We awoke to Sinop – a jut of land sticking out from the Turkish coast, with an airport and local amenities. Leaving the campsite in blistering sunshine after taking it in turns to use the only working shower cubicle on the campsite, we paid the campsite managers and headed out; driving around the outer road, taking in the endless sea and clear skies, unfortunately losing a GoPro action camera on the way – somewhere between taking a panoramic shot, and getting back in the back of the car, the camera was lost. Feeling sleep deprived, panic set in that the £400 kit was lost to the world, thankfully Rhys was on hand to settle the air, and to find breakfast. We found a cool white-washed courtyard with a small marketplace, where a simple café served up a selection of Turkish traditional foods and of course, cay. We decided upon a selection of rice wrapped in vine leaf, a sort of ravioli in a white wine sauce, and a sweet bread similar to a very large Chelsea bun sans icing.
Leaving Sinop it became clear that fuel would be problematic. – petrol stations on the stretch of northern highway were few and far between, and having run to the red line twice in the same stretch of road, we decided to fill up on of the jerry cans, to provide a contingency fuel supply. We’ve tried very hard to avoid this up till this point, given the additional weight in Mickey eating into the economy of each tank of fuel. This may well have to be reconfigured again once we start taking on water as well, bringing down weight from the roof to drop the centre of gravity. We had already found a number of tights bends had Mickey understeering and almost brushing the wheel arches with the tyres.
We continued on via Alaca, and again stopped in the town square for dinner. Locals watching for the upstairs veranda clicked fingers and pointed to where the entrance was – around the corner and up the stairwell. Trying to keep a tight purse string we went for smaller options from the very low cost menu, and took in the evening sprawl of the town. Talk came through on the message groups of cheap hot air balloon flights – something we hadn’t really considered at this stage, while the decision was made in the midst of a sleeping and driving shift on the way into Goreme, Omeed booked us in through one of the campsite organisers.
With sight set on balloons and cave-houses, we pushed ahead on the night time drive – keeping a close look at the horizon for anything remotely sandstone-peek looking. Our final challenge was the last stretch of closed highway – taking a temporary flattened section of field; akin to driving on an ice rink, to the iconic town. On recommendations of other ralliers, we had booked into Jasmine House – a highly rated hostel on the edge of town. We had to wake the overnight warden, who while a little discombobulated from who we were, was happy to show us to our room and make sure we had everything we need. Unpacking the essentials and locking down the petrol cans and tyres onto the roof rack, we settled down for a very quick sleep – hot air balloons were just 3 hours away.