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Turkey

Goreme - Another Bizarrely Beautiful Place in Turkey

sunny 35 °C

Day 48 Tuesday July 11 2017
Elbistan to Goreme / 326 km

  • We have seen little of Elbistan. It's not mentioned in LP at all. We chose it as a place to overnight for logistic reasons. Nemrut Dagi to Goreme in one day is too far - even by AG's standards. When researching our trip, tensions in Turkey were on the increase because of Erdogan's barely disguised intentions of extending his authority and dismantling the secular nature of modern Turkish society. This is still happening and has already been commented on. But it seemed best to avoid an overnight in Kayseri, one of Turkey's most Islamic cities. So we found Elbistan and supposedly a hotel with 4 star comfort (probably self awarded ).
  • One of the fascinating things about road travel is seeing at first hand how quickly scenery changes. Round a corner, over a hill, through a tunnel. In this case outside Elbistan the rapid transformation is from grain to fruit trees.
  • Turkey's road infrastructure continues to impress. There is not a day when we do not encounter major road building projects.
  • Out this far east in Turkey and driving our own truck, we are still very much a rarity, especially in places like Elazig, Tatvan and Elbistan. We are impressed by the willingness of locals to engage us in conversation ( if only through sign language) to help with directions, to offer us cups of Turkish tea at the first opportunity. Several times it has been made clear by individuals that they are Kurds rather than Turks.
  • We hear a lot about Kurds in the British media - sometimes as victims, sometimes as perpetrators of violent atrocities and other times as allies in the fight against Isis in Syria & Iraq.
  • There are obviously several simmering tensions in Turkish politics. SG does not believe the EU can seriously consider allowing Turkey membership whilst the current situation persists.
  • 15-20% of the Turkish population are Kurds. It is estimated that between 25-35 million Kurds live in the combined areas of eastern Turkey, Iraq, Syria & Iran. They are an ethnic group ( 4th largest in the Middle East ) with no permanent status anywhere in the region.
  • Remember the Treaty of Sevres 1920 mentioned with reference to the Armenia question? An allied attempt post World War 1 to sort out the problems of this region? The treaty that was going to return certain territory to Armenia, including access to the Black Sea? Well the same treaty made provision for a State of Kurds - a Kurdistan if you like.
  • The treaty never happened - at least not in its entirety. The Kurds were never given territorial independence; they remain to this day stateless and an irritant in the nation states mentioned above, where they happen to reside.
  • In Turkey there would appear to be great resentment by the Kurds towards their Turkish compatriotes. Post World War 1, having just perpetrated the first genocide of the 20C against its Armenian citizens, Turkey made harsh attempts to deny Kurds their ethnic identity. They were renamed Mountain Turks; Kurdish names were banned, as was the wearing of traditional Kurdish costume. The PKK was established in Turkey to politically represent the Kurds - it translates as the Kurdistan Workers Party and their reputation is mixed. A couple of days ago ( Day 45 ) we stopped at a war memorial honouring fallen Turkish soldiers, victims of an armed PKK ambush.
