Westbound From Cappadocia – Thinking On Our Feet

“I’m not getting on an overnight bus.”

“I’m not getting on another plane.”

Andy and I don’t always agree on the details of traveling. I like to plan, he likes to be more spontaneous. As a sort of compromise for our trip to Turkey, we decided to book a hotel for Istanbul and Cappadocia ahead of time, as well as the two flights to get there, and the flight back to Istanbul at the end. The rest of the hotels and the transportation in the middle were left open so we could be a little flexible.

me and Andy in Cappadocia, Turkey

The Compromise

As our time in Cappadocia came to an end, we knew we needed to find a way to get to the town of Selcuk to see the ruins of Ephesus. We surveyed the row of bus companies set up in the center of Goreme, but they only had overnight buses to Selcuk. Due to a bad bed in Istanbul, and a few early mornings in Goreme, I hadn’t slept much in a week. I knew I wouldn’t sleep much on an overnight bus, so I refused to put myself through that. But our most recent flight was so bad we thought it might crash, so Andy refused to book a flight to Selcuk.

bus sign in Goreme, Turkey

Even though the bus companies didn’t have information about routes from any other towns, we took a chance on finding a connection in the city of Konya four hours away. Somehow the bus arrived early, and we began looking at our options. We knew we might have to spend the night there, but we thought it was worth finding out the bus schedule.

The Konya Connection

A man who worked in the bus station saw us two Americans with backpacks wander in, looking around like we were lost. He came over with a smile and tried to find out what we needed, realized we spoke English and ushered us over to a counter where someone else did. After a couple minutes, he found a direct bus to Izmir that left 15 minutes later. Izmir is only an hour or so from Selcuk, so we looked at each other and quickly decided, yes we’ll take the bus. We’re not normally good at making quick decisions.

bus in Turkey, somewhere between Cappadocia and Izmir

At this point we only had 10 minutes to find food. But wait, the guy who brought us to the counter is dragging us towards the bus! Since he didn’t speak English, we just went with him. Luckily I saw a doner stand near our bus, so after we put our bags under the bus, I went for the food and Andy went for drinks.

We met up again in front of the bus with five minutes to spare, prepared for the journey with a doner wrap and some water. Andy asked if I wanted to get on the bus or wait a few more minutes.

Half-jokingly I said, “we could see if there’s any WiFi around and try to book a hotel for tonight.”

We thought for about a second, and then jumped on our phones to see what we could accomplish in five minutes. A quick look through some hotels in Izmir and I found one with decent ratings, free WiFi and it was near a train station. We didn’t know if it was the right train station, but it seemed good so we booked it. Andy saved the hotel’s name and address just as our bus started pulling away and we lost the connection.

We felt like super heroes.

Turkish countryside

On the Bus

The next eight hours were spent watching the Turkish landscape go by. At a rest stop we talked to a passenger who offered to let us try his doner because it was a kind this particular city was known for. How kind that a complete stranger would let me take a bite of his food! We thanked him but declined and just bought our own since it looked good anyway.

We also spent four hours watching a weird version of Turkish Wheel of Fortune. Yes, FOUR hours where the scantily clad Vanna White type was the host and the man in the tuxedo was flipping the letters, and the contestants did song and dance routines in between rounds.

Turkish Wheel of Fortune on the bus TV

We arrived in Izmir exhausted but with renewed mental energy to take on the second half of our trip. And all because of a crazy bus journey and a hotel booked in less than five minutes using WiFi from another bus.