Or that time where no one spoke english

I have an interesting way of dealing with any of my trips. Well, not as much as an interesting way, but more as a very limited preparation. I mean I normally buy the tickets, the one that takes me to where I want to go, and the one that will bring me back to the boring 9h to 5h life, and besides that, usually, I read about the place, to know what I should expect.

A few years ago I was able to go to Turkey for 10 days, it was amazing.

But, — there’s always a but in my stories — I made even less preparation than my normal self, I didn’t even read about Turkey. I went there with my limited knowledge of Istanbul, a couple of well-known places, and a flight in and out.

This time I wasn’t alone, but my friend had almost the same amount of knowledge as I, the result:
We acknowledge that for our next trip we should at least read a little about the country.
And most of all, we should know some basic words in their language.

Our biggest problem was language, it was not that big of a barrier, since we’re able to communicate with hand gestures and some very basic English words, but it was definitely my first encounter with a country where English was not usually known by the population. Besides Istanbul, where they did speak English, we did have several language incidents.

First things first, this is completely my fault.

I should have never gone to a country without knowing some basic sentences. I can’t expect that someone knows English everywhere I go, but I was expecting that a country with so much tourism had a bigger knowledge of it, or at least in the touristy places (hotels, airports, restaurants, etc) and out of Istanbul, it was not as usual to find it.

On the other hand, I must assume that it was my first experience less occidental if we exclude Israel. And since I do have some knowledge of 6 European languages, I hadn’t felt this difficulty before, not even in Israel since English is widespread there.

But the moment where we found ourselves a bit overwhelmed was when we went to Cappadocia:

  • We knew that we wanted to go there, so while in Istanbul, we bought a plane ticket to Kayseri airport. We had to search online for the closest airport to Goreme — the main city when you want to go to Cappadocia.
  • And we had several doubts while buying, after buying and even on the plane (or worst — the airport) if we were going to the correct airport.
  • When we landed we felt that we were landing in the middle of nowhere, the airport seemed to be basically a road and a warehouse.
  • It was the first time that I went to a bathroom that was basically a hole in the ground.
  • Bearing in mind that we did not prepare for this trip, we did something fairly stupid, and we didn’t ask for a shuttle to our hotel.

Something that I should tell you is that Goreme is around 80 km away from Kayseri.

Photo by the author

So we landed in Kayseri around 2 PM, we entered the warehouse, sorry airport, and we started searching for the best way to go to Goreme:
– First option: ask at the tourism/information counter.
– We went there and the answer was “No English” and then started to point to the Executive counter.
– So, we went to the executive counter, and the answer was “No English”.

And that’s when we started to have a mild panic moment.

– We left the airport and we saw all the tourist-looking-people going to shuttles and we were – “fuck”

– And then, we find our savior, that could speak 1 our 2 words of English
With a lot of hand gestures, he told us that he could take us to the bus station. Oktobus — one of the few words that got stuck in my memory. And that from there we could take a bus to Goreme, and he was a bus driver, so no, we didn’t just enter some random guy car.

Our second moment of mildly panic.

– We asked the bus driver how far away was the bus station and he kept on telling us that it was 5 lira (the Turkish currency).
– We went in the bus station direction (supposedly) and it kept going and going, and going, we looked around and it seemed that the city was looking poorer and poorer, and we kept on going and going.

It seemed that the bus took 30 minutes to get there, with no traffic!

The third moment of mildly panic.

– We enter the bus station, and we were almost attacked by several men that kept on yelling something that neither of us was understanding.

And then finally another savior that could speak a little English, and that somehow explained to us, that there were several companies with the same destinations. The guys that “attacked us” were the representatives. He then guided us to the one that was selling tickets to a bus to Goreme and that was leaving in 5 min.

The problem here.

I asked for 2 tickets to Goreme, paid, and saw that the tickets said something else.

– When I asked Goreme, he kept on insisting, that the tickets were to Goreme.
– So we went to the Bus, and asked again if it was going to Goreme, and the answer was “Uçhisar – Goreme” (yeah I understood nothing).
– Well, let’s assume that they know what they’re telling us.

While on the bus, awe understood that the bus had marked places and we were not on the correct ones. A discussion because of it happened between the ones that were supposed to be on those seats and the usher of the bus.

And, surely we started to panic again:

Imagine us, 2 girls, that weren’t able to understand absolutely anything in Turkish, in a bus where no one spoke English, and when I say no one, is absolutely no one:

So, our conversation was:

“Go to google maps, it doesn’t matter how much it cost, do it, go to google maps, try to see where we are and if that name that is on the ticket is correct!” — bear in mind that this was a few years ago, and the costs of roaming were gigantic. Let’s not even talk about getting 3G — or was it 2G at the time? — outside of a city.

“ It isn’t working!!! I can’t connect!!”

“Try again”

“It connected. But is slow. Very slow. It’s loading. Let’s see. How is it fucking called?”


“Oh. Yeah. About 4 km from Goreme”

“Why were we panicking??”

“Panicking? We? Never!”

Cappadocia in english
Cappadocia, Photo by the author

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