  • It is claimed that since 1978 more than 40000 Turkish Kurds have perished in hostilities of one kind or another and many have been displaced. During the 1990's the PKK abandoned their demands for full national independence from Turkey. Since then their aim has been, and still is, cultural and political autonomy. They have yet to achieve their ambitions. In the meantime many young Kurds seek work abroad and people like the spice shopkeeper in Elbistan explains that he does not feel safe here as a Kurd - a place he has lived in for 40 years.
  • Back to the road ahead. We have no sightseeing planned en route because once we arrive in Goreme there will be plenty to do.
  • Kapadokia ( easier to say than Cappadocia ), a geological oddity in the midst of the Great Plains of Anatolya. Its lunarscape scenery is much used in Turkey's national tourist brochures. For good reason, because it is both bizarre & beautiful, especially in the mellow light of sunrise & sunset.
  • Produced by volcano eruptions millions of years ago, people have long used the relatively soft stone to build their houses deep within the rock face of the volcanic pinnacles or underground. Even today many residents of the area have homes which incorporate a cave room. It is a sensible solution to the problem of comfortable living. In summer temperatures can exceed 40C and in winter can drop to -10C with snow cover. The temperature inside the cave room remains constant whatever the climate outside and minimises the need for air conditioning & heating. It's nature's ambient temperature and perfect for us delicate human beings.
  • Since being added to the Unesco World Heritage list, no new cave houses can be built and restoration projects must be vetted & approved by the government. This can only be a good thing because Goreme village has long since disappeared. It is now a sizeable town. Albeit still captivating because of its troglodyte style architecture and surrounding clusters of volcanic pinnacles. They are variably described as fairy chimneys, mushrooms or something rather ruder - resembling as some do, to the male body part!). Tourism has boomed over recent decades and Goreme is full of cafes, bars, restaurants, and accommodation claiming to be 'cave hotels'.
  • When choosing a place to stay you should do meticulous research and find a place to fit your particular criteria. We are staying in one of the original 'cave hotels' called the Kelebek. To find it is a challenge. The older part of town is a maze of streets & alleyways. But we are delighted with our choice - an elevated & quiet location with lots of shady nooks & crannies to sit and admire the scenery. A small dipping pool ( that SG immediately discounts as not worth getting her hair wet for) does not detract.
  • The staff are very helpful. A dinner venue is recommended and arranged, balloon flight for the next morning booked, breakfast at the hotel's organic farm is reserved and our afternoon sightseeing discussed. There is no time for idling on our trips.
  • We pass a couple of hours in the shade ( laundry chores, opportunity to catch up with emails after a couple of days of bad wifi connection etc ). Then, when the sun is marginally less intense, we venture out - we choose to do a hike through Güllüdere Valley, otherwise known as Rose Valley. It's an opportunity to get some exercise and admire Goreme's unique rock formations. Unexpectedly we have the trail to ourselves. The refreshment stops along the way are unmanned. A sure sign that tourism figures are down. Yes it's hot in July, but that would not normally deter the N European traveller.
  • We get back just in time for sunset on the hotel terrace, sipping a glass of chilled wine. Bliss! Then we walk a very short distance to Seten for supper. After the dearth of good dining experiences in the last few days, it is wonderful to be sat in such relative refinement. But actually for all that, the meal is not as tasty as our culinary highlight in Turkey to date - Elbistan @ 5£ per head.

