Update 10 - Göreme to Doğubayazıt,
7th November 2001.
the final stretch of our route in Turkey, was COLD!
As I write we are now in Doğubayazıt, 30km
from the Iranian border and over 1000km from Göreme.
Over the last couple of weeks we have seen snow, driving
rain, high mountain passes and yet some quite spectacular
mountain scenery. We have also entered the Kurdish populated
area of Turkey and have experienced a marked increase
in military activity here.
As a sign of how lazy Matt and I (Adrian) are, we have
both had slow punctures since Selçuk on the Aegean
coast, and haven't been bothered to repair them! Every
morning for the whole length of Turkey - 1700km - we
have stopped at a petrol station in search of the ever
needed 'hava'. Doğubayazıt is definitely puncture
found leaving Göreme very difficult. It is one
of the 'must see' places of the world. What made matters
worse was on one of our last nights there we had such
a great time in a hot (40-50 degrees) thermal swimming
pool overlooking the stars and drinking beer until the
early hours. As we left Göreme and made our way
to Sivas we also had a lasting memory of the great views
overlooking Ürgüp and Cappadocia from the
top of the very steep 5km climb on the road to Incesu.
Bliss. But I shall return!
We had a rest day in Sivas as Andy had food poisoning.
It was worth the rest because we discovered the people
of Sivas like their speciality Tavuk Döner kebabs
- chicken döner meat wrapped in a large freshly
made doughy pizza type bread, 'pide', folded in half
and filled with the meat and salad before rolling it
into a large baton. It is quite simply the tastiest
food I have ever had. We ended up going back to the
same kebab place eating more and more of them, and talking
football and drinking Çay. If you ever find yourself
in Sivas, pop into Gözde Kebab, Subashi Ishani
started to get very cold, very hilly and very wet from
here. The road to Erzurum involves climbing three passes
over 2100m (of which the last was covered in thick snow).
Parts of it reminded me of the English Lake District
- rolling hills with rocky outcrops and wet grassland
exposure, especially between Erzincan and Erzurum. A
more common sight as we headed east were the Kurdish
shepherds roaming the high hills all day looking over
their flock as they give us a wave.
Republic day (29th October, Tercan) saw a military
like procession of school kids marching to the drums
holding a picture of the national hero of Turkey, Atatürk.
This is a very important day for Turks and marks the
proclamation of the republic in 1923. By chance it was
also on this day we saw an exact Gary Lineker body double
with same hair and mannerisms presenting Turkish football!
It was quite amazing!
road to Erzurum is a very popular 'overland' road, and
we kept meeting up with the French guys Gus, Gilles
and Guilleme (www.velhom.fr.st)
who took a year out from study to cycle from Paris to
Peking on a budget of £2 a day, mostly staying
with locals. Their route took them through Albania and
Montenegro before heading into Greece and Turkey. Gilles
even got his recorder out and gave us a tune when one
of us had a puncture!
Erzurum in Eastern Turkey has the third largest university
campus in the world, easily accommodating its 45,000
students. We arrived there rather wet and drained, but
spent a great afternoon with fellow students Selim and
friends as they drove us round the area and to the ski
resort 8km up the hill (2400m). Thank you so much for
your hospitality. Andy also attended an intermediate
English class at Atatürk Lisesi school where one
of the girls thought he looked like Brad Pitt! I don't
think so somehow. His school report can be found at
the bottom of this page. We also
wet two British bikers Chris and Kirsten (www.worldtriumph.co.uk)
on a three year world tour on their 20 year old Triumph's.
Good luck guys! Erzurum was also 'must buy warm clothes'
town. In the end Turkish army commando gear was the
cheapest - and thermals, gloves and hats were bought
to get us through the winter hills and into the warmer
climate of Southern Iran. Very cheap - a good quality
thermal top was £1.20 (£30 in the UK!).
we headed further East towards Iran, and 20km out from
Ağrı,we met ultra endurance athlete Nakayama
Yoshitaro from Japan. He was running and walking along
the Silk Road from Wulumuqi in China to Istanbul. We
exchanged photos and addresses as he explained he covers
between 45 to 75km per day! We couldn't quite believe
it at the time. Later we discovered he competes in double,
triple and even deca Ironman's amongst other ultra endurance
events. Keep going Nakayama!
Doğubayazıt where we met the French trio again.
They had just returned from climbing Mount Ararat (5137m),
the giant snow capped volcano that overlooks the town.
It is allegedly the resting place of Noah's Ark according
to the Bible. They paid 400 million TL for a guide and
it took 3 days for the ascent and descent but they only
managed to get to within 100m of the summit due to high
winds. Plus they only had one pair of crampons between
the four of them! Now that's climbing. We also met up
with the Swiss Loic and Bertrand, our friends from Istanbul.
We will be cycling with them in Iran.
And so thats it! We have finally cycled through Turkey,
a great place that has given me many fond memories.
The even bigger country of Iran awaits! Great.
Total Distance to Doğubayazıt: 6138km.
School Report - Atatürk Lisesi, Erzurum
First of all I would like to say a very big "Teşekkür
ederim" to Recai Özsoy and his class
(especially Bariş, Tekin, Adem and Çağlon)
at the Atatürk Lisesi school in Erzurum,
for one of the best experiences of my journey
so far. I hope you all enjoyed the lesson as much
as I did!
One afternoon, I was happily walking along Erzurum's
high street, when I noticed three young lads staring
at me. Not exactly a strange occurrence, since
fair-haired Brits are not a common sight out of
tourist areas. After a while you tend to get used
to all attention and curiosity, just like the
Royal Family has to, I guess. I noticed the lads
turn around and follow me, and as they all had
happy smiling faces I slowed to speak with them.
I ended up speaking with Bariş, Tekin and
Adem for an hour or so, and we had a çay
together in a cosy çay salon at the back
of a shopping precinct. I was amazed at their
knowledge of English, especially their vocab,
because they had only been learning it for one
year. They were keen for me to attend their English
lesson the following day and I willingly agreed
- I was interested to see what life was like in
a Turkish school, especially during an English
The next day I met Bariş, Tekin and Adem,
and their friend, Çağlon, at the appointed
time and place and we headed for school. "We
didn't think that you would come" said Tekin.
After the standard cries of "Tourist!",
"Where are you from?" and "What
is your name" as we passed through the corridors,
we waited for their teacher to come back from
During the lesson, I stood at the front and talked
a little about myself and why I was in Erzurum.
The students fired questions at me - easy ones
like "What do you like about Turkey?"
and even "Do you have a darling?" and
then harder ones for me to answer: "What
do you think of war with Afghanistan?" and
"What differences between England and Turkey?".
Some of my answers were a bit messy and complicated,
but I hope they understood what I was trying to
After the lesson (they were so keen to talk to
me that the class stayed through their break!),
I sat in the staff canteen drinking çay
with Recai and talked about many things - my journey,
the Turkish education system and politics and
also his own poetry - examples of which he uses
in his classes. He showed me his own little anthology,
which included cleverly written short poems, including
my personal favourite - "I hate Sundays"
- with the line - "Love is to love what your
lover loves". I liked Recai's refreshing
attitude to teaching a language, so often absent
back in British schools. Instead of just using
textbooks, he also used literature (this term,
Oscar Wilde, next term, George Orwell) and poetry
to add interest to the lessons.
So thank you once again, Recai and the class,
and I hope you all continue to learn English with
the same enthusiasm you showed in our lesson.
Keep in touch!