Goreme to Nigde 101km
To Akcatekir 112km
To Erdermli 136km
The first mass of water I saw since Vietnam was the Caspian Sea in Iran. Then I touched the Black Sea in Georgia. And now I'm on the Mediterranean Sea in Turkey. Wow. A significant milestone. Now I follow the Mediterainean coast to Spain, and in just 6000km, I will be standing on the beach in Lisbon, Portugal, looking over the Atlantic Ocean.
I had a really great ride from Cappadocia to the coast. The day before leaving, I was sitting in a Cafe talking to a German couple, travelling the second best way possible, ( in an old VW Combie), about Iran. I was showing them my route when I had a message from Nita....."if you're going to visit an underground city, go to Mazi, it's really untouristy". Cool. I love advice from fellow cycletourists, and my Romanian friend had just messaged me that he wasn't impressed with the underground city he had detoured too, so Nita's message was timely.
I headed out of town early, but was distracted by the balloons, today flying over the village, in brilliant sunshine. But a big hill was waiting, much of it cobblestone, and steep......hard work, but very pretty. Then a few more gentle hills, and what looked like a prison. I was taking a back road south. It was very very quiet. I got to an intersection..... straight ahead, or left to Mazi? Mazi won. 5km later and I pass a Mazi sign, but no sign of the underground city. Then a local egged me on.....1km.....
Aha. Found it...... and outside is a yellow VW Combie, with bikes. It's the Germans. They're having chai with the guides. I join them. We are briefed, and set free to explore. We are the only three people in the whole underground city, and very glad we gave head torches. For over two hours we tuck through low tunnels, crawl through passage ways, climb and descend chimneys connecting different levels..... it was amazing, and for me just a little scarey...... There were so many rooms, tunnels, crawl spaces, chimneys, I was sure I'd get lost. How did those ancient people know where everything was? Apparently they were persecuted Christians, and they housed their stock, and made their wine underground as well. This Underground City is not set up for bus loads of Chinese tourists. It was fun, it was exciting, it was challenging, it was educational..... just like Jodi's maths classes. And it was great sharing the experience with the VW tourists..... I was actually quite glad I wasn't alone.....
I'm really loving cycle touring, but I'm just about over the dogs. Turkey has some very very big dogs. I don't know how big the one was that bit me, as it was dark, and I didn't see him, but now I'm just a little paranoid. I've been rounded up by packs at least twice. Once the leader was as big a Fiona, with about ten other smaller dogs surrounding me. That time I was rescued by a restaurant owner. Other times I've just had to go like hell, and hope I outrun them. And you never know which dogs will be the aggressive type. Some just lie there and watch you pass. Some sit down and watch. Some run like hell across a field, to the side of the road and bark, while others chase you, barking and snarling...... and they can run fast. The worse are the ones that chase you quietly, all you can hear are the clicking of their toe nails on the road, and then they pounce, growling and snarling. Nope, I'm not going to get off my bike and talk nicely...... It's too damn scarey.
So yesterday, I'm cycling along some pretty flat roads, thinking this is a bit boring, when suddenly the road changes from the normal dual carriageway, to just a two lane road. Then, I'm climbing not one, but two, 1500m passes. Then it's 10km downhill to a junction. This road is also only two lanes, and very very busy with big trucks, which is very unusual. But I have to turn left, which means 30km downhill, through some amazing scenery, rocky outcrops, gorges, fast flowing streams...... but I must focus on the fast flowing trucks.
Then the trucks disappear onto a motorway, and I'm left alone on the "B" road, a very scenic "B" road. For the next two hours I see five vehicles. I'm cycling my own private "scenic drive"..... and I find a fantastic campsite under conifer trees, on a carpet of pine needles..... I only hope the dogs I can hear in the distance aren't allowed to prowl during the night.
Then today, I cruise downhill again..... to the sea. Woohooo.
Each day, I've been stopping at roadside restaurants to eat. You choose the ones the truckers stop at, but need to be weary, as they don't always stop just for food...... At the resturants I'm almost always greeted at the door by a staff member. When they realise I can't speak Turkish, they take me straight to the kitchen, and show me the options. Typically there is some meat dish, but it comes with two or three salads, chillis, lemons, bread and Chai, and all for about $3. Then you get spalshed with aftershave as you leave. Great value, and so courteous.