Monday 17th September 2018
It was an early start as we had another long drive ahead of us. This morning we were heading along the famous ancient Silk Road.
We passed by the remains of several Caravanserais. These were guest houses spaced a day's journey apart, allowing caravans travelling along the Silk Road to rest each night in safety.
After about four hours we reached Cappadocia, a region known for its Bronze Age cave homes.
We stopped off at the Aydın Kırağı viewpoint to see the famous "fairy chimney" rock formations.
There was plenty of time to take photos.
It was very picturesque.
Once everyone had got all their photos, we moved on to the Göreme Open-Air Museum.
There's a set of Treasures of Turkey right there.
Entering the museum.
Faruk explained the historical significance of the site.
The site contains Byzantine cave churches carved into the rock, dating from the 10th century.
Some of the churches were in better condition than others.
Inside one of the caves.
It was interesting to see inside some of the caves, but they all started to feel the same as each other after a while and the museum didn't do a particularly good job of helping visitors interpret what they were seeing.
It definitely felt that we'd spent enough time there when it was time to leave!
Even the camel seemed to have had enough.
More spectacular scenery, and an hour and a half drive to our next destination.
There were times we had to question exactly where we were going ... Yes, the coaches did drive down here!
Finally we arrived at Mazakaland, a theme park only 200 miles or so from the Syrian border.
Of course we were completely safe, but it was interesting to contemplate just how close we were to Aleppo and an active war zone!
The park is kitted out with attractions from EOS Rides.
Most of the group headed first to Spin Coaster, which looked from the outside like a gentle family spinning coaster.
There had to be a bit of negotiation between the ride ops and the park manager, as apparently adults are not usually allowed to ride.
It was all smiles as the first group left the lift hill ...
... the smiles soon disappeared as everyone realised just how much of a head basher the ride was, especially with the overhead restraints!
After enduring a bashing on Spin Coaster we headed to Mazakaland's other rollercoaster, Cheetah Hunt.
In comparison, Cheetah Hunt was much more pleasant, although it seemed to lose most of its momentum soon after the first drop.
Fun ride though!
Venturing further into the park, we came to Mazakaland's big wheel "Dönme Dolap".
From the top we got a good view of the park ... it was clear to see we were almost the only visitors!
Any hope of a few minutes peace and quiet vanished for David and Susan when they realised we were here too.
We spied the park's recreation of the Colosseum from the top of the wheel.
It turned out to be the very impressive fascade of the park's Ancient Rome themed dark ride.
Seems like we weren't the only people in the group to have spotted the giant building.
Boarded and ready to ride ... it took ages for each car to be allowed inside.
Looks like this guy had been waiting to ride even longer than us.
Perhaps the impressive ride building had given us slightly unrealistic expectations for the ride itself.
Several of the group took a spin around Mazakaland's new two-level go kart track.
We took a look inside the park's giant indoor venue.
There were a selection of shops and food places, but most were closed that day.
The staff at the refreshments kiosk were wonderfully friendly, and keen to have their photo taken.
After enjoying burgers provided by the park, it was time to leave.
Following another four hour drive, we arrived at our hotel in Ankara (imaginatively called The Ankara Hotel) at around 10:30pm.