An attempt thwarted (no Derabasi turns) and yet an epic road trip - Derinkuyu to Hopa πŸ‡ΉπŸ‡·

Jul 10, 2024,11:35 AM

As there was some resonance to the last mountain pass post, I promised some more. The first one of those is from a road trip to Turkey, including some spectacular driving roads (in great condition, too (saw two potholes in over 4K miles)), and plenty of history, as well as amazing food πŸ‡ΉπŸ‡· 

As the trip was longer, I will split it into several posts over the coming weeks 😊

So after changing employers last year I found myself with some time on my hands and my wife being understanding as always, she felt I needed to do something to gain perspective and recharge the batteries, before embarking on something new. 

I tend to do these trips with a friend, as hard driving is always better when you can switch behind the wheel every 3 hours or so and having company really makes for a nicer trip. It does necessitate a similar driving style though, otherwise the car can get a very uncomfortable place very quickly. 

We looked at several options and finally settled on Turkey as an interesting destination. 

Here’s a section of the route, leading from Derinkuyu (close to Cappadoccia) to the Georgian border at the Black Sea coast. 

While the first night was spent with friends in Istanbul (getting some last minute tips on where to go and what to see), and the second day brought us to Aksaray, amid heavy snowfall, it was the third day that really started being interesting. 

We wanted to kick it off with the underground city at Derinkuyu. A spectacular sight that I can highly recommend, btw. As you can see from the shots below, the tourist trade wasn’t in peak season when we arrived, yet the hospitality was peerless. 

The gentleman gamely opened up a way for us to approach and enter to the historical site, and subsequently the same one with his friends also helped push the car to get out of the parking lot πŸ˜‚ RWD and snow has been a mixed bag throughout the trip πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

Descending into the underworld city is a very cool experience and it’s unbelievable how many people used to live there temporarily in times of strife. 

Before I get back to the driving bits, some more shots from Cappadoccia, of a kind most tourists are not used to - namely balloon free and covered in snow πŸ˜‚β„οΈ

After the morning sightseeing some distance needed to be covered, as our evening destination was Sivas in central Turkey. This section had well sighted, nicely built and fairly empty roads (a feature throughout the country) and covering ground was effortless. 

Interestingly the inbuilt satnav tended to suggest routes with more driving fun built in than what came from Google Maps (quite pleased about that, actually).

Sivas is a lovely historical city with many a claim to fame but for people living in Germany, the fact that the DΓΆner kebab was invented here is probably most prominent. So a visit to the place where it all began was a must, and I have to say it was otherworldly. 

As it tasted so well, we went for a dessert as well πŸ˜‚πŸ‘

After a stroll through the historical center it was time to call it a day. 

The following day would bring some epic driving, setting off relatively early, with no clear destination in mind but the Black Sea coast featuring in the plans. The landscapes were impressive and the variety on offer was astounding - but then it is a large country. 

Even the mountain passes tended to be reasonably broad and the roads a pleasure to navigate, even if not always immaculately cleared of snow. Keeping up speed was essential, as the RWD made a restart on a snowy incline quite a challenge. We did fortunately source some snow chains by this point, just in case. 

The car suggested the D-865, which while not your typical switchback mountain road, had a wonderful rhythm to it, making for a fun drive. 

In addition, it brought us past a village called Kekec, the name of a child hero figure from children’s books from my homeland - which was funny (no one at home would accept he could be Turkish πŸ˜‚).

While the roads were mostly empty, on occasion some unlikely vehicles could be spotted. 

The first mountain pass of the trip was the Tersun Gecidi that climbed to around 2000 meters, before descending to the Black Sea around Trabzon. Not having to worry about traction on the way down (gravity helps), it was a slightly less tense and more fun experience. 

As you can see, the driving did add a certain layer of β€˜patina’ on to the car πŸ˜‚

Going from the snow of the central plateau and subsequent mountain roads to the Black Sea coast was a day and night change within less than an hour - something we would experience repeatedly on the trip - from cold winter to pleasant spring πŸ‘πŸ»

Trying out the local cuisine was a must…

And hamsi (small deep fried local fish) are truly to be recommended. While away from the tourists spots you will be hard pressed to find locals speaking anything but Turkish, Google Translate and a lot of good will and hospitality on their part solved any language barrier issue. 

After lunch we decided to take a walk down the route less traveled - we wanted to explore to what extent the Bayburt Of Yolu - the purportedly most dangerous road in the world - was navigable in winter. Built by Russian soldiers during WW1, it had a large section of YouTube videos devoted to it and while all websites claimed it was closed in winter, we were too close to not have a peek. 

Of course a RWD car was perhaps not the most suitable equipment but no risk, no fun 😁

The first part from Of inwards was quite nice and while the road was getting more challenging slowly, the scenery offered was stunning and the drive real fun. 

At some point the snow got more and more until we finally got stuck a good way from the last village. Here the foresight of getting snow chains turned out to be a life saver and after fitting them on we managed to get the car back to the ground, where we could at least safely return. 

We never did make it to the infamous Derabasi turns (the quickly ascending switchback section) but were quite chuffed with the experience nevertheless and after reversing for several kilometers to a place, where we could turn around decided to postpone the final conquest of the pass to another trip during a more sensible season for it. 

