The road to Cappadocia was long, monotonous and a precursor for the many subsequent drives ahead of us. Just us four scumbags in an increasingly sweltering car. We poured out of Istanbul ready to see the rest of Turkey and beyond. After a few hours of winding open roads, intermittent downpours and rolling hillsides, we approached the fringe of Ankara – Turkey’s uglier second city. They do have a massive complex built by their far right leader which is an absolute beast.
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is a lunatic by our measure. But so are we and in all reality, maybe even more docile. He built this monstrosity and is even cozying up to Putin. He wants to squash all forms of protest, freedoms of speech, demonstrations and secularism. Which all have so greatly empowered the country in modern times, but f*ck it, maybe we would too in his situation.
Enough of Recep. We went straight instead of left and passed the city in a hurry. But man oh man were we hungry after all those hours. Slightly foggy headed from the night before, and with an absolute smasher of a storm pelting our car, we decided to pull over. With us not knowing about the storm, we didn’t cover the top roof rack. Our luggage was getting soaked and the car was drifting into oncoming traffic due to cyclone like winds. It was in our best interest to take cover at the first gas station we could find. We filled up, put the tarps on and waited out the storm.
This gas station is the singular point in the trip that would start to define our admiration and burning love for this country. Our hunger beckoned us and we moved 20 steps around the service part of the sprawling gas station to the food area. Within a split second we could tell our hunger was going to be short lived. The place was packed. Smoke filled the room lined from wall to wall. Our first gas stop food experience was about to take place and none of us knew at the time just how satisfying it would be.
We walked in and went to the indoor coal grill with hand hammered copper vents. We motioned for four meat kabobs plates. The food came out with the obligatory bottomless tea and we were changed forever. Seriously MF’s it was that good. Massive portions of perfectly cooked and seasoned kabobs came out with fresh salad and bread. It was so good the entire team was in utter shock. What we later found out was this was standard operating procedure at the Turkish truck stops. We waddled out to our car and were off again on the road to Cappadocia.
We drove for hours and hours and hours. Finally arriving at night to Göreme, the town that is the base camp for all things balloonist. Before we actually entered the city however, a go cart facility caught our eye. Being the driving machines we are, we detoured back around to see if we could get a midnight race in. It was closed. Sad!
We finally arrived to our cave hotel and checked in. It was a spectacular setting for a hotel. The darkness hid the beauty until morning, but the rooms were so special we could tell it was going to be immaculate during the day. Our rooms were built into the side of these ancient sandstone caves that were originally carved out by early Christians and other factions throughout history in an attempt to hide and flee persecution. Luckily for us, their plight was our flight. We scored world class amenities at budget prices.
We went to bed almost immediately in anticipation for the next days adventures. The plan was to see the folic obelisk structures, get deep in some caves and find some go carts to rip around. Maybe even see the balloons.