from just waking up, Charlie and I got off, thinking this was the guy who was going to take us to the hostel from the bus depot.

As it turned out, we think it was just a way to get tourist to purchase a tour of Cappadocia, as the guy quickly put us back on the bus once he found out we had already booked a tour. Still super confused about what happened, we finally did off at the right stop.

We got to the hostel and learned that both Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett had died while we were in transit. Sad times.

A quick turn around and we were off to explore the northern region of Cappadocia with our guide, Esra.

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Uchisar, Nevsehir, Turkey


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Uchisar, Nevsehir, Turkey


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Uchisar, Nevsehir, Turkey


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Ortahisar, Nevsehir, Turkey

Many of the holes in the rocks were for roosting pigeons. The previous inhabitants used the guano as fertalizer.

We spent most of the day hiking around. One kilometer here, another four there. For two guys who barely got any sleep, I thought we did pretty good. We befriended Shazia, another traveler from the States who was on vacation with her mother; had an amazing buffet lunch (that’ll teach them to let to college grads eat all they want); and, toured a pottery shop, among other things.

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Ortahisar, Nevsehir, Turkey


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Ortahisar, Nevsehir, Turkey


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Ortahisar, Nevsehir, Turkey


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Ortahisar, Nevsehir, Turkey


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Uchisar, Nevsehir, Turkey


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Uchisar, Nevsehir, Turkey


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Uchisar, Nevsehir, Turkey


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Uchisar, Nevsehir, Turkey


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Uchisar, Nevsehir, Turkey


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Uchisar, Nevsehir, Turkey


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Avanos, Nevsehir, Turkey


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Avanos, Nevsehir, Turkey


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Avanos, Nevsehir, Turkey


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Avanos, Nevsehir, Turkey


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Avanos, Nevsehir, Turkey


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Avanos, Nevsehir, Turkey


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Avanos, Nevsehir, Turkey


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Avanos, Nevsehir, Turkey


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, Nevsehir, Turkey


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Urgub, Nevsehir, Turkey


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Urgub, Nevsehir, Turkey

For dinner, we walked into town and had pide (a Turkish pizza) and a beer at a restraunt that Shazia had recommended for their kunefe, which is amazing by the way.

We wandered back to the Bat Shoestring Cave and promptly fell asleep.

Dateline: Istanbul, Day 3 – The Bath

Istanbul, Turkey
24 June 2009

Having walked so much the previous day, Charlie and I decided that today would be a good day to take that boat right up the Bosphorus. After a bit of late start, we walked down to the pier in hopes of finding a boat that would take us on for a decent price. It didn’t take long for a guy to get us interested in a two hour boat cruise. It wasn’t the exact ride we wanted, which would have taken us up to Çamlıbahçe or so, but it was good enough, especially given the amount of time we had. The asking price was 20YTL each; after walking away once, we were able to get him to go for 30YTL for the both of us, and probably could have gone lower.

The ride was decent; I was able to take some great pictures. It would have been nice to have a guide to give some background on what we were looking at, but alas we had no such fortune.

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Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey


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Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey


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Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey


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Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey


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Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey


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Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey


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Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey


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Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey

There wasn’t much to see on the Asian side of Istanbul, so I ended up falling asleep for the hour or so it took to get back.

Charlie and I decided that we were both pretty hungry. Charlie heard a rumor that the fish was pretty good here, so we set out to find something decent. We settled on a bustling fish house of sort right on the water.

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Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey

The kitchen, and I use that term very loosely, was little more than a collection of grills on a boat docked to the pier. Ordering meant walking up to a guy right on the edge of the pier, handing over your 3YTL and getting a cooked fish sandwich handed to you. For another 2YTL each, we added two cans of Coca-Cola.

Overall, it was a decent meal, at least up until I starting getting bits of bone in my mouth.

We made our way back to the hostel, getting lost in the Bazaar along the way.

Despite my little cat nap, I was still dog tired when we got back. I spent the rest of the afternoon sleeping, which honestly isn’t such a bad thing to do in the hot Istanbul weather.

After I finally woke up, we spent the evening figuring out what to do in Cappadocia and really the rest of Turkey. Ali, the owner of Mavi Guesthouse1, was very helpful in piecing together this section of our trip. It was going to be a grueling few days, but we assured him we could do it.

The plan was such: leave tomorrow night on an overnight bus to Gorme (which is in the Cappadocia region) and go on an all day tour of the northern region of Cappadocia. Sleep at Shoestring Cave for the night. Wake up and go on another all day tour of the southern region of Cappadocia. Then, catch another overnight bus to Selcuk. Spend a day in Selcuk (i.e. Ephesus), staying overnight at the ANZ Guesthouse, and leaving for Samos, Greece the next morning at 8am via ferry. Talk about a whirlwind tour of Turkey.

