Pedaling from the Black Forest to the Yellow Sea
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Posts from — May 2008

Day 61 (Turkey): Goreme - Kayseri

today’s distance: 85km
total distance: 4886km
riding time: 3-4h

I set out thinking that the distance from Goreme  to Kayseri would be 90km so as to make it a full day of cycling. It wasn’t. Once I got to Avanos 10km down the road I saw a sign indicating that it would only be 60km. So much for that. The ride was uneventful. That’s what happens when you’re on big roads that are like an autobahn and there really aren’t any other options. A few climbs here and there, nothing major and a mountain ahead that was completely shrouded in the clouds. Mount Erciyes looked interesting and it was standing out.

Kayseri is a big city. The Lonely Planet said something about 600,000 people, the sign at the entrance said 800,000 and from the looks of it there were now a good deal more people. Turns out there are now more than 1 million.  I entered the city much earlier than I had anticipated and much earlier than I had told Murat, my couchsurfing host for the night, that I would arrive in Kayseri.

So I went past the meeting point - the new bus terminal - and looked for a few things in the center of the city. Everyone keeps telling me that Kayseri is the last outpost in Turkey … the backwater begins. Not my words, but from what I gather if you need to buy something  this is the place. I did need a charger for my DSLR so as to bring you more pictures (thank you for all the positive comments, greatly appreciated) of what is going on around me.

Store #1: I ask whether the storeowner speaks English. He doesn’t, but answers in French. Alright, so here we go. I ask for a charger. He shows me - quite proudly - his Nikon charger. I ask whether he has a Canon charger. He doesn’t. Too bad. On to the next question - are there any other stores in town that might have one? No. No other photo stores in town at all … Slightly surprised look on my face. He confirms. Have to go to Istanbul. Eh … no!

I leave and look around. Just on the other side, hidden behind a bus stop is another store.

Store #2: One of the owners speaks English and is very forthcoming. He has a battery that fits my camera, but no charger. He may be able to get a hold of a replacement, but not until tomorrow (which would be fine) and not an original one. I would rather have an original so I ask for other places and he freely points me to other places around the Hilton hotel.

Store #3 (one of a plethora of stores in the same street): We have a Nikon charger, but no Canon. Points across the street, they will have one for sure.

Store #4:  Yok!!! (meaning no in Turkish) Turns around and leaves me standing. Yikes!!!

Store #5: Yok!

Store #6: Yok!

… (you get the picture, slight variation on the theme)

Store # I forget the count and don’t feel like asking as they sell everything from cameras to CD players: lady speaks English, I ask pretty unexpecting for a Canon charger. She goes back to a pile of things (can’t make out what they all are), pulls out something in a plastic wrapping. It’s the right size and color - and it is an original Canon charger!!! I can not believe it. This is awesome. It makes my day. I can take more pictures and don’t have to wait around here for something to arrive from Ankara or Istanbul. I would have hugged the lady if I wasn’t where I was (I kept getting strange looks here in Kayseri about my bike shorts, much more so than in most other places so far).

That taken care of, I meet Murat at the bus station (about 8km of backtracking) at 2pm. I had thought about moving on given the time situation, but figured that I could use a not-too-strenuous day. Murat was great … he careened around the corner, we got my bags into his car and I follow him into this new high-rise development that I had seen from the road. A software-engineer in a production company he also calls up a friend to see whether they do aluminum welding (for my pedal) and finds out where to go the next day. Good stuff.

We end up driving to meet friends of his for the night. Yummy food and interesting conversations with two Turkish guys living in the Netherlands (and speaking excellent German) followed. On the way, we see the girl driving the car (she had looked into the camera the split-second before) - a not uncommon sight here.

May 25, 2008   No Comments

Day 60 (Turkey): hiking around Goereme II

today’s distance: 0km
total distance: 4801km
riding time: 0h

Today, I did go hiking in some of the valleys and it was truly outstanding. Not many people in the valleys, the scenery breathtaking and the views amazing.

I met a Russian who was bright red from the sun and running out of water. I could help him with the latter, but not with the former of course. I also joined up with a British couple for some time and we had a great time exchanging travel stories.

I hung low for the rest of the day, finally giving my body the rest it deserved. The light rain helped to make that an easy decision. In my search for food, I met Jeannie & Wei Ting from Indonesia and Singapore who were on the same quest. We joined forces and finally put our teeth into something … say filling.

May 24, 2008   No Comments

Day 59 (Turkey): hiking around Goereme

today’s distance: 0km
total distance: 4801km
riding time: 0h

I woke up late … slept like a stone and had a slow start. This meant of course that I would be heading into the heat of the day … and a good number of tour groups as I was doing the tourist tour at the Goereme Museum, which is impressive though not as much when you have been to Ihlara before.

It was funny though to see the masses of people being channeled and moved along by their guides.

I had wanted to hike quite a bit, decided to put it off given the previous day and found buses to get me from one place to the next. Here are some pics from Devrent Valley and Pasabagi. Cool places and worth a visit for sure.

