In the interests of being super-frugal Mennonites, we took a night-bus from Istanbul to Cappadocia, which is about from here to here.
In theory it's brilliant, because you catch the bus at 7 pm and then you get to where you're going at 7 am and you haven't wasted a day traveling AND you aren't paying for accomodations that night. This is us on the night bus when we first got on and thought it was balling because it had tv's.
This is before we realized that the movies were all in Turkish, and that of the advertised AC, wi-fi and toilet, only the AC was present and accounted for. We didn't realize the lack of toilet until two hours into the trip, and several shouted conversations with the driver only brought the next scheduled bathroom stop up from 1 am to 12:30 am.
A long day of walking PLUS a long night-bus left my feet incredibly swollen so that I could hardly scrape my flip-flops on, and wherever I put them they felt like they were going to burst. Exploding feet ≠ sleeping despite half a Gravol, and while everyone nodded off I sat there, frustrated and tired, knowing that I was going to be a wreck the next day but not knowing how to help myself. This is the part of the trip where I am a crabby child and I have a little weep into my head scarf.
I drifted off from about 5 until we got to Cappadocia at 7, and then a bunch of stuff happened where our hostel had over-booked and sent us to a different hostel? I don't remember, because I was sleeping in a corner. Somehow I ended up taking a 4-hour nap in a cave, which is what one does in Cappadocia because it is MADE OF CAVES!
Everyone lives in caves, guys. Like, as though they were houses.
It. Is. Crazy. I did not know this place existed in the world, and here it is, all full of fairy chimneys and underground cities and shit.
We spent the first day (after cave-napping) poking around and exploring the open air museum, which is basically a bunch of cave-churches
and where the only photo I really wanted to take was of an angry beetle on a mural in a cave-church guarded by the no-photo police. Alas. Also, there were camels.
I asked the camel guy if I could pet a camel, and he's all, Sure! And then I'm petting the camel and then the camel guy picks me up and puts me on the camel, and then tries to charge me for a picture on the camel despite my not voluntarily being on the camel. On the one hand, being hoisted by strangers is not my idea of a good time. On the other hand, I got a free (albeit brief) camel ride.
The day was long and sweaty and full of dust and awesome. We had been chastized for bringing outside beer into the common room of our Istanbul hostel, so we were surprised when we asked our cave hostel if we could drink beers on their terrace and they were like, Yes, if you have.
Have we did.
The next day we took a tour, which sounds lame and touristy but which was completely rad and encouraged much tour-taking later in the trip. There are so many things to see in the area, and almost no public transit, and renting a car definitely = getting lost and shouting at each other. Tours are air-conditioned buses and other people to chat with and someone telling you what the hell you're looking at.
We toured an underground city that goes down six floors. Underground. There was a wine press and traps for the enemy and all the couples furtively hugged each other in the coolness of the caves.
The stairs and passageways were made for smaller people than me, and MUCH smaller people than Joel.
We took an hour 'hike' in Ihlara Valley, where we stopped to drink imaginary tea in the stream.
We clambered all over the Selime Cathedral, where another group's guide warned them about a particularly Perilous Stairwell and advised them not to go up it. Our guide said nothing re: not going up the stairwell, which we took as permission, but which I second-guessed once the wall dropped away to my right into a yawning abyss and my feet shifted in my sweaty flip-flops.
A note on sleeping in caves: they smell like caves and are full of moths but there is no AC necessary because it is a cave. I slept under a blanket, you guys. I don't think I've adequately conveyed how hot it was, but the temperature never dropped below 40 while the sun was out, and we were never not sweating. It spat rain for, like, eight seconds, and they were the happiest eight seconds of the day. Our rain dance failed to bring more rain.