Day 63 Kuyucak to Kusadasi (South West Coast of Turkey)
Had a restless night although it was great to be wild camping it does take some adjusting to.
As we walked our bikes out of the field and down the off road track my bike bit me, it was my own stupid fault I was holding it by the handlebars and did not have the brake on, the pedal took a big chunk out of my ankle ouch!!
We had a nice easy ride to Eupheus which is an ancient ruins site, the best preserved we have seen on our travels and very much worth a visit if you are in Turkey. We opted to have the audio system rather than a guide or walking round clueless, this enabled us to walk round at our own pace and to listen to repeat sections we were particularly interested in.
Whilst playing in the ampitheater I fell down some marble stairs (clearly not my day), I not only bruised my pride (a group of chinese tourists witnessed me fall down the stairs, fortunately I had my cycle shorts under my dress), but I badly bruised and cut both arms and several fingers – double ouch.
We spent a couple of hours looking around Epheus before heading to the beach. We had hoped this was 4 or 5 miles away but it turned out to be 8 or 9 miles of hard riding, we had a head wind and the road surface was not very good. My body was throbbing from my fall and Gary was tired so the ride was very slow. Fortunately we found the camp site almost as soon as we entered the town so we quickly unpacked and went to the pool for some much needed rest and relaxation. We have decided to stay in this campsite for 2 days to allow our bodies to recover, the next stretch of our journey looks very lumpy.
Whilst eating our dinner we spotted two other tourers entering the camp site next to ours, as we had missed out on talking to any other travellers (because of language barriers or the fact that we were heading in different directions), Gary decided to cease the moment and introduce himself and invite the for a drink. It turned out that the Marijke and Diego were on a 5 week road trip (a kind of honeymoon) and were heading to Istanbul, but as they had limited time they were using buses and trains to cover quite a long distance. Marijke was 4 months pregnant but seemed to be coping really well, she explained that she had done a lot of cycling in the past. She had met Diego whilst cycling in South America. We had a really lovely evening with them and agreed to stay in touch.
Camping is great fun but I do wish they’d make sound proof tents, we were sent to sleep by the sound of dogs barking and growling (one right next to our tent) and the local disco.
Day 64 rest day
Day 65 Kusadasi to Izmir
We had planned to hold camp 3/4 of the way to the city but the ride was fairly flat and easy. A pleasant surprise as I thought we would have some hill climbing to do over the peninsula.
We had a break at the 25 mile mark at a garage with a nice shady pegoda, even got our kindles out and had a read, it was very hot and muggy at 37c
When we reached the outskirts of Izmir we stopped for dinner and checked the internet for possible camp/hotels. Unfortunately no official camp sites in the area and we were too close to the city to wild camp so we had to book a cheap hotel in Izmer.
Ginette – whilst we had dinner, an almighty thunder storm erupted around us, the thunder was really loud and the heavens opened, I’m so glad that we were in doors. Unfortunately our helmets weren’t and much to the amusement of the staff when we put them on we got very wet.
Gary – one mile into our ride into Izmer Ginette got her first puncture, so roadside repairs required.
The roads into the city were busy and congested but we have cycled in this environment before, its not nice but I don’t find it scary or unsettling it just focus’s the mind.
We did get a little lost trying to locate the hotel but this was quite fun, winding through the dirty back alleys, past the wild dogs (Net didn’t like this bit) eventually through a narrow set of streets – we had to walk as loads of people around, lots of small stalls and food shops.
Ginette: it would appear urban dogs are not as territorial as rural dogs, although they do bark they soon settle down when shouted at.
Ginette – as we walking down one of the back roads, a man kindly stopped us and gave us some biscuits (we must have looked in need of a pick me up)
Our hotel was in a back street along with lots of other cheap looking hotels (£22 a night with breakfast, you can’t complain) the outside of the hotel was decorated with old pushbike frames decorated brightly and also with flowers, nice of them to lay this on for us.
