(written by Nancy)
We had an amazing buffet laid out for breakfast this morning – by far the biggest breakfast we have had yet in Turkey. We were the only ones in the breakfast room at 7am and we made a decent dent in the buffet table. Dave tried to set the place on fire when he put some bread in the toaster – one of those contraptions that moves the bread along a conveyor belt. He used the wrong bread – too big – and the bread got stuck and started smoking away. Dave was too absorbed with all of the food choices and only noticed when two of the guys working in the restaurant rushed over to try to prevent a full-fledged fire! Bloody tourists, we think they were saying under their breath… Anyway, it was a good breakfast but there is only so much you can eat when you have to get on your bike and ride straight away.
We had a relatively flat day today, just a few rollers to make sure we knew we have ridden some hard days the last few days. Unfortunately with the flat day we also got a headwind – not so fun. The scenery was a bit lacking – well, that’s probably not fair as we have been spoiled by the coast and the ride through the mountains. But we both said that the landscape today was probably what most people thought of when they thought of Turkey. Miles and miles of fields, some planted but many just dirt and rocks.
Actually, the main thing we saw today was concrete block ‘factories’, for the want of a better word. There are very little trees around here and lots and lots of rocks so what better to build things out of than concrete or cinder block. We must have seem 20+ small factories today, with concrete bricks piled high around the yards and usually with a spot in the middle where people were busy making new bricks with a machine that mixes the ingredients and dumps the mix into forms laid on the ground.
As you can imagine, with the dirt fields, the big trucks hauling loads of rocks to the gravel yards and then gravel to the brick factories, and the wind, it was a bit of a gritty day. We certainly didn’t want to have our mouths open for too long at a time. I can’t imagine how people who live in the towns near all these factories and fields keep their house clean – it must be a never-ending battle against the dust.
We rode the D805 for just under 20k from Nigde and then took the D765 turn-off to Nevsiher. From there it was straight north for almost 40k along a dual carriageway. As with the last few days, there was very little traffic. We saw some odd sights – we were riding along and noticed someone out in a field not far from the road. He seemed to be just lying in the field next to some irrigation pipe. He poked his head up and waved at us so we waved back when Dave stopped to take a picture. Perhaps he was just taking a break from moving irrigation pipe around, who knows.
Rather than take the main road north into Nevsehir and then east to Goreme we headed northeast on backroads through the small towns of Cardak and Uchisar. Along the way we came upon three women working in the field. They came down to the road and one came out in the road to stop me as I came near them. They were happy, chatty and full of life even though they were clearly working hard in the fields planting what looked like onions and potatoes. All by hand in carefully prepared rows in their small field. We talked a bit – or at least tried to – they knew some basic English and one had a bit more proficiency so she explained what they were planting, that one of the women was the mother and one was the daughter.
A tractor pulled up and it turned out to be one of the woman’s husband who was bringing them more potatoes and seeds to plant and a bag of pumpkin seeds to snack on. It was clear they were to get back to work rather than chatting with weird folks on bicycles so we said goodbye and headed off. Classic example of what we have seen here – women out working very hard in the field, doing what looks like back-breaking work bending over, while we see men by the dozens hanging out at tea houses playing cards or backgammon. Though having said that, these ladies seemed to be very chipper and happy.
It wasn’t long after our encounter with the ladies that we came upon our first sighting of fairy chimneys at Uchisar. We will write more about these after we do a bit of sightseeing in the next couple of days, but they are very surreal and all naturally formed by the wind and rain. The main one at Uchisar is a type of castle – very tall with lots of windows and doors built into the rock.
We could see some dark clouds forming so we made a quick stop for a couple of pictures and headed into Goreme to see if we could get some accommodation sorted out before the rain hit. Goreme has something like 120 pensions and hotels spread around many little alleyways and roads. Many are built into the hill, meaning there are some steep climbs to get up to them. We had a list of a few to try and the first sign we saw was for the SOS Cave Hotel. We followed the signs, which led up a steep hill and pulled over to check it out. Dave went in to see what was available and came back with the news that the only room available for tonight and tomorrow night was the honeymoon cave suite and then we could move to a standard room after that. A bit of further negotiation and we had the honeymoon suite for 2 nights and a standard room for 2 nights at an overall rate that was pretty good for this area – deal done!
The only issue then was that at the time we arrived power was out to the whole city, which meant no hot water for showers…. Not great, but it was supposed to be turned back on around 4 and we spent the interim time chatting with the hotel owner and drinking tea up on the terrace. The people who run the place seem really nice and the terrace has some great views right out to fairy chimneys. We even have our own little balcony with a table and chairs just outside our honeymoon suite. Our 20th wedding anniversary is in a couple of months so perhaps this was just meant to be… The room is built into the rock – even the headboard and footboard are built of stone. It is cool in the room, not surprisingly, but there is a nice warm heater and the ensuite bathroom is fully modern so we have the best of both worlds.
So we will have some time to explore around the area, clean up the bikes and plan a route to get us up to the Black Sea. We are both looking forward to some days off the bike and exploring this unique area.