This is the last of a mini-series looking at the best, worst and most surreal moments of our five week travel adventure. Take a look at The Best of Five Weeks of Travel and The Worst of Five Weeks of Travel too.

The Most Surreal of Five Weeks of Travel

Most Surreal Journey Travelled

We were nineteen hours into an epic journey from Cappadocia in Turkey to Tbilisli in Georgia, when our bus abandoned us. We had to cross the border on foot, which is pretty standard practice,  but then when we found our bus again on the other side, they simply told us that this was the end of the journey.

Within seconds we were surrounded by taxi drivers, all wanting to know where we were going. The more we insisted that we would take a bus, the lower the prices dropped. At 60 lari ($28) for a six hour taxi journey, we could resist no longer and jumped in. 

Now I’ve seen crazy driving before, but this was unreal. Despite the blind corners on the narrow, winding mountain roads, we were overtaking cars like there was no tomorrow. Then we had to stop in Batumi for half an hour, while the driver ‘took care of some business’. A short while later there was one more stop, to pick up another passenger. Any resistance would have been futile, as both the driver and passenger’s English skills were pretty much non-existent.

I was starting to believe that we were going to be kidnapped, when we pulled up at a roadside cafe. The driver and passenger stepped out of the car and indicated for us to do the same. They led the way inside and we followed, unsure of what else to do. We nervously waited, not knowing what was going on, before being presented with…plates full of cheesy khachapuris and cups of the most delicious hot chocolate I have ever tasted, all paid for by our fellow passenger!

Most Surreal Meal Eaten

After exploring the streets of Canakkale for a little too long, I was getting weak with hunger and insisted that we stop at the next eatery we saw, so we jumped into a little kebab shop and ordered a couple of pides.

As soon as we’d finished ordering, a plate full of salad appeared on the table, so I started picking at the tomatoes as we waited. A few minutes later the waiter appeared at our table, pointed at the salad bowl, declared ‘No!’, and refilled the pieces I’d eaten from a cup full of tomatoes.

I took the hint and stopped picking, waiting for our pides to arrive. Soon enough they did and I ate mine up, leaving just a few scraps of meat that had fallen off the base as I was eating. Again, the waiter appeared at our table side. ‘No! Must eat meat!’ I made sure to eat every last piece before putting my cutlery down again, and by now assumed I was doing everything wrong and that he must hate us.

Then, this guy that was shouting at me five seconds ago, reappeared, insisting we must have time for a cup of tea, on the house. We obliged and as we sipped our tea, contemplating the likelihood of it being drugged, he reappeared once more, with handfuls of flyers and promotional magnets to give us. As we were leaving he insisted on shaking our hands, telling us to come back again, acting like we were his number one customers!

As we stepped back on to the street Ian and I bursted into fits of laughter, completely confused and unsure as to what had just happened! I think there was something funny in the water in Canakkale, as every place we ate at there was just as surreal. There was one restaurant where we ended up placing our order in the staff-only kitchen;  but that’s a whole different story!

Camel Wrestling Festival, Selcuk, Turkey

Most Surreal Day Out

There is absolutely no competition when it comes to the most surreal day out; the Selcuk Camel Wrestling Festival wins hands down. Yep, you read that right, we went to a camel wrestling festival.

Let me start by saying it’s really not as cruel as it sounds. It’s more like sumo wrestling, where they have to push each other out of a ring, than your average wrestling, where they have to pin each other to the ground. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t cruel at all, but really these camels are worth so much money that if it looks like a camel is going to be hurt the owner will just throw in the towel and forfeit!

And while the camel wrestling is what brings everyone together, it’s not really about the camel wrestling at all. It’s about the gangs of people playing the drums and horns, the families and group of friends having a picnic and grilling meat non-stop. It’s about the dancing, the cheering, the throwing random apples and oranges into the ring when one of the referees gets in the way. But most of all, it’s about the raki, the anise-flavoured alcoholic drink that everyone is downing.

It was like nothing I have ever experienced before, and once again it was one of those times where I felt constantly confused and bewildered, but in a magical and amazing way!

Have you had any similar experiences on your travels?

PS. Just in case you missed them, here are some other posts from our travels: