The Highway Boys
A Voyage to Australia
Fires of 1967
Julie, eat your heart out!
The Last Stand of Black Pete
Enter the 21st Century
Tales from the Crib Room
The Bus Trip from Hell
Agonising About Acronyms
The Vacuum Cleaner
Forward to the Past
List of 2003 stories
The Bus trip from Hell
Fethiye is a beautiful Turkish seaside town with a majestic mountain backdrop and lots of little cruise boats, so pretty at the busy waterfront. Having done several of these very cheap and excellent trips on the blue, blue Mediterranean, it was time to move on.
We, decided, my daughter Lisa, myself and friend Faye, decided to go to the famed area of Capghpadocia in central Turkey, where people lived in cave houses. We had booked into a cave house pension in the small village of Goreme and would be met at the bus by our host, Yuksel. After packing our bags once more we headed for the otogar to board our bus for the next phase of our trip.
We climbed aboard the bus which left at 4.30 pm and were looking forward to a truly amazing experience in Cappadocia. However the bus trip was something else. It started out o.k., though I wasn't keen on the back seat, with Lisa, Faye and me in a row but the seats were wrap around and quite comfortable. A young Turkish woman with a 4 month old baby girl sat next to Faye and we were happy to hold her to give Mum a rest from time to time.
As the trip progressed we drove through varied country, beautiful white-capped mountains and plains where the wheat crops had been recently harvested. The farmers live in small square houses with outside stairs to the rooftops and there they sit in the coolness of evening, chatting and drinking cai.
We stopped at several towns to pick up more passengers and the bus was now almost full. The conductor came around with cool drinks and scented spray for our hands. He also moved passengers around from time to time as the Turkish women will not sit next a man unless he is family. At Konya, a large industrial town, we picked up eight more people and this group included a fundamentalist family with the mother covered from head to toe in black robes, two young girls and two boys. The Mum and Dad and two daughters were crammed into two seats and the two boys sat on the floor in the aisle, but a young woman was told to sit on a pillow which placed between Faye and my seats, a space of eight inches. Needless to say she overlapped both of us and as it was very hot we were all uncomfortable, except for Lisa who slept at the window seat.
We couldn't believe it they had done this. "Oh my God," we all said in unison. Even the Turks said this, which surprised us. Two young men were left standing in the aisle, 'disgraceful, unsafe', we said, but this is Turkey, mostly wonderful, sometimes bloody awful. It was difficult for all of us and there were some arguments between the conductor and passengers but gradually everyone began to relax and fall asleep. This eventually caused a disaster as the young mother had the baby on her lap and when she fell asleep the baby fell on the floor under the seat in front of her. She was screaming and so was the mother "Ma bebe, ma bebe," she cried in anguish. We all became upset and were down on our hands and knees looking for the baby, with the mother still crying, "Ma bebe." She finally located the baby who was fortunately unharmed, but very upset. But with petting from two or three of us she soon quietened while Mum resumed her place on the floor, looking for the baby's dummy. Faye and I continued to tolerate the young woman's bottom on our knees. Peace was restored and unbelievably Lisa slept through it all.
Our next stop was for the promised dinner. It was almost midnight and we were glad to get off the bus, happily anticipating a nice meal. The cafeteria was huge, and like an army mess with steel tables and chairs and weird Russian sounding music tormenting us. The food was o.k. . . just, but the toilets were revolting and we paid a young man L250, A25c and he handed us one serviette (I got two).
Back to the bus, but alas it wouldn't start. Off we got again and sat on the veranda of the cafeteria chatting to a charming French couple, so it was not all bad, but we were well behind schedule. It was 1 a.m. by the time about 10 men combined efforts & finally fixed the bus. The trip was meant to take 11 hrs and they amended that to 12 hours but it actually took 14½ hours. What a bugger of a trip! The famous bus trip from hell! But as we cruised down the mountainsides of Cappadocia, the first half-dozen cave houses came into view. I woke Lisa and we gazed enraptured and incredulous at what we saw. It was like something from a fantastic movie set. Our minds could not absorb it, and on it went, more and more of this amazing 2000 years old, fabled, biblical land. Was it real?
Soon our host Yuksel arrived in his Mazda to pick us up. His pension 'Gumas' was delightful and he showed us to our lovely cave, with marble ensuite and large stone balcony overlooking the town. This place had once been a church, all dug out of the living rock, we loved it on sight. He then escorted us to the dining room for delicious Turkish breakfast and wonderful! cups of tea. Our host was so kind and charming, but we could barely wait to get to the comfort of our beds for a much needed sleep. Yes, it was the bus trip from hell but the time spent in Cappadocia was a great experience and one of the best things I've ever done.
The bus story has been the cause of much laughter among friends and family.