Once again I got rolling at the crack of 10:30. I was actually up bright and early and went for a stroll on the beach at 7. I was joined for breakfast by the hotel owner and his friend and we just talked for a long time. The owner had a lot of interesting anecdotes to tell. Traveling is all about meeting people and I am always willing to stop for an interesting conversation. It turns out that this is, after Rarotonga, the second time that former German president Richard von Weizaecker and I share the same taste in hotels in far away places. He always seems to follow up with a thank you letter. I just stay at the places about 30 years later when they are a little rough around the edges.
When I left the sun was shining and I decided to store the waterproof Goretex layer away. My first destination of the day was Yilankale, an Armenian hilltop castle. It was fast going on a four lane tollway and the castle could be seen a few kilometers after the turnoff. I parked the bike and spent some time expploring.
My next destination was the Roman/Byzantine city of Anzarbus. I could see some dark clouds in the distance but was hoping theyĒd be moving out of my way. I arrived at the ancient city gate and was blown away by the view through it. Ruins scattered in fields as far as the eye could see and a hilltop castle. I parked the bike at the side of the road and went to the gate to take pictures. As soon as I got my camera out the flood gates opened. I took refuge under the gate. I was soon joined by a local farmer and a short time later by another farmer. Although I donít speak any Turkish and they didnít speak anything but, we managed to carry on a conversation. We did agree that Atatuerk was a great man, that Germany and Turkey have a good and close relationship, that there is too much rain, which is not good for the crops, and that the castle is beautiful. I kept raining harder and harder and the wind kept shifting and the three of us had to move to different spots under the gate to keep dry. The rain developed into a thunderstorm with lightning striking all around us. After every lightning strike one of the farmers looked to the sky and prayed (I kept hearing Allah again and again). At one point we were huddled into a tiny hole. After about three hours of this we were joined by two totally drenched kids on a bicycle. Obviously the word about my bike had gotten around and they came to check it out. They asked for my name and introduced themselves in English. Each of them laughing at the otherís attempt to speak English, which wasnít actually that bad. Unfortunately, that is all they could say. When the rain let up little bit I ran to my bike (which was now in the middle of a lake) and fetched my Goretex layer. The problem now was that I had all these people around me and I didnít want to strip to my skivvies in front of them to put my rainproofs on. After waiting for a while to see if they leave I decided to go for it. I motioned what I was about to do and they seemed OK with it. With my rainproofs on I just wanted to drive to their village for some tea and a room for the night to have another chance to see the ruins the next morning but the farmer motioned that I better move on because the rain wasnít going to stop anytime soon. I decided to follow his advice and after a hearty handshake I drove off.
Ancient city gate
The only picture I could take of the castle before the rain started.
Dark clouds everywhere
In the next village some of the lots were completely flooded and a crowd had gathered, looking at the damage and scratching their heads. Parts of the road to Kadirli were under about a foot of water. I followed a car to see how deep it was and then I just went for it. About 30 Ks on I reached Kadirli. The road into town was flooded as well and cars were trying to get through, pedestrians running through the rain, not looking were they were going, an ambulance trying to speed through and the sun had just set. I drove around trying to find a place to stay. I saw two dodgy looking hotels and after 20 minutes I pulled the old standby and waved two teenagers on a pimped out 125 over and asked for a hotel. They motioned to follow them and lead me to the same two dodgy hotels. OK, so this will have to do. I picked the slightly better looking one and walked up the stairs. My first question was about parking the bike and he motioned ďon the streetĒ. When I shook my head he motioned to follow him and lead me around the corner to a gated backyard. Much better! With the bike safely tucked away we went through the lengthy check in, which involved all the information from my passport, plus my fatherís and motherís name, which is standard here. Since I donít speak Turkish this was a bit difficult but to my surprise he had a translation program on the computer and we pulled it off. I got the deluxe room with heating blankets and satellite TV, Al Jazeera being the only English channel. I went out for dinner and when I went into a Doner Kebap shop I was greeted in German. The owner prepared a very tasty 2 TL dinner for me and we talked for a while. It turned out that there actually is a nicer hotel in town. Should have had my Doner first. Ah well, just one night. What could possibly go wrong?
My slice of heaven for a night