Into the Anatolian mainland

Oct. 6, 2011 (day 141) Turkey

Since the Swiss guys had left, my daily mileage almost halved. Pushing forward in their companion had been fun, and also had put me a lot ahead of the planned timeline, but being alone I could again contemplate the nature or just stop for a tea invitation.

In Safranbolu I stayed in a beautiful small hotel

In Safranbolu I stayed in a beautiful small hotel

The city of Safranbolu, which indeed displays great architecture, was just another tourist destination with lots of souvenir stalls and overpriced restaurants. Fortunately, knowing nothing about it's layout, I stayed at the upper, less popular part, just to discover in the morning that the proper center was few kilometers away. I visited it for a breakfast, and then cycled away to stop for the night just before first real mountains.

Beautiful mountains, finally

Beautiful mountains, finally

The route from Araç to Kurşunlu is worth recommendation. Although steep and paved with the worst type of Turkish asphalt (layer of tar and loose gravel on the top), it is worth the effort. Cutting through two mountain ranges, in between it goes down to a huge bend of a river, offering stunning views across the valley. This remote terrain is just perfect for wild camping. I found a nice spot, just next to a small stream cascading down the slope. This was the first river in Turkey, which I found to be clean. So far, all of them I could smell from few hundred meters. Unfortunately, rapidly developing Turkey seems to be merciless to the environment, and all the rivers I had crossed before were streams of stinky, dark gray fluid, which could hardly be called water.

Steep downhills required being careful

Steep downhills required being careful

The impact on the environment is not only present in the water, but also on the land. The country is unbelievably littered, and virtually everywhere one can find old plastic bottles or bags. The saddest is the view of picnic sites, often covered with rubbish, like no one cared about the appearance of these places of relax.

A rare view in rapidly modernizing Turkey

A rare view in rapidly modernizing Turkey

Fortunately, beside the littered land and polluted surface waters, there are numerous springs and water taps all across the Turkey. Drinking water is available almost everywhere, despite the overall dry look of the terrain.

From the mountains in the north, I quickly descended to the Anatolian Plateau. Actually, it is still far from being flat, but much easier to cycle than the northern coast. There are downsides, however. The one I felt the first, are the temperatures. Far from the sea, it is easy to feel that the summer has already passed away. The days are warm, but not hot anymore. Together with the sunset, the chill begins instantly. Cloudless sky doesn't protect the ground from radiating all the warmth out, and just before the sunrise the temperatures fall as low as to 0°C. With my light sleeping bag, I have to put all the clothes on. Additionally, around the autumnal equinox the days are getting shorter with dramatic pace. Almost 12 hours of darkness is too much to spend them just sleeping, and the short daytime, after having subtracted the time for eating, shopping and finding a camping spot, limits the cycling period to just few hours a day.

Although the winter is following me faster than I expected, the season for vegetables and fruits seems to be perfect. I enjoy juicy and sweet melons, which are so cheap at the moment, that often I have them offered for free. There is also plenty of tomatoes, much more tasty and few times cheaper than those found in Europe. With addition of inexpensive eggplant, one can compose complete, tasty meals for just one or two Turkish Liras. The only expensive goods I cannot resist, are sweets. Baklava still remains my favourite, but hazelnut creams and broad variety of puddings and sweet cakes form a huge palette of tastes, that I'm devoted to explore before leaving the country. Sometimes I also enjoy meals at restaurants: kebabs, pitas, lahmacuns. Turkish cuisine is one of the best I have tasted in my life, and the only thing I'm missing here, is rye bread, which would probably not appear again, after I have left Slavic lands.

Endless Anatolian steppes

Endless Anatolian steppes

The monotonous landscape east from Ankara changes when one reaches the famous salt lake, called Tuz Gölü in Turkish. Just after this vast area covered with white, moist salt, the first shape of an enormous mountain appears. Hasan Dağı is one the biggest volcanic peaks, which pierce the surface of central Anatolia. Their activity in the past had brought a thick layer of ashes, which in turn, after long period of erosion, gave birth to awesome features of the land called Cappadocia. The cliffs of Ihlara Valley and the cone-shaped rocks there and around Göreme would not be so interesting, without the traces left by countless generations of inhabitants of these lands. The soft, post-volcanic rock was easy to dig into, and entire region is full of cave houses, or even underground cities. Most of them are now on the UNESCO World Heritage List, and are highly priced tourist attraction, but the remains of ancient civilizations can be found everywhere. Camping in the fields, somewhere between Aksaray and Ihlara, I found a rock with remains of an old Christian chapel. It seems that long ages ago, someone had became charmed by the great view from that place, just as I did when picking a site for the night rest. The civilizations may appear and vanish, travelers come and go away, but the natural beauty is eternal there.

