One of the nicest things about travelling is that you get to meet people that will bring you to a higher level of consciousness about the place you are currently in, become more appreciative of life and its many complexities, opens a window of other amazing places out there, leaving you in awe and your list twice or even thrice longer even before you head back for home.
While my last trip across Indo-China in September 2013 got me and my friend Dave exchange conversations with mostly students, sharing train, plane and bus rides amongst them, our trip to Turkey was with mostly good hearted fellas from probably the 40ish to the 60ish, enjoying their most deserved time after years of working and raising families and managing careers.
Among them whom we are so grateful to have met in Cappadocia were Joe, a former commercial pilot from Canada and his lovely wife Sue (originally from Australia). They’re exploring Turkey on a cruise. It’s heart-warming seeing two souls remain sweet and caring with each other after years of being together.
Then comes Birol, the Turkish guide whom we became friends with while munching Filipino crackers under the tall plants at the top of the travertines. He persuaded us to try paragliding, which would become an experience I am truly proud of doing! And that balloon ride over the majestic landscape of Cappadocia, I/we thank him too for that! And you know what I appreciated most about him, his being concerned about the welfare of every tourist that visits Turkey. He felt really bad about the incident we shared of this Turkish guy in Selcuk who splattered water on us as we passed by…intentionally…only because we declined his invitation to dance when we passed by the first time. Oh God bless his heart!
That guy issuing tickets at the Selcuk train station is also someone I would like to acknowledge here. My hats off for his quality service and for helping us find our hotel.
Of course, Tayfun and Ocan are also people we would like to thank for their kindness, making our short stay in Selcuk pleasant. They’re from Urkmez Hotel.
The souvenir shop owner at Pamukkale shouldn’t also be missed here. We reached Pamukkale late at night and had no clue where our hotel is located. Thanks to him for offering to call the hotel owner (who happens to be his neighbor) to come and pick us up from his shop.
Sinter Terrase where we stayed for 2 nights was like home away from home. Thanks to Senay, Sami, Batuhan and the rest of the family.
And who would forget Chef Ozi of Pumpkin Restaurant. Not only did he offer a sumptuous 4-course dinner he himself prepared in his charming stone-cave restaurant which he shared, ”…was a 150-year old house for the horse and he worked for a month trying to get that 5cm-thick black grime off the surface”, but his hospitality was much appreciated. Not only that, he made sure that the camera we left at the restaurant would be returned to us. That “who could forget it?” sign behind the glass door with the camera placed on top of a chair is something we will forever be grateful for. I highly recommend this place to friends and whoever is reading my story and will be visiting Goreme anytime soon. Pumpkin restaurant is open from 6:00 to 12 midnight, sometimes extends up to 1:00 in the morning depending on how busy the month is. The time we were here wasn’t peak season and hence did not require any reservation. In fact dining here wasn’t planned. That evening we were looking for a place to have dinner and these quaint colorful pumpkin lamps (his hobby) led us to here. And who would have thought, we were the FIRST FILIPINOS to have dined here since it opened a year ago.
And of course, my paragliding pilot, Artoosh, for ensuring I experience one of the best flights of my life!
See, so our trip wasn’t just about the beautiful places. The locals and fellow tourists we met made our trip extra memorable.
Until next time. Remember, no matter what gets on the way, always keep the faith, follow your heart, stay safe and travel light! (“,)