Again we were well rested, fed and ready to ride the following morning, it was to be a tough day but it started well enough. We clocked up the first 50km fairly quickly and decided to make a small detour to see a caravanserais, it was only a couple of km of the road so not to bad. We were greeted by an old guy who took a few lira off us and then let us loose to wander round this incredible place. In days gone by when the camel trains used to criss cross the country there many such places to stop at for food, water, shelter and to rest the camels. This particular one has been quite well restored and is one of the largest, it really is an amazing place !!
We were both relieved to have reached Bunyan but we were both very thirsty so we stopped at the first place we could find that sold drinks, it was a kebab shop. I took a litre of juice and a small water and Nao took a can of pop and a small water, we sat inside in the shade and quenched our thirst. Sated, we got up to pay but the guy wouldn’t take our money, he basically told us that the pleasure we’d bestowed on him by stopping at his shop was enough….I nearly burst into tears…what incredible people !!!
The hotel was clean, friendly and once again our bikes were untouched when morning came. For dinner we’d eaten well at the kebab shop next door as it belonged to the hotel owner and we were back again for breakfast, Chorba or soup is often eaten for breakfast here and my personal favorite is lentil soup with lots of lemon and chilli flakes, that and a few chunks of fresh bread are a great way to start a day !!
Having done 90km the day before we now had a very short day into Kayseri, most of it was also downhill, we were making such good progress that we had to stop a few times just to waste time. In the end I actually stopped for a haircut and a shave on the way into town as we still needed to waste time. The haircut was also required as we wanted to visit the Hilton Hotel roof bar and restaurant, it has the best views in town and I wanted to smarten up a bit.
Thanks to my GPS unit we found our way into the town centre and the hotel without any difficulty, I hadn’t realised what a big place Kayseri is, we were on the outskirts of town 12km before we got to the centre. It’s a rich town with plenty of manufacturing and is noted for carpets, and pastrami amongst other things !!
The hotel was well located only a short walk from the central mosque, caravanserais (now an indoor market) and the citadel (sadly closed for building work). We had decided long before we went to Kayseri that we’d treat ourselves and have dinner at the Hilton, as I said the views are the best in town, we made our way there to make a reservation. We went to the 12th floor and did just that, asking for a table on the terrace if possible. While there we stopped for a couple of beers and sat outside, it was great to relax with a beer ( we’ve only had two since we arrived in Turkey ) and take in this magnificent view…
We went back to the hotel shorly after to relax and freshen up before heading back later for dinner, as expected the food was good if not cheap and the view at night was fabulous and our table was perfect…what a great night, and the views at night….wow !!
The following day was a day off and we spent it drifting round the markets, and taking in the sights from ground level, to be honest it looks better from the top of the hotel !!
Finding our way out of Kayseri was easy enough but the roads were very busy and there wasn’t a shoulder, 10km of this and my nerves were beginning to fray, the traffic really don’t give you much room and are continually on the horns !!
At about 10km the road we wanted was straight on but there seemed to be a no entry sign, cars were going that way so in the end we followed. Three km later we had to turn back as the road was actually closed…bugger ! This small roadworks cost us a 15km diversion, well that and the hotel address being wrong !!
Still it was a good ride and although we ended up doing 85km rather that 69km we still managd to get to the hotel in good time.
We’d booked the Stone Concept Hotel in Avanos because it had a pool and we felt like a bit of a relaxing afternoon, sitting in the shade with a beer by a pool 😉
Hmm, the hotel had all the charm of a shoe box, the pool bar was like a greenhouse, the pool area looked like a building site and the tables and loungers were broken and had no cushions, there were no towels and no shade…anywhere !!
Not impressed, the only thing that was good about the hotel was the food, buffet dinner and breakfast which was included in the room rate and both were fantastic !! Other than that I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone !!
Needless to say neither of us was to upset to be leaving in the morning. We’d planned a 25km route to get us to Urgup and our next nights accomodation. Our route took us through the Zelve valley and we stopped to look around the open air museum, it’s a large village built almost entirely into the rock, it even had it’s own winery. Although originally a monastic retreat it remained occupied in some parts until 1952 when now deemed unsafe the villagers were resettled in Aktepe. Great place to look around and as you’ll see it gives great photo opportunities !!
From here we road into Goreme for lunch, we didn’t look around to much as we have three days here later. Next stop Urgup but to get there we had to cycle out of the valley. I can say with my hand on heart that this road, covered in square cut black stone blocks was horrible even when flat but the hill out was also paved in them and it was so steep that just for once Nao actually walked up one of the bends (this is a first, I’ve never seen her beaten before) !! I got a round of applause from a car full of people as I rounded the last bend onto a slightly flatter bit of road, my poor little legs were spinning just to keep my balance !!
Well after that bit of extreme hill climbing we enjoyed the ride into Urgup and found our pension in the old part of town quite easily. A friendly welcome, a cup of coffe with no charge, a large room with ensuite, made a welcome change from our previous nights hotel !!
We showered and then took a walk into town, a quick stop for drinks and ice cream then we headed up the hill to find a restaurant with a view and boy did we score !!
It wasn’t cheap eating at Dimrit Cafe and Restaurant but we were made to feel very welcome, we enjoyed the banter with the waiters, we very much enjoyed the Efes dark and the food was fantastic. Added to this that we were also sitting at the table with the best views and you’ll understand why we had such a great night !!
When we arrived back at the pension, we stayed up chatting to the owner, lovely guy, he’d spent a few years in Germany in his early life and has taught German in schools until recently. More coffee and tea was offered and accepted, a pleasant way to end a lovely day.
Morning started with more tea, your never far from a teapot in Turkey and it’s generally given free or at least very cheaply !
Our ride into Goreme was even shorter than the day before, a mere 10km, most of up it uphill or so it felt. Not to many photos taken on such a short ride but now were settled in our hotel for four nights well certainly be out doing tourist things, tomorrow is a photo safari, very much looking forward to that.
This wasn’t the only photo taken on our ride back to Goreme, but for now it’s the only one that matters. More to come in the next blog !!
Suffice to say that Turkey’s biggest asset, it’s real jewel isn’t Cappadoccia or Pammukale or any other tourist location, it’s not the landscapes, the coast, the turquoise seas or the brilliant blue skies…..no, Turkey’s real jewel is it’s people, there generosity is like none I’ve ever encountered, there humour, passion and honesty is to be admired, I for one am humbled by them and am thoroughly enjoying my time in there country.
If you’ve never been, then all I can say is your missing out !!
Keep reading and look out for the Cappadoccia photo blog.