Translated by: Magicz Dávid
The 10 hours long busride started at 10 p.m., so we thought we will sleep through it, killing two birds with one stone, but it was impossible. The turkish coaches are far more comfortable than the hungarian ones, but to sleep sitting with hanging legs is not so great. Instead, we got some tea, and biscuits, and with the help of the busdriver, we fitted the bikes so professional, and it has cost nothing. It was a cold morning, when we left Aksaray, but a delicious breakfast could expunge it: boiled eggs with salt, fresh bread and ayran. In the first day we stopped in a caravan-seraglio, which was built between 1231 and 1239. It’s the third biggest seraglio in Turkey. The seraglio is the resting and sleeping place of the travelers. Man and animal could took a nap and ate something in these places. What a feeling, walking between 800 years old walls! If only they could talk…How many people have been walking in these halls. What massive walls! We can learn more about these places and the life between its walls from the hungarian orientalist, Ármin Vámbéry.
In the evening we set up our tent in the grassy back of a gas station. (We did it more than once during our journey.) We asked the employees, they are usually nice people. They brought us hot tea, that we accepted with pleasure, because it was getting colder and colder. The morning greeted us with rime. Fast breakfast, packing, and let’s go! After the sheltered place, the wind attacked us with its 18 miles per hour speed. The 39°F felt like 23°F, the ride was very exhausting. It’s not going to be okay we thought, meanwhile it’s started snowing, so we took shelter again at another gas station. The attendants invited us inside. They offered us hot tea, what we drank with our frozen feet pushed to a radiator. We started talking, after a while Abdullah and Fatih asked us to stay. There was no point in continuing our journey, instead we met two warm-hearted people. What we can do in a turkish gas station? Well; talking, drinking tea, eating, writing a journal, reading, showing each other family photos, then cooking dinner and eating it together. We was not bored, and we learned some turkish, but it wasn’t awkward at all to sit beside each other in silence. Meanwhile the snow was falling, what an April! We spent the night in the warm storeroom.
The other day, we thanked everything, and said goodbye to the boys, then we rode in the nice sunshine, and 68°F through the town of Nevsehir. We only stopped to get some snacks. After that, we reached the border of the national park. The waited rock towers could appear at any moment now. We reached a little village. Some part of it was carved from the rocks. We locked the bikes, grabbed our cameras, and started off on a little adventure between the mostly unhabited houses. It must been a fantastic job carving out the multi-storey houses. It appears that each and every person has it’s own room. I don’t know what this place should be called. It’s not an outside museum, because most of the rocks (I intentionally didn’t write houses) are habited, or used as stables. There weren’t any railings, or ticketcollectors, so we could wander through the whole place, we could enter anywhere, climb anywhere. It was so great! And of course the view was amazing!
We spent approximately an hour and a half in the village, so we started to get hungry. We made our lunch in the terrace of a closed buffet. Chicken and bulgur, with mixed salad and pomegranate. Sounds tasty, right? If you are on the road, and your opportunities are scarce in every way, it doesn’t mean you can’t make wonders. I must say, we don’t eat meat everyday, because they don’t know salami, and of course we can’t eat ham, sausage because of the blacklisted pigs. Well, they have some kind of though, spicy kind of a salami, but you can only eat it after frying it. We tried it for breakfast, not bad, but the hungarian stuffs are way more better. We tried a lots of different food from different places, but nothing compares to the hungarian foods. I don’t say that because of some kind of „great hungarian nationalism”, but because it’s a fact. Let’s get back to the meat: the other reason we don’t eat that much, is because it slows down our digestion, and takes a lot of energy. The vegetables, pulps, seeds and dairy products are working better. Endurance tourists with nothing but bratwursts: don’t throw any rocks at us. Meats are great from gastronomic point of view. But that’s it. There is protein in the meat, but you could get it from something different, and there’s no energy in it. That’s why. After lunch we continued our journey, and after a short distance, the „Cappadocia” unfolded. Maybe some of you know it’s rock formations, towers.
We found the perfect lookout, not a soul. The tourists were in the terrace of a „panorama caffé”. We took some photographs, the view was beautiful no matter where we looked. In front of us, the top of Mount Erciyes shone. We especially choosed this part of the country, to get a look of this view. We thought it was worth it, but we were only stepped inside it’s door.
We rolled into Göreme, the „Las Vegas of Cappadocia”. Here everything is about tourists, everything is for tourists, well at least for their money. Hotels carved from rocks, in the bottom of the rocks, in the top of the rocks, under the rocks… Restaurants in every style, souvenir shops, travel agencies and air ballooning everywhere. We found a camping, named „Panorama Camping”. Because we’re living on a strict budget, (not a secret, 3000 HUF (~10 EUR)) we don’t like to pay for accommodation. Well not like the midnight lady from the sofa, but we like to bypass the places where you have to pay. Well there was (and will be) times, when we stayed in hostels. It’s hard and also dangerous to camp in a city. But it costs nothing to ask about the camping, and there he was, the manager. His name is Ahmet, he inherited the business from his father, who started the campingsite 30 years ago. He greeted us with a big smile, said take a look around first, after that we can talk about money, because if we don’t like the place, we won’t stay there. There is truth in it, but it sounded like it could be a very beautiful view, if it’s expensive, we wouldn’t stay there. The view was truly amazing, probably the best in town, because the camping is in the hill, everything is below.