Still, if you ever find yourself in Turkey with time on your hands, the D915 is the road to sample πŸ‘ŒπŸ»πŸ‘πŸ»

Irrespective of not achieving the impossible (with this car in this season), we had epic fun and saw some sights (nature and architecture both) one would not have expected in Turkey. 

Ending the day in Hopa, a small Black Sea town next to the Georgian border brought another taste of delectable local food, before the journey continued the day after but that’s to be covered in a subsequent post. 

All in all, the great thing about road tripping through the lesser frequented parts of Turkey is a combination of superb roads (both in terms of condition and interest level), the ability to cover large distances per day (road conditions and lack of traffic), and combine that with plenty of things to see on the way, as well as superb food. 

What’s not to like?

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Comments: view entire thread


Wow, amazing trip! I probably would have chosen another car…

 By: dedestexhes : July 10th, 2024-11:48
But as I never did this trip in Turkey, I’m envious of you regardless the car! Thx for sharing this epic journey. Dirk

In hindsight, so would I πŸ˜‚

 By: KMII : July 10th, 2024-11:54
But that one was easily available at the time and it really did help in some areas, as the locals were so non-plused, that you could do the route in such a car. An AWD version of it would probably have made it perfect. And to be honest, apart from getting... 


 By: dedestexhes : July 10th, 2024-12:03

It’s a frequent experience…

 By: KMII : July 10th, 2024-12:10
That a car more surprising gets more of the positive kind of attention and support. There are quite some, touring the world in old Porsches and Corvettes - not your primary choice from a practicality point of view 😁

I can relate to that!

 By: dedestexhes : July 10th, 2024-12:13


 By: S F : July 10th, 2024-12:20
Never been to Turkey and have no idea that it snows there. The pictures are totally awesome, the beautiful sceneries and the foodπŸ‘πŸ»πŸ‘πŸ».

Glad you enjoyed it - can highly recommend it…

 By: KMII : July 10th, 2024-13:53
For a trip with the Alpine! πŸ˜πŸ‡«πŸ‡·

It would work with the Volvo, too…

 By: KMII : July 10th, 2024-19:35
But I believe the fun with the Alpine would be more πŸ˜πŸ‘πŸ»


 By: KMII : July 12th, 2024-01:48
That would be a thing then πŸ˜‰πŸ‘πŸ»

But hey, why not!

 By: amanico : July 12th, 2024-05:18

Looks amazing!

 By: SakeM : July 10th, 2024-13:57
Was it reasonably easy to rent a car, figure out the rules of the road, and drive around as a foreigner? It’s a trip that’s been interesting to me for a while but haven’t really looked into it.

Generally easy…

 By: KMII : July 10th, 2024-14:01
The car renting I cannot comment, as we drove to Turkey in the car already. Unfortunately the import duties are exceedingly high on higher hp / Displacement vehicles, so renting something fun locally might be a challenge or at least very expensive. At the... 

Wow, truly amazing!

 By: enjoythemusic : July 10th, 2024-14:12

Superb images, you captured the trip very well.

 By: clemens m : July 10th, 2024-14:55
Looks like you had a great time, well done my friend!πŸ‘

Thanks so much Clemens!

 By: KMII : July 10th, 2024-19:41
It really was a much needed downtime and it was thoroughly enjoyable. I hope to be able to repeat it at some point πŸ€žπŸ»πŸ‘πŸ»

Oh my! What an adventure!

 By: patrick_y : July 10th, 2024-16:14
This car is really seeing some weather. Here in California, our cars never see this much snow!

Let me then put some pictures together…

 By: KMII : July 10th, 2024-19:40
Of some snowier trips πŸ˜πŸ‘πŸ»

I hear you!

 By: KMII : July 10th, 2024-19:39
High 90s where I am at the moment, which is not perfect suit weather 😁 Fortunately for most of the day we are I. Air conditioned rooms πŸ˜‰ As for the trip, can certainly highly recommend it πŸ‘πŸ»

I find these road bombing trips attractive.

 By: Steve E : July 10th, 2024-16:22
I know for many people a trip equates to a destination. Like going to the beach for a week. But the essence of your road bombing trip is more about constant movement and continual change - around 500 - 600 miles per day. How exhilerating! The sight of tho... 

Hence not the kind of trips that the family comes with, to 😁

 By: KMII : July 10th, 2024-19:38
Their idea of fun involves a lot less driving and more staying in one place 😊 The daughter is slowly coming to an age, where she finds this a tad more attractive, so let’s see. I find these trips allow to see a lot in a short period of time. There was sti... 

The scenery is grand....

 By: InHavenPro : July 10th, 2024-17:58
and the food, unsurprisingly, delectable . Thanks a bunch for the great pictorial. Cheers, Filip

Thanks Filip!

 By: KMII : July 10th, 2024-19:36
Hospitality, food, scenery and drive all combined to make it a great experience πŸ˜ŠπŸ‘πŸ»

Can definitely imagine!

 By: KMII : July 12th, 2024-01:49
I was close to moving there once but fate took us to another country in the end πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

Fantastic experience β€” thank you for sharing this

 By: cazalea : July 11th, 2024-13:15
I’m going to put on a warm coat now and get some whitebait going πŸ˜ƒ

Glad you enjoyed it!

 By: KMII : July 12th, 2024-01:50
No one has quite as rich a repertoire as you but we try πŸ˜πŸ‘πŸ» Will try adding some more over the coming weeks 😊