Breakfast the Turkish Way - Honeycomb Honey

Breakfast the Turkish Way - Honeycomb Honey

Bakery in Elbistan

Bakery in Elbistan

Road from Elbistan to Goreme - Anatolian Plains

Road from Elbistan to Goreme - Anatolian Plains

Lunch Stop on Way to Goreme - No Shade

Lunch Stop on Way to Goreme - No Shade

AG in Rose Valley

AG in Rose Valley

Old Cave Houses of Goreme

Old Cave Houses of Goreme

Rose Valley

Rose Valley

So How Would You Descibe These?

So How Would You Descibe These?

Sunset Views from Kelebek Hotel

Sunset Views from Kelebek Hotel

Sunset Views from Kelebek

Sunset Views from Kelebek

Kelebek Hotel

Kelebek Hotel

Kelebek Hotel

Kelebek Hotel

Seten Restaurant - Refined Dining in Goreme

Seten Restaurant - Refined Dining in Goreme

Refined Dining is not Necessarily the Best

Refined Dining is not Necessarily the Best

Posted by sagbucks 22:52 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

Elbistan - a Culinary Highlight

sunny 35 °C

Day 47 Monday July 10 2017
Nemrut Dagi to Elbistan / 205 Km plus detour to Levent

  • We decide not to revisit Namrut Dagi at dawn. If you are a keen photographer it will probably be brilliant. The East terrace will be bathed in sunlight. And you should have the place almost to yourself. But the prospect of such an early start ( at this time of year 4 a.m. ) does not appeal, especially since we have one planned a few days later in Goreme.
  • Breakfast at Gunes Motel is very simple and somewhat sparse. There is nothing to take for our picnic lunch. We will have to eat the yogurt, bananas and honey that we have as reserve in the truck.
  • A quick mention about our accommodation - basic but clean & quiet. No aircon. However at night the temperatures drop, cooled to some extent by the nearby cascade of mountain water.
  • SG discovers that she has lost her earplugs & eye blind. Or rather left behind in a hotel bedroom, probably in Elazig. Since she does the final room check, it is absolutely her responsibility. Still over 6 weeks into the trip and that is all that has been forgotten. Not bad really. But earplugs and eye blinds, although not valuable are really precious. Must remember to pack a spare set next time. Just in case!
  • The message from people like Huseiyn, the motel owner is to please come to Turkey once more. Many areas that are dependent on tourism are suffering greatly from adverse publicity in the western media about risks of travel. See the photo of the map illustrating areas that are considered risky by the Foreign Office. It is a relatively small part of this vast country & that still leaves many regions that are trouble free, hospitable and desperate for the return of tourists.
  • We retrace our route back to the Malatya main road. Encountering drama by the roadside - a truck of grain must have shed some of its load. The villagers are clearing up.
  • Further down the road we stop to take a photo of roadside apricot trees, still heavily laden with fruit. From nowhere appear a couple of curious lads - they must have seen our truck pull up and decided to come and take a look. We are equally curious and follow them into the grove of trees, under which members of their family are sorting through the picked apricots.
  • They dearly wish to give us a whole bucket of apricots to take with us. Can you get apricot poisoning?! We tactfully take as many as our hands can hold.
  • Our only sightseeing today, after much deliberation with Huseiyn over the map, is Levent. A gorge famous for funambulism ( tight rope walking ) and a glass viewing platform, presumably to better watch the crazy skywalkers. It's a detour of some 13 km, into a valley of rock caves, which are no longer such an attraction after all we have seen in Georgia & Armenia. We never make it to the glass lookout ( navigator misses the turning!) but we get an idea of the rocky gorge scenery. It's ok, but it's not worth making it the highlight of your day unless there is a funambulist in action.
  • We reach Elbistan mid afternoon. Entering a hotel which chooses to use power stations as its logo is a bit concerning! Apparently there is large power plant some 20 km outside of town. The manager says the hotel has 90% occupancy. It is full of business men. So something does go on in Elbistan after all.
  • Having said that the surrounding scenery has been lovely - vast expanses of wheat fields, vegetable cultivation and swathes of sunflowers. The town may not be much to look at, but the countryside around is a pleasure to drive through.
  • In the end the Elbistan Park Hotel proves to be a good choice - cool, quiet room ( SG changes only once ) a subterranean swimming pool which she has all to herself. and a great local restaurant just around the corner. The type we have been hoping to find in all of the obscure places we have visited in Turkey.
  • The hotel manager recommends a local restaurant just round the corner. The type we have been looking for in all the obscure Turkish places so far visited: clean, friendly service, freshly prepared food and high turnover of clientèle. Elbistan is our first success.
  • The restaurant has a great formula: standard appetiser dishes are brought immediately to the table, similarly so with bottles of water and a jug of chilled lassi ( a yogurt / milky type of liquid ). We then select our kebabs grilled freshly to order. It's delicious and not even 5£ a head. It is one of the rare occasions that we are able to eat more than enough.
  • There may be no sightseeing in Elbistan but it ticks all the other boxes.

