No one will look at these photos and say, “wow, what a beautiful route.” It satisfied two of our important criteria — close to Antalya and high (in a failed attempt to get away from the heat).
In mid-August Özgür, Tuğçe, Ferda, and I loaded our bicycles and gear into Özgür’s caravan and drove up to his mother’s summer house in Narpızlı Yaylası at about 1500m. We started our four-day loop the next morning.
Over the years I’ve watched Erzurum lose its edgy soul in the name of urban renewal/clean up/gentrification. The process seems fairly complete at this point. This area to the south of the fortress (kale):
Artvin is Turkey’s most beautiful province (il). For Ferda’s parents first time in eastern Turkey we decided to take them to some places we had been before, places we knew we liked and were excited to visit again. Previously we’d traveled here by bicycle. This time we rented a car which of course made the trip very different.
The drive through Kars and Ardahan is rather flat, perhaps rolling hills. We had barely crossed the provincial border when we were treated to a view like this:
Those valleys behind Ferda and her parents in that photo is where you find Tamara Kilisesi, Pona Alabalık, Arsiyan, and other places I described in this post.
About an hour later we took a nice break at Laşet above the village of Kocabey.
If you read my blog about Kars and Ani from the start of our bicycle tour two years ago, you can skip this one. We’re in the same places. I will, however, try to avoid describing stuff we’ve done before (eating goose, enjoying the architecture) and see if I can find something new.
This mosque complex in the center of the city is new.
The young Kurdish guy working at our hotel said a new mosque is the last thing Kars needs. All the (Turkish sunni) worshipers in Kars can’t fill a single small mosque, he joked.
As I wrote before, one of the things I like about Kars is its ethnic diversity. Some of the various groups include terekeme, Azeri, Alevi, yerli (which I think means Sunni Turkish (Turkey’s majority group) in this context), Kurdish, and malakan.
One day when Ferda’s father and I were checking out the Russian (with Armenian stonework) Aleksandr Nevski Kilisesi (now a mosque),