Montag, 15. Juli 2013

Day 29 – 33: Igneada – Göreme, „a paradise with a pile of s**t“

After a wonderful weekend with the VW people in Igneada, we started to return to Asia, once again crossing the Bosporus bridge.

Farewell ceremony at the VW Bus meeting
no overtaking - street scence just behind Igneada

This time, we approached Istanbul at Sunday late afternoon, a time plan that rewarded us with 40km/h speed for almost 2 hours – curious looks, thumbs-ups and even a „Servus Kollege“ from a Turk with some obvious bavarian history were on the lanes next to us.

We decided to go straight through quite some parts of the country, sleeping on a highway autostop near Ankara, so that we arrived early afternoon in Göreme – the small village in the center of the famous Cappadocian tuffstone landscape. Already some time before spotting Göreme on the signposts, caves appeared besides the road, carved from the sandy stones. On our way down to Göreme, it really blew our minds, countless holes, doors, windows, stairs, all carved from stone pillars, walls and pyramids. The thought that people actually lived here is really startling.
We chose Dilek camping, just next to the town center, to stay here for a few days and use the luxury of a washing machine. The spot is run by a whole family since 2 years, and we really enjoyed the funny brothers, uncle, father and some kids.

On arrival, we realized that Patty and Ingo, whom we met 2 weeks ago in Istanbul ( were staying on another campground up the hill in Göreme. In the evening (after the desert-like heat was gone a little bit), we pedaled up the steep road, past the Open Air Museum, to see the two. Just before dawn, we took one of the countless little trails down a wonderful valley, which proved Cappadocia the trail paradise that some people talk about. 30cm wide, just steep enough to roll without much effort, and this great landscape with stone caves everywhere. Our chosen trail ended in some thick green bushes, however, which prompted us to climb the side of the valley. No big problem, so we found ourselves just on top of another handful of trails, winding through caves, chapels and stairs. This is truely a paradise for mountainbiking (but consider not coming in July, as it is simply too hot between 11am and 7pm).

The next morning, we wanted to start early. And really, we got up before 8 to use some morning coolness. However, the notorious Cappadocian thornes gave Katha a flat tire yesterday, so we were delayed a little. We then rode up the asphalt roat to Ulcisar, the neighbouring town with an impressive stone castle in the middle. After about 250hm, we arrived on top of a green valley where a small, brownish line went in curves on the bottom. It turned out to be one of those holy trails you seldomly find.

As we rode up and down through the valley, we passed a little green stream coming from the top. Well, spoilt by the Alps (where you cross crystal-clear snowmelt water), we crossed through, to late to realize that this stream was coming directly from the hotel just above, on the valley edge. You may imagine what flows down from a hotel – we were disgusted „a little“, trying to at least get rid of the stuff from our tires, by covering them with sand.

Nonetheless, the rest of the ride was just as epic as the part before.

Back at the campsite, we used the rest of the day to escape from the heat – we had our place in the shadow of a huge stone pillar, and the campground had a pool. As the sun went down (Ramadan just started – we, however, chose NOT to fast), we prepared some fish we bought a day ago.

One of the campground brothers served us a glass of self-made spirit, we chose not to drink it completely...not only because we had to get up at 4.15. Michi's birthday present by his parents was a balloon ride in Göreme, so we found ourselves on a sandy plain just before dawn the next day. We were not the only ones waiting to climb the baskets of countless balloons prepared to take off – as in Pamukkale, it's so beautiful that you have to share it with a lot of people. In an one-hour-flight, we flew over Göreme and the fairy chimneys, and also in a surprisingly low altitude through some of the valleys. The view was really great, we witnessed 3 sunrises and two sunsets because of the repeated gas shots the pilot gave into the ballons -up and down, up and down, and up. The landing was another little aventure, as the pilot – connected to the driver on ground by walkie-talkie – point-landed on the trailer of a driving Landcruiser. Needless to say, this was in the middle of a bumpy field, so the car was appropriately challenged as well.


The rest of the day is quickly said: we thought about bikeriding, once we are awake at 7am – but the transport back to the Camping made us sufficiently tired to sleep until 11. After some mechanical maintenance and routine checks on Kalimero, we went to see Patty and Ingo, who switched their place from the campground to a just as beautiful freecamp next to the Open-Air-Museum. Millenium-old church ruins and remains of frescos, and freecamp on an empty field less than 10m away from it – try to do that in Germany. Another camping truck (4x4 camper in a foreign country, this must be Germans!) with two guys from northern Bavaria was standing next to them. We spent the afternoon there, when 2 young cyclists from Austria arrived (they want to do the tour to Thailand until January – Chapeau!) and stayed there as well.

For the evening, we had ordered „testi kebab“ at our restaurant (the spirit-serving brother is the cook) for us and Patty and Ingo, and it was not only a delicious stew – it is cooked in a pottery cylinder, which is cracked open with a giant knife for serving.

The next day, we left Göreme to go further east. From nearly every place in Cappadocia that is not deep down in the valleys, you can see a huge, pyramind-shaped former volcano on the horizon.

Erciyes Dagi (with over 3900 also quite high), which is actually one of the two volcanoes that created the thick tuffstone layers that enabled the early Christians to find refuge here and carve churches. As it was too hot to do extensive bikerides down in Göreme, we thought about going in this direction – especially after the great days at Uludag.

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