After an uneventful border crossing, we arrived in our 18th country, and the last one (for the moment) in Asia – Turkey. The cold weather that we suffered through in Northern Iran had followed us, but at least now the skies were clear. Probably the biggest sight (literally and metaphorically) near the border is Mt Ararat, where Noah’s Ark made landfall. The top is shrouded in clouds normally, but peeks through occasionally.
The roads were in great condition, with minimal traffic, and wound their way through rolling pastures and the odd shallow canyon.
The first major town we stopped at was Erzurum, a large army and university centre. As a regional centre through the Ottoman Empire, there’s still quite a bit of history around. We passed an Ottoman-style medressa, quite a change from the Central Asian / Iranian architecture we’ve been used to for a while – although there are a few familiar features.
Inside, the central hall was lit by an overhead skylight, while the doors to the surrounding rooms were tiny!
It was interesting to see that even this close to Europe, horse and cart was still a popular mode of transport – albeit much rarer than many other places we’ve been.
At the top of the hill in the centre of town, like in many medieval towns, stands the fort.
Incorporated into the walls is the local clock tower, giving great views back over the town.
We hit the road again, and pretty much kept blasting for the next thousand kilometres – winter was coming, and we were starting to feel the pressure of a deadline of Europe by Christmas.
We found a great little campsite a few kilometres off the main road, finding a patch of green around the only tree for several kilometres.
The other reason for our rush was our desire to see our destination – Cappadocia. We saw the first low range of hills from a few dozen kilometres away, and started passing through the region’s wineries.
When we saw the first of the fairy chimneys, the incredible rock formation that’s one of the many reasons this area is world-famous, we had to stop and get a few pictures.
With a taste of what was to come, we settled in to the central hub town of Goreme to explore.