Tag Archives: 2009 Expeditionary Ride

The Evliya Çelebi Way Project: 2009 Expeditionary Ride, Part 2

The 2009 Ride: Before Setting Out
Contributed by Gerald Maclean

I ended the last post reporting that ‘On 22 September 2009, with seven horses and a supply vehicle, the first Evliya Çelebi Ride set out to follow the first stages of his itinerary.’

Setting up our first camp, Hersek, 21 September 2009.
Setting up our first camp, Hersek, 21 September 2009.

But how could it be that simple? Plans for the 2009 Ride had started to come to focus more than a decade earlier, long before our supply vehicle was designed and built.

Our supply vehicle and kitchen. Metin prepares lunch.
Our supply vehicle and kitchen. Metin prepares lunch.

In the mid-1990s, Donna and I first went riding in Cappadocia, sometimes camping overnight alongside the horses in spectacular landscapes, and we soon began imagining how wonderful it would be to travel across Turkey on horseback.

Ways best travelled by Horse.
Ways best travelled by Horse.

At about the same time, Caroline Finkel was thinking much the same thing, except that her plan involved travelling on foot. When we met in 1999, the two schemes began to combine, swiftly moving from topics of dinner conversation into serious possibilities.

The Pleasures of Travel with Horses, 1: Going for an evening stroll.
The Pleasures of Travel with Horses, 1: Going for an evening stroll.

Donna and I were already part of an academic research group exploring how and in what ways historical re-enactment was a useful method in historical and cultural research, but Caroline introduced the name of Evliya Çelebi for the first time as a way for thinking about the route we should take.

Thinking about our Route along the way: Ercihan confers with locals, 2009.
Thinking about our Route along the way: Ercihan confers with locals, 2009.

While finishing Osman’s Dream (2005), her narrative history of the Ottoman Empire, Caroline had been working with Kate Clow on pioneering trekking routes across Turkey. Kate was establishing The Lycian Way and St Paul Trail, seeking to promote sustainable inland tourism away from the coastal resorts.

Away from the coastal resorts: Ovaçık Village, 2009.
Away from the coastal resorts: Ovaçık Village, 2009.

Donna had begun research on Lady Anne Blunt’s manuscript journals of her equestrian travels in Turkey and elsewhere, and I was finishing a book about seventeenth-century English travellers in the Ottoman Empire. So Evliya quickly became a focus for our common interests: he travelled by horse along routes that would take us into remote areas where tourists seldom ventured.

The Pleasures of Travel with Horses, 2: There is always someone keeping an eye out for you while you are asleep.
The Pleasures of Travel with Horses, 2: There is always someone keeping an eye out for you while you are asleep.
Advertisements

The Evliya Çelebi Way Project: 2009 Expeditionary Ride

This post is the first in a series which will explore the expeditionary ride along Evliya Çelebi Way in 2009 plus linking you to some other writing about Evliya Çelebi Way. As more stories are published I will add the links across the related pages. You can also search for the 2009 stories by clicking the 2009 Expeditionary Ride tag in the tag list.
Tracey

The EÇW is one of the best experiences I’ve had anywhere in the world
Candace Rose Rardon, The Great Affair (Dec 2013)

Recalling the 2009 Expeditionary Ride
Contributed by Gerald Maclean

We set out, September 2009. Photo: Mehmet Çam.
We set out, September 2009. Photo: Mehmet Çam.

Reading Tracey’s wonderful job of editing the materials I sent her about the Evliya Çelebi Way Project, I realised that starting the story in October 2013 – when UNESCO formally opened the Evliya Çelebi Way (EÇW) as a European Cultural Route – meant there was still lots to tell that might be of interest to readers about the initial expeditionary ride of 2009 and how we first found the Way…

Finding the Way in 2009. Susan and Asya.
Finding the Way in 2009. Susan and Asya.

The other thing that has happened since starting to work with Tracey is that I learned that we already have an ideal fan, Candace Rardon, who walked the EÇW last autumn and published a compelling account of her adventures on her travel-blog, ‘The Great Affair.’ Candace is a very professional travel-blogger and can truly claim to be the first to have walked the EÇW as described in the Guidebook in its entirety! And we are obviously delighted that she has only wonderful things to say about the countryside, the hospitality of the people, and the sense of excitement and achievement that completing the trek – with hotel stops along the way – brought her. This is entirely unsolicited testimony and, after the Guidebook itself, the best guide for anyone who needs persuading to set out on the EÇW.

Sunrise on the EÇW, Seydikuzu, 2009.
Sunrise on the EÇW, Seydikuzu, 2009.

I was especially delighted that Candace not only enjoyed the journey but found, in addition to plentiful clean water and gifts of fruit, adequate supplies along the way from village shops (bakkals), and that she enjoyed finding herself staying most nights as a personally invited guest in villagers’ houses. As Caroline notes in the Guidebook, among our aims in establishing the EÇW is the hope that the home-stay system common along older-established trekking routes might develop, whereby ‘villagers offer rooms and meals in their houses.’

Travelling the EÇW: You are always welcome
Travelling the EÇW: You are always welcome

An invitation to share a meal or to stay overnight with a village family will always be genuine. At this stage in its development, when as Candace noticed, many villagers are still unaware of the EÇW, travellers are guests and are still subject to the traditional codes of hospitality and there are no expectations of payment. We have found that in lieu of other gifts small cash gifts presented for the youngest children of the household are unlikely to cause offence.

Commemorative coffee-mugs
Commemorative coffee-mugs

In 2009 one of our sponsors, Kütahya Porselen, provided us with 2,000 commemorative coffee-mugs that village children were delighted to receive wherever we went. While riding, we often carry pens and small toys to distribute.

Village children, Boyalı, 2009.
Village children, Boyalı, 2009.

Unlike the organized pilgrim trails of Spain and Japan, the EÇW remains a truly personal journey, as you will discover from reading Candace’s The Great Affair’s Guide to: Trekking the Evliya Celebi Way.