Mt. Nemrut

We caught the 5pm, 18 hour bus to Gazaintep. The bus was spent sleeping or reading. It was midnight before we stopped to have dinner. The dinner food was good.  I had rice, soup with chickpeas, and chicken and veggies in lemon sauce. Then it was time to sleep, as well as possible. The difficulty was in not being able to take off your shoes or have your legs in the aisle.

We stopped in Adana just before 9am. Adam wanted to get an Adana Kebab because this is the home of the kebab. The bus drivers told him to go and get on the but would wait. But the bus was not leaving at 9am, like we thought we were told, but at 9:30, so we rushed through getting a kebab and eating it without savouring it so the bus would not have to wait for us, but we were waiting for the bus.

We arrives in Gazaintep after noon. Then we had to catch a small but to Aydiaman right away. This was a few hours sitting on seats that were a bench to add extra seats to the bus. A dangerous adventure as there was no way to belt yourself in, you just had to hold onto the chairs at the front of the bus and hope for the best.

We arrived alive in Aydiaman and had one more bus ride, we had one more bus to go. A short (half hour) ride to Kahta. The entire town was a shit hole of adventure. We found the one pension mentioned in Lonely Planet. They wanted 50 lira (35USD) for a shit hole of a room. We went to try two hotels that were empty. There was not a soul in town, let alone in the hotels. They both wanted 80-100 lira and were not willing to go less then that. One man even seemed offended that we would suggest such a price but he has an empty hotel, so maybe he should rethink his business plans.

We stopped to have chai, then went to an internet cafe to look up any other place in town. Thing is the town was not on hostelworld.com or on hostelbookers.com. So there was no real choice, it was back to the pension. It was a scary freezing place. Again we were the only people to be seen in the hostel, except for the local who came to have tea and stare at us, like they never get tourist in the summer. Then the hostel tried to sell us a trip up the mountain the see the heads. This trip would have cost 150 lira. We decided we could do it cheaper.

So we decide to hitchhike up to the site. With that thought we went up to our room to have a drink and a shower then go to bed for an early morning, but it’s not that easy. The room is freezing and the heater was less then useless. The heat never reached the beds. There was a door that had a towel along the bottom to stop the cold, one window would not lock, and the wind would come through. There was a room down the hall open, so we went in and took all the extra blankets to make nests and be warm, hopefully. Then we had to let the water in the shower run for about ten minutes before it warmed up. It was a horrible place.

When we go up in the morning it was a chore to leave bed and the nest of warmth. Finally packed and ready to leave we went to see about leaving our bag at reception, but there was no one in reception. There was, in fact, no one else in the hostel. So we put our bags behind the desk and left. We went across the street and had menamen for breakfast. This is like an omelette on Turkish crack. It had more veggies then egg, but it was warm and good.

Then it was time to get on the road and put our thumbs to work. The first guy to pull over had no room, but gave the tip to get a minibus to Karadut, at the base of the mountain and walk from there. So we backtracked to the bus station to ask about the bus. But it only went at 1pm and it was currently 9am. There was no way we were waiting 4 hours for a bus. So we went back to the main road.

A guy stopped to pick us up, we thought we were lucky. He stopped at a gas station and communicated he wanted 50 Lira each drive us there. We were quick to get out of the car. Then a tractor stopped for us and we went about 7km with a tractor, until it came to the work site. Then the tractor pulled up with us on it and we received quite a few looks from the worker.

Not two minutes later a man picks us up and takes us to a turn off and points in the direction opposite to his own. So we get out but realize the sign says the mountain top is in the direction the guy drove off. But we figure he knows best and walk in the way he pointed. We stood at the cross roads for awhile trying to figure out if we were headed the right way. We tried to call a campsite advertised on the road to ask directions but they did not understand what we wanted to know. It was useless to try.

We walked for a while, passing people with mules and getting many looks. Then a minibus pulls up and takes us to another cross roads. So we start walking up the side of the mountain and walking and walking. Then another bus pulls up, it has kids in the front. He takes us to a camp site that is used in the summer by people like us. They tell up that the road is closed because of snow. We could walk but the snow is 20cm deep and we would have awhile to walk to get to where we wanted to go.

We start to walk back, waiting for a ride back to Kahta for our bags. When at the perfect moment a police car pulls up. The guy at the campsite talks to the three guys in the car and they agree to drive us to town. So we are squished in the back with a large electronic box, likely for radar and I had to be careful of my foot because it was near someone’s really big gun. As we were driving they asked if we were students and Adam mentioned I was an Archaeologist. So one points out what looks like a large burial mound and asks if we want to go see it. Sure, why not. Really it was their excuse for a smoke break.

The mound was a burial. IT was in fact the burial of the crazy king who dictated that the statues on Mt. Nemrut be carved. There were defaced columns around the mound. It was an interesting little spot we never would have found other wise. Then it was back in the car and back to the city. The cops dropped us off at the hostel and we grabbed our bags. There was a bit of yelling, because the hostel tried to sell us 150 lira tour to a mountain that was closed due to snow.

From there it was a string of buses. From Kahta to Aydiaman, from Aydiaman to Malatya, from Malatya to Kayseri, from Kayseri to Nevshehir and from Neyshehir we had to take a taxi to Goreme just after midnight. The bus from Aydiaman to Malatya was very nice. We went through the snow covered mountains and through small villages, it was relaxing. The bus to Kayseri was later then we wanted it but we really had no choice if we did not want to sleep in the bus station. Though as time passed that became a better idea. The bus to Nevshehir tried to drop us off on the side of the highway, rather then at the bus station. We discovered that this was a brilliant move on their part. The bus station is in the middle of nowhere on the our skirts of town. We had to call a taxi. And it was after midnight, the taxi knew that we had no choice and was able to get a higher price then we wanted to pay, even if it was less then the meter rate.

At the bus stop in Goreme the taxi driver honked to get the attention of people in a van, people he likely called on our way down there. But there was a station attendant and he recommended a hostel and called for a pick up service. The car came and took us right to the hostel, let us go to bed and said we could check in in the morning. Then it was a restful sleep, even if all three Japanese girls in the dorm snored.

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