On the day that we are finaly leaving Göreme National Park and Cappadocia, we are in Ürgüp and get invited inside a carpet shop for some tea. The employee insists we stay longer to meet his Canadian friend Deborah. Originally from Edmonton and now relocated to Vancouver Island, she has had a love affair with Turkey since 1977 when she came through on a London-Kathmandu bus journey. Since then, she has come back often, even taking guests on very intimate and adventurous tours. Lunch is served on the second floor of the carpet shop, then more tea. Deborah patiently teaches us some key Turkish rudiments and time flies. The petite Canadian offers to put us up for the night at the hotel where she‘s been staying for several weeks. Although we are eager to ride, there is nowhere to go tonight and her company is so rich and warm. Why not?

  • Volcanic moonscape. After 6 years spent amongst the active volcanoes of the Pacific Ring of Fire, Pierre is feeling right at home in Cappadocia!
  • In a secluded cul-de-sac we arrive at the Secret Garden. Pasabaği.
  • Slickrock riding! Pasabaği
  • Find your way out of the labyrinth! Somewhere between Göreme and the Red Valley.
  • It looks inhospitable but the mineral-rich soil has made Cappadocia one of Anatolia's best grape growing region. Pigeon Valley.
  • Cones, pillars, mushrooms and fairy chimneys became dwellings for Cappadocians, starting almost 4,000 years ago! Pigeon Valley.
  • Erosion by air and water, the creators of one of the planet's most striking landscape is also responsible for its deterioration.Pigeon Valley.
  • The soft volcanic rock, tuff, got eaten away by erosion over time, leaving only the most dense elements. Pigeon Valley.
  • Medieval orthodox Christian monks carved chappels in the soft volcanic rock and decorated them with Byzantine frescoes. Göreme Valley Open-Air Museum.
  • The region became a place of refuge for early Christians. Monasteries and churches were carved by monks connected by an extensive network of tunnels. Göreme Valley Open-Air Museum.
  • Dwellings, troglodyte villages and underground cities lay hidden in many nooks and corners of this surreal area. Göreme.
  • Sometimes described as phallic-looking, the pillars of Love Valley stand guard.
  • Leaving the promontory in Uçhisar and heading to Göreme. Love Valley.
  • Trogodlyte living room at Les Maisons de Cappadoce! Uçhisar.
  • Kismet is the village mascot. Uçhisar.
  • Millions of years ago volcanoes--including Erciyes Dağ (3916 m)--spewed tens of metres of ash on this part of Anatolia. The ash solidified in a soft volcanic rock called tuff. Erosion did the rest to create a spectacular landscape. View from our Studio LePont at Les Maisons de Cappadoce! Uçhisar.

Cappadocia slideshow

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Since Istanbul we have felt bogged down by short days, cold weather and mechanical problems, but since reaching Cappadocia, a 40 square km area between Avanos and Ürgüp, we have almost come to a stand still with our 6-month old laptop computer slowly dying an early death. Who knew that IT had become as important as a bicycle on a bicycle journey! For six days at Les Maisons de Cappadoce, in Uçhisar, we backed up data, restored the system to manufacturer’s settings and wrote between crashes. Two technicians from Nevşehir agreed we had a hardware problem and should send the computer to Istanbul for warranty repair, which we have just done on the morning we meet Deborah in Ürgüp.

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In many cultures around the Mediterrranean Sea the “evil eye” can be given to a person by a malevolent glare, causing misfortune or injury. This is why you need a nazar boncuğu  to protect yourself. The eye-shaped amulet hangs in homes, shops, cars and from my handlebar bag! Ürgüp, Nevşehir Province, Turkey.
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Thank you Deborah for an over-the-top night at the hotel! Ürgüp, Nevşehir Province, Turkey.

We have been in the region long enough to make friends, bump into people we know on the street and get offered a loaned laptop for free! The repair will take 2 or 3 weeks, so we arrange for our computer to be returned to a tour agency in Alanya, hundreds of kilometres away, on the Mediterranean Coast. Now we just need to ride towards it and the Yörük nomads, whom we are expecting to find at their winter havens along the coast.

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“Can’t go this way Mister, the road to the church is closed!” O.K. This is a rock-cut church we will not see. Mustafapaşa, Nevşehir Province, Turkey.
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Layers of volcanic ash covered the Cappadocia region millions of years ago. Slowly erosion revealed and created a unıque moon-like landscape. Mustafapasa, Nevşehir Province, Turkey.
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Getting warned about the nasty weather coming soon. Quintessential Anatolia picture. Road D765, Niğde Province, Turkey.

The weather forecast predicts cold and snow but we hit the road and climb out of Cappadocia’s eroded hole and up to a windy plateau. Using gas stations and a cheap hotel in Derınkuyu as nightly pit stops we arrive in 1,200 metre-high Niğde in a blizzard. The predicted cold wave across the region, from Turkey to Jordan, is starting tonight, twenty degrees below zero are expected. We dig into our “extreme climate emergency fund” and check-in at a central hotel.

