The last part of our journey in Turkey was a mixture of the best and the worst with Cappadocia most definitely being the former - the amazing landscape feels prehistoric but yet alien you could almost think you have been transported to another world. In fact some of the rock formations are called "Fairy Chimneys" making you feel as part of some bizarre fairystory.
There are lots of activities in Cappadocia, but the one "must do" thing is ballooning. Our campsite was in a great position overlooking one of the take off points for the early morning flights, on our second morning we work early to the sound of intermittent roars as the balloons slowly making their way up above the valley, it really was an amazing sight, there were so many balloons we stopped counting at 80 and there were many many more. As The morning sun rose and the balloons were just floating it seemed almost silently across the sky , that's when we thought, blow the budget lets do it!
View from the campsite of early morning balloons
Our balloon ride was pretty fab too
Another "not to be missed" activity is to hike the Red and Rose Canyon, all very well seeing the landscape from above in the balloon but you need to be in it and feel the enormity of some of the rock formations and see the colours close up to appreciate the full beauty . We were told the hike would be between 4-5hrs which we were looking forward to after a 9hr drive a few days before. Most eager hikers set off for the walk around 8am lazy tigers, didn't get going until 11:30am just as it started to really heat up! So we really were mad dogs and Englishmen, it was so hot!
We managed to get lost at one point and were debating the decidedly dodgy map we had been given heatedly, in more ways than one, when we noticed a local farmer enjoying a siesta laying on the floor under a tree, he was dressed in native Muslim clothes long galibaha thing including a scarf wrapped around his head he waved us over to join him he wasn't going out in the searing heat! he didn't speak English but he did speak Turkish, German and French, embarrassingly more French than us, how could this be??? every French word we ever knew abandoned us in our moment of need making us feel very inadequate which of course we were - we did eventually with a fair amount of charades work out the route, but thank you Mr Farmer man for sending us on our way otherwise we could well be still wandering around or frazzled to a crisp
Yes Cappadocia is commercialised in the towns but fundamentally nothing can take away from the area the amazing landscapes which were jaw droppingly stunning when we were out on our walk we barely saw another person (probably because no one else goes out in the mid day sun I know!) there are of course coach loads of tourists but not so many of them choose to go hiking as we did so you can easily lose yourselves and escape to another world in Cappadocia
Ankara is the next stop, number one job pick up number two son from Ankara airport, he is joining us for around 6weeks . We also have the boring jobs to do here get van repairs done and pick up visas for Uzbekistan
Picking up our Uzbek visa was an interesting experience and will relay the tale for anyone else who might be thinking of getting visas in Ankara . On the website it does not tell you opening times, in fact in barely tells you anything but fortunately we did turn up on a day the embassy was issuing visas but apparently it only does this on certain days of the wk. When we got into the embassy it was heaving with people and a very shouty Uzbek man behind a window barking instructions at people. When it was our turn to be shouted at we were beckoned over and we handed over the required bits of paper. now to pay for the visa $80 each thank you very much. You have to pay the money into a Turkish bank, but and its a big but you can't pay money into a Turkish bank unless you have a Turkish identity card, slight problem there then! The God of Uzbek visas must have been looking down on us that day as also waiting in the embassy was a very lovely Turkish student who was there with a French friend of his, he offered to use his identity number for us so we could pay the money to the bank. As it was lunchtime we offered to buy him some lunch but all he would have was a cup of coffee while we waited 2hours for the bank to open. Money paid Uz visa safely in the passport - sorted
We had thought we could get Tigger serviced at a VW garage in Ankara and in fact had been in email contact. James was bringing over some spare parts so all should fine - deep sigh, not going to go into the ins and outs here John will need to update the VAN part of the blog but basically something got fixed which while doing this something else got broken which we didn't find out about until we lost power going up a road in the middle of nowhere.
We do owe the Syncro club of Turkey a huge shoutout as without them Tigger would not be on the road. They were amazing and co-ordinated guys from all over Turkey to help us out. Eventually some lovely guys in Samsun on the Black Sea coast sorted us out big thank you guys.
The rest of the journey in Turkey was uneventful , weather was awful and we were ready for the next instalment of our adventure.
Turkey round up
So what do we take away from our month in Turkey,
As overlanders and the amount of driving we do we need to comment on the roads. in general they are very good usually duel carriageways and other than Istanbul and major cities not very busy. The Turkish drivers are well - Turkish! once you get used to the random overtaking really not too bad.
Heading up to the Black Sean
Petrol is expensive - apparently the second most expensive petrol in the world although the strength of the £ helped so it didn't hurt too much!
What you do see on the roads at least every 100m are either stray dogs or old people - or usually both, even in the middle of nowhere! Amazing there are so many dogs and they haven't been run over by the random overtaking Turkish drivers and that there are so many old people as they haven't already died from some smoking related disease!
Smoking! Now as a person who has been known to partake in the odd cigarette I don't usually mind people smoking but Turkey takes it to a whole new level - everyone smokes all of the time, so how anyone lives to a ripe old age beats me
It is a truly beautiful country with some incredible scenery from beautiful beaches, stunning mountains to crazy moonscape canyons, so why oh why does there have to be litter everywhere? Absolutely everywhere we went no matter how remote the camping spot we found we always found litter - water bottles, beer bottles, paper and of course cigarette packets and butts. Sort it out Turkey you are spoiling your wonderful country
Tea- everywhere you go you get given tea, and it is much more than a thirst quenching cuppa - its part of the Turkish culture it is a hand of friendship, and once you get used to not having milk and adding just a little sugar its really quite tasty
Smells - now you would think these would be the unpleasant kind but no - Turkey is full of the most wonderful fragrances, possibly because we were there in spring time the blossom was amazing orange blossom, lemon blossom, even pomegranate. they were all intoxicating . the scents just filled the air I would have liked to have put them in a bottle and been able to use it in some of the less fragrant places we have been to!
But mostly what we will take away from our trip to Turkey is the friendliness and generosity of the people. On more than one occasion we were helped out by Turkish people all purely altruistic never wanting anything in return. Always a smile, always a friendly face and always a cup of tea