Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Lakeside at Egirdir

Tuesday 2nd August: Goreme to Egirdir

The view from our room
 Sadly we farewelled the crew at the cave hotel and headed south for the Lake district, and hopefully some cooler temperatures.
More wheatfields, sunflowers, tractors and incomplete highways. A few instantaneous decisions made about which side of a divided highway we should be on! And plenty of Ataturk statues to admire.
We've now decided that Turkey must supply most of Europe with wheat as there seems to be endless expanses of it in central Turkey. Gradually we travelled towards more mountainous country with rocky mountains twice the height of our Alps and totally deserted. Apparently there is plenty of snow for skiing in Winter, and as we made our way through some very impressive passes cut into the sheer rock faces, we saw plenty of signs warning us about ice and suggesting we carry chains. Huge orchards dotted the landscape as we approached the Lake so we're looking forward to sampling the peaches, apricots, apples and strawberries that the the area is famous for.
After a few hours of travelling ( during which we practised our numbers in Turkish in preparation for some serious shopping) we arrived in Egirdir. It's a town of almost 20,000 people located around the lakeside between Lake Egirdir, the second largest lake in Turkey and the sheer cliffs of the mountains. The water is a beautiful aquamarine colour that changes all of the time. We had booked into a mosest pension called Lale Pension on the shores of the lake, and when we were shown the room we have 'the penthouse': the top floor of a four storey building with great views of the lake.
The best feature is that you can swim in the lake, so we found our bathers in the bottom of our bags and plunged in. The water is warmer than Anglesea and we really appreciated the fact that you can swim without fear of hippos and crocodiles! The only downside is that there is no sand and you have to keep your thongs ( or flip-flops as Erin calls them now after being in SA) on to avoid the rocks and pebbles. It was our first swim since we left home so we've been in a couple of times, and today we followed a swim with a sit on one of the Hostel terraces reading our books and relaxing: it's a hard life!
We walked out a causeway which is no wider than a road, but stretche sout into the middle of the lake. We had the local lake bass for dinner at a lakeside restaurant and enjoyed the breeze. It was quite a novelty as there was no breeze to relieve the heat of Goreme so we are very impressed with the cooler temperatures and the breeze. Apparently the local delicacy is freshwater crayfish so we'll keep an eye out for that!
Clearly Ramadan is going to limit the choices in food so we 're going to employ Moira's strategy for ordering food in Namibia - not wasting time perusing a menu but just asking what they actually DO have. It must be very challenging for Muslims to operate restaurants during Ramadan so I guess they limit the choices so they can spend less time preparing food whilst they are fasting. Many of the restaurants and cafes here appear to be closed. It won't be a problem I'm sure: no danger of us starving!
I was woken at about 4am in the morning by someone walking the street and drumming very loudly. It seemed to commence at the local Mosque which is in the next street, so I think it was to remind locals that the fasting was about to commence. The other two didn't hear a thing: half their luck!
Wednesday 3rd August: Egirdir
Ewan is keen to go on a bike ride so we went exploring in the car to see if we could find a route that didn't involve too much steep uphill. It is a challenge finding our way around as Gloria, the GPS, which has the " Streets of Turkey software, doesn't appear to know anything about country roads, so she's been relegated to the glove box in disgrace. The maps provided by the Tourism Ministry have lots of information about every citadel,sport and attraction available, but not much about the actual roads. Needless to say, with our total lack of understanding of Turkish road signs we became hopelessly lost in the middle of the moutains - all very picturesque of course. We ended up in a rocky village where the only inhabitants appeared to be a 10 year old boy and a herd of black goats, neither of whom were much help! Given that we weren't in a 4WD and we had seen no other vehicles for some kilometres we decided to retrace our steps. This gully was very interesting - over decades the rocks had been cleared from the flat sections and they had been recently ploughed for spring sowing. The rocks had been used as the primary building material to construct fences, houses, sheds and roads.
Ewan needed to rest up for his bike ride tomorrow so we had a swim and relax, before strolling into town for more local fish, stuffed eggplant and peppers and more delicacies. there was a young Korean girl wandering around on her own so we adopted her for dinner. She had been to Greece and Turkey travelling on her own, which must be challenging. She seemed pleased to spend some time with us and we walked her back to her hostel, just near ours.

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