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23rd – 24th Dec – Kayseri – Goreme – ‘Capa Capa Capa Capa Capa pa Docia!’

January 26, 2011
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The main disadvantage with getting a (train) is that you lose the orientation that becomes so paramount to living on the road. I had no idea of North, the weather, the lay of the land etc – most notably being the weather. Our first night in central Turkey was FREEZING. We woke with ice on the tents and Harry made tea dressed in his balaclava and snow mittens. We eventually got back on the road heading to where we thought was the right direction for Capadocia (the map of Turkey that Harry brought from the UK didn’t cover this part of Turkey due to our sudden and rather drastic change of route) and within 5 minutes we saw in the distance coming up behind us two people on very laden bicycles. What a start for Harry, day two and we’ve already met some fellow riders! They turned out to be Mike and Jo, two Kiwis who were 9 months into their world cycle tour from Beijing to Paris. They were heading to Capadocia for Christmas aswell, so we were lucky enough to have some company! We cycled along for a couple of hours (we were 5, out biggest number to date) and reached the bizarre and alien landscape of Capadocia.

Here we also met Mathias (although a couple of hours late) who had agreed to come and join us for Christmas on a bus with his bike on the roof. Now we are 6! We sat and had lunch and bumped into Bao from Istanbul who had prolonged his stay in Capadocia to paint the hugely inspiring landscape. Mike and Jo went with Bao to stay in the comfort of an (overly) warm hostel while we decided to go and find a cave to camp. We climbed a hill after picking up some veg and found a great little cave / tunnel off the roadside. It was just big enough to fit in three tents (Mathias bunked up with Harry) and we settled down to have a rather dusty but incredibly memorable night snuggled up in a cave.

The next morning was Christmas Eve, so we donned our newly acquired Christmas hats and cooked up some breakfast on top of the hill, looking over the landscape and waving at passing buses of Japanese tourists (winter is high season for them apparently)

Before heading back into Goreme to meet the others, we decided to head up to the highest point we could see which turned out to be an old Castle town which is the highest point in the region. The climb was tough, and we had to get off the bikes for the last section, where we climbed totally without bounds (or security) into the empty cave houses at meandering tunnels nestled into the soft rock of the mountain. We spent hours exploring these small homes, where they used to keep (and eat) pigeons. God knows how they used to get around on the precarious cliff side – stairs are shallowly carved into the slope with a 200m drop below. To say the climb into the more distant caves wasn’t without a veritable degree of risk would be an understatement.

We eventually came off the mountain and descended back into Goreme, to stay in the same hostel as Mike, Jo and Bao and see in Christmas with a few Efes – a very merry Christmas from Turkey!

 

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