Central Turkey and the Plains
Into Konya and the Windy Plains
Cycling from Pamukkale through the region with Burdur, Egirdir and Beysehir Golu is really breathtaking, cycling past incredible mountain ranges, across wide open space, up hills that then reach another high plateau …which completely messes with my head – it goes up but not down ????!!
My surroundings are just so diverse and so beautiful … just one of the many great reasons to love Turkey!!
One night Im in a small town at dusk and am given a place to camp … in a police compound … as well as being brought food and tea!! Another night I camp alongside one of the lakes, next to another tent but am up so early I never saw the motorbike tourer. Another night I set up my mosquito net and mat in an orchard and spend a good hour or so just staring at the moon and stars through the branches above me … does life get any better??!
On my continued cycle to Konya I am happy enjoying the scenery and movement and process so am completely thrown when a casual offer of a lift from a young truck driver who has stopped is punctuated by him reaching over and grabbing me … as I knock his hand away he continues the conversation and telling him I don’t want a lift I cycle off.
There were a couple more incidents of being followed or being repeatedly asked for sex whilst in Turkey but this was the most surprising and therefore, for me, most upsetting. So having Konya and Mevlana on my mind I do what feels most helpful …. and cry and dance for 20 minutes until I am calm again.
“Dance, when you’re broken open.
Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off.
Dance in the middle of the fighting.
Dance in your blood.
Dance when you’re perfectly free.”
Visiting Mevlana in Konya was beautiful. The gardens and the tomb itself are really so lovely to walk around .. in spite of the large numbers of people there. Konya itself was just another city and going to watch the Sema dance was interesting but for some reason just not as engaging for me as i might have hoped … although to be honest i was expecting to have that reaction … i would prefer to be involved in the dancing myself.
On leaving Konya I have a couple of days cycling across windy plains. The combination of the draft from the trucks going past me in the opposite direction and the side wind puts me in a position of constantly braking to stabalise Tilly and not be knocked flat. Exhausted on the 1st evening out of Konya i get a place to camp behind a petrol station, followed by lots of tea, dinner and then breakfast in the morning. The men there both take a positive interest in the cycle and, as is usual, are surprised that I might want to do such a thing alone.
Leaving them the following day I stop a couple of hours later to do some stretching when a battered car pulls up alongside, driven by (rough guess) a laughing 14year old, man in passenger seat, woman and child in the over stuffed backseat. The boot is over flowing with bags and there are more along with a carpet on the roof!! The 3 fingered man asked initially for money and then points to silver foil in his lap and wafting his hands and head about in a euphoric motion!!!! No … I dont want to buy drugs .. its 10am and I’m just about ready for a coffee ta!!!!
Laughing, they all head off when its apparent I’m not interested. For some reason being offered drugs so early in the morning has really made me chuckle … very British humour … pre coffee antics!!!
On this road I stop off to look at one of the rock cities, unfortuntely shut so I push on to the next town, Sultanhani, which has a beautiful Kervanseri and then in the evening camp again at the back of a petrol station, to the amusement of the owner son, who comes to see the tent and meet Tilly.
Next stop …… Cappadocia and Goreme.
Goreme is a town in Cappadocia famous for its amazing rock formations and its hot air ballooning … its stunning and a very visual place so the photos will hopefully speak for me!!! I loved being there and looking at these rocks formed millennia ago …. I also did a bit of horse riding!!!! Hilariously I am given the owners horse, to take off on my own, a gorgeous but too strong for me Arab and utterly determined!!! After an evening ride that initially goes well, pottering through rock valleys in the evening light, Yasmin, turns her head and bolts back for the stable … me hanging on rather than in any sort of control!!! We gallop back up the well used dirt track past 20 or so bemused quad bikers, me just grateful Yasmin didn’t try and jump any of them and skid to a halt by her stall!!! Latest injuries … metal rub from one of the stirrups and a bruised ego!
From there I cycle towards Yozgat, meeting another Turkish cycle tourer going the other way … have lunch with him and his friends, lose my map without realising, have it returned to me by a family who have done a U turn and driven to catch up with me before going bac the other way and again cycle through beautiful countyside before finding my next camp spot.
Hatusha, Alacahoyuk and Amasya
I am heading up north east through Turkey to Coram and then Amasya, but first i have the joy of visiting some more ancient sites … from Hittite period in the late Bronze Age. The site is massive and on a very steep hill so I get a taxi around it … after some negotiation i am driven into the local town to find my driver, 17 and initially very fast but soon relaxes and slows down when we pair up with another tourist, a Turkish man who wants to study archaeology. They both chat happily as we tour the site of the capital of the Hittite empire and I use some of my basic Turkish to chat with them too!! We all end up having a great time and as I leave the Turkish man give me a stone carving he bought on the site … which now lives in Pop’s study. My next stop that day is Alacahoyuk, another Hittite settlement but much smaller, before ending up camping outside a restaurant on the route to Coram!!
The following day, after some time consuming wrong turns I peddle through Coram, which held no interest for me aiming for a hill road to Amasya. Stopping at a petrol station for water i end up having an hour long conversation with the women working there who are so enthusiastic about Samsun on the Black Sea that I cannot wait to reach there.
But first Amasya …. and whilst cycling the beautiful hilly back roads to reach there I am picked up by a family who will not take no for an answer and driven to their lovely home, fed, kept over night and then driven to Amasya before being given a guided tour of the town … They were so worried about me camping out that when a friend drove past they flagged than down, told them to give me character references for them and convince me i would be killed and eaten if I didn’t take them up on their offer of a bed for the night …. they were all such lovely people and I spent another wonderful night with another wonderful family right up in the mountains away from the dangers of the road!
Amasya is lovely and reminds me somewhat of Switzerland … ?!! High mountain cliffs, watermills on the river and timber buildings with mosques interspersed between them. In the end I cycled about 30km out of Amasya and then managed to get myself and Tilly on a bus bound for Samun on the Black Sea coast … I had had enough of side and head winds and at this point wanted to get to Samsun for a couple of days of peace. So on reaching Samsun and finding it in torrential rain with thunder and lightening over head I opt to sleep in the bus station with Tilly rather than get cold and wet or struck by that impressive lightening show!!