We turned up early at the bus office in town with our prepaid tickets only to be told in sign language that our bus was not going to be going anywhere today as it was broken.
After many questions and no answers the lady finally indicated to the wheel of a car nearby and made hissing sounds. We took it from this that the Mini Bus that was to take us from the Bus Office to the Otogar wasn't going anywhere.
In Turkey there is usually a large Bus Station called the Otogar on the very outskirts of the towns or cities, we have even found some of them are over 5 and up to 10 k's out. So they provide a free mini bus to get you from theirr office to the Otogar.
So here we were 20 mins before our bus was due to leave, our 30 lira had been thrust back into our hands and the lady was making it clear that we should leave.
Yeah but where were we meant to leave to. I asked in English but she didn't understand. So I grabbed a pen off her desk and made like I was
drawing a map, she smiled and drew three lines on it, a left turn a right turn and a left turn.
We had been getting quite good at map reading by now so decided to give it a go. Mistake number 1, the left,right,left left us in the middle of the town nowhere near the Otogar, We asked several people where it was but not many people in Kars spoke English.
I said to Sheryll that we were going to miss our bus if we didnt find it soon and at this stage we didnt have a booking anymore.'
We hailed a taxi loaded our packs in and asked the elderly driver to take us to the Otogar, he looked at us blankly, kept his door open and pointed down the road, There was no way he was going to take us the less than 800 metres down the road to the station. we dangled a 10 Lira note at him and he changed his mind.
Standing in the queue for our tickets and the time for the bus to leave was getting closer. All ended well though, we got our tickets and our new found german
friends Beata and Steffi turned up as well, also a Dutch and Polish Guy we had met at Ani, so we all travelled together to Igdir about halfway to Dogubeyzit as this Mini Bus only went half way.
Travelled through lots of small villages, no fences and young boys looking after small groups of cows, sheep and goats. It is school holidays here and the children are working as shepherds keeping an eye on the animals as they graze alongside the roads and in the dry dusty paddocks.
At Igdir which is about the halfway mark we all transferred to another Mini Bus to take us to Dogubeyzit, the two Germans, the Pole and the Dutchman were all seasoned travellers also probably under half our age, they seemed to know where to go so we just followed, So this little convoy of 6 explorers lifted our packs and trundled our trolleys through markets and along cobbled streets till we at last found our next Mini Bus
Igdir seems to have a very good growing climate as we were starting to see fields of tomatos, all sorts of melons and an abundance of fruit trees. Rogh shacks alongside
the roadside were selling the produce.
Mt Ararat started to come into view as we drove towards Dogubeyazit , the skyline was hazy from the heat which was in the mid 30's but the mountain looked huge with snow on the top quarter or so.
Dogubeyzit is very close to the Iranian border so there is a strong military presence in town, thanks to the Lonely Planet guide book we are spending the night at the same hotel as the German girls again. Hotel Tahran is cheap. clean and pleasant and the guy on the desk speaks good English,
Had a banana and some bread for lunch and then found our way to the Dolmus bus for 3 lira trip to Ishak Pasa Palace. The Palace is about 6 kms from the town and the old bus feels like it's not going to make it up the steep hill. I can smell the smell of a very over heated motor as we graunch and grind slowly up the cobbled road.
The Palace is in an amazing location with stunning views back to Dogubeyazit, unfortunately Mt Ararat is just out of view.
After visiting the Palace
we walk further up the hill and sit in the shade as the temperature is in the mid 30's. We are the centre of attentions as many Kurdish and Iranian families are also picnicing under the trees. Some have small grills fueled from firewood and are cooking kebabs and other meats. A group of young woman approach us and indicate they would like us to take their photo, we oblidge and show them the picture. One of the mothers came over to us and offer us chocolates. What wonderfully friendly people we are meeting here in Eastern Turkey, it is hard to imagine we are 35 km's from the Iranian border.
As we go to leave to catch the Dolmus another family come up to us and offer chicken grilled on a stick from a small fire they have under the trees.
We wait for the Dolmus again and the trip down the hill has cooled this poor old bus down again. we pass a large military barracks and compound with many tanks parked near the fence.
A good nights sleep and in the morning we are off to Van, home of the pure white cats that have
one blue eye and one green eye.
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