The plan for this morning was simple – 07:15am wake up and breakfast, 08:30am call the local BMW dealer re spare parts for the bike (oil filter and crush washer), 09:00am attend local BMW dealer and purchase or order spare parts, 10:00am attend Indian Embassy and apply for visas, 11:00am return to Best Western Otel 2000 and pack bike ready for the 300km ride south to Goreme & Cappadocia.
As usual however, not everything goes exactly according to plan. No one was answering the phone at the local – Cankaya – BMW shop so we jumped into a taxi after showing four different people the address I wanted to go to, and we still got taken to a completely different BMW location – BMW Balgat – but that worked out in our favour as we met the very helpful Brock who (not only speaks great English after living in the USA for 12 years but also) helped order the parts I required (I need to do an oil change in Iran and you can’t get BMW parts there). Brock was extremely helpful and courteous – I’m sure spare parts ordering aren’t his job, but he was very helpful and efficient. Have I mentioned how helpful Brock was?
We then took a taxi to the Indian Embassy, waited thirty minutes for them to open, and then waited another 60 seconds to get our second Indian-visa knock-back. What is it with India? Once again we were told to apply for the electronic visa-on-arrival – even though my reading of their website suggests that VOA is only valid if you enter India at one of nine stated airports – and given that we’ll be entering overland from Pakistan via the Wagah-Attari border crossing – I’m not so sure VOA will be accepted. Nevertheless we picked up our paperwork and passports sans Indian visa stamps and toddled off to get a taxi back to our hotel.
On the upside we were loaded up and ready to depart the Best Western at 11:00am – about an hour earlier than anticipated. We said farewell to Bora – manager of the hotel – as he’d provided great personal assistance as had all of his staff, and then we were off into the push and shove of Ankara’s traffic. We picked up a major road heading of town and I spotted BMW Balgat where Brock had assisted us with ordering our spare parts a couple of hours earlier so we popped in to see if they were ready for collection – which they weren’t – so we headed off after arranging to pick them up on Wednesday afternoon or Thursday morning before they close for the upcoming religious festival.
The ride down to Goreme was very pleasant – cruising on quiet country roads through the rolling farmlands on 110kmh – no interest in chatting to the Polis today – and a mild 24 degree ambient temperature made for a relaxing ride, for a lot of the way if not all of the way. As usual I’d looked for a scenic alternative to the main road and once I’d found the start of this bypass we had a very bumpy and pot-holed ride for a good stretch before we rejoined the main road. I’m sure Karen loves these scenic diversions as she stops talking to me whenever we venture down them, engrossed I’m sure in the spectacular beauty of the countryside we are passing through.
This rural backroad passed through a number of small villages, collections of mud-brick houses that hark back to a much earlier period in time, sporadically populated with shawled women who didn’t flinch a muscle as we waved to them, but there’s always someone ready to wave back and that was the old gentleman sitting on a bench opposite the small cemetery just around the corner.
Before we went venturing down our scenic bypass we’d gone venturing off the main road through a large town – Kirsehir – in search of lunch. A loop along the main street showed how busy the town centre was but didn’t reveal any obvious lunch spots, so we rejoined the main road and peeled off a fraction later at a servo to refuel and get a snack. Here we met a bunch of servo attendents who were very friendly, and between them could scrape up enough English for us all to have an entertaining chat whilst we munched on our fresh bread rolls. The guys were very helpful and it was a pleasure to spend a bit of time with them, explaining our plans and showing them our route so far by pointing to the flags on Karen’s pannier.
Approaching Goreme we started to see the earth chimneys and other pointy-looking things that are synonymous with this area. We entered the touristic village of Goreme and struggled a bit to locate our accommodation – streets seem to branch and fork at times and each fork retains the street name, but a local man out walking with his son & puppy showed us the way, and a short while later we were unpacking our gear into our cave-like room.
After a quick shower we wandered the short distance into the town centre and had an early dinner at the Anatolyian Kitchen. We have an 03:50am wake-up tomorrow morning for our balloon flight so tonight will be an early night. I’ve been dreaming about flying over Cappadocia in a balloon ever since I first saw video of this amazing spectacle, and I can’t wait to experience it first-hand 🙂