Berlin to Georgia – Day 16: From Istanbul to Cappadocia

That day we discovered a perfect place to camp in a valley of fairy chimneys! But it was a long way to get there. We left Istanbul at 8 am and at around 6 pm and 750 km behind us we reached the Ilhara valley in Cappadocia.

I once heard from a friend who hitchhiked from Lake Van to Istanbul that driving is not very spectacular in this country. On both sides there were yellowish slopes, sometimes a bundle of multistoried houses literally appeared in the middle of nowhere, they reminded me of oases – but not for their beauty or even as a symbol of a place to rest for the wary, thirsty travelers, but for the strange contrast of these sparkles of civilization and the desert around.

In Cappadocia, the landscape slowly got livelier. The first place on the road that offered some sightseeing was the Selime cave monastery, however, it was already getting dark and we drove further so as not to be under pressure while looking for a place to stay for the night. The village of Belisirma which comes next is situated in the river valley so we thought that it may be a good option for a campsite. The first thing one sees when entering the village is the restaurants which are placed in the river itself – every table was like an island in the water. The choice of dishes was rather decent in these restaurants, portions on other people’s tables were huge. The prices for the main courses were something like 20–25TL – 5–6 EUR. However, we may only judge from seeing – even having made arrangements with an owner of one of the restaurants for supper and camping on its grounds we never came back because

we found perfection in the world of campsites for Land Rovers.

But here is the full story: On the property of these river restaurants, one may pitch a tent (10tl) or even sleep on one the river islands (15tl). The owners of the eateries approach and ask you, if you would like to dine or if you are looking for a place to sleep. One restaurant owner was especially friendly, he spoke about his bride, he served us some tea (even though we kept refusing) and we parted having promised to come back. But then we drove a bit further to the shop and took another road toward the river a bit further north and discovered a beautiful green valley. The road down the hill offered our Land Rover one of the few chances to show off its capabilities. Even walking the steep road down looked tricky, very fine sand literally made one’s feet drown. The dust formed a steady cloud behind us but within less than 5 minutes we were in the willow valley. Only a feeling of guilt for not keeping our word to the friendly restaurant owner put a small shadow on our excitement. In the end, we had a tea without paying for it.

Our campsite for the night
Our campsite for the night
Ilhara valley
Ilhara valley

Having not kept our appointment with the restaurant owner and having made no shopping for dinner and breakfast we were cut off from supplies. There are times when Gnu is stuffed with all kinds of snacks, the snacks get fried under the southern sun and we are pressured into stuffing ourselves with slightly rotten peaches and stinky cheese. And there are days like today when our Gnu is as empty as our bellies are. The next day, we explored the beautiful valley on the legs trembling from hunger!

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