Content with our plans, Charlie and I headed off to a Turkish Bath, also known as a hamam, with Nick (one of our roommates).

Let me tell you something about hamam’s: they are utterly amazing and utterly scary. We got changed into single towel and slippers and were ushered into the sauna to sweat it out. There was some talk about crossing legs or not, but we decided that we were all mature males, comfortable with our heterosexuality.

Two older gentlemen2 came to get us out of the sauna. They sat us down on the marble and drenched us in water before rubbing us down with a stiff glove. It actually felt good and I wished they went a bit longer.

Next, we were instructed to lay face up on a marble table. There, they gave us a soap massage, intermixed with sporadic slapping (for effect, I’m sure). It’s pretty much what you would expect, although a bit on the vigorous side. They had clearly done this many times before and were not afraid to go practically all the way up my thigh. To put it bluntly, one slip and this guys thumb was going right up my asshole. Seriously. Not an exciting thought.

I just stared straight ahead, looking at the single bare Philips florecent light bulb illuminating the room.

Philips…Lets Make Things Better

Reveling in our newfound cleanliness, we walked back to the hostel, grabbing some food and baklava on the way.

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Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey


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Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey


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Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey


  1. the hostel we were staying at 

  2. men, yes; gentle…not so much 

The Three Amigos

After much convincing, the third partner in my trip is finally on board. Quinn’s actually been onboard for a while, he just finally purchased his ticket today…which means that he’s really on board now.

Charlie’s the the other partner on this trip. He’ll be joining me in Istanbul on 22 June, while Quinn won’t be joining us until around 10 July in Switzerland.

All three of us met tonight to get some logistics figure out. I think it was productive, at least as far as any meeting can be. Charlie’s going to be figuring out how to get us from Turkey to Greece, in addition to what where we’ll be going. Meanwhile, I’ll be figuring out where Charlie and I will be sleeping while in Istanbul and Cappadocia.

Italy is more or less figured out.

For Switzerland, I think the plan is to work our way from the southwest to the northeast, going through Interlaken, Lucerne, and St. Gallen.

Austria’s also mostly planed out.

With only four days left, I’ve finally started to pack. I have most of my stuff already, which just a few small things to pick up here and there. I’ll be releasing an updated itinerary and packing list in the next couple of days.

P.S. Quinn’s on the left, Charlie’s on the right.

Plans for Russia and Turkey

My friend, Eric Boyd, left this comment on my Facebook wall regarding my trip:

That should be a lot of fun. Watch out for Gypsies though. I’ve heard they like to break into train compartments and rob you blind. But I’m sure in your case they will try to unzip your suitcase and find themselves fighting for their lives against an army of death-ray wielding nanobots;)

They’re actually going to be sporting 1.21 jigawatt lasers, not death-rays.

After talking to Jeff the other week, I called up Mr. Staples (Jeff’s dad) to ask about what travel agency they used. Mr. Staples referred me to Mir Corporation. I took a look at their packages, and they’re quite expensive ($5,000 for 10 days), plus their dates don’t line up with mine. They did, however, have some very useful information on their website.

I’ve received my official invitation, filled out the visa application, and had my visa picture taken last week. Today I sent everything, plus my cover letter and a $131 check in the mail to Dad. Dad will add my passport to the set and drop it off at the Russian Consulate in Downtown Seattle. It will take no less than six days to process it, so here goes nothing.

Russia

  • Moscow
    • The Central Museum of Armed Forces1
      70 ruble, or 30 ruble if I get the student discount, plus another 100 ruble so I can take photos
    • Kremlin Armory Museum
      700 ruble, or 200 ruble if I get the student discount
    • Cosmonautics Memorial Museum
    • The Polytechnical Museum at the Ilinsky Gates
    • Moscow State University Zoological Museum
    • Underground Moscow

Useful resources: http://www.moscow.info/

I also talked with my friend, Erin, who’s currently in Turkey. She gave me the low down on what’s what in Turkey.

  • Turkey
    • Istanbul (2 days-ish, Hackett did 4 days)
      • Grand Bizarre
      • Blue Mosque
  • Antalya
  • Ephesus (1 day)
  • Cappadocia (1-2 days)
  • Ankara
    • Capital
    • Turkish Aerospace Industries2

Erin also says I need to :

  • See a Whirling Dervish dance
  • Eat Gözleme and Kanafeh3
  • Read up on Atatürk
  • “Also, when in Turkey, you can’t miss out on a Turkish bath. Its a fairly odd experience at first, but you have to do it!”

Random thought, do I need a phone?


  1. http://www.cmaf.ru/eng/index_eng.htm 

  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_737_AEW&C#Turkey 

  3. Erin says, “kunefe, my favorite dessert…it rhymes with ‘tunafay'”