We woke to a silent world – it had snowed again! This was the fourth day of snowfall in Cappadocia and each morning the blanket of snow became thicker and icier.
Although we were very warm inside the camper, outside was a different story – it was minus six degrees Celsius in Göreme and our home on wheels looked more like a odd shaped snowball than a mighty van!
We had to work hard to open the door to get outside as a snowplough had been along earlier and pushed a great wedge of icy snow against the side of the van.
Once out, we trudged up the hill (with a bit of slipping and sliding) to Jan and Jack’s cave hotel for another delicious Turkish breakfast.
The view of Göreme from their terrace would have been stunning regardless of the snow but with the thick layer of sparkling white sprinkled over the cave dwellings it looked truly magical.
When we got back to the van we realised that we were pretty stuck. Snow was banked up against our wheels and it looked pretty unlikely that we’d be able to get out.
Fortunately we had thought to buy a spade in Konya where we first encountered snow. Named “Jack’s shovel” as he’d been the one to find it (in heroic fashion of course) it was put to good use against the ice and snow. Another one was borrowed from a local hotel and even with two shovels going hard, we were still unable to get the van going .
We were wondering if we would be stuck there until the snow melted! With the temperatures predicted to go down to minus 14 degrees Celsius that night and minus 15 the following day/night we were becoming a little anxious about the welfare of our camper van. It really wasn’t built for these arctic conditions. The windscreen wash was already frozen and that morning we had discovered we couldn’t get rid of our waste water as the emptying mechanism had frozen solid too.
After some time of trying to dig our way out a friendly local stopped to help out. Somehow he managed to get the attention of a young snow plough driver who sped up to us, did a couple of balletic “doughnuts” in the snow and almost in one movement, gracefully jumped off his snowplough and attached a strap to the rear underside of the van. Sadly, there are no photos of this gallant rescue!
Before Jonathan had time to release the handbrake our young rescuer hauled the camper out of the snow – it popped out like a cork from a bottle!
We made the decision to leave the snowy wilds of Cappadocia and head for the warmer coastal climes. Although there were still more sights we wanted to visit we’d managed to see the main highlights and it just wasn’t worth risking anything else going wrong with the van.
We set off at about 11.30 and discovered that the roads were even worse than they had been on the way there. The route out of Goreme had some quite steep hills with severe bends in places. We were a little anxious that we would not manage to negotiate these before getting to the main highway which we hoped would be a little bit more manageable. Jonathan took it very carefully and fortunately we managed the obstacles with nothing untoward happening.
Once we hit the main road the driving was a little easier for a while but then we would come across parts that hadn’t been cleared or recently gritted and it started to feel very precarious once again. We inched our way forward just concentrating on making slow and steady progress.
We stopped for a rest and some lunch in a roadside restaurant with a lovely warm log burning stove.
Continuing our journey we admired the beautiful snow scenes but as we made our way down the mountain range, the windscreen wash remained frozen and the poor visibility contributed to the “extreme” driving conditions. We cheered with relief every time it became one degree warmer!
Soon the sun became lower in the sky and we watched the dying rays turn the mountain ranges a beautiful luminous rosy pink and orange.
We arrived in Side, a coastal town on the southern Mediterranean coast of Turkey, pretty exhausted. As it had been a very tiring day Jonathan and I decided we would have a night in a hotel so we could enjoy a longer shower than normal and be able to roll out of bed for breakfast in the dining room.
Jan and Jack found a place to stay in the “old town” which sounded interesting but when we arrived to the entrance of the old town we were told we weren’t allowed to drive the van in there! By this time it was dark and we very tired and hungry.
Fortunately we quickly found a massive car park nearby where we could leave the van overnight. To our relief there was a taxi rank in one corner and we all piled into a cab. We told the driver the name of our hotel and he took us to a place that wasn’t even in the old city and looked very closed!
Eventually we managed to convey to him that where we were staying was within the old city. We entered via the gate we had tried to go through earlier and found ourselves driving through an ancient city gate with ghostly ruins looming in the dark.
We were soon out of the ancient city and right in the village near the harbour but our driver seemed to be completely lost. He sped around the deathly quiet streets as though he was a race leader in the Monte Carlo Rally.
We were trying to navigate using Google Maps but the driver was going so fast that we kept missing turnings. It was late, it was dark, we were hungry and tired and if it hadn’t been for sharp eyed Jan catching sight of the name of our hotel I think the driver’s days would have been limited!
Even though it was warmer down by the coast than in the mountains, it was still bitterly cold. There had been a fall of snow that day – the first in the area for many years.
Thank goodness there was somewhere open for dinner a short walk away – probably wasn’t the best meal we’ve had and it was expensive by Turkish standards but we were grateful nonetheless.
Unfortunately the reversed cycle air conditioning in our room was less than functional and our bed (which we had to make) had very few coverings. As a consequence we shivered all night! If the van hadn’t been parked such a long way away we would have gone back to enjoy its wonderful heating!
We woke up feeling a little grumpy but soon our moods were lifted by the most marvellous breakfast at a restaurant close to the small fishing boat harbour.
After stuffing ourselves with food (eggs, pastries, pizza, pancakes, salad, olives, cheese, fruit and lashings of bread with every jam, preserve and spread you can think of) we waddled around the harbour wall, admiring the beautiful fishing boats and watching the fishermen mend their nets.
Later we walked to the edge of the village to catch a taxi. Beyond the taxi rank we could see archeological remains and were tempted to stay longer and wander round the ruins. However, by that time we had organised a taxi so decided to keep that for another day.