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Carol 202 | profile | all galleries >> World Travel >> Turkey from 2007 to 2009 >> Thanksgiving in North Turkey--Road Trip to Trabzon: Nov 07 >> Sivas to Altindere National Park tree view | thumbnails | slideshow | map

Sivas to Altindere National Park

The next morning it was Thanksgiving, and I gave thanks for the hot water in the hotel shower. We have learned not to take hot showers for granted. We had a good Turkish breakfast that included dried apricots and figs along with the usual tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, cheese, and bread. The trip started out uneventful enough with little traffic across the rolling plains. Bob kept his speed down, although the occasional speed trap was marked with a Traffik Kontrol sign. We did get stopped once because we had slowed down and partially pulled off by a Petro Offisi gas station to see if there was an ďAutomaticĒ sign on their pumps. Our car is equipped with an Automatic credit chip that we purchased on base. Itís a wireless system that charges the gas straight to our credit card, and we pay about a third of the Turkish price. Anyway, the polis waived us over and tried questioning us, but finally gave up on us with our limited Turkish. Then we went through a Jandarma check point. The Jandarma also shook his head and waived us on when he realized we spoke very little Turkish. Maybe we should act like we donít speak the language when we get back to the States!

When we turned off for the town of Zara, I told Bob that the trip was about to get interesting, and didnít know how true that was. We got through the little village and found a sign pointing to our next town (you donít go by highway numbers here). I got concerned when it turned into a wide, mud-packed road with some heavy equipment, but was relieved when we got a few kilometers down the road and hit pavement again. We headed into curvey, mountain roads sooner than I expected, but that also means the scenery changed from drab plains to spectacular mountains. I would have to go back through my photos to count how many times we went through fall and winter as we went up and down the mountains. It must have been at least five times.
We passed mountain streams, beautiful alpine lakes reflecting the mountains and clouds, and snow-topped peaks. We went through mountain villages including one dominated by a rocky hill topped by a fortress. By the time we stopped for gas and left the town, the fortress was shrouded in mist. On some of the higher roads, we went above the snow-line but the roads were clear. At the very highest point of our trip there was a light coating of snow on the road right before we went through a tunnel. We came out the other side and it was clear. I was comforted by signs that the road was plowed when it snowed enough, and we saw one large snow plow on the move, maybe positioning itself for more snow. We went through a series of tunnels after reaching Gunushane. We finally came down much of the mountain and found our turn off for Altindere Milli Parki (Gold Valley National Park). The narrow road followed a stream up a gorge. We passed a couple of small villages and several trout farms on the way. The sun had set and it was getting dark quickly. We hit the park headquarters about the time it got dark.

There were only a couple of staff members left shortly after we arrived. A nice young man named Mehmet, who didnít speak any English, took us to our bungalow. It was a tiny bungalow covered from floor to ceiling in varnished wood. It came equipped with everything we needed. There was a small living room with a couch and chair, an electric heater, and a small wood burning stove. There was a small bath that was almost like being in an RV. You knew almost everything would get wet when you took a shower, but the cabin also came equipped with rubber clogs. Our bedroom was just large enough for the queen bedówe couldnít open the door all the way but it was OK. The bed was comfortable and we had a down comforter below and above us.

I was worried about hot water because the bathroom sink had none at all and the water was so cold it made my hands go numb to wash them. But we noticed at white box on the wall connected to the shower hose. It was an on-demand hot water deviceóbut would it work? The device activated when we turned on the water to the shower hose. At first it didnít seem to heat well, but I learned very soon that if you turned on the water just enough to activate the device) and make all the lights in the cabin dim) we got very hot water. There was enough water to take a shower and once again I was greatful.

We signaled to Mehmet that we wanted a fire in the wood stove and managed to get our point across. He asked if we wanted dinner, but I showed him our foil packets and that I wanted to heat them on the stove. Mehmet understood and brought us plenty of firewood. Mehemt and Bob managed to get the fire started and I began work on dinner. The turkey and stuffing had been packaged, but I had to slice potatoes, onions, and carrots. I bundled them up good in foil with some butter and seasonings and Bob shoved them into the fireplace. The stuffing, turkey, and croissants heated up on top of the wood stove and our veggies cooked quickly in the fire. Before long, we were eating a great Thanksgiving dinner, compl.ete with wine and pumpkin pie, in our doll-house of a cabin.

We tried the small TV and found we had satellite TV. There werenít any English channels so we ended up watching the Turkish version of ďDeal or No DealĒ. Itís very low budget and they donít have the pretty models, but we dindít have to speak the language to understand what was going on. If you think they drag things out on the American version, you should see how they drag out the Turkish version. I think itís so they wonít have to give out as much money during the show, and they only give up to 250,000 YTL to begin with versus a million.
Sivas Twin Minarets
Sivas Twin Minarets
This is the han or bedestan next to the minarets
This is the han or bedestan next to the minarets
The former hospital now houses shops and tea gardens.
The former hospital now houses shops and tea gardens.
Tile work inside the bedestan.
Tile work inside the bedestan.
Wooden Indian in front of an antique store.
Wooden "Indian" in front of an antique store.
Carpets on the wall of a tea house.
Carpets on the wall of a tea house.
Wares inside the bedestan.
Wares inside the bedestan.
A new lake in the mountains--part of the Turkey dam projects to irrigate the fertile lands.
A new lake in the mountains--part of the Turkey dam projects to irrigate the fertile lands.
Altindere National Park:  Thanksgiving dinner warming up on the stove--it was wonderful.
Altindere National Park: Thanksgiving dinner warming up on the stove--it was wonderful.