Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Into the rising sun

At Goreme we are awakened by a intermittent roaring sound. We instantly know what is. Yes, it is a balloon going right past our hotel. We can hear the "driver" talking to the passengers. By coincidence the hotel owns the ballon Company! 


We then hit the road as early as possible to head East to Malatya. 430 km of dual carriage highway with hardly a car in sight. It was all so easy. We later find out that today is a National holiday ! 


We stop for a break. A young Turkish man sees our bike and come to talk to us. He is from Maltya and is an environmental engineer. He want to travel and looks at our bike longingly. He is going to work on the Ivory Coast.  He was a delightful young man - the face of modern Turkey I think 


The countryside gets drier ( and hotter ) 


Then suddenly we are in Malatya  - the apricot capital of Turkey. And by the prosperous look of the town there must  be money in Turkish Apricots. Note to Hubbard Foods - negotiate harder on the price for Turkish Apricots!  There must be margin to spare. 

At our Malatya hotel we are near the flight path of a big Air Force base. We hear planes coming and going during the night. Delivering love letters to Syria?  Then suspicions are raised further in the morning when I talk to an Anerican staying at the hotel. " What do you do here?" I innocently asked ( as you do)." I not allowed to tell you but that means you can work it out for yourself " he cryptically replied. Clearly as I see it he was an American advisor or liaison person  at the airforce base next door. 

Then it is another longish day as we head to Erzurum getting closer to the Georgian border. Again lots of duel carriageway and hardly any traffic. We cross an 8,000 ft mountain pass and the temperature drops in a welcome fashion. 

.  They do seem to load the trucks rather precariously and I hope a sack is not going to fall off as I pass them. I think the sacks must be chaff - there is no way the truck could carry that number of heavy bags 

There was a lot of road surface  upgrades going on 


We stop for a midday break. The young men serving us proudly tell us they are Kurds. Not Turkish thank you but Kurdish! They are very pleasant with their limited English. Unlike many Americans we have met everyone on Turkey seems to know where New Zealand is. That is probably better than Donald Trump! Note to self - must find out more about matters Kurdish. I wonder if they have something in common with the Palestiniams - statelessness! 

We also note more military look out points  and more police road checks. However we always get waved thru the checks and have never been stopped 

Woops - something does not feel right with the back of the bike. Aha- I have got it - Diana is missing! 


We thus arrive at the ski town of Erzurum ( what a lovely sounding name !) We pass a ginormous ski jump being built on the edge of town. We stay at a ski lodge right at the start of the ski slopes with a nice view over Erzurum ( I even like typing the word !) Soewhere I read that Erzurum is considered to be in the top 10 ski fields in the world. I even go to bed with Erzurun,  Erzurum in my head ! 


Tomorrow - we get close to the Georgia border. I start humming a tune. I've got it - it is "Georgia on my mind" !  Wrong Georgia me thinks but it does not matter. 

Monday, 29 August 2016

The balloon goes up ...................

First of all we have to leave Mersin. We hit the road at 7.00am to get ahead of the heat and we head to Tarsus just down the toad where St Paul came from. Now that is why he is called St Paul of Tarsus ! We visit where his house was and the well in the garden which he reportedly used. Pilgrims come here to drink water from the well apparently. 


He are the remains of his house below the glass shield 

From here he walked to Ephesus to hand deliver a letter to the Ephesians. I bet he would have given his eye teeth for email especially when you see the geography of the region he walked through.  

We then head north to Cappadocia and the cave dwellers. We travel on a superb three lane motorway that crosses a high mountain range. The temperature delightfully drops   There is virtually no traffic. 


 At the start of the motorway you pass through an unmanned electronic toll gate. As you come off the motorway you pass through another. You are supposed to have a prepaid chip on or in your vehicle and if you don't sirens sound and lights flash. We know that - they did! . Ah well - We only read about  how the system works when we got to the hotel. We now have the full weight both the Turkish law and the Italian law after us!  Perhaps they will join forces to find us 

Then we get to Cappadocia and the town of Goreme 



And we stay in a cavee hotel ( as you do in Cappadocia) 



It is a fascinating place. We do the " tourist thing" as you do in Cappadocia and go for a balloon ride in the early morning 


More hot air is produced here than is produced a typical  Auckland Council meeting. And by supporting us it probably also does a more useful function! 


And we are up, up and away 




This is called the " valley of love" which I can only assume must have because it was named after an early English explorer called Mr Cecil Love ! ( or something like that ). The landscape was what you might call heavily " circumscribed"! 


