On our second-last evening in Göreme Laura was taught a board game similar to Rummikub, which is here usually played by men in some cafes. On our last day we did a small bike tour to a village which is built in a hill. Laura had some pain in her foot since the hike we had been on with Muhsin. Therefore, Noemi had also been hiking on her own the other day. As our hosts had cooked for us before, that night it was our turn. Later we tried Raki, the most famous Turkish schnaps. On the morning of departure we woke up early in order to watch the balloons again. After a last breakfast we stopped at Mustafas place to say goodbye and left Göreme heading towards new places and adventures. Shortly before we stopped to look for a spot to put our tent, a car stopped next to us and the driver handed us a bag with fruits in it. Some minutes later he came back and handed us another bag with biscuits, crackers and water, which he must have bought at a store in the meantime. That was a very nice surprise.
On several other days we unfortunately had some less nice encounters with men. There was never a dangerous situation but moments when we felt annoyed or uncomfortable, when for example men on scooters or in cars followed us for several kilometers or just passed us lots of times. Maybe we wouldn’t experience situations like that if at least one of us was a man. This made us again aware of the fact that you can experience situations very differently depending on your gender. After those situations we were even more grateful for encounters like that: One evening we stopped in a village to ask if there would be a good place to put our tent. In no time a number of neighbors and family members had joined the woman and her grandson we had asked, in order to try to organize us a place to sleep. Due to our language barrier this was quite difficult. Therefore, everybody was very relieved when a car stopped and it turned out that the family in it spoke some English. Some moments later we realized that they didn’t just speak English but also Dutch as it was a Dutch-Turkish family that usually lives in Hilversum. Spontaneously they invited us to stay with them for the night. We were grateful about their kindness and spontaneity and felt comfortable with their familiar Dutch manner 🙂 (we both have lived and studied in Amsterdam). Eventually, we stayed two nights with Nurdan, Mehmet, Arda and Emin, ate delicious food and slept on their comfortable sleeping sofas. We also had the chance to wash our clothes and go on a little tour around the village with Nurdan. Doing this we met a number of the people in the village including her lovely parents. They have a beautiful garden and we were very impressed by their bees who live in natural beehives made from cowpat and wood. For lunch we went to a small fish restaurant where you can see the fish swimming in some ponds. Laura and Emin tried to catch some fish with their hands. When we wanted to pay we found out that a man who worked for the municipality (who had also ate lunch there and talked to us) had already payed for us. The next morning we were invited to the house of Nurdans parents for breakfast. Her mum had prepared Börek und Omaç (like a Dürüm filled with bread which is baked in butter and egg) for us and gave us lots of food with us. Later we said goodbye to Mehmet and Nurdan who stood there to wave goodbye for a long time. Dankjulliewel!! Het was geweldig om jullie te ontmoeten!
The following days we cycled through a beautiful, hilly and wide landscape. The altitude was about 1200 m above sea level and we always managed to find some trees that gave us shelter for hiding our tent. One night we stayed close to a village where a farmer showed us a good spot for camping. Later he and the imam of the village came by to check on us and gave us the imams phone number in case there were any problems. On the next day when we had just started to have a picnic some women that were living close by spotted us and brought us even more food on a silver tray and gathered more women (friends and relatives) around us. We weren’t able to talk to each other but the atmosphere couldn’t have been better and we laughed a lot! After the break we continued our trip to Tokat. As we had had a late start that day and the break had taken longer than expected we cycled the last 30 km in the dark (and cold). When we arrived we were welcomed by Gamze and her family who were all sitting in the living room. They had prepared a great welcome dinner, Melih (Gamzes younger brother) had prepared some English sentences and questions for us and it was a very nice atmosphere. We even could sleep in Gamze and Damlas (older sister) very comfortable beds. On the next day we visited the clock tower in Tokat, climbed up the hill of Tokat castle and enjoyed the view on the city and other hills around it. There we had a little picnic and ate sunflower seeds which are still in a shell – we just learned how to eat them when we reached Turkey some weeks ago. Later we visited a market and had tea. In the evening we were invited to a very nice dinner in a fancy hotel together with Mahmut (who is the manager of a sportsclub and arranged that we could stay with Gamze and her family), his daughter Zeynep and a friend who was working at the hotel. Later that evening Zeynep was singing for us and after dinner we went to a Turkish Hamam for the first time. In the end we even stayed a night longer than we had planned with Gamze and her family as their mum had prepared milk rice (sütlaç) for us and Damla had made a poppyseed-börek (haşhaş-Börek). That evening we cycled together with Gamze and Melih to the city center where we played basketball. When we left, Gamze cycled with us until the border of Tokat to see us off. For our lunch break we stopped near a police station (which sometimes look like small knights castles) and immediately were invited for some tea and baclava (sweet pastry). Much faster than expected we reached Niksar where we could stay with Tunay, which also Mahmut had arranged for us. We met Tunay in the little museum where he worked and later went to visit a castle and an almost 1000 year old mosque, ate pide and had some tea. Already that evening it began to rain which lasted until the next day. We were undecided if we should leave or stay, as a 30 km uphill and lots of rain were expecting us. We spent the morning in an internet cafe next to the museum to do some research and work on the blog and finally decided to leave. We hoped to be able to reach a campsite which was located 18 km outside from Niksar. But just after a few kilometers the rain got stronger and we decided to hitchhike. Soon a car stopped and we put our bags and bikes on the loading area. The moment we got into the car it started snowing! Due to a language misunderstanding the driver didn’t just take us to the campsite but almost 100 km further through a snow storm and the mountains to Ünye – located at the coast of the Black Sea. We had expected to arrive there a few days later, now it had gone very quickly. At the sea there wasn’t any snow, just a bit rain. When we got there it had already gotten late and the driver intended to stay in a hotel himself and insisted to pay for a room for us, even after we made clear it wouldn’t be a problem to stay in the tent. Directly in front of our room was the sea.
This had been another day, where we could never have imagined its ending in the morning. The coastal road is the home stretch towards Georgia. We still have about 400 km of cycling left, but we shouldn’t have any trouble to leave Turkey in time. With getting the lift, we had escaped the snow another time. Nurdan and Mehmet also messaged us, that just a few days after we left them they had lots of snow.
We celebrated our last evening in Göreme with Turkish raki.
Laura and Emin are trying to catch some fish.
Melih prepared some English sentences for us.
Time to leave Tokat and head to Niksar.
Mosque in Niksar.
Ready for the mosque; shoes off, headscarf on
The view from our hotel room in Ünye.
The bicycle path just ends.