During our break in Aksaray we baked biscuits and took care of the blog. In the evening Gürkan came for a visit and later Turgay and two friends of his also came. Turgay taught us how to play backgammon. The following day we hit the road again and had a freshly baked bread in our bag that Turgay had made for us 🙂
A gorgeous landscape was expecting us after leaving Aksaray. We had a beautiful view on many hills and the mountains/volcanoes Erciyes Dağı (3917 m) and Hasan Dağı (3268 m). In the first night oustide of Turgays warm apartment the temperature dropped below zero (-4 degrees Celsius) and we were again very happy with our new sleeping bags. It was the first time on our trip having a temperature below zero and in the morning we found a thin layer of ice on our tent.
Shortly after starting to cycle the next morning, we ran into two other long-distance cyclists who were on their way from Nepal towards Europe, therefore coming from the direction we were heading to. After sharing some experiences and advice we cycled on. They had told us that there was a beautiful place near Selime. There, we found a number of pointy hills, the so-called ‚Fairy Chimneys‘ which had numerous cave houses and churches and tunnels in them. We were so amazed that we spent the rest of the day climbing from cave to cave. The volcanoes Erciyes Dağı, Hasan Dağı und Melendiz Dağı erupted several times and a lot of ash accumulated. The layers differed in colour and rigidity. Softer material was washed out by climatic conditions. The harder material remained and that way the Fairy chimneys formed.
When we explored our neighbourhood, we again and again found hidden entrances and staircases that sometimes were quite difficult to climb. We found lots of chapels, churches and houses which sometimes still had leftovers from paintings on the walls and chairs, banks, staircases, pillars and round arches carved in stone. In a big cave we set up our tent. The next day we hid our bikes and bags in one of the backmost caves and went for a hike in Ihlara valley. There we found even more caves that were up in the hills. We had lots of fun exploring and climbing around. In Belisirma we met the owner of a restaurant we had already met the day before on the road to Selime. We had a çay (tea) together and while talking with him and his colleagues the idea came up to make a campfire together in our cave in the evening. On our way back from Belisirma to Selime we got a lift from three men who worked for Pepsi and were driving around for business purposes. At home in our cave we started preparing the fire and building up our tent. Later than expected our guests from Belisirma arrived and brought some potatoes, eggplant and beer. Together we had a nice evening at the campfire in the cave while it was raining outside.
On the following day it was still raining and according to the forecast that wouldn’t change until the evening. We packed the bags and ourselves as waterproof as possible. But after a few hours our feet were wet and we were cold and for the first time on this trip we were ready to look for a hotel. When we asked in a supermarket of a small town it turned out that there was no hotel nearby. But one of the shop assistants was making a few calls and organized that we could stay in the home of a family. We were so lucky. When we arrived there they made us sit next to a warm wood-fired oven in the living room which was the only heated room in the whole house. There, the whole life of the family took place and meanwhile ten familymembers of three generations were present. A lot of delicious food was served. For the meals we didn’t sit on a table but on the floor around a big tray which was placed on a pillow with a tablecloth on top which you can put on your lap. On the tray there were a number of different dishes which you could directly eat from with the fork everybody had. With every meal a lot of bread (ekmek) is served. Almost everybody had a whole bread on their lap and you just pull off how much you like. Later that evening we were taught how to eat pomegranate properly.
The following day we had to cyle 70 km to Göreme where our couchsurfing host Muhsin was expecting us. As we had left the family just around lunchtime we didn’t take long breaks and hurried to get to Göreme before the sun went down (which is about 5:30 pm). We passed Uçhisar and finally arrived in Göreme which is a very touristic place. Muhsin told us that about 2000 people live there and there are more than 200 hotels. Luckily, we are here in the low-season so things are comparatively quiet. Muhsin owns a small cave hotel, where he lives himself and hosts couchsurfers in wintertime. So we have the luxuries of having our own room with a comfortable bed and a bathroom. During the days we hiked through the beautiful villages nearby. The evenings we spent together with Muhsin, Okhan and their friend Mustafa and played pool, had a barbeque or had comfortable evenings in the warm and cozy cave living room of the hotel, where we watched a movie or played card games. Together we had breakfast at lunchtime and one day went hiking with Muhsin where he showed us places aside the more popular areas. One very special experience was watching the balloons at sunrise which was very beautiful.
We have now already spent three nights in Göreme and will leave tomorrow or the day after toward the Black Sea.