One hour later we touch down

We do a day tour around Undergoround city and  Selime Catheral (which is carved out of the rock) 


We have an organic breakfast at a local farm.  Our very nice driver/host driver tells me he recognises me from somewhere. Sprung! He worked in New Zealand for about 12 years! He recognised  me from the "telly".   Diana inspects the rows of crops  like inspecting a guard of honour ( not that she has done that!) 


 Then just a light breakfast for two ! 


We are staying for three nights on Cappadocia ( two and a half rest days ) before heading East tomorrow to Malatya. With some reluctance to leave here I might add.  

Friday, 26 August 2016

And we continue a East

Suitably refreshed from our indulgent stop over in Kas we head down to to the town of Alanya for an overnight stop at a hotel almost full of Scandanavians !  . As we head down we pass close to the Greek Island of Rhodes and lots of other Greek Islands off the coast. They are so tantalising close!  We continue wind our way round the coast th our next stop which is the city of Mersin. That is very close to where St Paul was born. 


With the odd rural scene 


We see bananas being being  grown everywhere. 


And we think this is a refuge camp behind this sentry box. Certainly there was lots of barbed wire , sentry posts and black out screen so you could not see anything from the road.  


The road was a mixture of the old.........


And the new..........


And the yet to be finished 


There were lots of produce stalls on the side of the road 


And it is obviously and important fruit and vegetable area 


And over two days we get to the city of Mersin. 


We are very close to Cyprus and I suspect that without the heat haze you would be able to see it from our hotel roof. 


 According to my maps we are just 200 km from the Syria border by road - less in a straight line me thinks! That is close enough thanks! It is all bought into sharp focus when there is an airport type luggage screener at our  hotel entrance. We heard the othe day that Turkey has now invaded a Syrian border town. Here we are lounging  at the poolside this afternoon at our hotel and there is a war going on just 200 km away ! It is hard to get your head around.

Tomorrow we veer away from border area and head up to the cave dwellings of Cappadocia which is towards the centre of Turkey 

A little bit of indulgence today

Today was a short day if about 200km and we hit the road early to escape the worst of the afternoon heat. Thus we arrived at the very pretty fishing town or village of Kas. The trip winding down the coast wth the colour of the sea was amazing. Little bays everywhere. 


And in inland places there were huge  areas of " glasshouses" 


The sea just got bluer and bluer 

And the flowers brighter and brighter 


A morning tea break at a typical roadside place 


And then to finish off the sensory load was our hotel for the night - paradise 


The view from our balcony 


We spend the afternoon swimming,lazing,  swimming,  having a beer, having a late lunch,swimming, lazing, swimming  again - do you get the picture 

I call a trip planning meeting as the sun goes down . First item on the agenda was - woops I forgot. I have got it now , PiƱa  Colada or Daquirie ? 


Diana does her share of thinking 


The setting  sun rolls down the side of the hill


So it's a quiet  dinner for two - here's to the  the rigours of the road ! 


And thus refreshed we rolled out of Kas the next morning very happy campers. Well for the first half kilometre. Then Diana has an absolutely brilliant idea. Her best of the trip. " Let's go back and get our passports that we have accidentally left at the hotel " she says. Now you can't argue with that logic. 
That was a close call! 

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

On the turquoise coast

 Given the hotness of the afternoons we have  back our daily mileage a little and go for about 300 km today so that we get to our hotel by about 2pm. And it certainly did get hotter. In one town where I pulled up for traffic lights the temperature read 39.5 deg C which is hot! We started off in the  morning at a balmy and cool 25 deg but it rapidly got to the average 37 deg mark. When you are moving on the bike it is not too uncomfortable in the heat but you notice when you stop. 

We by pass the city of Izmir which us the third biggest city in Turkey. This is close enough thanks. 


And we pass the turn off to Ephesus ( which is also known by its abbreviated name of Efes. That is also the name of the most popular beer in Turkey. I am flabbergasted that the Romans named the city of Ephesus after their favourite beer! They were a sophisticated race. 


We stop for breaks every 100 km because of the heat and some of the roadside cafes are lovely and friendly. Here is a " preening station" for the ladies 



The landscape looks like something out of the American Wild West 


Just before the hotel we catch up on theses two " Adonisis's" on their bikes. Are they Roman or Greek Gods ?  They obviously think they are immortal anyway 


And we arevery hot when get to our hotel. It has a swimming pool - yahoo ! And a windmill ! 


Might I also say the roads are in Turkey are generally superb with a large amount of dual  carriageways. 

It occurred to me that a large number of the Syrian refugees must have crossed the same coastal road we are following. The Greek Islands are tantalising close and we can easily see them in the distance. There are no signs of refugees ( yet!) but we have seen several instances of police road blocks and checks of vehicles going the other way. Sobering stuff !

Tomorrow - a very short day to Kas and a bit of a rest in a resort hotel.