Apologies for the late release of this monthly wrap, however website access was blocked whilst we were within Iran.
A Merry Xmas to you (if that is indeed your thing), or if not, I just hope you’re all well and the now commercially driven beast hasn’t left you penniless like us… well after all, we are a pair of unemployed backpackers!
Hmmm, eighteen months… that means we’re also celebrating one and a half years on the road!!
Countries Visited: 4 (Bulgaria, Turkey, Georgia & Armenia)
The Balkans are now behind us, and at present we’re amongst those lands that lie somewhere in between Europe and Asia… let’s just go with Eurasia!
Cheapest Bed(s): Hostel Liberland, Tbilisi, Georgia ₾20.00 Lari (for two people)
A cheap dive in a good location, just don’t expect the advertised free breakfast…
Most Expensive Bed(s): Gobi Pension, Bergamo, Turkey ₺80.00 Lire (for two people)
One night only.
Still, it wasn’t so bad and I’m sure they needed the cash more than us!
Highlight: Göreme and Cappadoccia
Amazing landscapes, homes built into solid rock. ‘Fairy Chimneys’, balloon flights, underground cities, a sprinkling of snow… this place just turned out to be magical, and we only had a handful of other tourists we had to share it all with!
Lowlight: Missing out on Kagbezi
We were so looking forward to hitting this region of Georgia, however with the winter weather unpredictable, we simply couldn’t afford to be stuck behind a road closure for three or four days…
Favourite New Food: Güveç Dana
Sure, we ate a ton of Doner/Kebab/Gyros… whatever you prefer to call it in Turkey.
It’s cheap and generally delicious (although there is an unnecessary obsession on some places with adding ketchup, mayonnaise or mustard… or even multiple condiments).
That’s why to get to Göreme and find the only place selling meat shaved off a stick seemingly closed, was a blessing, not that we’d not wanted to try other Turkish cuisine.
The Güveç Dana (a beef and vegetable stew) was amongst the first of these other offerings we tried, and certainly hit the spot as a delicious winter warmer.
Best Beer: Kaiser
Truly good beers were pretty thin on the ground this month, that’s pretty much how this otherwise un-remarkable drop found itself in top spot!
Most impressive Church: The Blue Mosque, Istanbul
Famous for a reason, the beautiful patterns, design and flowing Arab script of a mosque will usually win us over a church most days of the week.
Turkey provided us countless options (its closest rival was the former church and mosque a stones throw away, the Hagia Sofia).
Istanbul’s most famous offering, it lived up to the billing.
Bucket List Items: Ride in a Hot Air Balloon over Cappadocia
Possibly the most famous location in the world for catching a ride on one of these beauties, we were so thankful that we did so.
Beautiful morning weather, and an incredible winter landscape!
It’s great when something does not disappoint…
New Bucket List Items: Visit each site of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
Highest Elevation: 1,500m Geghard Monastery, Armenia
Days in thongs (flip flops): 13
Yes, we’re not fucking kidding!
Almost two weeks, in flip-flops, in the middle of winter…
UNESCO Sites: 10 (Archaeological Site of Troy, Pergamon and its Multi-Layered Cultural Landscape, Ephesus, Hierapolis-Pamukkale, Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia, Historic Areas of Istanbul, Bagrati Cathedral and Gelati Monastery, Historical Monuments of Mtskheta, Monastery of Geghard and the Upper Azat Valley, Cathedral and Churches of Echmiatsin and the Archaeological Site of Zvartnots)
Ten UNESCO World Heritage locations in one month, quite possibly a record for this whole trip!
To pick one as a highlight… so very difficult!
Number of towns: 19
Number of beds: 11
Nights in transit: 4 (4 buses)
- The Mandarins in Turkey, are simply the best I have ever had (I normally find them an insipid citrus fruit compared to an Orange). I’ve never eaten this many in my whole life!
- One of our favourite artists discovered during our time in Latin America, was the Colombian sculptor/painter Fernando Botero. His irreverent take on people, famous or otherwise (he essentially makes all of his pieces oversized, as in fat) appealed to us. Imagine our surprise when we discovered in a Yerevan (the pint sized capital of Armenia) not one, but three of his works!