Once showered and changed we took a walk to the Izmer Clock Tower and Yali Mosque in Konak Square – not really that impressive. Walked back through Kemeralti Bazaar, it was in the last stages of closing up. All the shops had thrown their rubbish in the street for collection so it looked a mess.
Stopped on the way back to the hotel for a chicken shish kebab in one of the back alleys. Tacky plastic chairs, limited hygiene but nice experience all the same. Managed to buy a bottle of beer on the way home – had to take it in the compulsory black bag.
as we walked through the streets in the evening we heard what we thought were gun shots but the noise could have been fireworks, we also saw a number of cars go by waving flags and beeping their horns. When we returned to the room I logged on to see the Turkish election results and it was clear to see the people were cheering because the HDP party had got 12% of the vote this meant for the first time in Turkish history the Pro Kurdish party would have 50 seats in parliament.
Another observation from the evening was the number of males in the streets compared to females. We could have probably counted the number of females we saw whereas there were hundreds of men. The old town where we stayed seemed to be geared up for their needs, lots of barbers (no hairdressers), lots of clothes shops for men and although they sold the token dress it was clear to see who they were marketing their goods at, lots of mobile phones and electronic shops/stands and lots of food stands. It was quite disconcerting walking through these groups, I wasn’t sure if we generated interest because we were foreigners or because I was a woman, either way I felt very uncomfortable in the environment whereas Gary seemed really relaxed.
Day 66 Izmer to a garage in the middle of nowhere, Nr Maltepe.
I slept really well, the beauty of a dark, quiet room, I was a sleep by 10.30pm and struggled to wake at 8.00am
Breakfast was really good, the usual cheese, hams, jams and bread but in addition we had spinach omelettes and cup cakes.
We had a late start and didn’t get on the road until 9.30am. The roads were incredibly busy and difficult to negotiate, so we walked our bikes to a safe place to commence our journey north.
Gary; the Monday rush hour was manic, the car drivers were ignoring green traffic lights and like the UK city computers had no interest in making life easy for a couple of cyclists.
Our route was supposed to go straight on at one point but this was a dual carriageway flyover so I had to navigate another way through the city.
We went through a lovely park but then found ourselves on an even busier road, not pleasant at all. At one point because the cycle/slip path had disappeared we tried to cycle/push our bikes around a section of the road this was really difficult as it was very narrow and full of glass and rock.
Gary; we got back on the dual carriageway but on the opposite side to a great looking cycle path, we could see it but could not get to it, hence we continued to manoeuvre our way on the inside of the concrete barriers for a few miles, safe but unpleasant. we did turn onto another road eventually and followed the coast.
Fortunately not long after this a couple of cyclists with a little bit of English stopped to talk to us as we were looking at our map and tried to explain an easier/safer route to our destination. However their english was limited so in the end they decided they would cycle with us to a point where they could direct us. Although we were grateful for their help, it meant we had to cycle the next hour or two at 7 miles an hour. It is surprising how difficult it is to ride our bikes slowly, we were glad when they decided to turn around and left us with directions for going forward.
Gary; Yes these two were very helpful, but it did take a long time as before they let us go they sat with me planning the rest of the route on my phone, this must have taken 40 minutes. it turns out we did follow there directions and the roads have been far better for us.
It was another very hot and tiring day with the threat of another thunder storm so we made camp early at 3.00pm behind a petrol garage with a lovely flat piece of green land overlooking some hills. Only downside was the mosquitoes.
Gary; to sum up todays trip. Shitty city then coast path. Marshy flat land leading into cultivated flat land, then later slight barren hills and cultivated valleys.
Day 66 Nr Maltepe to Bergama
Another doggy moment last night (behave), whilst we quietly read our kindles two dogs decided to have a hissy fit outside of our tent (picture below of one of the dogs). I think they were spooked by the fact they could smell and hear us but couldn’t see us. We tried to ignore them but they escaped with our rubbish bag so Gary went out and told them to clear off, he is much braver than me, to be honest I have started to get a sick feeling in my tummy every time I hear a dog bark/growl, I know it is irrational but I can’t help it. I have found a new respect for women who travel alone, I’m not sure I could.