The really good part came at the end of the day. I am sitting in an internet cafe uploading some pictures and turns out the guy next to me is German and heavily involved in documenting hidden churches in the area. It was an interesting meeting to say the least. Bernd left Germany seven years ago and showed me a few places and put things into perspective that I would have a) never found and b) never seen the connection. We walked up an alley in Goereme, he said to go into a hole in the wall and we stood in a church. Extremely amazing. There are houses all around it and it was used for all sorts of purposes, but was clearly a church originally. We also went to see a basilica just on the outside of Goereme and again, he let history come alive. Extremely knowledgeable and very forthcoming, his website - - is a place to take a look at.

We discussed all sorts of things over dinner, which lasted well longer than I had thought. Good stuff.

May 23, 2008   No Comments

Day 58 (Turkey): Yaprakhisar - Göreme (in a zone or haze, I can’t tell)

today’s distance: 97km
total distance: 4801km
riding time: 5-6 hours

I woke up so many times during the night with that nagging feeling that your whole stomach is about to explode. It doesn’t of course, but you still have that feeling. Stomach cramps, no sleep, it all goes downhill from there …

I got up late and had almost nothing for breakfast. Couldn’t eat and not much would have stayed down at any rate. I thought about staying where I was for the day, but that didn’t seem like the place to be. Maybe it should have been. I set out with high temperatures already due to the late start and made my way to Ihlara feeling feeble and weak. I figured I would at least get to Güzelyurt and stay there. That would have been 20km or so. That didn’t happen though. Ihlara gave me an uphill which I knew would come … it wasn’t welcome though given the state I was in. I zigzagged up the climb towards the end in order to lessen the grade. No cars around, so that wasn’t an issue. And then it became all a mind game of sorts. You just pedal. Try to find a rhythm, one pedal stroke after another. You compartmentalize things into smaller increments, put down one km after the other. That was the story until the turnoff to Güzelyurt. I would have gone there, but didn’t feel like it. So I moved on. Bought some Coke for the sugars and the mind and pedaled on for the next 40km without much of an interruption. Every place I stopped was closed anyway. Up a few unwelcome hills interrupting the flow, mostly into a headwind (not terrible, but still) … until I reached Derinkuyu. Temperatures had increased a good deal as well, the tar had become sort of gooey in places (though to be fair, Rob over at is contending with higher temperatures for sure - go check out his fantastic journey as he is covering China on a skateboard at the moment). Just before getting there, my legs ached. Fatigue, exhaustion … and then some. It was a state I had rarely been in. Bad night in more than one way for sure, only partially hydrated and a stiff wind by then. The pain was there, but covered under some blanket. Funny how your body works at times.

I hit one of the first little markets I could find. Following the old Coke and pretzels cure (yes, I know, this is very German), I did just that. I was shot at that point, drowned in sweat and the salesperson let me know as much. When I was sitting outside the store, drinking small gulps of the black stuff, he and an old man were standing behind me watching me. I could see them in the window on the opposite side of the street. They were talking about me … wondering what nationality I was. I heard it. I replied. They looked baffled. Then non-plussed. Continued to talk about me. Strange situation overall. I moved on after a while, thinking that I would cover a little bit more, now feeling a bit better. I rolled along now, aided by a shifting tailwind. Rolling terrain and the further I got the better I felt. Meaning from entirely crappy to not so crappy any longer. In Kaymakli I visited an underground city and it was an amazing place for sure … how people could live in these places is simply beyond me. Not a lot of pictures generally … my apologies. Not a picture taking day I would say.


After another 12km or so I entered another village, hoping that someone would yell cai at me. Someone did. I stopped. There wasn’t any cai in the end, but a good conversation with an old man who had worked in Dortmund. He called one person in particular a “Dummkopf” (something like idiot) and we generally had a great conversation. My bike and legs inspected, I moved on to cover the last few kms to Göreme, passing the town of Uchisar on the way at which point the panorama of the area unfolds.

The feeling when I arrived was amazing. The views were stunning for sure, but I felt elated and happy to have made it as far today. I booked into a small hostel for a couple of nights, hoping that things will look better tomorrow.

May 22, 2008   No Comments

Day 57 (Turkey): Dogantarla - Yaprakhisar

today’s distance: 11km
total distance: 4704km
riding time: less than an hour

The ride wasn’t going to be long, but it was even shorter than I thought. I was in Selime in less than 20 minutes and decided that I would spend the night in the area. Good idea in hindsight. I looked for some kind of accommodation … I needed to store the bike, recharge some batteries, etc. The first one was closed, I chose the second on the list. Too bad I wasn’t sure where it really was. Turns out it was nearly on top of a big hill. Didn’t really want to climb that much any more, but given the direction I was heading ultimately, it suited me just fine.

I left pretty soon and instead of heading back to Selime to hike up the Ihlara Valley, I headed to Ihlara by car and would hike back down. The valley is gorgeous … there are a great number of churches to be found in what used to be a Greek-inhabited area until 1923. The frescoes are sometimes extremely well-preserved and you wonder how man has come up with the idea to hammer chambers into the rock in order to worship.

What is left is quite amazing though and the good thing was that the area was - at least today - not completely overrun by tourists. It was Wednesday after all. I also met a few friends along the way …

The only issue was my stomach. It somehow felt weak and that made for some rough going and not as explorative an experience as I would have liked. After lunch I continued down the valley without meeting anyone until I reached the road to get back to my hotel.

The trip was well worth it … more Kappadokya fun in the next few days.

May 21, 2008   No Comments