GÖREME TO MALATYA We met Kelly down at the bus station at 10:00 and were lucky to just be there in time to catch the direct bus to Kayseri which saved us having to go to Nevshir first. The road followed a long, gently sloping valley towards the towering bulk of Erciyes Daği, rising out of the morning haze with all the foreboding that an extinct volcano can muster.
The ugly town of Kayseri sits at the very base of the mountain and when we alighted at the bus station we were mobbed by touts selling bus rides all over Turkey. We bought tickets to Malatya then went and had a snack and found a shady spot to wait until the 1:00pm departure time. At 2:00pm there was no sign of the bus and then the ticket-seller came over with tickets for a substitute bus. We weren’t about to grumble so we boarded the bus and found our seats at the rear.
Once we were out of Kayseri the landscape changed to steep and torturous mountains, their sides bare of soil and vegetation but the valleys between green with crops and fertile farmland lined with graceful lombardy poplars. Later on, the landscape changed again, this time to wide plains of wheat and barley. We entertained ourselves joking with the bus’ attendant until we arrived in Malatya at around 8:00pm and were immediately pounced on by the local tourist officer (just as the Let’s Go1 guide had said he would!) who shepherded us into his office and told us about the tour to Nemrut Daği2 and where we could find a cheap hotel.
We walked up into the centre of town and met a couple of Kiwi guys who are going on the Nemrut tour as well. They directed us to the hotel where they are staying and we went there to see if there was a room available. The grubby but comfy Mercaz Hotel cost us 6,000TL each but it was an OK place for the night.
1The Let’s Go guidebooks were an American series of guides aimed at backpackers. Like their Anglo-Australian counterpart Lonely Planet, these guides were full of sometimes-useful, often inaccurate or occasionally downright incorrect information. Our friend Kelly had the Turkey section of the Let’s Go Europe guide and it was a standing joke with us that it’s best use was for lighting fires with!
2 Nemrut Daği is a 2,100m peak in Eastern Turkey notable for a collection of massive statues and a tumult (burial mound) on its summit. Over the next few days we would make an epic trip to Nemrut Daği which would become one of the highlights of our travels. For some background information about this amazing place, check out this link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Nemrut