As always, it is hard to summarise a country from a relatively short time spent there. I’m sure we don’t fully understand a lot about Turkey, and with it being such a large country there is so much more to see. What I do know is that we absolutely loved our time there. Turkey offered us so many amazing things. It is a very beautiful country and we are leaving wanting more. I think that is always a great sign. We’d heard many wonderful things from other touring cyclists but I still had my reservations. I was worried by the horrible stories I’d read about savage dogs, the cold weather coming, and of course by all the violence that has happened in the last year (more that others were worried than us). But as always with most of my worries (not Andy’s) I really shouldn’t have fretted. It was such a brilliant part of the trip that overall I think it may be my favourite country we have cycled in (excluding Japan because that was home)!
November 19th to 29th. 658km
The ride away from Goreme was beautiful, but steep. We layered up when we left as it was a cold morning, but we warmed up very quickly into the climb past Uchisar and into the hills of southern Cappadocia. There was still a light dusting of snow on the rocks and hills, giving us some good last views of one of the most stunning places we’ve seen on this trip.
I’ll jump straight in and say that Cappadocia is one of the most spectacular places we have seen on our entire trip, and that’s saying something. It lies in the centre of Turkey on a high plateau over 1000 m. Volcanoes have sculpted this magical landscape and the rocks near Goreme (where we were staying) eroded into amazing pillars that are called fairy chimneys. Surrounding this stunning area are tall mountains, the largest being Mount Erciyes (3916 m) which we had seen since Kayseri.
From these rock formations people carved out houses, churches and monasteries from the soft rocks of volcanic deposits. During this time it was of Christian faith. Later when Turkish clans began to settle in the area some of the population converted to Islam and of course today it is a Turkish state and all Islamic. A very interesting place with a lot of history.
november 9th to 15th. 512km
We stuck around for a couple of hours on the morning of the 9th to follow the news of the US Election and to watch the social media world go mental. It was a good feeling to turn off the gadgets and head off into the hills for a week. Leaving Unye, we immediately turned inland and said goodbye to the Black Sea. Within a kilometre we started climbing, stopping soon after to shed a couple of layers to ride in tshirts for the rest of the day. We passed Unye fort, an old ruin perched on a rocky outcrop above the town. Progress was slow and we stopped after a couple of hours to pick up some bread from a bakery. The guys in there invited us in for chai and, as we were in no hurry, we gladly accepted. The basics were covered, where we’re from, going to etc, do we have kids (why not!?), what is our profession, all the standard questions. Then when we showed a bit of interest in the bread being baked, they let us look around and showed us the oven, explaining the whole process, in Turkish. Returning to our bikes, a kitten had perched on top of my pannier, giving Clare another cute animal to play with for a little while.