October 18th, 2018, Narlı Gölü, Türkiye
My eyes had only been open a few seconds and already I knew that the alarm was not far behind. Maybe it was the light. We had camped under a thick canopy of Mediterranean pine trees and those few rays that managed to sip through were not aggressive, on the contrary, the soft light was a pleasant way to start a brand new day.
Having written our diary just before bedtime the night before I knew it was day 176 of the trip. 8275 kilometres since we had started pedalling in Helsinki and, only on rare occasions didn’t I wake up with a feeling of longing to get on the saddle.
Actually, quick change of subject, that’s by far the question we get asked the most by our non-cyclists friends and family members; “aren’t you sick of it yet?”. More often than not the answer is a simple and long “no” pronounced slowly and with a little tilt of the head as to pretend to be really thinking about it. The truth is that we are still loving every second of this trip and we wouldn’t even know where to begin explaining it, so those two little letters and a quick recent anecdote as to steer the conversation somewhere easier is the preferred tactic.
Anyway, even though the day was only a few moments old, it had in fact started well; nothing had barked during the night and nature had given us a soft lullaby of far away leaves rustling and the occasional splash coming from the water. But yesterday bitterness had managed to lower our morale and immediately I wished we had bought more supplies so that we could just lounge around that little piece of heaven on earth 24 more hours.
It was one of those previously mentioned rare mornings that I didn’t feel like cycling and, as always, it was due to external factors. Having spent 6 marvelous weeks in Turkey, we had nothing to say about the local way of driving and behaving around foreign bike tourers, but the day before had been different; we both got the feeling that we had found a special pocket of Anatolia where people were a lot less welcoming to two-wheeled strangers and acted in such a way that we hadn’t like at all. Apart from seeing the first hugely awaited cave dwelling of the trip, the only good part of the whole day had been arriving to that beautiful spot which really eased our sore souls and was an almost perfect ending to an otherwise not great day.
The site in question was a quiet and solitary crater lake about 2 kilometres wide. The water was rather warm and bubbling from the breath of the dormant beast lying underneath it, there was a large, human planted forest which gave us warmth during the night (October nights are cold in central Turkey) and shade in the morning (without mentioning stealth from possible curious eyes) and there was even a small set of explorable caves in the vicinity which provided an excellent afternoon activity and a chance to stretch our legs a little before going about the evening chores.
Trying to forget the uneasiness felt the previous day and concentrating more on the fact that that day was going to start with a few kilometres of awesome, rare, and well-deserved volcano downhill gravel path, we consumed our breakfast in silence and listened to some Queen as we proceeded to pack everything away just as we had done 175 times before. It’s amazing what “Don’t stop me now” can do to your mood!
Even though we had set an early alarm, it had taken us the usual 2 hours to get ready and the sun was already beating down hard. The climb out of the crater took care of the warming up and, having stopped for just a minute to look down on that impressive place one more time, take one more picture now that the sun was shining from the “right” angle and, having wiped the first sweat of the day off our foreheads, we moved toward the dirt path which would take us to the valley below.
We soon realised that “our” crater was just the smallest member of a large terrestrial cone family which proudly stood in the middle of a huge plain in front of our eyes and, although no-one likes stopping too frequently first thing in the morning, I actually suggested getting the filming equipment out of my forward right pannier and take the time to immortalise that moment, something which always takes a lot longer than expected but that it’s usually well worth it. Oh and yes, it definitely was!
Although we hadn’t felt 100% optimistic at the beginning of the day, that quickly changed and we were soon speeding towards the famous underground dwelling of Derinkuyu (which we really liked) and after lunch we finally set off for one of the most awaited destinations on our trip; Cappadocia. This unique area of central Turkey is not only where we were going to rest for a few days, but it was also where we had arranged a RDV with other cyclists we had met along the way and we were eager to arrive.
Cappadocia is famous for many things and we really think that 5 days are enough to enjoy everything it has to offer; it’s a huge, sparsely populated natural park, ideal for horse riding or, in our case, hiking. Together with our fellow cyclists we walked many trails around this unique territory and explored its numerous and incomparable valleys, getting lost as we had given up trying to navigate using only rudimentary maps and no mobile coverage and, after having spent uncountable hours climbing and crawling, we also just did some good old sitting around feeling overcome by the sheer size of this huge network of ancient tunnels and houses which were skillfully carved out of the rock using nothing more than hand-held tools many, many years ago. The cherry on top of this unforgettable experience was being able to spend a night in one of the abandoned stone carved houses we had discovered; an utterly unforgettable experience!
Last but not least, Cappadocia is also notorious for its simply breathtaking sunrises which even managed to get us out of our warm sleeping bags at 6am!
Stress, uncertainty, tiredness and alienation are factors which all bike tourers must face on a daily basis and which can really get to you when you are so far from your comfort zone that you can’t even remember your postcode but, when on the road, you also learn that as long as you have a bike and the motivation to cycle a little further it will, in the vast majority of the cases, give you the chance to go to bed with a smile on your face, a few more anecdotes in your pocket and a lot more wisdom.
If you’re looking for more info about our time spent in this amazing country, there’s a great Blog entry about it here. You can also see our exact way around the globe by checking out or Itinerary page here. Cappadocia is featured in our second short videos about Türkiye, if you are a watcher rather than a reader, or if you’re just curious about this place;
As always, don’t forget that you can also find us on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube where, among many others, there’s also some great videos about our time spent in Türkiye. If you don’t follow us on any social media sites but enjoyed reading this blog entry, please consider following us as this will enable us to grow and will keep you updated on our progress, publications, etc.
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