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Gas station as refuge for the night. Aktaş, Niğde Province, Turkey.
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Gas stations are the obvious toilet stops on the road. In Turkey, it quickly turns into a hot tea break…many times a day. More severe warnings regarding the cold wave sweeping the region. Niğde, Niğde Province, Turkey.

There has been some kind of shooting in Paris”, Pierre says as I am unpacking our slushcovered panniers. Then we turn the television on and switch it to Al Jazeera English. There we stay for four nights, writing a short assignment for upcomıng tourıng portal pannier.cc and walking down to the breakfast buffet every morning, but mostly we are half naked in our over-heated room listening of distant deaths and catastrophes, of Syrian refugees dying in the cold weather. It is a strange world we live in, a hopeless one if you watch news channels.

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Calm after the storm! On our way over the Niğde Massif. Niğde Province, Turkey.

Once we emerge from our hide-out we head eastward over the Niğde Massif, to Çamardi and the craggy Anti-Taurus Mountains. The range, connected to the Taurus Mountains is pierced by a narrow gorge called in antiquity the Cilician Gates. The ancient pathway has been the link to and from the Mediterranean Coast and the Anatolian plateau for Alexander the Great, the Romans, Mongols, the Crusaders and Saint Paul. Wanting to stay away from Highway E90, and sticking to the smaller D750, we miss the Gates entirely but climb to 1375 metre-high Kandilsirti pass and down through pine forests to mandarine and olive groves. Finaly we roll into the city of Tarsus where Elif is waiting for us.

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Winter tires mandatory! We have it all covered with some brand-new Michelin 2.35” Wild Grip’R. Niğde Province, Turkey.
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Snowed-in village at 2,000 metres of altitude. Özyurt, Niğde Province, Turkey.
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The omnipresent kangal and its metal necklace. The Anatolian shepherd dog is an old breed working in the region for thousands of years, protecting the vulnerable sheep from wolves and bears. A free roaming, independent and forceful dog. Cyclists best friend? Not exactly. Özyurt, Niğde Province, Turkey.
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Setting out on the road in the morning after a visit from the mayor in our haven for the night: the municipal hall. Watch your step, iced cleats are slippery! Özyurt, Niğde Province, Turkey.
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Winter cowboys. Üçhkapili, Niğde Province, Turkey
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The precipitous Anti-Taurus Mountains. Çamardi, Niğde Province, Turkey.
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On our way to the Kandilsirti Pass and the Mediterranean Sea…winter is over! Pozanti, Adana Province, Turkey.
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At the pass we meet Nevzat, Emine and Elif and are invited to visit them in Tarsus tomorrow. Kandilsirti Pass, Adana Province, Turkey.

The seventeen year old young woman is keen to practice the English she has been studying and takes us as her “guests” for a walk. We are swerving around people on the busy streets, our cleats slipping on the ceramic sidewalk as she joyfully leads us to visit her sister Emine at work at a downtown cosmetic retailer, from where we carry on to St.Paul’s well, the Kirkkasik covered market and Cleopatra’s Gate, a mortar gate formely part of the wall surrounding the city. When Tarsus was the Roman capital of Cilicia, Mark Anthony  allegedly allied himself with Cleopatra here. Exciting stuff.

Next, Elif takes us to Tarsu, the city’s largest shopping center! Bright lights, city folks and dinner at the food court all make for a surreal experience! After a late-night milkshake at a cafe with Emine and her fiance Nevzat we go directly to bed because they are taking us to breakfast in a few hours!

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Emine and Nevsat being wonderful hosts during a “traditional” Yörük brunch. Tarsus, Mersin Province, Turkey.

The girls say they are part Yörük, we heard that from a few people already. We are looking for the Yörük that remain semi-nomadic, spending the summers with their animals up in the high mountains under tents and winter down in villages by the coast. Apparently they are a little bit more to the west of where we are, a little more west, a little more….

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Here is a device we have not seen on the Anatolian plateau. But what is it? A recycling machine or a dog feeding apparatus? Mersin, Mersin Province,Turkey.
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Sunday afternoon at the Med beach. Ayaş, Mersin Province, Turkey.
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Turkey ıs forever a crossroads, now the anteroom to a safer life for many Syrian refugees we meet along the coast. Kizkalesi, Mersin Province, Turkey.


Return journey amongst the Yörük! (Silifke, Turkey - KM 8,935)
Cappadocia calling! (Uçhisar, Turkey - KM 7,875)


  1. And now to…where? Hope we are going to see your route across Cyprus!

  2. Hope you spent a cosy night in the Gazipasa ogretmenevi. Good luck on the rest of your journey. All the best from the green oasis cafe.

  3. Deborah Green

    Hi , now back home on Van. Isle. slipped in front of carpet store, broke humerus in 3 places.. Have told many people about you but only now have the time to follow you. It was a great pleasure to meet you. It’s not the destination, it’s the journey. Hugs from Deborah

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