Before the break
Hello hello. Not too much to report (after all it's been only a couple of days since the last blog post), but it'll be at least one full week before I have the chance to blog again, so I thought I'd make the best of these last hours of sweet anticipation in Ankara to send you some pictures.
So after leaving the south coast of Turkey a little after Antalya, I crossed the mountains towards Konya. Immediately the temperature dropped significantly - initially it was a welcome change, after the altitude hit 1800m I started thinking about stopping to wear something warmer, as I headed north things certainly didn't get much warmer... to the point of reaching Sultanhani (a few km east of Konya) and telling the guy I wanted to camp and him saying "are you sure? It's cold at night!". I couldn't be bothered to relay the feeling of smartassiness my (by my usual standards) exotic equipment gave me, so I just nodded to the effect of "You don't know who you're talking to..." (feel free to applaud or throw yoghurt).
Anyway it was fine, it went as low as 6C at night and with a -5C sleeping bag and other stuff I can afford to act cool.
After walking around the village and asking people for a 2L bottle made of tin or aluminium (for petrol) and exceeding myself each time with the charades/pantomime which produced plenty of plastic bottles, but none of the desired material, I visited Sultanhani's famous karavanserai. What is it famous for, I hear you ask? Well, wikipedia has the answer I'm sure, I wouldn't know. I just took pictures of the light as it came in the huge domed area through high and thin windows, and then got out of there quick when a group of Italian tourists started getting smart with climbing on top of a ruined tower. I mean, it was only 10-15m high, but the sight of 60 year-olds with very evident arthritis issues who could barely WALK straight, climbing that thing and then walking about the ruins at the top, with no protective rail or nothing, freaked me out. I got out of there to miss the police investigation.
Then the fun part came. I had heard something about Tuz Golu (I'm killing the accents, but you get the idea), a salt lake on the way to Ankara from where I was. I'm a sucker for natural beauty, less so for culture/art, so the lake was a must. I wasn't dissappointed. It was one of the most beautiful sights these eyes have seen. Getting there of course involved some Turkish friendliness, as I got to the end of the road where there was a checkpoint and a bar blocking the road. As I parked the bike in the shade of a truck (the sun was scortching hot) the truck driver jumped out, gestured to the checkpoint, said a few words in English, and summoned the guard who opened the gate while his commanding officer (or dad, who knows) was cracking jokes about the Suzukis going kaputt and that I should have a BMW and I was gesturing back that this Suzuki will survive WWIII and all the BMWs of this world can kiss my ass. Imagine all that with him talking in Turkish and me in Greek/English/German. A masterpiece, but we both got a good laugh out of it.
What can I say. 7km of unpaved road goes around a small part of it, where salt excavation takes place. Mountains of salt wait to be transported for commercial use. I'm impressed they even let me in, since this is a live production/collection site, but it's so vast that corners of this rectangular shape formed by the dirt road on the salt lake are completely still and quiet.
I think I've rambled on enough and the pictures are almost done uploading:
The tree-houses at Olympos mountain where I stayed one night. Cold, noisy (first the music and then the bloody chicken and other poultry) but good fun.
The entrance to the big karavanserai at Sultanhani.
Exploring a little bit off the roads to Tuz Golu - errr... I guess this is the wrong way.
Tuz Golu 1
Tuz Golu 2
Carried this magnificent Basmati rice all the way from London, but forgot the salt. ARGH!
Tuz Golu 3
Tuz Golu 4 - the mine workers' canteen
On the mountains North of Tuz Golu, towards Ankara. I had some time to spare, so I thought I'd do it in style. The result was more than 100km of unsurfaced road, which was slightly unnerving to begin with, but I got into rhythm soon.
This is how I want to remember the steppe between Konya and Ankara:
Right. More to come in roughly 10 days - arrivederci for now!
Posted by Alexandros Papadopoulos at October 10, 2009 03:42 PM GMT