Day 66 - Tue 20 May 08
Up early, having slept very well in my fairy chimney room, nice big thick duvet so much warmer than my previous nights sleep. Took a local bus to Kayseri to obtain my train ticket. The bad news is that the bus station has moved, and instead of it being right next to the train station it's about 5km away. There is a shuttle bus, but the bus in holds 60 people whereas the shuttle holds 20, so it's a massive bun fight.
I give up and elect to take a taxi instead. That costs me 20l! Getting my tickets is easy, and I decide to head straight back so a 1l bus gets me to the bus station, and the 13:00 bus gets me back to Göreme by 14:00. I spot my US biker pal and he's arrange to get his bike shipped back to the US from a port just outside Istanbul, but he's going to hang around here for a few more days.
The rest of the afternoon is spent chilling out, playing with the kittens that live at the hotel and chatting to an Australian couple.
Walked up to the Goreme open air museum, which is full of tourists being shipped in by the coach load - there are loads of churches cut out of the living rock here, and some of them are decorated entirely with frescos. The highlight has to be the dark church in which every square inch is covered by dark frescos.
What I'm about to relate is the weirdest set of events I've been involved with, ones that even now as I write them I'm still unsure that they really happened.
My train was due to leave at 00:55. The 00:05 Ankara train arrived and departed with no fuss, even if it was about 20 minutes late. I didn't use this train as it didn't have any sleepers (according to the Turkish rail wed site), but as it pulled out of the station I spotted that there were sleepers. Oh well. My train would arrive in Ankara at a more pleasant time of 08:00.
00:55 came and went, but I didn't wish to appear to be too uptight, and I only went to enquire about it when 01:30 came. It then became apparent that I should have caught a bus at the front of the station at 00:55. What sort of train company would sell a bus ticket? After a bit more drawing on paper I worked out that the bus only took me to another station about 15km outside the city, where it made a connection with the train. So I hadn't bought a ticket for a hellish bus ride to Ankara.
Further scribbling on the paper made it clear that although I had missed the bus/train (by a long way) I could repeat the whole process at 02:40 and catch the 03:00 train. So I headed out to the front of the station to be presented with a coach that was old than I am. Everyone else out front of the station (and there were quite a few for two o'clock in the morning) was helpful, and I became an instant celebrity with anyone who could speak English coming up for a chat and a handshake.
When I climbed aboard the bus and we headed off everyone waved me off. I was slightly concerned when I spotted that the bus driver had a squint, and thinking back now, I'm sure that he only had one working eye. In the UK you need stereoscopic vision to be a bus driver. My fears were heightened as after a bit the bus turned off the main highway and headed down a dirt track.
The coach stopped next to a concrete hut beside a single railway track surrounded by elevated motorways. With the strong smell of manure. However I needn't have worried (!) as a train appeared within 10 minutes. Even better it stopped! I climbed aboard and walked down the train more in hope than expectation. I found a restaurant car. A good sign, and then the next carriage was a sleeper! The attendant took my ticket and without batting an eyelid led me to a single couchette, with bed already to climb into, my own sink and fridge!
The attendant closed the door as I dropped to the floor and kissed the bed.