Dry River Bed - On Way Down from Nemrut Dagi to Malatya

Dry River Bed - On Way Down from Nemrut Dagi to Malatya

Turks Like Selfies Too

Turks Like Selfies Too

Sorting Apricots Near Malatya

Sorting Apricots Near Malatya

SG with Apricot Farmer

SG with Apricot Farmer

Farmer in Apricot Grove

Farmer in Apricot Grove

Juicy & Ripe Apricots

Juicy & Ripe Apricots

On Road Back Down to Malatya - Apricot Groves

On Road Back Down to Malatya - Apricot Groves

Map To Show Turkey's No Go Areas

Map To Show Turkey's No Go Areas

Logo of Elbistan Hotel - Power Stations

Logo of Elbistan Hotel - Power Stations

Posted by sagbucks 22:48 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

In the Middle of Turkey

sunny 30 °C

Day 45 Saturday July 8 2017
Tatvan to Elazig 331km

  • It seems there is a sleep conspiracy against us. Our room is cool and we hear no early morning call to prayer. But we are disturbed several times by rowdy guests along the corridor. Both of us on separate occasions get up to shout down the corridor. How does one get rowdy on Turkish tea? We also detect the tell tale effects of MSG food additive. Our supper did taste very salty.
  • The breakfast spread is however a treat. We eat only the fresh and unprocessed foods on offer - then we can be sure of avoiding another MSG hangover. Cheese, olives, water melon, tomatoes and cucumber, yogurt and real honeycomb honey. We sit on the outdoor balcony and enjoy our breakfast all fresco.
  • Today is significant on our journey because we are finally beginning to head west, back to our chilly and politically gloomy homeland. It's a drive that will take us 2.5 weeks. But our adventures are hopefully not yet over. Our route across Turkey has been chosen to avoid repetition and to bypass the south eastern areas that the Foreign Office has designated as 'no go' zones.
  • The problem with today & the last 2 days is that we are travelling to reach places that have little to offer once we get there. Tonight's destination, Elazig is not mentioned at all in LP. We have no option, there is nothing else around. Western tourism avoids these places for good reason.
  • The day starts with disappointment as we follow yet another LP red herring. We do a short 'voluntary' detour to Bitlis just SW of Tatvan. A place LP describes as having 'one of highest concentrations of restored historic buildings in Eastern Anatolia, many of them EU sponsored projects.'
  • Do we, the citizens of EU realise how much of our money is being spent by the EU on vanity projects in countries that do not even belong within the EU, now or in the near future?
  • On our travels we have seen many examples of EU generosity and often wondered why. Here in Bitlis we see little evidence of money being well spent. But then again we see no EU flag nor signage. So maybe LP got their facts wrong.
  • LP encourages the traveller to go off the beaten track. Of course you must do your own research. But without wifi when you are actually on the move, hunting out their recommendations, & without even basic Turkish language (SG would suggest few westerners do ) LP is too vague in its references. There is not even a rough sketch to help orientation. The tourist office, which according to LP is very helpful and has maps, is closed on Saturdays. Our love hate relationship with the Lonely Planet publication team continues.
  • If you happen to stay in Tatvan, go instead up Mt Nemrut and see the crater lakes. A similar length detour as to Bitlis but probably well worth your trouble.
  • So a long hot drive across Central Turkey. The roads continue to impress greatly. Building infrastructure is clearly a major part of the Turkish economy. Good on them. Shame on us.
  • Just outside Tavan and then again at a town called Mus, there are police road checks and our vehicle is searched. There are intimidating armoured police vehicles parked adjacent and a row of riot shields stand ready for use. Yes, there are definitely ongoing & unresolved issues in Turkish politics .
  • During the afternoon we encounter several more random road checks and vehicle searches.
  • We are passing through one of Turkey's grain belts - sadly not a wine belt. Judging by the burnt fields in places, and the tractors still in action in others, harvest time is nearly over.
  • Roads may be good in Turkey, but roadside facilities in this part of the country are non existent. Choosing a lunchtime picnic spot in the shade is never easy. Today's choice happens to be near a war memorial of some kind. It is in the middle of nowhere. There are photos of fallen Turkish soldiers, all of them tragically young and all of them killed on May 24 1993. SG later googles the date ( no Wikipedia is allowed in Turkey ) - it transpires it was the date of a brutal attack on Turkish soldiers by the PKK. We are driving relatively close to one of their current strongholds in Diyarbakir. It is the reason why the Foreign Office classify SE Turkey as dangerous for British travellers. To the south of Diyarbakir lies Syria & Iraq. PKK problems can flare up at any time.
  • We arrive in Elazig mid afternoon. It is baking. We retreat to our hotel room for a couple of hours of chilling. Except the room is not particularly cool - the aircon system is only turned on when we arrive.
  • AG has a migraine and naturally is not in the best of moods. Good job there is no sightseeing on the agenda. Nurse SG analyses the situation: a long hot drive, insufficient use of aircon ( in order to protect the truck engine at altitude ) only intermittent wearing of sunglasses & obviously too little fluid intake. Rest is prescribed.
  • Its a struggle to find somewhere to eat in Elazig. The hotel restaurant does not appeal - at all. In fact it looks as if it is being prepared for wedding celebrations. On Trip Advisor there are only a few places with reviews, mostly in Turkish. We opt for Garnish Brasserie, a 10 minute taxi ride away. Food is 'fusion ' Turkish & Western. Or maybe just confused. The chef has been poached from the Sheraton in Istanbul and it shows in the artistic display of his dishes but nothing else. But the Campari soda cocktail is refreshing and the fruit chocolate fondu for dessert delicious.
  • Back to the hotel for an early and hopefully peaceful night. AG must recover from his migraine or else SG will have to drive. An incentive if ever there was one. Yes, driving across the middle of this vast country is indeed tough.

