Akhaltsikhe > Ezurum, Turkey 347km > Zara > Goreme
Wifi in Turkey has been difficult, so on catch up mode once again.
Headed to yet another border, this time Turkey and – oh no, a tourist bus – never a good sign at a border. We were an hour getting through Immigration, and 1.5hrs altogether for both borders.
Can’t see the mountains for smoke
The air was thick with smoke we could barely make out the hills around us, must be a huge fire somewhere. As the day wore on the air got clearer and it was mile after mile after mile of fabulous scenery. We crossed 3 summits 2x at 3000+m and 1 at 2000+m, and we also rode through 2 gorges, plus open valleys. The road was mostly good, even sometimes great, nice cornering. We hit a couple of very gnarly roadwork sections, on one bit just before I went back up to the road off a slight detour, the digger dropped a whole bucket of loose soft dirt on the hard gravel so I waited for a couple of cars to make a track with their tyres then just gunned it.
We stopped in a town and Charlie went off to change some money while I stayed with the bikes. A large truck and trailer was trying to get out of a narrow street at the same time as a tractor and trailer loaded with hay was trying to get down. One would move a tiny bit, then the other back and forth. There were cars parked on either side of the road to narrow it down a bit more, and other cars everywhere showing no patience also trying to squeeze down the street or just get across the blocked intersection. It was mayhem. A couple of guys helped guide the truckie with whistles, shouts and flailing arms, and then a policeman came along and just blew his whistle, not effective but I guess he was happy. I was pretty impressed with the truck driver’s skills. While standing there the shop owner behind us brought out two sparkling waters for us, so nice!! I was the only one who clapped when the truck finally made it through, so I guess this happens regularly.
When it came time to stop we couldn’t find a hotel in town with parking so headed off to the ski resort area. Had a delicious buffet dinner – Turkish food is delicious, yum!!
Erzurum > Zara 383km
The road today was a dual carriageway the whole way, in good condition. It was really relaxing being able to just ride without having to concentrate so much on the road surface or passing. We crossed 3 summits at 2000+m and went through a gorge, the scenery kept changing from farmland with fields of sunflowers, to dry rocky mountains. Another great day’s riding.
It’s haymaking time and we see the evidence of that everywhere – sometimes using machinery, sometimes being forked up by hand. Then the hay is stacked up around the houses in the villages.
They sure know how to stack a truck for a maximum load.
Zara > Goreme 339km
Left the mountains today and into rolling hills and crops. Another easy ride with good roads – oh how we are enjoying them. That is until we got to Goreme!! I may have ridden from the top of Alaska to the bottom of Argentina (about 40,000km), and from South Korea/Vladivostock to, so far, Turkey (about 16,000km) but there are still some things that freak me out and today was one of those days – a steep narrow slippery cobbled switchback with no road edge. I watched the cars inch their way around the first corner, and I just couldn’t do it. BUT I have a hero who came to my rescue, my darling Charlie. He rode his bike down then walked back up the hill – it wasn’t far – and took mine down and I walked. He is a keeper!! Imagine how I felt later when I learned there were two other easy roads into Goreme – it was the GPS taking the shortest route and keeping me humble!! I have a saying that applies here -“I don’t let what I can’t do stop me from doing what I can”.
We checked into The Chelebi Cave Hotel – our room is an actual cave which has been lived in for 500yrs, totally renovated of course.
Had an authentic Turkish meal for dinner – mine was a stew cooked in a clay pot complete with lid for about 4 hours on a fire, then…
the waiter cuts the top off with a big knife at the table….
…long slow cooking, full of flavour…scrummy.
You get a lot of bread with every meal here, but when they brought this out for just the two of us, I thought they had to be kidding, until I realised its hollow, clever.
We walked to a high point and watched the sun set, with crowds of others – this place really attracts the tourists.
Our trusty steeds parked up in the courtyard waiting for us.