Turkey Journal Entries

Welcome to Turkey!After about a year of rolling around Europe, we were so excited to get to Turkey, our first foray into unknown territory.

Everything was new and exciting. We had a big adventure getting into Istanbul, agonized over our first bus ride (and later concluded that we didn’t have to cycle every single mile) and revelled in the beautiful landscapes and encounters with local people.

Turkey was the start of our love affair with the Middle East.

63km Alexandroupoli to Ipsala

Posted on:
2 Oct 2007

A few days ago we met Greece’s nicest bar owner and today our paths were lucky enough to cross with what we are sure is the country’s best bike shop. It was pure chance that we happened to stop at a sports store – looking for bike gloves for Andrew – where the owner knew

71km Ipsala to Yenice

Posted on:
3 Oct 2007

We slept well our first night in Turkey and woke up with hopes of a hot shower to set the day off on the right foot. Unfortunately our hotel, which looked so good through our tired eyes last night, turned out to be a bit of a shabby spot. When we turned the taps on

67km Yenice to the Marmara coastline

Posted on:
4 Oct 2007

We’ve spending our day honing our bargaining skills, from the moment we packed up our tent and rolled out of the foggy field that was our home for the night. Just up the hill was a gas station so we stopped and ordered two coffees with the four waiters who were there, waiting to serve

109km Marmara coastline to Yakuplu

Posted on:
5 Oct 2007

We can notch today up as one of the craziest days we’ve had yet on this trip. Everything was going more or less normally until late in the afternoon – early start from our campsite, plenty of friendly waves and honks from the passing trucks, lunch by the seaside. Perfect. Then we got to the

38km Yakuplu to Istanbul

Posted on:
6 Oct 2007

The garage floor turned out to be a pretty good sleeping spot. We woke up to the sun slowly peeking over the hills of Istanbul, turning the skies pink and lighting up the motorways that awaited us. We rolled off our sleeping mats and headed over to the patisserie across the road for a cup

The early ferry beckons

Posted on:
13 Oct 2007

Tomorrow morning at the crack of dawn we’ll be on our way again, on the 7am ferry across the Marmara Sea to Bandirma. Goodbye Istanbul, a city we’ve slowly come to feel at home in and know pretty well now that we’ve trekked to many of its corners, trying to hunt down those elusive visas

22km Istanbul to Balıkesir

Posted on:
14 Oct 2007

“Problem,” said the man in charge of getting buses in and out of the terminal on a busy holiday Sunday. All around us, families were filling the bus station, jumping on and off coaches to all parts of Turkey. “Problem,” he said again, looking at our bicycles, shaking his head and then finally throwing his

75km Balıkesir to Duğla

Posted on:
15 Oct 2007

We slept like logs after our pre-dawn start the day before and struggled to get out of bed. Just 10 more minutes, we said, rolling over and pulling the duvet up around our heads. Maybe our bodies were already subconsciously aware of just how cold it was outside. It was our first bone-chilling morning in

65km Duğla to Bergama

Posted on:
16 Oct 2007

Turkey is blessed with archaeological sites; a few well known ones like Troy and a wealth of other small treasures you stumble upon unexpectedly. Today we were making our way towards Bergama and the famous acropolis of Pergamum when we saw an excavation by the side of the road. We were amazed to discover that

Another day, another bus….

Posted on:
17 Oct 2007

We hopped on the bus once again today, from one touristy town, Bergama, to another also famous for its ruins, Selcuk. Our first time on a bus a few days ago was a bit of a novelty. Enjoying the free drinks. Taking in the whiff of lemon-scented hand oil offered to all passengers. Dancing in

76km Selçuk to Baltaköy

Posted on:
19 Oct 2007

It’s truly amazing how short a distance you have to cover to be off the beaten tourist trail. Just a few kilometers after leaving Selçuk with its coach tours and touts (we enjoyed the ruins of Efphesus but were starting to be annoyed by the crowds and hassle factor) we felt like we were in

Tea at midnight. Anyone??

