Leaving Europe behind (well, once you get beyond Istanbul... feel free to google “East Thrace” if you want to be continentally confused further) and crossing into Asia, the great expanse of Turkey opened up before us. It’s huge... so huge that if you filled Turkey, with turkeys, it would take the entire world over 100 Christmases to eat them all*.
Needless to say, we’d slightly under-estimated its size and diversity. We crossed mountains, travelled through forests, passed expansive lakes, sandy dunescapes and wide salt flats. This country could comfortably fill its own edition of National Geographic, and with pictures to spare.
Charlie’s driving was yet to improve... having orchestrated a slow, soft and intimate embrace between Bluey and a stationary, unsuspecting, Jeep. But giving Bluey a break, we mounted a moped in Cappadocia and Charlie got to show off his skills on two wheels (much more familiar territory!): winding his way through cobbled streets and sandy canyons in search of some decent climbing (which turned out to be an entirely impossible challenge given the sandstone landscape - it was like trying to climb a wall of muesli!).
In an effort to match the diversity of the landscape with our mode of transport, we decided to float up in a hot air balloon to catch the very best views (or, as Rachel would say, Insta fodder) of Cappadocia. Doing so alongside 10s of other balloons was an incredible (and wildly colourful) spectacle.
Back on the open road, and leaving the luxury of a hotel room etched out of a cave/former pigeon roost (much, much nicer than it sounds - I promise!), we increased our journey times and started sleeping (and washing) in lay-bys (we know how to live). This did, however, provide the opportunity to mingle with local farmers who were grazing their flocks away from their villages in the mountains. We were soon welcomed into their tents for chai tea, bread and something intriguingly yellow. The charm of the local people is infectious and Charlie was soon miming the Mongol Rally, country by county.
Leaving Turkey via the old ruins of Ani - a once great city of 1,001 churches, raised to the ground by Mongols and later reduced further by a giant earthquake - this collection of now lonely ruins stands to remind us how the fates of many great cities and empires rise and fall with time... a bit like Bluey’s long-suffering suspension!
Onwards to Georgia!
*made up statistic for analogous effect #fakenews