We are now close to Goreme, which us almost not Turkey anymore, tourism has taken over and it is hard to see what is Turkish and what is set-up to boost tourism. We find it all interesting but do take it all into account and try to reflect in what us good for the people here and how we would be able to contribute to that.
Turkish hospitality is a great gift and brings us many surprises. Actually also Dutch hospitality has surprised us a few times, but more about that later 🙂 first we go back to Ankara where we left off last time.
We had a lot longer stay in Ankara because Susanne needed to get better and we got the reference number for the Iranian visa, so we decided to put that into procedure. Long story short: we made pictures with headscarf, photocopies of our documents, went to the embassy three times and were rewarded with our visa on the final visit. All the time staying with Sabit, our really friendly Warmshowers host. Ankara is a nice city and we especially liked it because it is a city where everyday Turkish life happens, unlike Istanbul which is crowded with tourists. When we were there there were also protests against the government because of the mining accident and a lot of police was visible in the streets. We visited the old city, the Anatolian museum, which provided us with more insight into the history (Turkish, Ottoman, Hittites, etc.) and we met up with Marten who we had met before in Istanbul see his website www.martenlagendijk.com .
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With our Iranian visa in our passport we left Ankara on our way to Cappadocia. Cappadocia is an historical region in Central Anatolia and you can read more about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cappadocia. We had planned to go quite directly but an encounter with a fellow bicycle tourer from Japan, Yuki, made us reconsider and because we had time, we decided to visit some highlights of the area. Some of the highlights were: the salt lake Tuz Golu, Ihlara Valley, Guzelyurt and Monastery Valley and Mustafapasa.
In Ihlara valley, at the Selime Monastery (a rock hewn church, which was very nice) we met a French couple Monique and Gilbert and a Czech couple Arthur and Andrea who both walked the valley up in stead of walking down. It was quiet and serene until we reached the part which is mostly done by tourists and groups started popping up everywhere. We ended up in a quiet section again and got a bus back to our starting point Selime. The valley is known for its rock hewn churches, there are caves everywhere and in earlier days monks believed it was a quiet and peaceful area. The Lonely Planet (which is not so lonely anymore) says: “This is one of the prettiest strolls in the world. Following the river, hemmed in by jagged cliffs, as it snakes between painted churches, piles of boulders and a sea of greenery ringing with birdsong and croaking frogs, is an unforgettable experience.” The day before we had camped 5km from there next to the river after meeting a Turkish family. They invited us for their BBQ after realizing we were Dutch because their daughter in law was Dutch/Turkish. It was nice to be able to communicate in Dutch with her and learn more about the family, Turkey and the area. We also got stopped in Selime by a schoolteacher and he wanted to practice some English with us. Before we knew it we were surrounded by kids asking what our name is. Was a nice beginning of the day!
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We weren’t in a rush because we are expecting friends to come over in Cappadocia. So we knew leaving Ihlara valley that we didn’t have to rush. In Guzelyurt while taking a break after ascending a steep hill we were invited for tea at a small hotel in a 200 year old Greek style building. After tea they said we could stay and camp in the courtyard of the hotel as a gift. We had done only 20km but really couldn’t refuse the offer 🙂 it is a really pretty boutique hotel and the family owning the Osmanoglu Hotel is very friendly and informative about the area. For information: www.osmanoglukonak.com.