Wed 11-May: My first full day in Istanbul. I teamed up with an Argentino named Mariano and we hit up some of the more major sites – the Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar, the spice market and the Archaeological Museum – the highlight of which was the actual chain the Byzantines pulled across the Golden Horn to prevent the Ottomans from encircling the city. I was still feeling ambitious as the day wore on so we split ways and I took up the recommendation of a friend I had made in Sofia to visit a neighborhood on the Asian side of the Bosporus. The ferry across cost $1 and the bus ride up the straights cost $1 and the Turkish tea that I sipped as I watched ships passed under the shade of a 300 year old tree cost $1.
Thurs 12-May: After a lazy morning in the hostel, I headed back out in to the fray of sightseeing. I went to the Galata Tour from which a colony of Italians helplessly watched the Turks pillage Constantinople. Then I headed up to the old Roman aqueduct where I had a run-in with a shoe-shiner (I did him a favor of picking up a brush he dropped – he wanted to shine my shoes as a thank-you but ended up wanting me to pay $31 – NO WAY DUDE). I hit up some pretty fabulous mosques and managed to find some decent places to eat. Went back to the hostel and drank with some people there.
Fri 13-May: One last loop around Istanbul before leaving for Cappadocia. I hit up the old city walls (I am very fascinated with the fall of Constantinople) which are filled with gypsies who were staring me down. I don’t know if they were eyeing me up or just curious why I was there. The walls were rugged and beautiful – filled with trees growing through crevasses and the smoke from gypsy fires, clothes drying. After a quick bite to eat, I walked along the Sea of Marmara towards my hostel and then on the bus bound for Cappadocia.
Sat 14-May: Cappadocia is in Central Turkey, not too far south of Ankara. The landscape is vastly different than anything I have seen on my entire trip. More like the American Southwest than the rest of Turkey. It definitely felt like I was in the Middle East here – especially compared to cosmopolitan Istanbul which has a European swagger. At 9am I arrived at my hostel after a long bus ride and even though I was exhausted I was eager to jump right in on a 9 hour tour of the countryside. It was definitely worth the $45 to be guided around the massive expanses of the region. In the evening I went to a restaurant and had a chicken cooked in a clay pot and broken open at my table. It was delicious.
Sun 15-May: After a solid rest, I met some people in my hostel for an all day hike around the town we were staying – Goreme. The major features of the area are strange rock formations and houses built in to the sides of canyon walls. We spent the better part of the day getting lost in the various canyons and ridges of the area. It was a lovely Sunday. In the end though, I had to get on another overnight bus – bound for Antalya on the southern coast of Turkey for some time at the beach and some good weather finally.