We had a new experience when we opened the tent this morning, the tent was surrounded by big piles of thunder flies, I have never seen anything like it before, Gary thinks we may have pitched our tent on their nest. I thought they might swarm when we got out of the tent but they seemed totally unfazed by us and by the time we packed up the tent they’d virtually disappeared. They along with the mosquitoes left us feeling a little grubby and itchy, so we set off for a nice warm shower.
The thunder clouds hovered overhead all day, threatening to break, but never actually catching us. The morning was spent going through little villages, one of which was particularly picturesque. More dogs, they’re becoming the norm and we have got into a routine of Gary falling back and shouting at them whilst I cycle out of their way, it seems to work and their bark does seem to be worse than their bite.
By mid morning we found ourselves in a heavy industrial area, not very pleasant, lots of lorries on the road, which meant we were forced to use the hard shoulder which was gravelly, dusty and uneven. Fortunately just before lunch we turned on to a main road which had fewer large lorries. We stopped several times on route in garages for drinks and snacks and arrived in Bergama at about 3.00pm
One of the noticeable sights over the past couple of days has been the number of women working in the fields, they’re often bent double hoeing the ground. On a couple of instances we have seen women laying down (not sure if this is in prayer or resting).
Once in Bergama we located a camp site and was pleasantly surprised to see it at had a swimming pool (although full of young teenagers). We promptly pitched the tent, showered (in cold water) and settled ourselves down with our kindles.
I finished a rather disappointing book before joining Gary for dinner (tuna and rice kedgeree). After dinner we took a walk into town, nothing much to see, the main tourist sight appears to be a further 7 kms away, so we agreed we would visit it tomorrow. Had an ice-cream and a bottle of coke in a local cafe before settling down to write the blog and starting a new book.
Fairly boring day but they can’t all be full of fun and adventure.
Day 67 Bergama to very close to Paradise
I had a very restless night, I woke up before midnight for a wee and a mosquito or two had a feast on my bum and legs, when I got back to the tent not only was I itching but I wasn’t sure if I’d just been bitten or whether they were in the tent with me and awaiting another nibble.
We had a leisurely breakfast by the pool whilst reading the papers on line.
As we set off we had a little disagreement re seeing the local pile of stones, (Gary; Pergamon) it was 7km in the wrong direction which would in effect would have added a further 8 miles to our 50 mile scheduled day. We managed to find a compromise and cycled to the bottom of the stones took some photos and set off in the right direction.
The day had been forecast for more thunder storms and it did not disappoint but fortunately when the heavens opened we had just arrived at a garage for our first break so could take refuge under an unused building, the nesting birds were not too happy but soon settled down when they realised we didn’t mean them any harm. It took about an hour to pass, Gary used this time to do a quick MOT on the bikes and then we read our kindles.
Gary; The route was along a dual carriageway main road no 550, its is pretty well maintained, the traffic was much lighter than it had been the previous day and we had a nice hard shoulder to ride on, we came across road works where all traffic was diverted down to one side of the dual carriageway, we ignored the cones and carried on our side, we managed to cycle about 5 miles on a road pretty much to ourselves on brand new tarmac, even cycling down the white lines in the middle as no one else was around, all while the other traffic was travelling on the opposite carriageway. this stretch of road works is where the garage stop was, we thought it would be shut but no, while we sat waiting for the rain to end several other tractors and mopeds came for fuel so was not alone after all. when we set back off the temperature was cold at 25 degrees but the sun was trying to break through, to the extent that steam was coming off the road in clouds and cycling along you went through hot and cold spots, 25 minutes later the temperature was up to 30 degrees.
Nothing to write home about the cycle ride until we arrived in Albey Adas, to arrive here we had to cycle through a tourist town (Gary; Ayalik) (full of people dressed in western clothes but not english) and up a steep winding hill. As I dropped to granny gear I wasn’t expecting much from our planned camping site but it was clear to see from the views at the top of the hill that this was going to be an impressive camping site. The views were amazing, sea views, with islands in the distance, we have taken some pictures but I am not sure they will do justice to the views.
