Saturday, 5 November 2011

Cappadocia Calling: 05/11/2011 to 08/11/2011

I nearly didn't remember the fifth of November. I had thought of buying a few fireworks to mark the date, and I doubted I would have had any problems. All I need to buy a gun here is a valid passport, so fireworks are probably given away free with breakfast cereal.

But I didn't buy any fireworks and I didn't even have a bonfire as there was no wood near where I camped; it was quite an exposed spot, so I couldn't have hidden any fire. Since Ankara, finding decent campsites has been tough as there's so little cover, with barely a fold in the turf to hide me. None of the landowners are bothered, but the police might be (on Saturday night, I camped within a km of the police station, I realised the next day), and it's the principle of the thing to camp as subtly as possible, wherever possible.

On Sunday night I didn't have any choice but to wait until nightfall and pitch my tent as far away from the road as I could be bothered to go, but still within sight of it, as all around there it was flat flat flat. There was ice on my tent again that morning: this is nearly a desert climate, so there's little rain and the days are warm, but at night when the skies are clear the temperatures just fall away. I've had to melt ice for my morning coffee every day since Ankara.

The region north of Cappadocia and south of Ankara is dominated by Tuz Gölü or Salt Lake. When I rode past on Sunday it was busy with Turks paddling in the shallow water. Despite the lake's size, the water rarely gets deeper than a metre, and there were people walking way out into the middle of it. The shore of the lake was hard and calcified white from the salt deposits and the water was a cloudy mirror. It was beautiful, and the road followed the lakeshore for miles.

Tuz Golu/Salt Lake, Central Turkey

I wasn't disturbed that night except by the roar of the traffic on the D750, and the shepherds and I exchanged nods while I was striking camp in the morning, so it was all good.

Tonight's campsite is much better. I've entered Cappadocia proper, and you don't get views like this from many hotels, at least not at prices I can afford. I'm hunkering amongst the rocks above the Ihlara Valley like Holmes on Dartmoor, out of sight of everything but the huge mass of Hasan Dagi/Mount Hasan. The sun sets before five at this time of year but the fattening moon is making the rocky landscape glow. Shame it's too cold to sit outside the tent for long.

camping in the Peristreme Valley, Cappadocia

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