Monday, March 27, 2006


The night bus dropped me off in the 'otogar' (bus station) in Aksaray at 6:30am. I had surprised myself by sleeping a little on the bus, quite something given the jarring roads.

After finding myself breakfast I road towards the Ihlara valley. The countryside was markedly different from that left behind. It was much less green & very dusty, almost desert-like. The rocks of th hills that looked very soft, having deep valleys with steep sides cut into them by tiny rivers. During the bus ride I'd gained quite some altitude & now was at 1100m. There seemed to be a lot more unused space. Buildings were on big lots.

I arrived in Selime, where I saw the first troglodite dwellings that this area is famous for. The soft rock of the valley sides had been chiselled over the centuries & supplimented with above ground houses made of stone. There was a monastery cut into the hillside but I didn't visit it.

A couple of kilometres down the road was the small village of Belisirma. It was situated at the valley floor at a point where the valley was quite narrow & steep-sided. The main road was high on the ridge above & consequently the village was very quiet & peaceful. There was a walk along the valley floor, which wasn't accessible by road, that took in a number of churches that had been cut into the side of the rock. They were built centuries ago & were long abandoned. Some had frescos or decorations. They & the setting were stunning.

That evening I stayed at a campsite behind a river-side restaurant. I was the only tourist staying in the village.

I cycled 49km in 3 hours & 27 minutes

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