After leaving Pamukkale, the landscape became...BIG! Hills metamorphosed into snow-capped mountains and vast plains opened up to provide an incredible backdrop to our cycling. Rarely was there a dull moment...even the 150km of tree-less steppe between Konya and Aksaray was dramatic in its own very flat and uniform way! 7 glorious days in the saddle culminated in our arrival to the very unique, lunar landscape of Cappadocia. Three nights in a hotel was a welcome treat following 6 nights sleeping under canvas in the wilderness.
We have continued to supplement our carbohydrate and sugar rich diet with some wonderfully fresh and tasty fruit (cherries are now the principal crop). Just outside the lakeside town of Egidir, we stopped to buy a kilo for less than £2...bargain!!...they lasted for four deliciously sweet days! Since starting the trip, food has become an obsession of ours and it doesn't take long before the topic of conversation reverts back to reminiscing about favourite meals, comparing prices of products in supermarkets, their value for money and whether we are consuming enough calories! BIM is our favourite shop here in Turkey! Tesco (aka Kipa) has quite a strong presence too but, whilst their stores are always refreshingly air conditioned, prices aren't quite as appealing.
We have also continued to be humbled by random acts of generosity by Turkish people: on our last night before arriving in Göreme, for example, we were presented with 2 pistachio cornettos by a kind ice cream van driver who had stopped in the car park where we were cooking our dinner...they were very much appreciated and a gesture symptomatic of how welcome touring cyclists are made to feel here!
Our first full day in Göreme was spent meandering through some of the other-worldly valleys: The differentially eroded volcanic rock, creating hundreds of 'fairy chimneys' standing tall like...errr...giant phalluses!! We decided to avoid the Open Air Museum (home to some of the more impressive examples of cave houses and churches with ornate frescos) as our wandering had provided us with enough cave-dwelling-experiences to satiate our cultural appetite (avoiding the crowds and saving some money to boot!). After chilling out in the hotel during the afternoon, we joined our 6 cycle tourist friends on top of a hill, overlooking Göreme, to watch the sun set together. It was a special way to end the day as it will probably be the last time that all 8 of us will be in the same place at the same time.
Today, after being startled from my delightfully cosy slumber by the early morning Call-To-Prayer (seriously, is it really necessary at 3.45am?!) we headed up to a terrific vantage point behind the town to welcome the sun's arrival coupled with the spectacle of dozens of hot air balloons rising gracefully into the sky. We decided to spend the afternoon resting, rather than cycling 25km to Kaymakli to see the underground city. I'm sure it would have been fascinating, but we both voted in favour of rest over another Antolian cultural experience. We have seen some wonderful sights over the past couple of weeks but on a journey by bike, it is important to take time to simply let the body rest!
We get back on the road tomorrow, as we begin the return journey to Istanbul. The 8 day ride will round off our Turkish cycling adventure and we will enjoy the city in the company of two very special people...my Mum and Dad!! The prospect of their visit will be a great motivator when I'm struggling up a hill, pedalling against the prevailing wind!!
Love and hugs. X