On the train from Selcuk, I was reading about how close Greece was to Izmir. With daily coast-to-coast ferries, I regretted not planning a trip despite of a valid Schengen visa. On arriving, we were all extremely hungry and headed to a cafe on the main street connecting Basmane station with the coast.
We noticed an unusual transition in the anthropological scene. Instead of an European influence, we noticed more Arabic features. We saw garment stores selling life jackets & tubes. Some suspicious men were walking in and out of the cafe. In a flash second, all dots connected in my head. Izmir was the starting point for refugee death boats headed to the Greek coast. The unraveling of facts and accompanying images only saddened us.
Our bus from Pammukale took us straight to our seaport hotel in Kusadasi. The view from the room was to die for. But the room itself seemed to have been designed for the 60’s; no one had imagined there would be personal devices that would need additional electric points in the room.
We negotiated with Ondur the taxi driver, to drive us to Virgin Mary, Euphesus and drop us at Selcuk railway station – for 120TL.
From Kayseri, we got off the bus near Pammukale and were driven to the city on a free feeder bus. It later turned out that this was an agent selling his own local services. We teamed up with Balan & Kavita to rent a car and head straight to Aphrodisias.
We headed back to Pammukale to visit the world heritage site of Hierapolis.
After a 125 km drive from Kayseri to Cappadocia, we had one of the most beautiful hotels I’ve ever stayed at. Of course, because I never lived in a cave before.
On enquiring about the ballooon flight, we were told that no flights were being operated on account of weather. We had almost given up, but something made us step in to a travel shop. We were more than delighted to learn that flights were being operated, but in an equal dilemma about spending €100. But we realized it was now or never and booked ourselves. The rest was beyond imagination.
After 2 days in Istanbul, we were now headed to Kayseri. Being on a budget trip, we took a taxi to Taksim around 3am to jump on the Havatas airport shuttle to Istanbul Sabiha airport. Lucky for us, the Pegasus flight to Kayseri was light and I got an entire row to stretch out. Our hotel was booked in Cappadocia and we didn’t want to carry our backpacks with us, so we rented a car at the airport. It was a pleasure driving through the scenic passes.
Traveling in the low season, we carried the risk of bad weather. While our 1st day in Istanbul was nice and sunny, day 2 was forecasted cloudy for most of the part. We thought of using the time indoors at the 500 year old Grand Market.
Since we didn’t want to leave anything to the last day, we headed to the Galata Tower. At a 25TL entrance fee, it was a bit hyped (locals pays 5TL).
We landed at Istanbul SAW around midnight and were at our hotel in Yenikapi by 230a. After a good night’s sleep and a not so good breakfast (only to realize after a week that this was the best), we set out to explore Istanbul.
First up, we purchased a Turkcell SIM Card that cost us around 55TL and for another 10TL gave us 1GB data for a week. Data, together with the Trafi app, was a life saver when wandering the streets. We also topped up the Istanbulkart for discounted trips on public transport at 2.15TL per trip, irrespective of the distance. It works with bus, tram, metro, ferry & cable car .