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Out of the tourist area and into Askaray (90/14,814k, 780m)

(written by Dave)

The whooshing of the gas jets from the balloons woke us up this morning before the alarm went off.  The wind had changed directions from yesterday and the valley just outside our room was full of balloons, many very low – it looked like they could see right into our window. I got up and took some more pictures – I guess you can never have too many balloon pictures.

The sky was pretty grey and overcast as we packed up and went to have our last breakfast at the SOS Hotel.  Just as we finished eating it started to rain, not really heavy but enough to turn the pavement dark.  Hmm, what to do?  The weather forecast looked pretty unsettled with showers and thunderstorms.  We debated a bit staying an extra day but the rain stopped and we decided to keep with the plan to take off today.

We had to pay for the nice downhill into Goreme that we had the other day by going back up it first thing this morning.  It wasn’t bad – at least you are sure to get your muscles warmed up that way.  We were essentially on the same road all day today, highway 300.  We made our way through Nevşehir and just on the edge of town the rain started up again, in very large drops – I first thought it was hail as it hurt when it hit us.  We pulled over into a service station to try to let it pass, and were promptly asked to come inside for a cup of coffee – just the thing to warm up.  The rains stopped after 15 minutes or so, just as we finished our coffee so we set off again.

The landscape today was a bit repetitive – mostly fields under cultivation.  Then we had the big excitement for the day – as we came over a small hill, there on the other side of the dual carriageway were two touring cyclists!  Arian and Moniek are from Holland and are 9 weeks into a round the world bike tour.  They had come from Askaray this morning, which is the town we were headed for, and were headed for Goreme.  We stood on the side of the road for a bit chatting with them about their trip and their plans.  It was great to meet some other cyclists in Turkey – always frustrating not to have more time to sit and chat but it was a great mood enhancer to meet some like-minded folks along the way.  You can follow their progress on their blog www.worldbybike.nl.  It is in Dutch but you can see some great pictures!  We tentatively agreed to host them in Sydney for Christmas dinner in 2013 – who knows, it could work out 🙂

Shortly after we left Arian and Moniek we pulled into a petrol station to get some more water and eat our peanut butter sandwiches.  Unfortunately we were a bit distracted when we left and I left my water bottle on the bench, not realizing it until we were quite a ways down the road when I went to take a drink and could not seem to grab anything in my water bottle cage.  Dang, there goes another Bike Gallery bottle.  We debated going back to get it but it would have added another hour or so on to our ride and the bottle was pretty old so we will just have to try to find a replacement somewhere down the road.

We pulled into Askaray just before 2pm and made our way the city centre, where we thought most of the hotels were located.  It is a relatively big city, about 180,000 people, and the city seems quite spread out.  After having some lunch right near the town centre we looked at a couple of hotels and with the help of some locals found a decent hotel in a relatively quiet area for a good price.  After unpacking and cleaning up we headed out to try to get some chores done – our goal was to try to get some more oatmeal and to try to get a new water bottle.

After searching a couple of stores we were successful in finding a store that had oatmeal – not just one kind but actually three different kinds of oatmeal (Nancy was very excited – thinking for a moment of buying more than one bag – we bought just one).  By the time we were ready to leave the store the thunderstorms had started and it was pouring down rain.  We waited a bit inside the doors with all the other patrons but finally dashed out and down a few stores, where we ducked into a patisserie for some cookies and a cup of coffee.

The rain continued as we made our way to a mall we had seen in the hopes of finding a sports store where I might be able to get a replacement water bottle.  We had both put on shorts to go out and wander about (it wasn’t raining when we left our hotel) and it seemed to a bit of a point of interest to people as we were getting lots of stares – Nancy, especially.  We did read that this is a bit of a conservative area so perhaps that had something to do with it.  Anyway, it was pretty funny, especially in the mall with store windows full of scantily clad models for Nancy’s bare legs to be of such interest.

No luck on the water bottle, so we made our way back to the hotel, stopping at a neat little bread shop for bread hot out of the wood-fired oven and some fun conversation with the baker and his female colleagues, all of whom wanted to tell us how old they were and wanted to know how old Nancy was.  No interest in me for these women.  A man in a pick-up was unloading wood in on the street in front of the shop – this shop was putting out lots of bread, all with wood, in the middle of a city of 180,000 folks…

Dinner was fruit and yogurt in our room while we watched the English Aljazeera news channel – nice to catch up a little bit on what is happening in the world.  Tomorrow our destination is Sereflikochisar, a small town beside the salt lake of Tuz Golu, about 80k from here.  The weather forecast doesn’t look great, with some thundershowers expected so we will see what it looks like in the morning.

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7 responses to “Out of the tourist area and into Askaray (90/14,814k, 780m)

  1. Jan Peterson

    Cute camel! Nice that you meet fellow cyclists every so often so you know that there are others doing these crazy rides!! Sounds like you are having fun!

  2. Love the pictures today! From hot air balloons in the morning to wake you to bread baking in wood burning stoves to shopping at a real grocery store! You’ve seen it all!

    • The balloons in the morning might get old blasting everyday just outside one’s room. For our three days it was fun and nice alarm clock.

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  3. The security at the mall was a surprise. Is all of Turkey like that??? Wishing you a sunny day ahead!

    • We took a photo of the security because we’ve seen almost no security here. The national police stations are heavily fortified and always have guys with machine guns looking over sandbags but there are not very many of them. There are lots of highway patrol but they are always stopped and seemingly checking cars regos that they randomly pull over.

      Overall, it seems very safe and there is a very low level of visible security.

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  4. How long did it take Nancy to decide which oatmeal to buy?! Sometimes having a choice is hard 🙂

    • It took quite some time. Here it is not just picking but there is the whole translation thing. You have to put the Turkish words from the package into the iPhone (google translate) to even know what you are looking at. Thank goodness for our iPhone – this would be very slow with a pocket dictionary.

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