By the time darkness fell, we still hadn’t managed to find a suitable place for our camp, but there had hardly been any such place on the whole way from Cappadocia to the north of Turkey. The landscape still looked the same – slopes with little trees, houses in small groups – mostly new 5 to 10-storey buildings. The sameness of the landscape probably added some fuel to my sickness caused by the long drive toward the Georgian border.
Those days Balti was reading an old book about two guys trying to set a new World record for the fastest drive from Tierra del Fuego to Alaska in a pickup truck. In a way this kind of living seemed appealing to me while reading that book, turning it into practice I realized what it was really about – just living in a car on the highway. Btw, the book about the Pan-American Highway mentioned another guy, travelling the same route but on horseback, it took him 20 years to accomplish the task (link).
Day 19, filled with driving, made me happy we omitted the Van Lake in the south-east – I actually heard a lot of nice things about this former Armenian-populated region. But going there would mean an extra 500 km – a minimum one day of extra driving! Once in northern Turkey, a few decisions were still to be made concerning what we do and where we go. I really wanted to see the ruins of Ani – also a former Armenian region, quite ancient at that and the mountains further North. Each destination involved a big deal of driving – either to the south or to the north. Both Ani and the mountains suggested around 200 km of extra driving – around 2 hours one way, but away from the main roads the time spent driving could be multiplied by 2. Saying that I should mention that
the roads are generally quite good in Turkey and new ones were being built everywhere.
It was the top of a mountain behind Tortum which had a great view, where we stayed for the night on day 19. The proximity to the northern mountains finally changes the landscape and offered better shelter for the night. We drove up a hill, taking a small unpaved road. We were almost sure that with the sun already setting nobody would be likely to come by. Strangely it turned out that there was quite a bit of traffic (relatively). It looks like
the evening hours are the most active time of the day for the Turks.
And then it is so quiet in the morning. We thought of the hotel we stayed at in Istanbul – they didn’t even serve breakfast until 8:00. At the reception, we found a sheet of paper with the request to let the staff know if an early checkout – before 8:00 – is required. Finally, I had found a country where the idea of what the night and morning hours should be is so close to mine! Love Turkey!