Posted by sagbucks 05:40 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

Tatvan - Reaching Parts of Turkey Few Western Tourists Visit

sunny 30 °C

Day 44 July 7 2017
Igdir to Tavan / 318 km

  • SG is woken, despite earplugs, by one of the many mullahs who call to prayer at the crack of dawn. Currently before 4 a.m. She asks again the question - do Muslims really get up & pray at this time? Or is it just a legacy from a previous era?
  • Of course it's not the only religion that should evolve to better suit the needs & demands of the 21C. The Catholic Church & the Church of England both come to mind here.
  • The other impediment to a good night's sleep is room temperature. It would seem that to economise, the hotel management control the minimum temperature obtainable in any room. So be it. But SG was also disturbed in the middle of the night by a further rise in temperature. She suspects that in order to save money, management raise the minimum temperature by a couple of degrees for a few hours during the night, assuming that guests are fast asleep and won't notice. Yes, you're right she is very precious about bedroom conditions.
  • 'Open the windows' you say - but then the noise from the mosques will be even louder!
  • Breakfast is a pleasant surprise. Yogurt, honey, cheese, olives, fresh fruit , eggs and bread. Enough to eat now and for lunch. Sadly no coffee. Whilst eating we are entertained by the happenings in a storks'nest built on top of a nearby mosque. Stork watching will never lose its appeal.
  • We leave by 8.30 a.m. and it's already 26C.
  • We are travelling first to Dogubayazit, South of Igdir. We stayed overnight here on our London to Sydney trip. It is a heavily garrisoned town, and a major access point for entry into Iran. We fill up at the same BP filling station as we did 3 years previously. Memories come flooding back.
  • Mtn Ararat still rises up majestically to the East. Another sight that we will never tire of. Especially in summer, when the upper slopes still covered with snow, are such a contrast to the scorched countryside all around.
  • After Dogubayazit we turn off South in the direction of Lake Van. It is finally time to bid farewell to Mt Ararat.
  • We are stopped for a vehicle check by local police. They don't take long. Perhaps with an army base here, there are plenty of personnel to keep busy.
  • For the next 30 km we admire the view and the empty roads. But there is good reason - just as we climb to an altitude of 2500m we come to the end of the road. For now it is impassable. Navigator checks the maps me app for alternative minor roads. There are none. Annoyingly there have been no signs, not even in Turkish, to warn of the road closure ahead. Our only option is to return to Dogubayazit and do a huge detour via Agri to reach Ercis and Lake Van. What was going to be a long hot day has just got longer.
  • So unexpectedly it's hello Mt Ararat once more.
  • We knew Turkey would be a tough section of our trip - the hot climate, the difficulty of finding decent restaurants in obscure places and of course language difficulties. We are scheduled to spend another 10 days in Turkey. Some will be brief overnight stays in places that we will be eager to leave. But a couple are well known tourist destinations ( Goreme & Pammukkale). Food & accommodation here should be of a reasonable quality.
  • Roads in Turkey are noticeably better than in the Caucasus countries. The country's infrastructure is already impressive and new projects are ongoing as we drive - the UK sadly does not compare, either with quality or coverage.
  • At 315 km and after 4.5 hours of driving we finally rejoin the route we originally planned via Ercis on Lake Van. Fortunately the roads we chose as our detour have been generally good and traffic light.
  • The drive around Lake Van is mainly about scenery, it is blissfully uncommercialised. Just azure blue water and a mountainous backdrop which today is sadly a bit hazy for photographs. The lake is the result of a volcano eruption which closed off the flow of mountain rivers. It stretches over 3000 sq km and sits at an altitude of around 1600 m.
  • We stop briefly in Ahlat some 45 km before Tatvan. There is a vast Seljuk Cemetary here with tall headstones intricately carved on both sides. They date from 11C onwards. After days of Armenian Khachars, AG declares that he has had enough of visiting cemeteries. He has a point.
  • As we come in for 'landing' at Tatvan it's blowing up a gale, a warm one at 30 C. We abandon plans to drive up Nemrut Dagi 3050 m from where there are excellent views of Lake Van and also of Crater Lakes within the inactive volcano. This afternoon, views would be limited.
  • SG makes the usual room requests at check in and all seems ok. We spend a couple of hours chilling and catching up with emails whilst the wind and dust storm outside abate.
  • Early evening, it's time to stretch our legs. We stroll along the pedestrianised street outside our hotel and down to the lake. The promenade is closed to traffic - we do not know if this happens every evening, just in summer or only at weekends. Families are out and about and groups of either men or women sit and chat.

