Imranli to Sivas 105km
To Sarkisla 85km
To Kayseri 132km
To Goreme 59km
The extra kms have been well worth the effort. It's a long time since I've been hit by so much "Wow Factor".
I've been cycling in tandem with Radu from Romania. He left Bucharest last year, and cycled to Mt Khandengri (7000m), in Kyrgyzstan. He summitted, and returned to base camp to find he had frost bite in both feet. A flight home to Romania, surgery and rehabilitation, and then less than twelve months later, a return to AT House in Bishkek, to retrieve his bicycle and complete the unassisted loop. Radu has about 1500km to cycle to complete his adventure. Now that's a Wow.
Fiona had developed a small buckle in her front wheel. I had to wind back the front brakes to stop the constant scrape, scrape, scrape. Found a cycle mechanic in Sivas, an old timer, happy to show me his skill. But first I must share his breakfast with him, chai and sweet bread. And a craftsman he was. Ten minutes and the wheel is true, but he had not finished. A dab of oil here, a splash there. A tightened nut here, and a check of the tyre pressure. "No money. No money. For you my NZ friend, my guest." Another Wow.
But Cappadocia? Initially I was pretty unimpressed. I've been to Utah. I've been to the Grand Canyon. What could be more impressive? Well for a start, there's the houses inside the rocks. And the ancient frescos inside the churches, inside the rocks. And the tunnels and chimneys used to access the various rooms in the caves, inside the rocks. And it's real. Some are still being used. Some have been adapted and are being used as hotels, churches, restaurants, and stores...... and I'm stunned, impressed, gob smacked.
But then this morning, I got up really early, because I'd been told that I need to see the balloons. I followed the trucks pulling the big trailers, in the dark, to big open parking areas. I climbed a small ridge to get out of the way. Within minutes, HUGE slugs began to grow in the dark......the balloons were being inflated. I realised I was too close, so jumped on Fiona, and climbed further up the ridge (and was attached and bitten by a huge dog that appeared out of the dark). From the ridge I looked across, not down, on these growing, growling monsters. When they used the burners, the whole balloon lit up, like huge fairy lights. And then they started to float into the air, from both sides of the ridge. Some soared over my head, barely, within touching distance. I counted. Over 100 balloons. Lots of colours, and very quiet, just sitting in the sky. It was surreal, like a Dr Seuss painting...... orbs of all colours and sizes, sitting above the amazing rock formations, waiting for the sunrise..... astounding. I need to go and see it all again tomorrow.
This afternoon, Love Valley, where lots of rock formations stand like phallic symbols, just didn't measure up.