We woke early to complete peace. As the first brew went on, the sun rose over the lake, the line of clouds causing shafts of light reminiscent of resurrection paintings, glinting on the water.
Many people find it difficult to understand why we like camping – and wild camping is something totally incomprehensible – but this little campsite is just why we do it. A spot with views of snow capped mountains and sunrise over the lake with complete peace just cannot be found in any hotel. Being able to stop when we like – or at least when we can find a flat piece of ground and access to water – and not have to battle on to the next to the next town has its benefits. Being (nearly) completely self sufficient feels like real freedom compared to our usually ordered life. So after leisurely drinking tea whilst watching the sun get higher and packing up, we were treated to an hour and a half of perfect cycling. The sun came out and the little road wound round the edge of the lake. The water showed extraordinary colours of turquoise and aquamarine. A huge variety of birds flew up from reed beds as we passed by – including white, black and grey storks and various birds of prey that we could not identify. And in all that time we saw less than half a dozen vehicles. We felt we just had to suck it up and savour the experience.
However, days are often variable and the next section turned drizzly and the road was not very interesting. We got a bit cold and our legs were tired from the previous day. We pressed on for 50km to the lakeside town of Beysehir and in all that time we didn’t pass a tea shop. We did not think that was possible in Turkey – but part of the reason was that the new road by-passed various villages. There are lots of new roads in Turkey – they are investing big time in travel infrastructure as we have seen new rail lines as well. It means our maps are often inaccurate and we spend periods cycling along pre-tarmac roads which are hard on the bikes (and hard on us)
In the town of Beysehir we found a pleasant restaurant and decided to have a proper meal and spend an hour recuperating. Whilst we were in the street David was stopped by a woman who had lived in the town for 12 years but grew up in Doncaster. It was strange to hear a south Yorkshire accent in Turkey. She said – no doubt accurately – that she was the only English person in the town and probably in the wider area. She said that Germans and Norwegians came to see the famous mosque, and even the occasional person from the US, but never any English. She had married a Turk in England and moved over permanently with him. She had spotted the small Union Jacks on our flags and came to say hello – which was great. She strongly recommended we see Esrefoglu Camii and gave us directions.
We then headed to Esrefoglu Camii – a mosque built in 1297 – so I think that counts as pretty old. It was a truly amazing building and very well preserved. The inside is wooden with wooden columns and capitals. The entrance is of carved stone and the inner entrance beautifully tiled. It was an experience to see it and felt very simple and peaceful.
Eventually it was time to move on from Beysehir and away from the lake. We took a cut through road to the more minor road to Konya which turned out to be 15km of bone rattling road which was being prepared for tarmac surfacing but apart from one small stretch had none! At last we reached the main road – only to find that the road that was marked on our maps as a minor scenic road was a new big dual carriageway! Well sometimes these things happen but it was a bit of a disappointment! We battled against the wind then up to a big climb. By now we wondering where we would be able to get off the fenced dual carriageway to camp. From the top of the climb there were some road works and we were able to coast down the newly paved side that wasn’t yet open to traffic and at the bottom there was a little track leading to a river, a little bridge and a beautifully placed flat camping spot! We went for it! Not quite as idyllic as last night as although the setting is lovely we are accompanied by the roar of traffic but you can’t always have the perfect spot!
We set up camp, cooked and then as I was washing up the cows came by – with some taking a close interest in our food bag. I chased around shooing them away to the amusement of the farmer (who had sort of warned me, I think. Then his “boy” came up at the rear and was highly amused to see us camping in his field (no permission of course because there was no one to ask). We exchanged simple words and took his photo – showing him on the camera to his great delight.