Tea is the main drink on offer. Plus the usual canned soft drinks. There are no lakeside restaurants of any kind. Men sit at low tables, smoke & drink tea out of small glass cups. It's an evening highlight. We see no women doing likewise. It seems to be an exclusive male activity on male territory.

  • Its such a shame that language prevents us from finding out more about modern Turkish society.

We do our diplomatic best: we pose for their photos, we smile, we wave acknowledgement. We stand out from the promenade crowds - our dress, our skin colour - just being in Tatvan we are an oddity - not many western tourists come here. Why would they? The lake water is cold, the hospitality industry is basic and no alcohol is served.

  • We are continually offered tea, now and at other times : at local shops, at petrol stations, at hotel reception desk. Neither of us like Turkish tea. It is strong & bitter which is why they add so many sugar lumps.
  • There is no obvious alternative to eating at the hotel restaurant on the 8th floor. It has panoramic views of the lake and surrounding mountains. The freshly squeezed orange juice is delicious, the staff kind and helpful, shame about the food.

Our View Over Breakfast

Our View Over Breakfast

Mt Ararat Graciously Shows Herself Again

Mt Ararat Graciously Shows Herself Again

At Dogubayazit We Are Very Close to Iranian Border

At Dogubayazit We Are Very Close to Iranian Border

Road Ahead Closed for Indefinite Miles & Indefinite Time

Road Ahead Closed for Indefinite Miles & Indefinite Time

Beautiful Colours of Lake Van

Beautiful Colours of Lake Van

AG in a T Shirt SG Wishes to Burn! Terrible Colour.

AG in a T Shirt SG Wishes to Burn! Terrible Colour.

Seljuk Tombstones in Ahlat

Seljuk Tombstones in Ahlat

Seljuk Tombstones in Ahlat

Seljuk Tombstones in Ahlat

Men Only, Tea Only

Men Only, Tea Only

Tatvan Memorial

Tatvan Memorial

Ladies Out For a Stroll Around Lake Tatvan

Ladies Out For a Stroll Around Lake Tatvan

Tea is the Highlight of the Evening

Tea is the Highlight of the Evening

Lakeside Corner

Lakeside Corner

SG by Lake Van

SG by Lake Van

Turkish Selfie by Lake Van

Turkish Selfie by Lake Van

Posted by sagbucks 07:47 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

Ten More Days In Turkey

overcast 20 °C

Day 43 Thursday July 6 2017
Vardzia to Igdir / 354 km / Border Crossing Georgia to Turkey

