After a short pit stop in Konya, we pulled the throttle real hard to get to Cappadocia before the sunset.
Turkey definitely has a ton to offer, but Cappadocia is for sure the only place everyone has seen at least one photo of, that made them think “I shall go there once” - and we felt exactly the same way. I have seen a ton of pictures of it before, skimmed through some articles about it like I usually do, and I was sure this was gonna be the pinnacle of our journey in Turkey. So it’ll be definitely downhill from here in every way possible. But before we go down, let’s stop here for some days.
Our entire way to Cappadocia was absolutely incredible through the mountain roads, we also passed by Lake Tuz, Turkey’s second biggest lake. It’s basically either filled up with water, then it’s all red and fled by flamingos, or it’s completely dry and turns into a small salt desert. The latter one was the form we got to experience it. It was a fucking cool feeling to ride right into the middle of this big white nothingness and just stand there. You can totally trip on this for a couple of hours like we did.
Meet the Flinstones
We arrived in Cappadocia in the burning sunset, like one should, and I instantly understood where Hanna & Barbera went for inspiration for the Flinstones.
Cappadocia looks hands down sickening from all angles. This whole beauty happened about 8,5 million years ago, when after a series of eruptions, the entire region was covered in a 400m thick ignimbrite layer. Then over time, the power of the wind and water shaped these relatively soft rocks into something completely surreal looking. Then an even more surreal impact happened: humans. Hittities, ancient Persians, Romans and ascetic Christians (the list is probably incomplete, my apologies) shaped the environment a little bit even more efficiently than the earlier two, and literally carved out their own cave-houses.
This great bunch of people who called this place their homes somehow didn’t really like each other, or they were simply envious about the neighbour’s cave. So it’s been a long history of massacres on this spacey landscape. This led to the locals having to make entire networks of caves filled with traps of various sizes, they even got the point where they made real underground cities they could escape to if needed. That’s why Cappadocia looks so special both above and under the ground.
An ocean of kitsch
These days the mass destruction around here is over, so as it should be, there are a gazillion tourists. And boy do they want every shit they can have! One can even look at this breathtakingly beautiful landscape from hot air balloons. We weren’t too aroused from the idea of spending 50 EUR for 40-45 min in the air, but we definitely wanted to see how the balloons rise over the horizon at dawn taking hundreds of tourists with them up in the sky.
There are many things in this world that look fucking amazing. Sunrise on this landscape on its own is already one of those. But when you add all those balloons to the equation, the kitsch-o-meter fucking explodes.
We got into a smaller argument with my girlfriend about all the sheer number of it all. She had a hard time believing that there are actually this many professional balloon pilots, and that those are not just a bunch of amateurs flying over with 10-15 people on board each.
Try googling Cappadocia and hot air balloon, and for sure you’ll get some crazy accidents in the top 10. But let’s be honest, where you have 150-200 balloons on a daily basis for 200 days per year, there won’t only be pretty things in the stats.
We stayed in Göreme, that is the absolute epicenter of the Cappadocian tourist universe. Still, it wasn’t annoying. And I think it’s because of the following reasons: For one, we are in low season. There is still a lot of tourists, just not to the point where you can’t handle it. On the other hand, while everything is about tourism and souvenir shops neighbour souvenir shops, I feel like it’s done with a good taste in Göreme. At least it’s not blowing up in your face like it usually does in places like this.
This happens to be not in Göreme for example
We drove around the area for 4 days checking out everything we found interesting. We saw them all: the valleys, the canyons, the caves, the underground cities, the carved out churches. Then we politely said goodbye to it all. In Göreme alone there are 365 churches. I think it’s fair to say we haven’t seen them all. Actually we haven’t seen about 350 of it.
To the sea! This meant the Mediterranean Sea in our case. Our destination is Trabzon, that is about a minor 1000 km away from here. We decided to tackle that in 3 days.
The first stop was Amasya, a small city in the northern-mid part of the country. I think these are the places people refer to as gems. So that’s what I’m gonna call it too. A real gem. To our truest surprise, Turkey has proven itself to be a lot more developed and wealthier country than Hungary. I think after 3 weeks and 4000 km being here, I am qualified enough to believe me when I say so. Amasya is an absolutely gorgeous little place. I struggle to find words to describe how beautiful it is really is with the windmills and old townhouses along the unpronounceable river, Yeşilırmak, and the carved out grave of King Pontus in the enormous mountainside in the background.
We definitely weren’t interested in taking a closer look of it after 4 days Cappadocia and 400 km driving. One more carved out grave? Or a church? No thanks! All we wanted was just a little walk, dinner and a cup of beer in a nice open air place to look at the water. Out of this we only managed the dinner, because on this part of the country you can’t drink alcohol in public any longer. One can only buy it in the grocery store.
For some inexplicable reason it seems like all the mayors of this sized towns agree that to enhance all the beauty the place has to offer, they need colorful lights. Amasya is no exception. I can almost see all those moustached gentlemen going into lengthy discussions and finally reaching the decision that is actually the death sentence of a postcard-pretty city. Color changing lights. I can almost see those satisfied smiles on their faces, returning to their living room surrounded with majestic columns and lit with energy saving green bulbs. Still in their suits, but now only in socks on their feet they cozy in their favourite armchair for the night’s game on tv.
After our scheduled evening and morning walks we jumped back on our horses for another 400 km across mountain roads to arrive in Ordu. The way was totally incredible through the North Anatolian mountains, where the realisation suddenly punched us in the face: autumn is here. Suddenly it got really fucking cold, and a thick fog made our job rather difficult. We made our way little by little alongside with all the trucks. The landscape was rather similar to the Andes on our way to the Macchu Picchu, except there are no Indians around here. In the afternoon we reached the Mediterranean Sea and arrived in Ordu. It was finally not that cold anymore, but at that point my gf totally broke a nerve, especially that somehow we forgot to eat anything that day. When we pulled over to a hotel to ask about the price, she just gave in. Both mentally and physically. She literally just dropped on the floor. Ordu was the first city in Turkey that was exactly how I imagined a stereotypical Turkish city. It wasn’t neither more organised nor prettier than a typical Hungarian small city. First time to see some dirt and decay.
In the morning Lilla wasn’t really feeling it, but we jumped on the bikes anyways, because Ordu is a real shithole, and we wanted to get to Trabzon, that was a mere 200 km away from here. But when she started the ignition, the block was making the noise of a mariachi band playing on the wedding of the drug cartel leader in Oaxaca.
I told her we should go to Trabzon where we will have to find a pro, because this sounded like something out of my scope.
In the prison of the camshaft
We got to Trabzon in 1,5 hours. We went to a hotel in the centre, where the receptionist happened to study English literature in Hungary for 8 years. He was really happy for us. He said he’s never met any Hungarians in this part of the country. He gave us a 3 bedroom apartment for a ridiculous 100 liras, and he also gave us the contact of the best mechanic in town. Surprisingly though, he didn’t know a word in Hungarian after living there for almost a decade, but what really shocked me how bad his English was - even though that’s what he studied apparently. He could swear however, and could perfectly pronounce stupid city names like Balassagyarmat. He said because he played football a lot. I don’t get it, but let’s not go into this.
My hopeful face looking into the bright future with my fresh haircut and groomed beard according to the latest Trabzon trends
We barely just dropped the bags in our rooms and rushed over to the mechanic. After looking over it, they said they will have to change the camshaft. All together it will cost a 1000 liras, which is expensive enough, but turns out we also have to wait 5 days for the parts to arrive. Well, for this much I could easily get her a golden chain instead, but she insists on the timing. So, we’re staying!