Cycling Turquey, Avanos, Cappadocia.

Cycling Turkey: from Cappadocia to Sivas

For a month and a half now that we are cycling across Turkey, the country is so big that we are only halfway there. We cycle on the highway to go faster: it is accessible to bicycles, in very good condition, free but quite monotonous.

Turkey cycling, map of the bicycle route in Turkey. Cycling Turquey, map of Turquey cycling route.
Itinerary traveled by bike.

We continued our way to Cappadocia, a region in central Anatolia famous for its underground cities and rocky cone landscapes, called fairy chimneys.

With our cyclists friends Alex ( and Rémi (, we went to the Ihlara Valley.

Cycling Turkey, Ihlara Valley. Cycling Turquey, Ihlara valley.
Ihlara Valley.

The valley of Ihlara is accessible by a staircase, that you have to pay, in the cliff. Below, flows the Melendiz River and small wooden bridges allow you to go from one bank to the other. Formerly a refuge for Byzantine monks during the Arab raids, the valley is home to several richly decorated troglodyte churches (excavated in the rock). The hike is sublime!

Turkey by bike, Arthur in a troglodyte church in the Ihlara Valley. Cycling Turquey, Arthur in a cave church at Ihlara valley.
Arthur in great reflection.
Cycling Turkey, tea break in the Ihlara Valley. Cycling Turquey, tea at Ihlara valley.
Gözleme (Turkish pancake) and çay (tea) in the valley!

The day before, after setting up our camp, we enjoyed a delicious feast around the fire made of potatoes and grilled meat on the barbecue!

Friday, April 13, we left the valley and pitched our tent in the evening behind the house of a villager, who despite his lack of enthusiasm at the beginning, ended up offering us tea and then at breakfast, bread. In the news this morning, the bombing of Syria by France, the US and the British. One of the neighbors who came to talk with us (only in Turkish of course) told us about it. We felt less serene about saying we were French.

We then stopped at the underground cities of Derinkuyu and Kaymakli, very impressive!

Turkey cycling, underground city of Derinkuyu. Cycling Turquey, underground city of Derinkuyu.
In the church of the underground city.
Turkey cycling, underground city of Derinkuyu. Cycling Turquey, underground city of Derinkuyu.
Back from the mine.

On the road, we start to feel like stars: drivers honk us regularly to say hello. A young woman parked on the side and wanted to take a picture and give us some fruit. But in town, without our bikes and without speaking Turkish, people often ask us if we are Syrian (there are today 3 million Syrians in Turkey).

Then towards the heart of Cappadocia, towards the famous fairy chimneys, these natural columns of rocks, where inside were dug many caves that once constituted the dwellings of the troglodyte peoples.

Turkey by bike, Arthur in a fairy chimney at Uchisar. Cycling Turquey, Arthur in a fairy chimney at Uchisar.
Where is Arthur?
Turkey cycling, bivouac Uçhisar. Cycling Turquey, bivouac in Uçhisar.
In the village of Uçhisar, we camped at the foot of the fairy chimneys with a breathtaking view of the valley.

Then, passing by a shop in the village, the owner who heard us speak in french, asked us where we came from. Arthur replied from Nantes and the merchant said “ah, I was in Carquefou! “. What a coincidence to fall on a Turkish who was in Carquefou, a small town on the suburb of Nantes where Arthur’s parents live ! He then insisted on offering us tea and even breakfast at his shop the next morning. He learned french with tourists but for several years there are few french tourists in Turkey. Surely the consequence of the media that convey the image of a dangerous country, which is far from the reality.

Cycling Turkey, Yasmina in a fairy chimney at Uchisar. Cycling Turquey, Yasmina in a fairy chimney at Uchisar.
Where is Yas?

Although the days are hot and sunny, in the evening the temperatures drop considerably, so we took a room in the village next door, in Göreme. Waking up at 5am, we went to admire the dazzling spectacle of balloons in the sky at sunrise.

Turkey by bike, balloons in Goreme. Turquey Cycling, hot air balloons at Göreme.
The famous hot air balloons of Cappadocia.

Back at the hotel, sitting with Rémi and Alex for breakfast, we discussed our itinerary and pronounced the word “Kurdistan” two or three times in our conversation to designate the eastern region of Turkey. At the end of the breakfast, the owner asked us to leave his hotel immediately. He even reimbursed us in full the amount paid. According to him we do not have the right to pronounce this name in Turkey. We were shocked and faced with such a nationalist and extreme individual who suddenly puts his clients out, we took our belongings and went to the hotel next door.

This incident forgotten, we enjoyed the walks in the surrounding valleys, the card games outside and a good “testi kebap” in the village of Avanos (traditional dish of meat and vegetables cooked in a clay pot), always accompanied by our two traveling companions.

Cycling Turkey, Arthur found a hedgehog in Avanos. Cycling Turquey, Arthur found a hedgehog in Avanos.
Dinner: wild hedgehog with herbs!
Turkey by bike, bivouac in Avanos. Cycling Turquey, bivouac in Avanos.
Bivouac in Avanos.

After Cappadocia, the city of Kayseri. Like all major cities in the center of the country, Kayseri is not worth the detour. The buildings are modern, the architecture without charm, with a conservative population.

Turkey by bike, at Kayseri hammam. Turquey Cycling, turkish bath in Kayseri.
Arthur, Rémi and Alex took the opportunity to relax in the turkish bath in the city center.

With Kadir, who hosted us three nights at his house, we had dinner at the restaurants and had a good time.

Turkey cycling, khavalte with Kadir in Kayseri (Talas). Cycling Turquey, khavalte with Kadir in Kayseri (Talas).
Turkish breakfast in a troglodyte restaurant with Kadir.

Saturday, April 21, we cycled towards the city of Sivas. We easily find locals to host us on our way (thanks to Couchsurfing and Warmshower websites). Turkish people are always happy to welcome us and introduce us to their friends and family. We are often invited to eat or drink tea (impossible to invite them, they never let us pay anything), which starts to be a real problem because we eat too much. We are quite fond of Turkish food, the only downside is fruit and vegetables, bland, tasteless and hard to find on the road.

Police asked us to stop only to talk to us: they were curious to know where we came from, where we were going and they wanted to invite us to drink tea (a classic!).

Turkey on a bike, at Tuğba's friend's house in Şarkışla. Cycling Turquey, at Tuğba's friend in Şarkışla.
In the village of Şarkışla, we stayed at the house of Tugba’s friend.
In the city of Sivas, we were hosted by Ihsan who invited us to his friends’ house for dinner.

Since we left the coast, all the young people we met admit that they do not like living in the central part of the country: forced to study or work in conservative cities, they get bored and feel oppressed by the weight of religion that limits their leisure and many activities.

Arthur, meanwhile, for a week had his eye itching : he took the opportunity in Sivas to go to a medical clinic where they removed the piece of wood that was stuck in his eye.

Recovering !

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *