Brooke and Sam caught an unfortunate stomach bug, and Craig and Steve dragged themselves out of bed at 4am to take to the skies over Cappadocia in a hot air balloon - stunning experience, however Steve was a little jealous of a lone runner making his way through the valley while the balloons took off (he brought running shoes which have remained packed away)! We also decided to adjust our route through Turkey, adding in a few hours driving to visit the town of Batman because...it's called Batman! The route also takes us close to the Syrian border, for a little extra excitement.
The drive was one of the toughest yet - Craig and Brooke sick and Craig and Steve barely functioning after 2hrs sleep, while still punching out 7 hours in excruciating heat through the barren eastern Turkish landscape, but we eventually made it to Urfa. It was our first taste of a town that was clearly Arabic/Middle Eastern, the difference was striking compared to western Turkey. We’re also finding less and less people who can speak English, and with our Turkish limited to one word (teşekkür ederim - thanks), more and more charades has been required, all part of the challenge!
Wednesday 30th July
Another day with minimal driving, but we switched the mighty micra for bikes...Standard late start (as we do) after packing up camping, on to brunch, and then finding ourselves a cave to stay in for the night (because that's what people do in Cappadocia). Sam had been like a fat kid with cake all morning at the prospect of renting dirt bikes for the afternoon, so we found the last four in town, haggled a little on prices, and set off in the desert heat for what turned out to be one of the best days so far - Steve's first time on a bike (and first crash), Sam in his element, and 6 hours of stunning trails around Love Valley, Uchisar, Rose Valley, and the conveniently adjacent off road terrain park. It was an afternoon of too much fun thrashing 125cc bikes around ancient ruins and farm trails wherever we liked at our own pace :) Ended the day with dinner with a view at a local restaurant (Ocak Restaurant if you're interested), great food, and a chat and private audience with the cook who nearly offered us more raki (not that Craig and Steve were keen!). Back at our otherwise plush cave, we counted no less than four annoying issues with our shower, and reviewed gopro footage over drinks.
Tuesday 29 July
Onwards through Ankara to Cappadocia, one of the places we originally had to miss, and we were all pretty excited to see it. We made a quick stop off at a massive salt lake Tuz Golu first, before arriving just in time to see the sun set over some of the cave dwellings, found a campsite (it was easier than finding a suitable cave hotel in peak season late at night), and planned our stay here over dinner. Hiring trail bikes and ballooning were high on the list...