Friday, 31 May 2013

The Silk Road.......next stop Samarkand

30.05.2013
Leaving Goreme for a short leg to Sultanhani for one night. Most people required revictualling and we will not be passing much in the way of civilisation for a couple of days so first stop was the Kipa hypermarket at Nevsehhir (apparently a  Tesco  operation). As these don't appear to open until 10.00  (now confirmed) a small convoy decamped at 09.30 and by following the leader managed to miss the entrance and cause chaos by performing a mass u-turn across the dual carriageway. This was then exacerbated by Ken& Malc heading down a slip road to the underground carpark before realising there was no way out and max. height was 2.5mts......eventually we all parked in a service road
and left Pat on guard duty whilst we attempted, yet again, to find the supermarket in a shopping mall.
The big problem though was the discovery that they didn't sell alcohol.....although Bob asking for pork chops on the butchery counter nearly started another religious war....oops. To find beer, we had to traipse round to the back of the mall where it felt like dirty old men in macs buying porn trying to get beer. (Note local brew is Efes @ 5%   and costs 4 lira per 500ml can or about £3 a litre which is quite expensive but there is no competition. )
So , on the (definitely in need of repair) road across the plains , hot & dusty, passing camps of nomads-black tents are Kurds, white or blue are Romani and the ever present shepherd with his flock. Saw  our first Caravanserai, the Silk Roads equivalent of a motorway services for camel trains and stopping, found that it had been restored and was now used as a feeding station for modern travellers. Built in 1230, these places were safe places to  feed,water and bed the camel trains and were a days camel walk apart ( 35km I am informed). Some charged, others were free, provided by rulers who saw the benefits of trading routes passing through their lands. So we had 2 glasses of tea for about 80p and reclined on cushions in the cool of the great stone arched roof.
Our nights destination, the campsite at Sultanhani, itself an oasis from the dust of Cappodacia was in an orchard and very pleasant. We walked into the very dismal,dusty,town with a group to find the Caravanserai , which is supposedly the largest & best preserved, and symbolically marks the start of the Silk Road as routes from the coasts to the north, south and west converged here to begin the 4000 mile trek to Samarkand where an identical building marked the end. It was built by Sultan Hani, was free to use and had, within its massive walls, a summer courtyard, winter covered quarters and a small mosque.. outside the town is grim, little to be had from the handful of coaches who pass through for a brief visit as there's  nothing else to offer.....not even a bar serving alcohol so a cold beer's out of the question. In the evening we joined Ken/Jackie/Malc/
Christine/Alan & Pat for a meal cooked by the site owners wife. Very Turkish and a very pleasant evening.......note: carpet shops abound and even the site owner tries to sell  some by spreading them all over grass. We passed shops of people stitching rugs and sewing carpets but as soon as you look at one you are besieged by the family trying to get you into the shop....too much hard sell, need to back off, everyone agrees.

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