Traveling when you’re sick is the worst. I spent a few minutes trying to think of a good metaphor for the experience, and the best I could come up with is that tourism while ill is like trying to enjoy a movie while on a roller coaster, which makes a lot of sense to me, given how sick I get on roller coasters, but largely fails to impress in the grammar department.
Regardless of Strunk and White’s opinion on the aforementioned, I came down with the flu two days before leaving Istanbul for Cappadocia, but there was no way I was missing out on one of the great natural wonders of the world.
Having said that, this was one of the lamest trips ever. I did very little. I saw precious little. I somehow managed to still have some fun in between the frequent bouts of fatigue/blahness, but most of that was reserved for playing tavla while being stalked by a vicious demon cat.
Ferda and I flew from Istanbul to Nevsehir airport, which is in Central Anatolia, aka the middle of Turkey, aka the middle of nowhere. A forty-minute shuttle ride to our hotel in Goreme, one of the largest towns in the Cappadocia region, and the first step was to lie down and rest. Super lame, but super necessary, what with me being a delicate flower and all.
A walk through the town center was next, in search of something to drink I think, and frankly, ‘center’ is a bit of a misnomer, given that the center is pretty much the entirety of the populated portion of the town. Not many people about, locals or tourists, it was pretty clear we had come in the offseason. It was also extremely dry and arid, and even with a brisk ever-present wind it was pretty hot that afternoon, though it turned downright frigid later on in the evening.
It was a battle to sleep in fact, the heater in our room drying out the already painfully dry area. If I ever have a bout of the old consumption, it is to this place I shall convalesce, play cards and test drive hypocrisy before the end of days.
The second night in town I dragged Ferda all around the back alleys of Goreme searching for a restaurant I’d read about that we did eventually find due to my exceptional ability to stumble upon things after stumbling around in the dark for an eternity, but discovered through a sign with a smiley face firmly affixed to it that the owner/operator was away on holiday. We settled on the very nice place Ferda had initially suggested we try before all of the aforementioned stumbling.
The next day, Ferda kindly went out in search of a recuperative glass of orange juice for me. It took a bit of doing, but she sweet-talked the owner of My House Cafe into letting her bring a big glass of OJ back to our hotel. It was pulpy as hell, but still a really nice thing for the guy to do.
I felt so crummy I couldn’t even get down for breakfast that morning, which fortunately didn’t stop Ferda from enjoying the most important meal of the day outside. The hotel, which was a fantastic place to stay, brought me up a big plate of food even though they normally don’t do that sort of thing.
Since I was stuck inside the hotel for a large chunk of the trip, I requisitioned Ferda to help me take a few photos. I’ve been interested in portraiture for a while, and I’d been wanting to muck around with texture and light more, and Ferda was very accommodating in my quest to take, and I think this is a direct quote, “some vaguely artsy crap with the lens cap off.”
I’m coming back. There’s just no two ways about it. The entire region is fascinating and other than successfully explaining in Turkish to the clerks at a pharmacy that I wanted lots of drugs to help me sleep, I really didn’t get much of a sense of satisfaction from the trip.
It’s a region with a fascinating history, whose current name dates back to the 6th century BC(ish) when the Persian Empire was making its move towards the history books and the formation of the modern world, and, of course, green screens and pop culture.
Even the food, which isn’t exactly setting world cuisine on fire, deserves more time and attention. Our last meal before heading to the airport was a classic dish called Testi Kebap, consisting of meat and vegetables cooked in a sealed clay pot and then opened with a hammer. I had no idea, but it turns out I enjoy a little destruction with my food, and it was really, really tasty.
It’s a question for every tourist, whether to spend the time visiting new countries or going back to the places you love. Or in this case the town I spent most of the time huddled under a blanket in a hotel built into the side of a cave.