Gary; Albey Aldas (Cunda island) is a small island near Ayvali, reached by crossing two bridges from the mainland. Entering the oasis that is this camp site I had to dodge a small snake passing in front of me, it was on it way to reception possibly to complain about these two extra tourists that have managed to find his isolated home.
The camp site is fairly basic, but it is on the sea front, it has a bar, wifi, kitchen, toilets, hot showers and amazing views of the islands in the distance including Lesbos for £10 a night we are not going to complain, especially as it is totally unspoilt by tourists. Once we had set up the tent and showered we enjoyed a beer on two stools which were positioned at the end of a little ledge with a swivel table, it felt like heaven so much so that we may stay two nights.
Day 68 rest day
We really liked the camp site so we stayed another day. Very lazy day, we went for a short walk and then spent the day sunbathing and reading.
We had dinner in the restaurant and had an early night (at least we would have had, if the dogs had not decided to sing/howl to us for most of the night)
Day 69 Albey Aldas to B
Gary seemed to curse today by telling people that we had a nice easy day planned (a mere 27 miles). In theory this should have been the case but unfortunately we incurred a few challenges. The first was within the first mile, we set off out of the campsite which was up a steep hill, and my bike felt odd, Gary was leaving me for dust whilst I peddled hard and seemed to be going no where. I gave him a shout to come and try my bike as it had been playing up for the passed couple of days. However as Gary approached I could see the problem my back tyre had gone down. Gary was confident that with a little bit of air the tyre would last the day, so off we set. The first 14 miles were coastal roads (which means hilly but very scenic), we were both enjoying the ride until Gary got a puncture. He decided to take this opportunity to fix both his puncture and my slow puncture. We worked really well as a team but no sooner had he fixed his and we had loaded the bike than the tyre went back down (how frustrating) this meant we fixed three punctures in 39 degrees heat.
Once the bikes were road worth we went in search of some food and drink finished and we were pleased to see a garage on the main road. Gary didn’t feel his bike was running well it was a little lumpy, I explained that was the problem I was having with my bike, we agreed we could cope until we arrived at the camp site but it meant Gary would have to fix three punctures and look at the back wheels to see what was causing the problem.
The main road was fine, a little more challenging than previous days as it was more hilly and we had a strong head wind all the way but we managed to arrive at the town at about 2.30pm It took a further 30minutes to find the camp site but was worth it when we got there. Another beautiful setting on the beach, very quiet, with excellent toilet/shower facilities for only £6. Although it had been a relatively easy day I was starving when we arrived (I had only had bowl of cereal and a chocolate biscuit all day). We tried to get something to eat at the onsite restaurant but it had times up for serving food and 3.00pm was not one of them. As I was getting a little grouchy and we didn’t have any supplies in we headed back into town on our bikes, Gary had hoped to stopped at a cafe/restaurant but as we cycled passed a small shop I demanded food, i was at that stage that if you don’t eat you know you are going to get very queazy. Gary was very amused as it is normally him that gets hungry and demands to be fed and not me but on this occasion he had eaten far more than me, he had two helpings of cereal, biscuits, a chocolate bar and a can of coke – a lesson to me to eat when it’s on offer.
Lazy evening, we went for a walk on the beach after dinner (one of Gary’s one pot wonders, pasta, onions, tomatoes, spices and tuna) and watched the sun set over the sea. There were a number of Turkish families sitting on the grass enjoying the weather and having a barbecue. There were also a lot of stray cats and dogs, it seems to be a real issue in Turkey, fortunately these dogs were of the friendly variety, although three of them did bark and tried to chase us off one stretch of beach, we stood our ground and they soon turned away.
It is surprising to see how quiet these seaside towns are, there appears to be very few tourists around although the area does like it is a tourist area, there area lots of hotels, restaurants etc. We’re not complaining as we are enjoying the peace and quiet and luxury of having beaches and campsites virtually to ourselves.