Crossing Turkey once and coming back

Km 3223 – Sivas, Turkey

WEATHER & GENERAL STUFF

Since it is impossible to cycle completely through this beautiful and huge country within the 90 days length of stay, we have coverd bigger daily distances since Antalya – hitchhiking. This way we crossed Turkey from the Mediterranean Sea to the Black Sea and experienced very different weather. While the sun in Antalya was inviting for a swim in the sea, we woke up in a snow covered tent in Cappadocia. The following sunny days in Cappadocia have been changed for heavy rain in the more northern Sivas. Later we drove over some foggy and snowhite mountain passes to then be welcomed by sunshine again at the Black Sea Coast. During all these distances we have been welcomed with an incredible amount of hospitality.

ANTALYA

  • As we where just about to put our phone card into a public phone a young man is speaking to us from the side: „Are you Jana and someone?“ We smile and Jimmy welcomes us. After passing some side streets we arrive in the little oasis of the family. Actually, it is Terry’s and Lem’s house, Jimmy’s mother. But since last autumn Jimmy and his girlfriend Rose have also been living here. In three months they cycled 5000 km from Manchester to Antalya and now they host other long distance cyclists in their beautiful home.
  • We spend some relaxed and marvelous days. What is nicer than sitting in the garden in the afternoon sun with a delicious Italian coffee, fixing the bikes or reading. Alex and Jimmy went swimming twice – one time they even tried to catch some fish. We stroll along the market, the old city, try the lunch deals in little side street restaurants and make new plans for our route in Turkey (thank you, Terry!).

KONYA

  • We cycle 15 km to the next intersection in the direction of Konya. There we put out our thumbs and soon after we sit with Yusuf in the driver’s cabin of his van – the bicycles in the back on the almost empty cargo area. Enthousiastically he starts to chatter in Turkish and we have to scam through our dictionary to be able to follow. Approximately 50 km later we are on the road again, cycle a couple meters until Ferami stops to take us. He is laughing so warmly towards us as well and will even take us all the way to Konya (still 170 km). But that is not enough: the gracious man invites us for two rounds of Ҫay and within the huge city of Konya he takes us another 10 km to a bicycle path (bisiklet yolu) that we can follow easily to our host’s suburb. Because we don’t know how we can show him our gratitude, we can only say warm-heartedly goodbye to him.
  • Not even five minutes later a young man catches up with us on his moutain bike. Mustafa’s eyes sparkle when he sees our bikes with all the luggage and when we tell him (in Turkish) that we would like to cycle to New Zealand. The 21-year old is totally determined to find the way to our host for us, although he is on his way to university classes. Suddenly, someone shouts „STOP“ and Behҫet, our host, is standing in front of us. With his smile and his charisma he embraces the whole world. The retired history teacher is a passionate singer and intones the German song „Lily Marlen“ for us.
  • The next morning a huge gastank overtakes us after about five cycled kilometers. The driver stops and asks us to stop as well. Under his water canister he washes two apples for us and hands them over with a big smile. Then he climbs into his truck again to get two chewing gums for us. We can’t do anything else than friendly thank him and give him a big smile as well. Ҫok Teşekkürler!

KAPADOKYA (Nevşehir, Uҫhisar, Göreme, Mustafapaşa, Avanos, Incesu)

  • In Nevşehir our host is not answering the phonw so we cycle out of town and camp. The whole night we hear and feel an intense wind and our tent is shaken strongly. When I look out ot the tent the next morning, I can see snow everywhere.
  • Uҫhisar is not far anymore and very soon we admire the caves and stone formations which cause this area to be so famous. After the cold night we experience a sunny day and we can discover everything calmly. The caves have been dug into the soft stone by Cappadocia’s inhabitants to hide from different aggressors. Since the Cappadocian region lies along the old silk road is has often been mugged in history. The neighbour villages are full of caves and hiding places, too. Even complete „underground citites“ can be found. During the following days the region enriches us again and again with a beautiful scenery for cycling and hiking – heavily recommended.

  • A few kilometers further in Göreme we call Derviş from Incesu. He turns out to be our angel of Cappadocia and spontaneously joins us for the afternoon. We jump into his little jeep and yet he drives us through the pretty valleys. He shows us his favorite places and tells us a little bit about the history. His parents still have been living in the caves in the fifties until the government provided modern house for the resettlement, because the caves gradually came apart.

TRABZON

  • We are allowed to leave our bikes in Berna’s big living room in Sivas to be able to hitchhike only with little luggage to Trabzon. That’s where we would like to apply for our Iranian visa.
  • Everything works out just fine. We never wait longer the five minutes until someone takes us and the shepherding, hospitable Turks keep on surprising us. Many people drive 5 to 15 km of detour to leave us at a good spot. Şuahip from Sivas even drives a 100 km (!) detour for us – in vain we try to convince him that he shall rather enjoy his free day and that we will surely find another car that is going to Tokat anyway. Other drivers supply us with bananas, apples or nuts. Serkan even buys us half a kilo of nut pralines and says: „If you want to cycle to New Zealand you need energy.“ Along the way we are often beckoned over for a Ҫay, sometimes even for lunch.
  • In Trabzon we spend relaxed days with Kutay and Nazmiye. As we arrive on a Friday night, we spend the weekend with learning Backgammon as well as many Ҫays, Saleps and delicious food sessions. But we also use the time to inform ourselves about the Iranian Visa, Eastern Turkey and Iran. The headscarf photos help: after our visa application on Monday morning, the same afteroon we are already holding the Iranian visas in our hands.
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