Ankara to Goreme

At 7.30am, after a night of fitful dozing, I arrived at Ankara station. I checked my bag in at the left luggage office and after a few false starts, found the right direction to Anit Kabir, the Monumental Tomb of Ataturk. After a good breakfast in a cafe I walked up the hill to the mausoleum. It’s epic in size and has a somewhat Communist feel, its statues depicting the Soldier, Farmer and Worker, and processional reliefs. The Turks certainly hold this man in astonishingly high esteem. Next to exhibits of his personal effects, his clothes, his cars, were several photos showing what was claimed to be his profile in clouds and the shadows cast by mountains.

TicketI moved on, retrieved my bag, took a subway to the otogar (bus station) and got a ticket for the five hour trip to Goreme in Cappadocia. The bus was modern and comfortable, and a woman frequently handed out water, tea or coffee, and splashed our hands with cologne. There was a half hour stopover at one of those sterile service station/cafeterias that look the same in any country. I dozed, read my book, and gazed blankly at the somewhat uninspiring blank canvas of wheat- and dirt-coloured hills and plains that passed.

About 5pm we the bus arrived in Goreme (after a change to a smaller bus at Neusehir). I shouldered my bag and strode off up the hill to the pension I’d chosen but it was full, and it wasn’t until my third choice and I was hot and exhausted that I got a room, a tiny rock-cut chamber in the Backpacker’s Cave Interyouth Hostel, for US$9 a night. I have to bend almost double to get in and the two tiny wondows are sealed with perspex sheets, but it’s cosy. Tiny, actually. Womb-like in fact!

I went for a wander up the hill through the old streets, which felt a lot like parts of India. Bulbous women with their heads wrapped in scarves sat together in doorways, and the buildings are an organic mish-mash of carved rooms, mudbrick and stone. The bizarre mushroom-like shapes of the tuff rock cones surround and shape the town. The main roads are lined with souvenir shops, restaurants and bars, but no one hassled me and there was a relaxed, sleepy feel to the place.

Walking down one track I suddenly slipped on a stone that went out from under me and I hit the dirt, using my back and my video camera to break the fall. The latter was a bit scraped but undamaged, the former still very sore after a day – hope I haven’t done anything serious. Two local women rushed over to help me. One picked up and with a curse, angrily cast aside the offending rock step.

Before dinner I talked with a retired German couple at the pension, then I had a much needed beer at an outside table, and later dinner at a restaurant. It’s damn pleasant to sit outside with a glass of wine and a meal and my book.

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