Behold! The thrills, spills and chills of traveling in Turkey to remote sites by yourself especially as a woman. This tale of woe is a great example of why you are often better off on an organised trip. This is a story of both financial horror and woeful experience than came with doing things on my own. This is the story of Inverted Atlas owner, Kristina Wilson’s trip to Bogazkale and the site of Hattusa in Central Turkey.
I arrived back at the hotel, packed up my stuff and checked out, I had been hoping to sneak in another hour’s sleep, but the van breaking down after the balloon ride, had sealed the deal on that one… all part of traveling in Turkey. Just as I had checked out the cab driver arrived to take me to Hattusa, I excitedly followed him down to the cab and jumped in, and almost immediately fell asleep.
When I woke up, we were about halfway there and in the middle of nowhere. He immediately launched into a conversation about the price of the trip. Originally yesterday I had been told this would cost me 150 Turkish Lira, which is cheap considering the distance we were travelling. Now I was being told it would be half the meter price going out, waiting free and return free. I reluctantly agreed as I basically had no other option, now being in the middle of nowhere, and this still wasn’t too bad a price.
I spent the rest of the trip trying to stop the driver making ten stops for chai (tea) in the remaining fifty kilometres. Images of fighting with Halil, one of my bus drivers when I was a trip leader with Fez flashed before my eyes and I began to feel really tired, and I don’t think it was just the early start for the balloon ride.
We reached Hattusa, and I met the sites caretaker and myself and the cab driver had chai with him… another expectation of traveling in Turkey. He lectured me all about the site, and I just stood and nodded, too tired to be annoyed at being lectured on something I already know. The driver had no idea where he was going (more images of my Fez days flashed before my eyes) but we eventually found our way around the site.
The first stop was the lower city, of which little more than the foundations survive, the driver looked at me and laughed and just said, city and pointed. You sicko, I thought to myself, you’re having a laugh at my expense because you obviously think I expected more. Yes city, I said and walked away from him. He followed me, which was to be the tune of the entire visit. While this irritated me, I resolved that he had never been here either and may have actually been interested. The lower city is where the archives of Hattusa were found, including the only surviving copy of the Hittite version of the world’s first peace treaty, between the Hittites and the Egyptians. The Egyptian side is written on almost every stone surface in Egypt as Ramses II’s battle of Kadesh.
Now in Hindsight, I write this and marvel at the irony, that I was about to spend the day fighting with someone, at the sight of the signing of the World’s first peace treaty.
We got back into the cab and proceeded to visit some of the gates on the fortification walls, the first one being the impressive Lion gate. While quite ruined, this is still fairly impressive and I was happy at that moment that I had managed to get to this place which was so remote. I looked through the gate, to see the lions faces against a backdrop of blue sky and yellow rolling plains, it was an amazing site.
The next stop was the Yenikapi, a kind of tunnel leading out behind the city, for the army to sneak through and surprise attackers, it was not in ruins at all, and I proceeded to walk down it….and the cab driver proceeded to follow me. I’ll fix you, I thought, I knew that you could also climb over this monumental construction, and I know I’m fitter than the sixty-year-old, smoker I’ve got following me. I walked at a steady pace up and around the construction, found the steep stone steps and began to climb to the top of the construction. Once at the top (my pace surprised even me) I looked around to see the cab driver looking up at me as if to say, How the hell did you get up there? I stood up there admiring the view before climbing down and getting back into the cab.
The next stop was the Kings gate, which wasn’t all that spectacular and then the Hieroglyph temple, whose writings are incredibly weathered and virtually indiscernible to the untrained eye. I think the driver was looking at me, staring at the rock face, and wondering, What the hell is she looking at?
It was then time for another hill and a hike up to the gate of the underworld, how cool does that sound. It was for me, the best part of the day, as the driver decided he was too tired to follow me on the steep climb. I climbed up, a little more slowly this time and had a look at the gateway with its Luwian inscription, a language, which to me looked really similar to Egyptian Hieroglyphs and Linear A Minoan script.
I sat outside the gates to the underworld and enjoyed the view, just then the call to prayer started from a mosque in what must have been a nearby town, (not that I could even see a nearby town). I pondered how far I’d come and the fact that I was really here, despite it being somewhat ruined by the cab driver. Again, I couldn’t help thinking about my ex-boyfriend and the phrase he uttered that drove me mental, If I want to see all these things in the World, I can Google them. Not for the first time, I sat there in my deserted surroundings, listening to the haunting Arabic song echoing over the vast Anatolian plain, perched on the highest point of the ancient city at what was once thought to be the gate to the next world and said to myself, Google this you ignorant douche bag!
I climbed back down and got back into the cab and was taken to a bonus site, which I was told by the young caretaker was the Hittite Summer palace. I was walked through some rock formations with Hittite warriors carved on them and chatted to the young man called Morat, who seemed to want nothing more from me than to pass on his knowledge. He kind of reminded me of myself a little bit, and I actually enjoyed chatting with him very much. People like this are everywhere in this wonderful country and are one of the joys of traveling in Turkey, unlike my awful cab driver.
I got back into the cab and proceeded to get into another fight with the cab driver about the price. (Fighting about the price of things seems to be one of the things traveling in Turkey is all about.) I asked him, So now we turn the meter off? I wanted to confirm the price again, so I said, Half of this? and pointed to the meter. No, No, No, said the driver. You pay this and back free. I said nothing and he proceeded to stop for lunch. I just sat outside the restaurant seething the entire time.
After he had finished his lunch, he apologized for stopping for lunch, believing that was what I was angry about! I told him exactly why I was angry, and he proceeded to justify his position and I wouldn’t have it. Just drive me back, I said and stuck my headphones in. I don’t get paid to deal with this rubbish anymore, so I’m not going to.
It was an uncomfortable ride back to Goreme, all the while I had to prevent him from stopping for half a dozen tea breaks. I asked to be dropped at the bus station, as I was now starving, and I wanted to go have lunch at Fatboys and see some friendly faces. I got into another argument with him and told him exactly what I thought of him, including the fact that I had paid a cab driver eighty euros in Kusadasi for the whole day! He was an honest man, I said.
I slammed the door and walked off, suddenly realizing that I had paid him fifty lira above what he said as I had given him a deposit yesterday. I was now furious with myself, as well as with him. He’s not getting away with it I thought, I proceeded to go back down to the taxi station to see if I could find him. I planned to make a scene if he didn’t at least give me my fifty lira back. Bingo! He was there washing the cab, I was in no mood to be a shrinking violet, so I marched straight up to him and demanded my fifty lira. He looked at me for a second, as if to say, what the hell are you on about? Then I said, The deposit? He begrudgingly gave me the fifty lira, a small win for me, but a win none the less.
I went straight to Fatboys for a late lunch and had a chat with the owner who is a good friend. He immediately asked how my day way. Really good, I lied though my teeth and proceeded to tell him all about the balloon ride. I was too tired to recount my story of Hattusa just yet, its actually taken me four days just to write a blog about it and just thinking about the experience just makes me feel tired.
Overall, I’m glad I went to Hattusa which was a real bucket list tick for me, but when I think of the experience now, it’s not a good memory. Traveling in Turkey is not usually with out it’s annoyances as I’ve found out time and again.
For questions about traveling in Turkey and enquires on our trips drop us a line at email@example.com. You can also read more on the personal experience of our owner on her personal blog – Train Bound For Nowhere.