Goreme – Capadocia – 8 days – 1 100 metres above the sea level

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We began our Turkish adventure by going alongside the Black Sea on the Route 10, a wide dual carriageway along the coast.

Around Ardesen city, we rode alongside the Firtina river. 10 kilometres further, we crossed a bridge spanning a stream. On the other side of the river, we arrived at the nautical centre “Derebeyi Rafting.” We pitched up the tents on the playground of Microbe, a cute goat with long black and white hairs.

At the sunrise, we woke up with the first call of the day for praying.  We got prepared quickly for this long day. The breakfast was prepared by our host, the owner of the place and member of the national rafting team. Served on the terrace above the river, we enjoyed a Kuymak, a cheese fondue prepared with corn flour and served with bread.

It was 10am when we started a long riding day. 500kms along the Black Sea. We crossed the city of Rize, where the soccer team was in Premier League, Trabzon and Samsun. We rode along the coast on a 5-metre wide road. On the left hand side, we were able to see the Black Sea between the buildings. At the right hand side, the green hills of the mountains of the Pontique.

We did a lunch break on one of the beaches with pebbles, along the dual carriageway. On the menu, a big bread and cheese. We crossed Samsun, continued our road and left the coast for going between the hills. On the top of one them, a huge Turkish flag. It was hard to give an exact size but it was probably 10-metre wide. Its red colour was very different to the green nuances from the hills. We left the main road to find a nice wild camping place, behind the small city of Kavak.

Again, we woke up early to explore Capadocia and ride the 400kms of the day to reach Göreme at the end of the afternoon. We pitched up the tent in a campsite in the suburbs of the city. The historic centre of Göreme has the specificity of little streets and troglodytes houses. For sunset, we climbed up to the hill above the city. The light was getting smoother revealing the beauty of the local architecture.

At 4:30 am, we woke up with the noise of the balloons getting inflated. We went out of our sleeping bags quickly and took our backpacks to see these beautiful balloons, a true local attraction.

Around 5am, the show was at its peak. In the sky, about a hundred of ballons were around us. With the first rays of the sunrise, we had our breakfast nearby their point of departure. In the background, the noise of gas inflating the balloons.

Their show above this unusual scenery last almost two hours. The sun was going up in the sky. It was time for leaving the balloons behind us to start hiking in the red and pink valleys of the national park. The landscape was beautiful, with no one  at this early time of the day. In the middle of this scenery looking like whipped cream with pastel colours, the vegetation was pretty rare. In the little gorges shaped by the rocks, any piece of land was cultivated.. At a crossroad, a small door sculpted in the cliff intrigued us. Outside, nothing fancy, but inside there was a nice chapel. In the middle, there were impressive columns revealed by the morning light of the sun. A few hundred metres further, a second chapel was surprising by the quality of the frescos on the walls, painted on the rock.

At different crossroads of these two valleys, there were coffee places to satisfy the thirsty hikers.

We preferred to continue, a bit scared for not having enough courage to get out from the comfy seats. We went up and down the hill before to cross tunnels and streams. We went up again to reach a vineyard. Arriving in the Göreme village by zigzagging between the orchards.

The afternoon was quiet, between diving in the pool and editing videos. We enjoyed a nice diner in restaurant of the city with the local speciality, the “kebab pottery” served in a little clay ramekin, covered by some bread.

The following morning, after a few lengths in the pool and a quick mechanics session to check up the sidecars, we left to discover the Love Valley, 5 kilometres further. This valley has the specificity of penis-shape rocks due to the erosion!

Then, we went towards the little village of Uchisar. On the top, there was a massive rock with a surprising troglodyte fortress shaped inside, with many caves. In the little streets of this village, we enjoyed our first Tzatziki of the trip. This adresse, indeed touristic, had a breathtaking terrace overlooking the national park of Cappadocia.

The day ended by the visit of the historic underground city of Derinkuyu. With 8 floors, this city was able to shelter 20 000 people during conflicts. During our visit, we walked through the reachable caves (about 10% of the place) but it was difficult to imagine the buzzing life of these caves during the war period.

For the last time of the day, we went back on the road to reach the Narli Göllake, a few kilometres further to pitch up the tent. Arriving on the top of the volcano and going down to the crater was a perfect way to end this day.

After a chilly evening and a bath in the lake to wake up, we continued our trip towards Konya. We arrived at the end of the morning. After finding a hotel to stay in the town-centre, we looked for a place to lunch. In the pedestrian street, next to the hotel, the terrace of the Mithat Tirit Salonu was packed, in spite of the surrounding empty terraces. Intrigued, we opted for this restaurant and enjoyed the unique dish served there: the Tirit Kebab, a spit-roasted sheep and grilled in the oven with parsley, tomatoes, bread and cream.

The afternoon was dedicated to exploring the city by walking. We discovered the impressive mosque and visited the mausoleum of Mevlana, a famous mystic philosophe of the Turkish Islam at the origin of the Sufism philosophy. His encounter with a dervish (similar to a Turkish pilgrim) inspired him. At the death of this poor man, Mevlena created a dance in his honor. This is how the legend tells the birth of the brotherhood of the “whirling dervishes” and their famous dance, which became one of the main curiosities of the city. Sadly, we didn’t have the opportunity to see one of them, except in the souvenir shops.

We continued our visit and discovered the museum of the armies before to enjoy an ice cream in Aladdin’s park, and to chill in the park of the culture and  fountains. To conclude the visit, impossible to get a chill beer. We opted for a lemonade on the shady square of Aziziye and a kebab at the next corner.

For breakfast, a nice buffet with olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, hard-boiled eggs with a slice of bread and honey. Nothing better to be full of energy before to be in the traffic jam with a blazing sun. We took the main road to Aksehir before to change our direction to go alongside the Egirdir lake wit the surrounding mountains in the background. We spent the end of the afternoon to watch the lake. No luck for bathing as the water was not deep enough. For wild camping, we used a little path on the opposite side of the road. The place offered a nice view over the lake and the surrounding mountains.

Breakfast, early in the morning, with chilly temperatures. The day picked by,, the camping stove for not working well to boil the water for a cup of tea.

We reached at the end of the morning, the archeological site of Sagalassos. The city is on the side of the Aldag mountain, between the Taurus mounts. During our visit, we enjoyed discovering this main place without tourists, beautifully conserved and refurbished. The paths between the ruins stayed very bucolic giving a great atmosphere to this historic place. In the middle, a forum with a beautiful fountain and water still going through. In the heights, the theater was still in good conditions. By seating in the terraces, it was easy to dream about an antic show with the mountains in the background.

For lunch, we got a “pide”, a Turkish pizza on the main square of Aglasun located in the bottom of the city. Back on the road, there were stormy clouds. We needed to stop at the red traffic light  of Bucak… and the storm and rain began! 10 kilometres further, the sunshine came back. We left the main road to reach a secondary road crossing the mountains. At the first summit, on a little path that we followed during 1 kilometre, we found a nice flat spot on a mountain. The perfect opportunity to pitch up the tent.

After the traditional breakfast that we enjoyed this time with a view over the mountains, we headed to the Mediterranean coast: a new step of our Turkish adventure.

Where to eat?

Mithat Tirit Salonu Restaurant
Yusufaga Sk. 21/A Aziziye Mah, Konya 42030

A packed terrace which means there is something good there! There is no menu, only a unique dish, the “Tirit Kebab”. So delicious!