April 15, 2012

Turkey time!

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After being given the bum steer by Mr Google – who failed to tell us there was not only a ferry from Kos to Bodrum for $30 cheaper than the one we booked, but it also left eight hours earlier! – we fnally made it to what was to be the last country on our epic journey, Turkey.

High-tailing it straight to the bus terminal, we had just enough time to buy some water and snacks before we jumped on an overnight bus – final destination, Cappadocia. Best known for its moon-like landscape, we had heard good things about this place from backpackers we had met a long the way, so we thought we would give it a crack.

Having played the Europe game and pre-booked all our accomodation and transport across the continent, we were happy to be back in the traditional ‘rock up and find a place to sleep’ backpacker mode. On arriving in the main tourist town of Goreme – a town that almost looks cartoon-like thanks to its jutting rock landscape, fairy chimneys and cave dwellings – I looked after our bags while Craig set out in the searing hot sun to find us a place to crash (what a star!).

Eventually we found a cheap room complete with our own bathroom and bedbugs – well, if the weird bitemarks on my back were anything to go by, there were bedbugs!

It was at the aforementioned bedbug hotel that we also booked a tour of the region that was led by The Germ, a weedy little turd of a guy who was dubbed The Germ by Craig thanks to the blaring Turkish rap music he blasted through the mini bus, and the horrible rude, sexist jokes he told along the way. The Germ aside, we got a good overview of the region, had a nice walk along a valley and explored an underground city.

What else goes down in Goreme town? Not much, which is fine by us, we were more than happy to drink beers in beanbags (random, I know) and stuff our faces with pide pretty much every night.


Our next destination was Canakkale, an 18-hour bus trip from Goreme (they told us it was 12!) and our base from which to visit Gallipoli.

While many Australians choose to visit this famous battle site on ANZAC day, I have to say I’m glad we got to visit the area minus the crowds. To walk among the tombstones, visit the musuem to see uniforms, weapons and schrapnel left behind and to walk in the trenches was a very humble experience indeed.

After our visit to Gallipoli, we decided to go to a traditional Turkish bath. Craig quite enjoyed the experience, but for me, being scrubbed down by a dirty old man and having my hair washed in tangle-inducing soap was not my idea of fun, however, sometimes you’ve got to give these things a shot and a least now I can say I’ve done it... and I can also say never again!


Our final stop in Turkey – and the final stop on our whole entire trip! – was Instanbul. A real clash of east meets west, it was here that we really enjoyed the best that Turkey has to offer.

We ticked the sites of our list – Hagia Sophia, Sultanahmet Mosque, Basilica Cistern, the Grand Bazaar – and indulged in the delicious street food (and treated ourselves to a sneaky Mega Mac!).

But perhaps the highlight of our time in Turkey, the whole trip, and indeed our entire lives, was on our very last day. We rose early in order to make the most of our final day, and headed to a park I had wanted to visit – it had become clear on this trip that I had developed a thing for parks.

Sitting down on a bench, we started to reminisce about our trip, and how amazing and wonderful it had been. At one point, Craig said to me, ‘I’ve written a little speech for you, but I’m too embarrassed to say it.’ Assuming he was just going to thank me for all the work I had done organising the trip, I offered to look away while he said it, but he
said he wanted me to look at him and it wasn’t long before I figured out why...

With his eyes welling up and the words flying out of his mouth at a hundred miles an hour (yes, even faster than his normal rapid pace!), it was there in that park that Craig chose to end our journey by starting a whole new one – he asked me to me be his wife!

Obviously I said yes and with massive grins on our faces, we headed to the Grand Bazaar to buy a turqoise stand-in ring for me to wear until we were able to buy the real deal.
Then, it was off to call our families with the good news (my parents already know as Craig had run to a telephone while I was in the shower a few days earlier to ask Dad’s permission!).

To celebrate, Craig had booked us in to Hamdi for lunch, an amazing restaurant which overlooks the Bosphorus, where we celebrated our engagement in the only way we know how – with food. It was over lunch Craig also gave me a necklace from the Grand Bazaar I had wanted to buy a few days earlier but couldn’t bring myself to part with the dollars (yep, he can be a bit of a sweetheart, I must say).

After lunch, it was time to head to the airport and fly back home to Oz. After 518 days and 22 countries our journey was over!