Turkey Part 2
Fatsa to a Lokanta
Today we said goodbye to the Black Sea coast as we turned our wheels south, into the heart of Turkey. We thought we had a companion to join us on this adventure, when a stray dog – instead of barking frantically at us – galloped alongside us for a couple of miles, tongue hanging out, sheer enjoyment on its face. Despite our encouragement, the dog hadn’t been training for such an endurance event and slowed down to a weary jog. But when we had to take off our jackets further down the road, we noticed it come bounding around the corner in a final attempt to keep up.
We began our long slow climb up as rain clouds herded together above us like grey sheep. Another day of cycling in the rain. Luckily, later on, we found a roadside restaurant – a lokanta – where they allowed us to camp, and we had chai and a kebab to warm us.
Lokanta to forest camp
The morning mist cleared and the autumnal colours of the trees gleamed in the sunshine. We still had more climbing to do, and were followed for a while by a very cheery man on a bicycle – no wonder he was so happy, he had a motor fixed to his bike and was buzzing along nicely. Still, his smiles and waves brought our spirits up.
A secluded forest camp spot on top of a hill would provide us with a place to camp, and, even though we felt quite in the middle of nowhere, the call to prayer echoed through the valley at 5am. No need to set an alarm over here. We later learned that, though officially a secular state, nearly all of the Turkish population are Muslim.
Forest camp to Farmers woods camp
We had a nice climb to warm us up to start, before we had to wrap up for a 15km descent, the freezing cold air whipped away our sweat.
The conifer forest started to disappear and the landscape opened out a bit, but the climbs didn’t stop. Up, down, hot, cold, our internal thermostat was on overdrive! We paused in Tokat City to gather some supplies, chatted with a local man in a café who explained that the central plateau of Turkey is very hilly, cycled up and over a big ridge – the man was right! – and collapsed exhausted into a ditch (a farmer’s field) to camp. Before us was another hill, which we decided to leave for tomorrow morning to warm us up.
Fun fact about Turkey is that it grows around three-quarters of the worlds hazelnuts – so no wonder they were always for sale on the street, in little markets and ready to collect by the bag-full on the roadside. However, we couldn’t quite work out what on earth this was supposed to advertise:
We soon realised it was not a hazelnut, but two loaves of bread. For our amusement, and because we can have a simple sense of humour at times, we decided to forever refer to it as ‘bollock bread.’
Farmers forest camp to Sivas
A frosty start with a low hanging mist made it feel very wintery. It didn’t take us too long to reach Sivas, where a local shop owner offered us some apples for our efforts, and we could tuck in to more tasty Turkish kebabs!
Sivas to Sarkisla
Our cycling day was lovely, peaceful and quiet. Aah.
Sarkisla to Kayseri
Frost on Will’s beard and it was glistening. A true adventure beard; a great big bushy beard.
The sun struggled to warm us, but an invite for chai from staff in a local bank did an excellent job. One worker ran out with some cash and brought back about 5 packets of biscuits.
We have read many things about the angry stray dogs in Turkey, always up for a chase. They were never a real threat, but certainly barked viciously and often induced a surge of adrenaline to make the legs spin quicker! The biggest danger we had, however, was finding an adorable playful puppy who was more than happy for a hug. It’s very tempting to take him with us.
Kayseri to Goreme
We were hoping to get a better look at the big, snowy mountain that overlooked the city of Kayseri this morning, but it was still hidden by a veil of fog.
Today we were excited to be heading to the Goreme Historical National Park in Cappadocia with the unique ‘fairy chimney’ rock formations, once used by Trogladytes, whose caves are still visible and some turned into fancy cave hotels. We woke at sunrise to be mesmerised by the hot air balloons rising slowly up into the sky; more and more filled the sky floating against an orange glow. We had our rest-day run around the National Park to explore the weird and wonderful landscape as more hot air balloons glided over us.