  • SG has said it before: what a difference a day makes. It is cloudy and cool this morning in Vardzia. A mere 19C; as soon as we get to Turkey this will change. We leave after a late breakfast. The hotel does not start serving until 9 a.m. - late even by Georgian standards.
  • We retrace our route to Achalkalaki before heading west to the border crossing with Turkey at a place called Aktas / Cildir. The territorial line is actually drawn through Aktas Lake. A geo- political border if ever there was one.
  • Georgian border country is sparsely populated, roads are potholed and the wild flowers very beautiful. We regularly check our altitude. We are driving at around 1850 meters - incredibly high considering the lack of mountain summits. As in Armenia we are crossing wide expanses of high altitude plateau.
  • Shortly before the actual border we see the last Georgian church, a simple, single storey shack built in 1990, the year of independence from Russia.
  • We are relieved to see the odd HGV coming in the opposite direction. We conclude that the border is definitely open.
  • It opened end 2015 and still does not seem to be widely used. Once again we are the only foreigners.
  • The passports with the Armenian stamps are safely out of sight. Passing through into Turkey is not a problem.
  • The facilities suggest that in the future a greater volume of traffic is expected. Exceedingly tall flag poles fly the national flags of Georgia, Turkey & the EU.
  • Many of our border conversations with officials develop along the following line:

Where are you from? England.
Have you driven all the way? Yes.
I like Manchester ....

This is the cue for AG to talk football. Manchester Utd is arguably UK's most famous export.

  • The Turkish border is no exception.
  • Our re entry into Turkey marks a turning point of our journey. We are not yet back on a westerly trajectory but we have left the Caucasus region, the main destination of our 2 month trip. We are spending another 10 days in Turkey and our itinerary does include some sightseeing - it's not a matter of just driving west. At least Ramadan is over for another year, no more Iftah suppers, just lots of minarets with loud speakers.
  • Our route around the east side of Lake Cildir reveals very pleasant scenery, mainly at an altitude of around 2000m. The lake remains undeveloped commercially which makes our drive all the more special. By the water's edge a herd of cows gather on the shingle beach, not tourists. In winter it freezes over completely.
  • After leaving Lake Cildir we cross over a railway line that is being upgraded significantly. See photo. We believe that this is part of the Baku Tbilisi Kars railway project that will continue to Istanbul and then on to other Western European destinations.
  • Heat and altitude combine to make today's journey very tiring. 20 km or so before Igdir, and over to our east is the magnificent Mt Ararat, just visible through the clouds. Continue over the summit further east and you would get to Khor Virap in Armenia ( see Iconic Armenia entry )
  • On arrival at our city hotel, the Star Royal, the only one SG could find with aircon, we note that there is a mosque very close by.
  • SG checks the room before giving approval for the luggage to be taken up. It has a back view, so that's ok . But the aircon is off and has been since the last occupant vacated. It takes a good couple of hours for the room temperature to sink to a 24/5C level. We use the time to go for walk about town and find a place to eat.
  • Not many tourists come to Igdir and even fewer write restaurant reviews. It's not easy - lots of tea houses and coffee shops but very few restaurants except kebab and shawarma bars. This does not appeal to SG. We end up at, horror oh horror, Dominos Pizza. Thank goodness they have one in down town Igdir. Otherwise we might have dined at Burger King.
  • Fortunately on the plus side, whilst wandering around town, we manage to stock up again on Turkish delight. A favourite treat of ours during the day, especially in the absence of bars of fruit & nut chocolate.

Border Country Georgia / Turkey

Border Country Georgia / Turkey

Wild Flowers Seen Near Georgia / Turkey Border

Wild Flowers Seen Near Georgia / Turkey Border

Last Church in Georgia Before Turkey

Last Church in Georgia Before Turkey

Cows Enjoy Cildir Lake Not Tourists

Cows Enjoy Cildir Lake Not Tourists

Turkish Herdsman Brings His Cows to Bathe in Lake

Turkish Herdsman Brings His Cows to Bathe in Lake

Baku Tbilisi Kars Railway is being Upgraded Considerably

Baku Tbilisi Kars Railway is being Upgraded Considerably

Garlic for Sale in Igdir

Garlic for Sale in Igdir

Tailor Advertises His Services in Igdir

Tailor Advertises His Services in Igdir

Posted by sagbucks 07:46 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

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