For half an hour before breakfast, I went for a walk through what remains of the old pazar, past an 18th century mosque and the old han that is now a hotel (it looked as if no guests were staying in the hotel), and along a road that slowly descends a hill. The road leads past some old, timber-framed houses. When I arrived at a second mosque with a nearby cesme from which a lot of water flowed I walked no further out of town, but examined the ruins of a hamam and an old house nearby. I then took a road and a footpath that led westward. I passed more old houses, one of which is made overwhelmingly with stone and has recently been restored, perhaps by the Belediye in an attempt to help attract tourists to Arapgir. I then took another right turn along a road I had walked the day before and was back at the hotel.
Breakfast in the Arapgir Nazar is taken on the top floor in a large room from where there are excellent views of the town centre and the surrounding countryside. Breakfast is not a buffet; staff bring a plate with a mixture of things to eat, but you cannot have anything more than what is on the plate and in the basket containing bread. Water and as much tea as you want complete the meal. Although the food on the plate is very conventional it is nicely presented, almost as if you are eating in someone’s home. Two women work in the kitchen, which explains why the food is presented to guests in such an attractive manner.
I had hoped to say goodbye to the couple who had looked after me so well the day before, but they were not around. Instead, I settled the bill with the female receptionist, asked her to thank the owner and his daughter for me, and walked into the middle of town, from where I had to ascend the road leading to the road to Keban and Malatya. I had walked about 100 metres when I turned to flag a lift and a van stopped with two men inside. Because the men were going to Malatya, they gave me a lift to the point at which the road from Arapgir joins the main road. I had to go in the opposite direction toward Divrigi.
Twenty minutes after arriving at the junction, the driver of the fourth northbound motor vehicle stopped to offer me a lift. He drove a small, open-topped lorry with two cows in the back and on the cab floor was a large plastic bag with two hens with their legs tied together.
I was driven about 20 to 25 kilometres through beautiful upland scenery. At first the road navigated around the south-west end of the valley sheltering Eskisehir, ascending as it did so with a series of hairpin bends. For some of the way the road was in a valley with a meandering stream that tumbled over stones, then we arrived on a rocky, almost treeless, stretch of relatively level upland far above the valley of the Arapgir Cayi. By now, of course, we were among mountains rather than hills and the views were spectacular. Poles beside the road confirmed that snow was a major problem during winter and early spring. In fact, in some very exposed places fences had been erected to hold back drifting snow from the road. I was reminded of parts of Wyoming.
We slowed down and the driver indicated that he was turning left to take a dirt road leading to a village hidden from view in the folds of the hills and the mountains. I thanked him for the lift provided, which got me almost a third of the way to my destination. Moreover, I was now very high up, the visibility was excellent, the views were sublime and the air was invigorating.
I had already seen some tented camps for nomads looking after flocks of sheep and goats on the upland pasture. At two of the camps people clustered around lorries to unload mattresses and bedclothes required for the four or five months that lay ahead. I had also seen a road leading 14 kilometres to Yesilyayla, a name which means “green highland pasture”. What could have been a better destination for the day had Divrigi not been on the agenda. At the end of the road I would probably have found a village spread across the pasture, but in all likelihood it would have been a village inhabited only during the summer months when people move into the mountains so their sheep and goats can fatten on the grass that has not been eaten since the previous autumn.
Motor vehicles along the road were now so infrequent that I began to walk. Most of my walk for the next 3 or 4 kilometres was level or slightly downhill, but, as bad luck would have it, I had to negotiate a stretch of road being up-graded, which meant it was in a very shabby state and subject to large motor vehicles tearing up or laying the surface. I had some company of sorts, however, and the road works did little to mar my enjoyment of the scenery. It is planned that the road will be re-routed through a tunnel about half a kilometre long. Some workmen explained that the route of the current road meant that it was subject to regular closure during winter because of deep snow, but the tunnel would ensure that this happened far less often.
I arrived at a point near where more tented camps for nomads were being established and, because the views were so delightful, stopped to wait for a lift. The man in the second car to approach me drew to a halt and took me all the way to Divrigi, where he had to pick up food supplies for workmen digging the tunnel.
The road for the last 35 or so kilometres to Divrigi was not as beautiful as the stretch as far as where the road works began, but, with mountains always in view and the fertility of the plain to the south and west of Divrigi itself, I could not complain. Moreover, my luck with lifts meant that I was in Divrigi far earlier than I had expected. Because no minibuses run between Arapgir and Divrigi, and because I knew the road would not carry much traffic, I had expected to arrive in my destination about midday. However, I was in the town centre, where the weekly market was in full swing, before 11.00am. I had ahead of me almost a full day.
Research before leaving the UK revealed that Divrigi now has at least two hotels, but I wanted to stay at the Belediye thinking it would be in the town centre and inexpensive, the latter because of subsidies deriving from the town council. I first went to the Belediye itself, thinking the hotel might occupy a floor among the offices or be located nearby, but, when I arrived and asked staff about the hotel, they said that it was about a kilometre away. I prepared to undertake the walk, but a female employee said I had to wait and a lift would be provided. Three men in uniform ushered me to a car in the Belediye car park and kindly drove me to the hotel.
Divrigi’s Belediye Hotel is on the northern edge of town with the railway station and its attendant facilities nearby and a deep valley with a meandering river even closer. Immediately south of the hotel is the vast buttress of rock on which stand the ruins of the large citadel. The hotel itself has seen better days and parts of it now look shabby, but the rooms are spacious and benefit from en suite facilities. I had a room facing the citadel and, in common with all the rooms facing south, a spacious balcony that I sat on whenever I had the opportunity. There is a bar and a restaurant, and in the evenings many people come to drink beer and eat food on the wide patio facing the citadel. The overnight cost, which included breakfast, was 60TL, which, given that Divrigi proved the trip’s the most popular place for tourists other than Diyarbakir, was very reasonable.