He promised us hot water, kitchen use, open terrace with bean bag chairs, where you can look down to the valley, and free wifi. Here comes the howmuchisit. For other people, he said the price is 30 lira/night, but since „we are nice people” he give us a discount: 50 lira for both of us. Well there’s something in that, we tought, he was nice also, not that headstrong, violent marketing type. Well, the 50 lira is twice our daily budget. Well it’s gone down to 40, then he called himself crazy, and offered us 30 lira. We didn’t had much part in the bargaining, Ahmet counted, I just told him completely honest that the first price is way too much for us. The 30 lira is not so bad. We had to go to the post office and the store, told him that we will think about it, and if we’ll find it cool, we’ll come back. He promised to keep the price. We sent the postcards, and talked about it with Eni. A hot shower would be nice, and there are the other things (view, toilett, kitchen, wifi), we should spend two nights here, and wander around the place, it’s messy with the packed bikes. We told Ahmet, there are two options: we stay one night, for the 30 lira, or two nights for 50.
He was cool, and also smart, of course we spent two nights. It was a good deal, you can’t stay around the Balaton for this price. We set up our tents in the upper „terrace”.
There was two tents beside us, and we thought Ahmet said it’s empty, whoever can rent it who don’t have a tent.
It was a mistake, setting up our tents there, we realized that in the night. We made a tasty noodle dinner, and met two old riders. The two sixty-something gents travelled from Germany to Asia and back, with their sidecar equipped BMW-dnyeper motorbikes. They were nice company, we talked a lot, drank some coffe, and shared experience, and introduced couchsurfing to them.
The night arrived with the residents of the neighbor tents. It was four teenagers, around the age of 18, who decided to choose the Panorama Camping in Göreme to avoid prohibition of alcohol. There is no problem with that, we were drunk at that age, but it was annoying that they were howling like some rabid dog, two feets from our tent. At first, I didn’t say a word, but later I had enough. I shouted that if they wanna have fun, pull each other down to the reastaurant, and do it there. Of course, in english, even if they didn’t have any language exam, they sure understood that. In the morning i thought that I’ll put the laptop with some tasty music beside their tent, but at least we must have some decency. The other day, they looked so repentant, and offered us their gas tank. In the daylight we wandered through some of the valleys, and stared at its rock formations. It’s unbelievable, what shapes the wind an the water can make. And with time, it’s all gonna vanish from the face of the earth.
We approached the Outdoor Museum with some concerns. So many people, like some sort of picnic! They continuously brought the tourists on buses. If weren’t like 500 people there, then nobody. We discussed wit Eni, that we’ll go to the gift shop, find a book about the museum, what’s in there. If we can see the rock houses, maybe they are still furnished, then no matter the mass of peoples, we’ll go in there. It looked like only stonetemples are taken place in the museum, for that we didn’t had any mood. Pushing each other in a line, with slow pace, no way. The readers who were there will tell us whether it was a good choice or not, we think it wasn’t a big loss. Instead we climbed up on a hill, made a picnic, and stared at the view, then read some books amid the grass. That night the turkish youngsters made the party quiet, so we could sleep.
We had a reserved accommodation at Kayseri, we found it on Couchsurfing. Emre greeted us kindly despite our delay. We had to share the room with two romanian cyclists, but we didn’t mind it at all. It was nice meeting them. The 44 miles ride was fast, we reached the city in no time. During it, we were amazed by the snowy top of the Mount Erciyes, and the thousands of faces of it.
Kayseri is a city of millions, and Emre lives in the other side of it, it took two hours and a half to find his place. He greeted us with big smile, also helped us with our stuff. He’s very cool, kind, talkative, informed, and a super philanthropist. He’s the most open host, we liked him immediately. For dinner we made some food, the romanian guys George an Pedru arrived just in time. We did it like the turks, sitting in the ground, eating from a small table. We asked the guys about their cycling adventures. We slept late in the morning, then had a slow paced breakfast with the guys (Emre and his housemates went to work).
The boys left around 1 p.m., Eni was taking a nap, I spent the afternoon cutting the videos (the video about Serbia was born there). In the evening we had a nice dinner and a talk with Emre, next day’s plan was visiting a little Armenian village, but first we wanted to buy our train tickets to the Lake Van. Midday we rode to the train station, where they told us that the train to Tatvan won’t leave tomorrow, as we read on the internet, but it’ll leave tonight. We had to leave out the Armenian village, and hurry back to home to pack our stuff to catch the train. We could only say goodbye to Emre on the phone, but asked him to visit us if he’ll come to Hungary. We caught the train without a hurry, even had time for a tea at a buffet, where we found a Turkey Lonely Planet book. The train arrived, we packed up our stuffs and bikes to the luggage car, and paid for it to the conductor. The tickets we bought beforehand (it was 56,5 lira for both of us, fair price), but we had to pay for the bikes on the train. The conductors were cool, they only counted 44lb, that was 22 lira, however the two bikes with all our stuff were around 220 lb. We searched our seats, (it was reserved) then off we go to East-Turkey! The 466 miles journey was 23 hours long, instead of 20, it was a little bit uncomfortable, but we could sleep, after midnight the train was half empty. In the morning we arrived to another world, big mountains, deep canyons, fast rivers were running beside the tracks. We met two turkish family in the train, they were also headed to Tatvan inside the Gölü (lake) Express. We offered them some candy and biscuits, for exhangethey gave us homemade ayran.
We arrived at 5p.m., everything is in order. We only have to find a place to spend the night, and we’re all good. The city was depressing, don’t know why, but we wanted to leave it soon.
We went up on a steep climb on a road, south side of the lake. Where we spent the night, what happened to us in the next week in this Kurdish side of Turkey, you’ll find out from our next article.