Phoebe and the Fruit and Nut Seller
We bought a big bag of dried fruits, nuts, chocolates and my favourite...sugared almonds, from this lovely man
As Ava and her Mum were heading in the opposite direction to us (they were going Turkey to Jordan), we all went to the bus stop together. We said a warm good-bye and then they caught the bus south to Damascus and we headed north to Aleppo.
Getting off the bus at Aleppo station we were faced with the usual barrage of taxi drivers with an endless reel of questions “Where you go?”, “You have hotel?”, “Where you from?” It gets a bit tiring, particularly after a long bus ride, so were were mightily relieved when a Syrian guy called Hamid who was on our bus called out “My friend, come with me and we'll catch another bus to town, it is much cheaper”. What a saviour! We then proceeded to experience genuine Syrian hospitality as Hamid took us under his wing, paid for our bus tickets (he refused to accept any money for them), and took us to our hostel in the taxi he was catching.
Aleppo is known for it's old-world-ness, similar in a way to Damascus. It is also often said “Aleppo is a conservative city”. Well guess what, Syria is a pretty conservative country! So
The Rather Extensive Souq
This ancient bazaar contains market traders various goods such as carpets, sweets, jewellery, spices, meats, etc, etc. It had been on and off ancient trading routes and still continues to thrive on local trading.
we didn't find it to be anything out of the ordinary, full-body chadors are no longer surprising. We spent a day wandering the streets, exploring the beautiful, ancient 'souq' (marketplace) and eating lot's of lentil soup. The following morning we woke up at the un-godly hour of 4am to catch the 5pm bus to Antakya, Turkey!
There is one thing I'll say about Turkish buses....they are excellent!! (and I reserve the right the withdraw this statement anytime over the next three weeks). The bus was brand, spanking new, very CLEAN and very organised, a far cry from our bus experiences in SE Asia. There was even a steward (!!!) who handled all the bags, and then served tea and coffee once we were on the bus, and helped passengers with any other requests (pillow, water, scratch my back etc, etc), not to mention did all the leg work at the border crossing for us. We arrived in Antakya with the general idea of getting to Cappadoccia, but knowing it would be too far to get there in one day (unless you're sucker for punishment by buses). We settled on the half way point 'Adana' simply because it was half
More Bus Riding
Clearly that big smile is because the bus is so cool and Phoebe is asleep!
way on the map. We hopped onto yet another excellent bus with yet another steward serving drinks. Yay for Turkish buses.
Adana was our first real taste of Turkey and after surveying it for the first hour I decided that if ever Adana should want a sister city in China, then Nanning would be it! Nanning, just like Adana, was pleasant, characterless (I say this in the nicest possible way), large and commercial, and had not one English speaker in sight. The city itself, just like Nanning, had lot's of shopping malls and some shops even looked like they could have been found in the streets of Australia or New Zealand. Residents milled about the streets, going about their business, occasionally stopping to eyeball the odd looking couple with backpacks and a blonde child (both rarities in these parts).
Our first impressions of Turkey was that it was much more Westernised than Syria (but really, this goes without saying!), and was starting to feel like we were getting closer to Europe. It seemed like about half the women wore jeans/t-shirt type outfits, while the other half wore long skirts and headscarves that were tied either under the chin
Here's one thing that surprised me....the Turkish countryside is so pretty!!
or behind at the nape of the neck, which gave a quintessential 'village' look; quite sweet really.
Thankfully we found an internet cafe as soon as we arrived. This enabled us to order lunch using an online translator and also look up a place to stay. Having achieved both and feeling like we should ensure our passage out of Adana ASAP we set off in search of the bus ticket office. We had no idea where it was, didn't know how to ask, and had no 'guidance' from our supposed 'guide' book (it doesn't even cover Adana), so we ambled around and, as luck had it, stumbled across the ticket office and booked tickets for the next day.
Buoyed by our success (or luck more like) we went out for a nice dinner. I take back what I said about no one speaking English; the chef at the restaurant spoke reasonable English and came out especially to take our orders. Rather than seeing us as an inconvenience he asked us about our trip, about how we found Turkey, about where we would go next and also told us about himself: his job, his wife, his kids and his English classes. I think he was rather thrilled to practice some conversational English on us (poor guy would have no one else to practice on). We were also thrilled as he gave us some good pointers and was really very nice (and the food was pretty good too).
The next morning we headed off on yet another luxury coach (this time we even got cake with our tea and coffee!) and headed for the stunning sights of Cappadoccia.
(PostScript: I looked it up and Adana doesn't have a Chinese sister city...let this be a qualified recommendation!)
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