This is the second chapter about our trip in Turkey. We stayed 8 days in Istanbul. This little break was organized before our departure because Fanchon’s parents came in June the 2nd. One week was not too much to visit this beautiful and historical city.
Situated in a strategic place between Europe and Asia, Istanbul was successively the capital of the Byzantine empire and the Ottoman empire. For 2000 years, it is associated with major events of the political religious and artistic history in the area. The very famous saint Sophia or the Palace of Topkapi are perfect examples.
We visited a lot of mosques, bazaars and several museums. We took also the ferry to see the nice view and go to the Prince’s island, where cars are forbidden.
In Istanbul, we discovered the Turkish handcraft thanks to craft centers developed in some quarters. There are colorfull ceramics, carpets and drawing with the technique of ebru, painting on the water. It was very impressive!
During our stay in Istanbul, there were the parliament elections. We apprehended about the results because our appartement was situed close to Taksim square, symbolic place for claims of the social Turkish party. Everybody knew, the AKP party won the elections but with a lower percentage. Turkish people stayed quiet.
After pick our Iranian visa up at the embassy, we left Istanbul by bus to Ankara. The capital of Turkey has less history and culture than Istanbul. We spent two days, just the time to visite the center and apply our Uzbekistan visas. However, we met Serap, a very nice and dynamic girl. She is enthusiast by travel with bicycle.
We continued the trip with our bikes towards the Cappadocia. On the road, the second lake of Turkey: Tuz Gölü (means salted lake). We met some drivers with bicycles in their cars. They explained us that there is a bicycle festival close to here in Cappadocia. The contacted warmshowers approved. So we decided to go there! By chance we were to the festival earlier, thanks to a truck. We won 100km.
During the festival we met a lot of Turkish people, all of them were passionate by bicycle but rather mountain bikes. We let our bags for the weekend and did two excursions with them in the Ihlara valley. Without our bags we are not riding, we are flying! Fanchon thought the bikes could brake and the tires could perforate. But Gabriel trusted that everything is so strong! Roads are often changing for a stony and muddy path. Sometimes we have to carry the bikes.
During the festival, we met Jacob, a German 😛 traveller. We will continue our way with him until the heart of Cappadocia: Göreme.
The region of Cappadocia is effectively essential in Turkey. Landscapes are grandiose and exotic. We have exchanged our bicycles against our trekking shoes for two days to enjoy the numerous hiking trails.
Time is running out, Turkey is amazing but we have to chose. Stay more would change the rest of our journey. We can’t be too late in Tadjikistan, it will be too cold! We took a night bus to Trabzon in the north to be closer of the Georgian border.
The beginning of this ride was a bit complicated. We paid our tickets specifying that we had two bicycles, we hadn’t paye more. But when the departure, it was not the same. Our bikes couldn’t lodge in the boot, there isn’t enough space with the luggage of the others travellers. But finally if we paid the price of an other ticket 80TL, it should be good. Except that we hadn’t money, it was 9:30 p.m and it was raining. Then he proposed 50TL, we said yes, but we had only 20TL, but they didn’t know this. Given that the bus was late we put in our bicycles. The funniest is that they didn’t see the important quantity of our luggages. We did fast, just in case they change their minds. Funny, not really, the situation was rather exasperating. When the bus was just started, one of the driver came to claim the money, but problem! We told them that we could paid to Trabzon, finally they drop us off in the street in Trabzon and they didn’t claim the rest of the money.
In Trabzon, we met Nurullah thanks to the website Warmshower. We spent a very nice moment with him. He prepared a little surprise to Fanchon. A course with one of his friend to put the scarf correctly, all that by eating baklavas.
June the 17th have begun the Ramadan. We didn’t feel it a lot in the touristic regions but in the north where people are very believer, we felt the difference. Every restaurant was closed, men in the cafe were just waiting that the day pass. About 5 p.m. cities woke up, people bought many food to prepare the diner of the night. It is very impressive to see the quantity of food which is “moving” during this period.
Some people told us, the north coast along the black sea is very rainy. Effectively, it was raining a lot! Vegetation is very green and dense. The numerous plantations of tea perfume the seashore.
The local brand of tea, Çaycur, has many fabrics in the region. The strong rain motived us to ask to visite the main fabric. They accepte with pleasure. Then we continued our way but for a short moment. A little truck propose to drive us until the Georgian border. Of course we accepted and hop 120 km and the sun is back!
Turkey is a rich country of history and savoir-faire. Its gastronomy is as diversified as its landscapes and people are so kind and welcoming! We spent more than one month but we would need one more to visit the south. We might come back one day!