We woke up well rested in our heated room in the mosque in Utzukuyu. Soon Hassan appeared with some warm water, to wash our hands and face. Afterwards. he set up a table cloth on the floor and put a tray with breakfast on top. We were kneeling on the floor, with the table cloth on our knees, eating peynir (cheese), ceytin (olives), ekmek (bread), fried potatoes and cherry jam – delicious. We thanked Hassan for his kind hospitality and mouthwatering food. Then it was time to say goodbye and to jump back on the bike. The sun was hiding behind the clouds, the world surrounding us covered in frost and bitterly cold. The sun’s absence was ever present, my toes and hands were stiff and painful. Once again I thanked the universe for my bike mits and rain gaiters. Soon we were immersed in fog. Ice was covering our windbreakers. After an hour of riding, we reached a village and felt the need for some warmth. We asked a group of men for cay, which then pointed us to the tea house. In the tea house we slurped on sugary Nescafé, while warming our hands and toes on the oven. When we took our leave, the owner refused to take money from us – Tesekkürler!
Back on the bike I put my balaclava on, as my head was freezing before. Soon we were once again immersed in fog, the atmosphere was eerie, barely visible plains were surrounding us. Sparkling ice crystals coating the bushes lining the road. Soon we reached the last village before lake Tuzu, here we were hoping to find a restaurant for a hot soup or at least some warm shelter to have lunch and drink cay.
The village however was small and deserted and the hope to find a restaurant here, vanished. When we heard voices in a house, next to us, we decided to ask the locals for a tea house or restaurant. ‘Yok ’ they said – no cay, no restaurant. Suddenly however they waved us into their house, which we thankfully accepted. The warmth of the living room was soothing our souls. The women prepared food for us, while the two men were chatting to us, in German and English. We then were served an unbelievable mouthwatering lunch: spinach pie, olives, omelette, bread, yogurt, cheese and of course endless glasses of cay. I was in disbelief of the amount of kindness we encountered today. So many people have shared, food, warmth and drink with us – it was heartwarming. We then said our farewells to our dear hosts and jumped back on the bike.
Leaving the warmth of the living room behind was arduous, the temperature read -2 degree. But there was nothing else to do, than pushing the pedals. While getting closer and closer to the lake, I imagined the last couple of days without company. I had no doubt I could have done it by myself, but I also was glad I had company in these threatening temperatures. When arriving at the lake, we were in luck, as the fog had submerged. The road led through the salt lake, immersing us in an otherworldly atmosphere. Shades of grey were dominating the moonscape, a feeling of nothingness arose. While Frazer was filming himself cycling naked across the lake, I tried to keep my hands and toes alive.
Past the lake huge icebergs were everywhere – piled up salt. We cycled through the town and found an area that looked suitable for camping, shortly after. We also scoped out the mosque, as a possible option, unfortunately however, the man did not allow us to sleep in the mosque, instead he showed us where we could camp. There we had some tea and a snack, to revive our spirits. Frazer then walked over, to something that looked like a gym, to check if we could sleep in there. Indeed it was a swimming pool, with a sauna, Turkish bath and a steam room. And once again we were lucky, Alpi, the guy who worked in the pool, invited us inside and on top of that, let us use the amenities free of charge. Lying on the heated bench of the Turkish bath, I was reflecting on the day, reflecting on the many times, we were met with kindness from strangers. People are good! Thank you universe!
It was unclear if we could sleep inside, as Alpi’s supervisor disagreed with us staying there. Alpi however insisted, that it was too cold to sleep outside. We spent the evening chatting to Alpi, eventually I needed some fresh air and maybe some alone time. I found it at the front of the gym, where I met a little kitten, I called pumpkin pie. I spent a long time sitting there, playing, cuddling and journaling. Pumpkin pie was very affectionate and playful and reminded me to my cat Maestro in Australia, which I dearly miss.
And eventually we were able to sleep in the gym, grateful we went to sleep.
So long – hoscakal from Sereflikochisar!
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