Almost like in winter

Almost like in winter

A the foot of Hasan Dağı

A the foot of Hasan Dağı

Crossing the Ihlara Valley, I spotted a bike traveller, busy with repairing his vehicle, which suffered some damage during a bumpy ride over stones. Marek, being a German despite his Polish name, is on his bicycle journey from Leipzig to India. We instantly decided to go together, at least to Kayseri, where he would turn more north, in order to get his Iranian visa in the famous Trabzon consulate.

Together we visited the underground city in Derinkuyu and cycled north, to the center of Cappadocia. Already used to see few tourist after the summer had finished, we were surprised to meet crowds again in Göreme. Seems that these places attract many visitors all around the year, and I don't want to imagine what happens there in the high season. The open-air museum was just little more than a fight to enter crowded churches, definitely not worth it's high price of the ticket. Instead, it is just better to wander around, among endless rocks, where one can find churches or old houses, sometimes quite well preserved. Although the footpaths, signs on walls and rubbish don't make you feel like a discoverer, it's less crowded there, free, and photography is not restricted.

The rock houses are still inhabited

The rock houses are still inhabited

Always crowded Cappadocia

Always crowded Cappadocia

After this mass-tourism experience, I'm now eager to see the mountains behind Kayseri. However, due to low temperatures at nights, it is not probable that I would climb Mount Nemrut to see the famous stone heads at sunrise. If it's already freezing at 1000m, camping at 2100m would be impossible with my summer equipment. I still have to review my plans for the rest of Turkey, and to plan well the moment of entry into Syria, as my visa expires in the middle of November.

Comments:

mama
mama
10 years ago
Piękny opis, sama bym to wszystko zobaczyła. Może kiedyś? Pisz częściej, czyta się to z ogromną przyjemnością! Trzymamy nieustająco kciuki za dalszy ciąg
azbest87
azbest87
10 years ago
Jak zwykle świetny tekst i zdjęcia:) aż chciałoby się tam popedałować!
Pozdro!
erzete
erzete
10 years ago
Rzeczywiście czyta się to z przyjemnością! Wdzięczni za tak barwną i ciekawą relację - pozdrawiamy!!! Rafał
Puchalka
Puchalka
10 years ago
zyczymy powodzenia i udanej jazdy! pozdrawiamy z nowej zelandii! gosia i simon
Marta
Marta
10 years ago
Zaczyna być egzotycznie na Twojej trasie. Na to właśnie czekałam ! Co do pomidorów i owoców, to nie zapomnę ich smaku w Jordanii. Super dojrzałe, kupione u rolnika przy drodze pachniały i smakowały słońcem. Nie żałuj ich sobie bo kulinarna strona podróży jest równie ubogacająca co ta wizualna i kulturowa.

Prócz widoków i wolności zazdroszczę baklawy... i kremu z orzechów laskowych...

Pozdrawiamy, Marta i Waldek
kaha
kaha
10 years ago
ah... ten kremu z orzechów laskowych...
wojtek
wojtek
10 years ago
pięknie ;)
iwo
iwo
10 years ago
Hej hej, ty się nie nastawiaj na podjazd pod górę Nemrut z bagażem :P
nast
nast
10 years ago
pieknie!
barylówka
barylówka
10 years ago
Niecierpliwie czekam na szczegóły z Syrii :)
kaha
kaha
10 years ago
a ja już chcę Egipt! :)
Robb
Robb
10 years ago
aaaaale bym się z Tobą przejechał .. chłoooopie :-)
Jak by co to mamy sklep rowerowy w Adana - super koleś, mechanik i przemiły :-)

EEEEEEEmeeeeeesssss .. jedziesz chłopie jedziesz :-)
Pozdrawiamy z przemarzniętej Polszy
Hania / mumum
Hania / mumum
10 years ago
wreszcie kolejny wpis :)

piękne zdjęcia, piękna okolica i słońce :)
zazdroszczę tych warzyw i owoców :)

czekam na dalszy ciąg :)