What a difference a day makes….we set off after breakfast for our long journey today (700Km plus) to Samsun via Ankara (to collect our bike parts that we ordered in at BMW via Brock) and were on the road by 9.00am. We stopped off breifly at the lookout above Cappadocia and took a few more photos…including Mt Erciyes (Argaues) as we left by a different road (towards Uchasir Castle) than the one we had come in on.
Along the way (105 km northeast of Konya, 150 km south-southeast of Ankara) we passed an interesting Salt Lake (Tuz Golu), which was PINK . I later Googled this…..and found out the colour is caused by algae (Dunaliella alina), which can live in salinities as high as 35% NaCl (Sodium Chloride )…. salt water is only 3%….. and a pink bacterium (Halobacterium cutirumbrum) which can live in the salt crust at the bottom of the lake. The intensity of the colour is due to the balance between the two organisms and also increases as the lake dries out in summer. With the higher salinity, temperature and light the alga builds up more red carotenoid pigment (beta carotene). Tuz Golu is the second largest lake in Turkey and the group of islands on the southern part of the lake is the main breeding colony of the Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus). We saw a number of people out on the lake but is was unclear what they were actually doing.
We arrived in Ankara around 12.30pm and picked up our parts and passed on our thanks to Brock for all his assistance. We then stopped at the BMW cafe to have some coffee/tea and cake before starting back on the road around 1.30pm.
Our second stop for fuel was in Sungurlu, where we met a retired school teacher who spoke some English and we were invited to sit with him and his journalist friend, Ozer. We chatted to them as best we could, answering their questions about the bike, where we were from, our ages and occupations, where we had travelled etc. We gave them a couple of our stickers before bidding them farewell and hit the road again, as it was around 4.30pm and we still had several hundred km to go.
We arrived in Samsun a bit after 7.00pm and found our 2 star hotel without too much problem. We freshened up and set out to find some food as we were both very hungry. The reception staff, who don’t speak English, had directed us down a street and to turn left for food …after my miming act. But along the way we passed a Muslem woman who drew me a disapproving look….I was wearing a t-shirt and my long cargo pants….but she made it very clear without a word that she thought I was inappropriately dressed. This was the first time this has happened in Turkey….elsewhere in Turkey, whilst some Women do wear a brightly coloured Hijab or scarf and are covered up….. the vast majority of women are dressed very casually and in far less than I was wearing….often showing shoulders, chest, legs etc.
We proceeded further to try to find food but all of the little cafes seemed to be gearing up for the breaking of the feast from Ramadan….so they did not really look like they would cater for tourists. We continued on and Vince found a Kebab shop….but to be honest I couldn’t face yet another kebab …so we kept looking. I spotted the word RESTAURANT so we went in there……..we had to go up a flight of stairs and when we entered there was almost a hush in the otherwise bustling room….all the Women were Muslem and wearing Hijabs or scarfs, and I felt all eyes staring at me in disapproval. We quickly spoke to a waiter….as best we could as he spoke very little English….and he redirected us upstairs. The same thing happened…..all heads turned and eyes to me…with looks of daggers from the women. The waiter there attempted to redirect us back to where we had just come from….but luckily we were intercepted by a Manager who spoke some English, he asked us where we were from and took us down two flights of stairs to the bottom floor, where there were local people eating and not all the women were wearing head coverings. Vince thought we were lucky to get out unscathed.
Our waiter assisted us as best he could by taking me to the kitchen and pointing out options. We eventually had a tasty (but not cheap…64TL) meal including soup, salad, rice and meat. The only problem here seemed to be that this floor was where everyone came down to pay….so all the people from upstairs came down in dribs and drabs, each giving me their disapproving looks as the passed or just simply staring at me. There was one young teenage boy who seemed most fascinated with me much to his mother’s annoyance…which she directed at me not him! I have to say that it would never be my intent to set out to offend anyone….but everywhere else in Turkey is not like this…..I was made to feel very uncomfortable and could not wait to finish our meal and go straight back to our hotel…..I can’t wait to leave Samsun as I have not felt welcome since setting foot outside our hotel……but unfortunately we have already booked two nights… as we wanted a rest day tomorrow after the long ride today…….what a difference a day makes!