The Big Ride

Turkey: The kindness of strangers – Part II of II

Cappadocia Hamam (Baths) Tea, yoghurt, bread and baklava
Turkish Dolmus drivers Having things stolen
Things we are loving
Turkish hospitality, especially from the petrol station guys The moutain roads

We took an overnight bus from Izmir to Neveshir and when we awoke autumn had arrived! This was both nice and a bit of a shock, we are used to travelling so slowly that everything happens gradually around us and we were unprepared for such a quick change! The views and scenery were really beautiful as all the trees had turned a multitude of colours from red to burnt orange to gold, it really was amazing and the air smelt of autumn, a kind of mix of burnt wood and dead leaves – which reminded us both of home and made me think about Guy Fawkes night which is a time of year I love in England and it is approaching quickly. The drop in temperature was a bit of a shock because it was less than a week ago that we were swimming in the sea with André’s mum and sister and now we were pulling on our merino wool base layers and hats!


The ride from the bus station at Neveshir to Goreme National Park (also called Cappadocia was a fairly short one but we both found it hard work due to lack of sleep over the last few days. It didn’t take long before we started spotting some of the cave houses and eventually we made it over a hill and saw Cappadocia spread out before us and it really is spectacular. The landscape was formed when two volcanoes erupted and the lava covered everything creating a soft type of rock called ‘tufa’. This rock over time was eroded by the elements and what are left are the strange rock formations that are now visible in the national park. It is a hard place to describe in words but I will try and if I fail you can take a look at the photos!  There are lots of misshapen rock towers and pinnacles that are full of lumps, bumps and holes. Some of these pinnacles are called Fairy Chimneys and these ones are conical shaped with a ‘cap’ of harder rock on top of the pinnacle, they can be as tall as 40ft. There are also large numbers of caves that are used for dwellings, restaurants and hotels among other things and some have been there for over 1000 years! In my opinion it is the colours that really make the place feel so surreal and beautiful, the rocky landscape is an array of different shades, from pinks and oranges to dark greens and greys – it is incredible. We cycled down into the valley and then it was a steep and tiring climb back out the other side to find a camp spot on top of the cliffs.  However, the view from our tent made it worth it.

The next morning we woke up before sunrise and when I stuck my head out of the tent the sky was starting to fill with hot air balloons! The balloons were being inflated in the valley below us and also on the cliff side beside us – they were everywhere! You could hear the sound from the burners and as the sun rose the valley became a warm pink colour. There were perhaps 40 balloons in the sky at once and it is an uplifting and awesome sight, like nothing I have seen before. We sat on the side of the cliff eating breakfast and drinking tea while watching the balloons peacefully drift over the national park – what a way to start the day! We spent the morning cycling through the park and it is a great ride with spectacular views. However, there is a slight downer on the day when as I was freewheeling down a big hill and going pretty fast my brand new Tubus front pannier rack snapped in two and went spinning into my spokes and then flew off of the bike along with my pannier! Luckily I remained in control of the bike and stayed upright but seeing my expensive new rack in pieces was pretty upsetting. (I would like to mention that both Tubus and Bisiklet Gezgini – the shop I bought the rack from in Istanbul offered fantastic customer service and sent me a new rack to Trabzon.) André did a great job of fixing my rack using materials found on the side of the road and we cycled off with the rack holding up.  By the afternoon we have cycled out of the National Park and have left the caves and fairy chimneys far behind. Our destination for the day was Ozkonack underground city, which is one of the smaller and less touristy of the underground cities. There are a number of these underground cities near Cappadocia due to the soft rock making it easy to construct them. They were built in the Byzantine era as a place to hide when invading armies approached. The cities are pretty claustrophobic as they have very low ceilings and very narrow corridors connecting each of the different chambers. There are wine cellars, kitchens, schools and lots of other areas to make life underground easier. They also had rolling stone doors and little communication tunnels that were used to pour hot oil down to protect themselves from the invaders! When we emerged from underground it was almost dark already, the sun sets at 4.45pm, which makes the day very short for us. We had tea at the café across the road and the owner very kindly agreed to let us camp in the courtyard of his café, and with electricity, a toilet and even the internet it was a great spot for us.

We spent a number of days cycling in Central Turkey, which was enjoyable, but not particularly special, we passed through lots of agricultural towns and villages and got to see sugar beets and cotton growing which was pretty interesting. However, this period of time was really made special by the kindness of the local people we met along the way. We were offered copious amounts of tea constantly especially by petrol station guys, we were looked after by policemen (they told André off for cycling ahead and leaving me flagging behind!), put up in a hotel for free and taken into warm family homes on cold nights. One particularly kind and lovely family invited us to stay at their home in Bogazilyan after we wandered into their photography shop asking if we could use their internet. We were fed huge amounts of delicious homemade food, given lots of tea and coffee and even shown how to make çig kofte. This dish is kind of similar to a spicy vegetarian meatball, it is made from bulgur, onions, garlic, tomato paste, mint leaves and other spices depending on the area of Turkey you are in and it is traditionally served in a lettuce leaf with lemon juice squeezed over the top – it is delicious! It was a really fun evening and a great insight into family life in Turkey.



Thanks Clairey fantastic blog very very intersting loved every bit of it, well worth the effort of writting, and the brilliant photography,love you loads.


This is really heartwarming – feeling really jealous right now. Totally agree on the need to do more acts of kindness here in Europe too. Lots of love to both of you.


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