We left Istanbul last night and took the overnight train to Ankara. The first thing I noticed about this trip is that we seem to have a REAL tour guide! Last time I did an organised tour, and admittedly that was a good decade ago, our tour guide was a bit hit and miss. She was an absolute darling and we all loved her dearly, but her general knowledge on where she was leading us was often full of glaring gaps 🙂 For example on an orientation drive through Paris, she gesticulated in the general direction of the Louvre and told us “That’s the Loov museum, where they have lots of famous stuff, like the Mona Lisa and that statue of the lady with no arms” which you can imagine had us all in giggles. But the tour guide who is showing us around Turkey is the exact opposite –
Annoying Pack: Do you happen to know what that building is?
Tour Guide par Excellence: Yes, that is the Gare de Haydarpasa which is Istanbuls main train station. It was built in 1909 and underwent extensive restoration in the early 1980s… etc etc etc.
So yay for us having some one to show us around who has some local history and culture happily under their belt. In addition to that, she seems to have a great grip of the Turkish language which is proving really helpful too.
Anyway back to the train, we got on about 10pm, and DrNick and I were (not surprisingly) assigned a sleeper carriage with the only other couple on the tour, Dandenong Dan and his wife, Gina. Dandenong Dan likes to collect LED torches and seems to have a problem remember any sort of proper noun, perhaps due to a previously sustained head injury. His wife Gina likes to highlight things in her guidebook, and dislikes unexpected bird strikes when riding her motorcycle. :S Both Dan and Gina like a smoke and a drink or two or three or four… which naturally meant they were in an out the door all night going to the truvalet (ie: toilet – the first Turkish word I learned!) As travelling companions we could not have been less suited, but there you have it….. they remind me of Ipsnatch and Steady, which is a whole other story I dont have time for right now.
So after trying our luck with the dining car and eventually being driven out of there by the cigarettes, we turned in fairly early around 11pm. Lets just say it was a long…. long…. long…. night 🙁 I didn’t sleep too well at all unfortunately, and can only imagine how worse off we would have been if we didn’t have the sleeper compartment. Everytime we went through a tunnel this morning, I kept being reminded of the sleazy Italian man from Eurotip…. and half expected to see him appear in the compartment when we came back into the light!!! Anyway we get to Ankara, have the briefest glimpse of solid ground and then hit a minibus for the trip to Goreme which is the middle of the Cappadocia region. This whole area is stunning!! But more about that tomorrow after we go hot air ballooning at dawn and get a really good look at the place.
This afternoon, we’ve done some pottering around Goreme, and went to a place called Tribal Collections, which is run by a lovely kiwi woman named Ruth who spent about 2 and a half hours teaching us all about Turkish carpets. It was well worth while, and we learnt heaps. I’ve fallen in love with two carpets both of which originate in Afghanistan,(which Ruth has kindly offered to put aside for me on hold so I can make up my mind if loving turns to buying!!! :S) but not sure whether or not to buy as I am promised by MD that his carpet dealing friend Smahel will ‘look after me’ when I hit Quetta….. hmmm decisions decisions. I guess i could always get one from each place!!!! 😀 Have two days to make up my mind!
Tonight, we’re trying something called Testi Kebap for dinner, which is apparently some sort of lamb or chicken casesrole in a clay pot that you have to break to get to the food…. local delicacy apparently… but sounds more like local gimmick!
PS….something about trains makes you want to have sex….. dont know why? Maybe something to do with an old Risky Business fantasty or something!!! 😀 Those of you who remember the 80s know what I’m talking about !!!