We started the week in Taiwan, and ended it in Turkey. One final night with our first Taiwanese W.S hosts, Julia and Yoshi, and then our last two flights, Taipei – Dubai – Istanbul. The flights were fairly uneventful, and Emirates certainly didn’t measure up to Air NZ, but Jim enjoyed his movies, and I got trashed on G+T’s by accident, and we made it OK to our hotel in Istanbul.
The first thing we did in Istanbul was find some food, and it was excellent. I’m going to be a few stone heavier by the time we leave because the food is delicious and super cheap. We are currently averaging a kebab wrap a day each! Which is setting us back around £1.50. The hostel had a magnificent buffet breakfast, and after assembling the bicycles we stocked up at the supermarket, had a wander around, and ate more kebabs.
The next day, after three plates of breakfast chips and cheese, we set off! The road out of the city was pretty big and busy, and the suburbs went on for ages, but the hard shoulder was wide and the traffic was friendly. We passed a huge group of kids cycling with matching jerseys and a police escort. After a morning on the main road, we tried a backroad – immediately gravel – through tiny villages guarded by very big, unfriendly dogs. But up in the hills we had some great views, and found a perfect campspot right under a wind turbine. It’s been quite cold but nothing unbearable.
Back on the main road it got quieter as we headed west, through towns and factories, but also through fields and farmland. We treated ourselves to Ergenes no. 1 kebab for lunch and found a WS host for the night.
After lunch we continued on the main road, and as Jim waited at the top of a hill for me, Abdul ran out of his security office outside a factory to flag us down with a shout of ‘cay?’ We obviously said ‘yes please!’ and went in for 3 cups of cay and some conversation, guessing what each other were saying, and a quick meet and greet with his boss. It’s amazing how many great interactions we have had over tea, especially as neither of us drank it prior to this trip!
A bit further down the road we spotted a cyclist heading the opposite way, and it was our W.S host Inanc. We hopped across the barrier and joined him heading back the way we came to the village his grandparents live in. His grandma was SO lovely, she fed us loads of this donut style bread, cheese and olives, made us feel so welcome, and gave me an incredible pair of handknitted socks. We have been here 3 days and are totally blown away by the amazing Turkish hospitality.
Inanc then took us into Luleburgaz to the Bicycle Academy. A huge bike park with bike paths and bikes to hire, where kids can learn to ride, and there is a great sense of community. They have 8 beds for touring cyclists, and we met loads of cool people. We cycled round on the 2 people pedal car and in go-carts, and Inanc gave us a tour of some of the other academys. Jim then got roped into fixing some bikes, he now says he’s no longer telling people he’s a bike mechanic, after truing 8 wheels and fixing a few gear issues! They also fixed us up with somewhere to stay the next night in Edirne.
Today I have been feeling a bit ill, but we pressed on to Edirne, just on the big main road again. Kebabs for lunch in Havsa, and a long relaxing afternoon in a cafe, before meeting our host Emre. I’m quite gutted we are going to be out of Turkey soon as it is so lovely here!
Jim’s words – Shoes, Taxi, Turkey, Wandering, Turbine, Hospitality and Coffee.