Well, we’ve seen once again this week that the tigers like to keep us on our toes. After a few weeks of, shall we say, ambling along through Austria taking in the sights and enjoying what was on offer along the way, they’ve had a big push this week and are now just a mile from the Hungarian border. They’ll cross tomorrow but for tonight they’re in the border town of Nikelsdorf, a lovely place to spend a night and reflect on all that the beautiful country of Austria has afforded them.
Two highlights to look out for – given that the tigers like to cycle and have spent a lot of their Austrian journey on the river Danube they’ll maybe want to follow the “Discovery Tour – Danube meets Lake Neusiedl“, a 94 km cycle route that covers much of the beauty the region has to offer. If that seems a bit strenuous, given the long road ahead, then maybe a better option is to visit the Nickelsdorf Bee Garden, a sanctuary and learning centre to come to know more about the habitat and life of bees. It’s an interesting project, set up specifically as a trilingual enterprise, so in German, Hungarian and Slovak (bordering as it does all three countries).
As the tigers prepare to cross Hungary our other teams continue to make their way through Turkey. It’s another milestone week this week, not because we have any new members of the 1000 mile club but because team peacock has crossed the half-way mark! As of this weekend they have now completed 52% of the journey. That’s fabulous, and huge congratulations to all of the team. The halfway point was reached as they made their descent from the mountains where they’ve spent the past few weeks and now, at the end of the week, they’ve just passed through the town of Eleşkirt.
To say the peacocks have descended the mountain is a bit misleading, I’m afraid. All they’ve done is drop a bit lower than they’ve been, and now find themselves in a large and fertile valley, with a great view behind them of the mountains they’ve crossed.
This place they end the week, Eleşkirt, has ancient roots. The castle close to the town has been occupied through history by Romans, Persians, Armenians, Arabs, Greeks Byzantines, Georgians, Seljuk Turks, Mongols and once more by Turks. That’s some archaeological and historical record! There is a 17th Century mosque here, as well, so a place to get a feel for ancient Turkey.
On the other side of the mountain our snow leopards edge ahead of the wee monkeys, to begin the climb that will take them up into the spectacular Pontic Mountains. They’re ending the week in the Erbaa plain close to Erbaa itself, the town the valley takes its name from. Maybe they’ll not have time this visit, but a short detour to the north would take them to the even more spectacular Sumela Monastery, pictured above as our featured image, a 4th century Greek Orthodox monastery that was a working monastery until the 1930’s. It’s a spectacular building, and was recently restored by the Turkish government and is quite rightly a UNECO World Heritage Site.
The wee monkey’s meanwhile, are in Osmancik, in what has become the main rice-growing region of Turkey. Osmancik, too, has it’s spectacular mountain building, not a monastery this time, but a castle. The town is located on an important river crossing on the ancient Silk Road to the orient, so has long had a strategic value, hence the magnificent castle. Like the Chaparda Challenge, the Silk Road is another fascinating long-distance journey. Who knows, when we reach Chaparda could that be the next mission?! It would be a doddle, as it’s only 4000 miles…!
We noted last week that wee monkey Saifidin had completed 999.5 miles, so we enrolled him into the 1000 mile club trusting that in his next walk or run he’d pass the 1000 mile marker. We’ll he’s done much better, having ended the week on a personal total of 1088 miles. 88.5 miles in one week Saifidin – that’s pretty impressive!
But not only Saifidin – everyone is really pulling strongly this week and would you believe we’ve added 734 miles in total this week – that’s amazing, and more than doubles what was covered last week! Well done everyone. We’ve also added £157 to the fundraising total, so all in all, with the peacocks now more than halfway, a pretty spectacular week – take a bow, all Chaparda Challengers!