Posted on:
20 Oct 2007

64km Baltaköy to Pirlibey Our expectations of a peaceful sleep last night were shattered late in the evening when we heard several loud bangs nearby. We were both jolted out of our dreams and on high alert. Gun shots? Fireworks? A car backfiring? We weren’t sure. All went quiet for a few minutes and we

40km Pirlibey to Geyre

Posted on:
21 Oct 2007

Once again, we’ve been amazed by Turkey’s archaeological wealth. We both learned in school about the Roman empire but neither one of us seemed to remember just how much of it still lives on in Turkey. Today we visited Aphrodisias, a once prosperous city that is now one of the best preserved sites anywhere. We

30km Geyre to Karahisar

Posted on:
22 Oct 2007

A fantastic breakfast started our day off right but it quickly went downhill from there. We couldn’t resist the hotel’s offer to cook us breakfast for a very reasonable price and we gorged ourselves on eggs fresh from the chickens running round the yard as well as homemade jam, bread, olives, tomatoes, cheese and a

57km Karahisar to Karahüyükafşar

Posted on:
23 Oct 2007

There’s something wonderful about rolling out of a tent in the morning. Views across fields and mountains, fresh air… and for Friedel especially this morning there was a double happiness that we were able to get up at all after an overnight scare from the weather. What started out as a normal evening turned into

34km Karahüyükafşar to Yeşilova

Posted on:
24 Oct 2007

The weather forecast said sun, sun, sun when we checked it yesterday but over the past few days we’ve had just the opposite — a run of rain. One day of rain is okay, two is manageable but after three days of wet weather you start to feel a little down. This morning’s drops turned

64km Yeşilova to Sülekler

Posted on:
25 Oct 2007

Today was a complete contrast to the previous run of rainy weather that had us feeling down. We pulled back the curtains from our hotel room window and saw blue skies and sunshine. Perfect! We packed up quickly and rushed out to enjoy the roads in a way we haven’t for a few days. It

85km Sülekler to Antalya

Posted on:
26 Oct 2007

The simply stunning scenery of yesterday continued into today as we glided into the coastal city of Antalya. Golden fields flanked by mountains and roads that cyclists’ dream of all with fun curves and plenty of descents came together to make for the second of two wonderful days – some of the best riding we’ve

76km Antalya to Ulupınar

Posted on:
28 Oct 2007

It’s hard to believe that less than a week ago we were stuck in a muddy field with rain pouring out of the sky and now, just a couple hundred kilometers away in Antalya, the heat is sweltering. We are hard to please when it comes to the weather! Somewhere between 15°C and 25°C please,

18km Ulupınar to Olympos

Posted on:
29 Oct 2007

After so much hard work yesterday, we enjoyed a little bit of a late snooze, dozing right through the call of two mosques and the dawn cries of several roosters down in the valley. Craving a change of breakfast as well – there’s only so much bread and jam you can take – we cooked

40km Olympos to Kumluca

Posted on:
30 Oct 2007

Our day started in the quiet valley of Olympos, woken up not for the first time by a rooster crowing, but without the normal call to prayer that sounds just before dawn. Here, among the treehouses and next to the beach, there are no mosques within earshot. Just many tired backpackers, sleeping in after a

50km Kumluca to Üçoluk

Posted on:
31 Oct 2007

Climb, climb, climb for all you’re worth. That’s a pretty good one-line summary of our day. The warnings from the locals turned out to be true; the back road to Antalya is a strenuous workout for cyclists. Still, despite the steep ascents, the all-too-rare descents and poor road conditions, we managed to enjoy ourselves. We

37km Üçoluk to Antalya

Posted on:
1 Nov 2007

Downhill, baby! After pushing our bikes up some severely graded hills yesterday – a climb that left our calves aching even after a good night’s rest – today we reaped the rewards with a eye-watering descent that lasted all the way into Antalya. And a good thing too since we were running close to empty

83km Hatay to Urum as Sughra

Posted on:
3 Nov 2007

It’s hard to know where to start with our latest journey, one that took us from the southern coast of Turkey and plunged us less than a day later into Syria – a country we already feel very much at home in. Our marathon leg started with a night bus from Antalya to Hatay, a

55km Midanki to Killis

Posted on:
30 Dec 2007

Turkey is notorious for being hilly so it wasn’t a surprise when we saw plenty of peaks looming in our path as we approached the border. We’d hoped to reach the crossing point well before sunset but it turned out to be a last-minute dash because we took so long working our way through the

40km Killis to Gaziantep

Posted on:
31 Dec 2007

This time last year we were in southern Spain, swimming in a salt-water pool at a luxurious campsite. This was the memory we dwelled on as we tried to get up the energy to emerge from our cozy sleeping bags into the freezing early morning air. With our stove on the blink and no hot

Iran, we’ve arrived!

Posted on:
3 Jan 2008

After months of anticipation and fretting over visas we’re finally in Iran! The border crossing went much more smoothly and quickly than we expected. No prying questions or searching customs inspections, just a polite official who welcomed us to the country under a huge portrait of the holy leader, filled out all our forms for

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