Day 70 to Assos
Woke up feeling surprisingly very fresh and full of beans, I say surprisingly because at some point in the night we heard a lot of gun fire, we can only imagine it was in celebration of a wedding taking place in the town.
Gary; 10 rapid fire rounds from a pistol, WTF. in the wee hours of the night. no sounds of sirens or panic but it took a while to settle back to sleep, only for Ginette to decide that this morning was to be her early rise day.
We had a slow start to the morning, not helped by the fact that Gary lost his mobile phone and I lost one of the bags for the blow up beds. The phone was in one of the bags and I had put the bag for the blow up beds in the sleeping bag bed Doh!
I had hoped to listen to some music whilst we cycled along but this was wishful thinking as the road was very bumpy and the tracks get jumping. We cycled through a number of small towns before getting back on the main road.
Gary; this was the coast road, easy to navigate, the towns were basic, some set up as seaside resorts but I don’t think many internationals use it mainly the Turks.
The main road was fast but busy, at our first stop, we were surprised to see the garage attendant spoke very good english, we have gotten used to the fact that with the odd exception most Turks cannot speak fluent english, this is not a criticism as many can speak broken english, sufficient for us to have a brief conversation and we cannot speak any Turkish (except thank you, bill please and hello)
At about 20 miles from our campsite we turned off the main road and onto a coastal road, although very scenic it was much slower but to our surprise we passed a number of camp sites that were not listed on any website or map we had looked at. With time on our hands we decided to stick to our original plan as most of the camp sites we had seen were very basic.
This may have been a mistake because as we got closer to our destination Assos, it got hotter and hotter (41.7 centigrades) and very hilly at one point I could feel myself burning up, my heart was pounding and I was struggling to get my breath so I got off and walked. When I got to the top of an 11% climb Gary looked a bit peaky and said he needed to lay down as he felt queazy, he was drenched, the hill had clearly taken it out of him.
Gary; At the top there was a slight breeze so it cooled down to 37 degrees. But climbing these steep climbs with all the kit in high temps is not pleasant.
As we set off after a short break we had hoped for a few switch backs and a gentle hill down to the campsite which was situated by the sea but instead we faced a cobbled, narrow, steep incline down to the sea. Half way down I got off my bike and declared I didn’t think the route was safe for bikes, Gary agreed so we pushed them back up the 15% hill (our guess). At the top we saw a number of signs for pensions (cheap hotels) and agreed to book into one of these for the night. We were both very weary, hot and ready to stop for the day.
Although a little expensive at £20 we were glad we stopped We stayed in the middle of Assos, a short walk up to the ancient ruins, the accommodation had air conditioning, free wifi and the price included breakfast.
Gary; I was hot, hungry and tired. After a shower we ate out having just bought everything we needed to cook our own dinner tonight, we can use the ingredients tomorrow instead. I even had an hours sleep which is most unlike me.
Ginette – We went to see the ancient ruins, although impressive we were more impressed with the views and the walk to the ruins where little old ladies sat on the cold stones, sewing dresses and shawls. It was difficult to say how old they were but it is hard to imagine old ladies in the Uk managing to walk up the steep cobbled streets.
For our contribution to the local tourist trade we were rewarded with finding a very elusive Efes fridge, none of the bars sold alcohol and we had resigned ourselves to a cold lemon drink when I spotted a fridge in the shop right next to our hotel, it was booked away and had a solid door the only reason I looked inside was because at the very top I could see a very small sign saying ‘efes’, happy days.
Gary; Ginette can smell out the only beer selling vendors from miles away.
Day 71 – assos to Troy
I thought I would struggle sleeping as their was a lot of noise outside, one of the couples running the pension were living next door and the walls were paper thin. However I am very good at sleeping and I didn’t let this put me off however I did hear their TV in the night (tut, tut).
I woke before Gary so used the time to respond to a request for help with a job application
Started the day with another puncture (Gary’s) he fixed it whilst I packed up and loaded the bikes. A steep hill out of Assos and then on to the main road.
We had a strong head wind most of the day, it felt like someone had a hand on my forehead whilst I tried to cycle up hill (7 %) with a very warm hair blower in my face (Gary’s garmin registered 42c).
Gary; it was a hilly, hot and windy cycle today. we left Assos with 15% climbs and 26 degrees at 10am. we battled a headwind all the way, however this wind helped keep you less hot (It certainly didn’t cool you down). when we hit a hill climb we slowed down and as such the temperatures began to rise, hence the climbs were enhanced with temperature of 42 degrees.
Arrived at the camp site at about 2.30 and immediately ordered cold water and beer.
Once we set up the tent we walked the 500 meters to Troy, on our way we picked up a stray dog. Troy was interesting, but listening to the audio tape it is clear to see much of it is still a mystery and there’s not a lot left to see. However after reading books on the area it was good to visit it in person.
On the way home we picked up some more stray dogs, a bitch who looked pregnant ended up staying with us until we packed up camp the following day.
In the evening we planned the next stage of our trip to Gallipoli.
We again had the audio tapes for input so here is my summary.
Some bloke called Homer wrote a story about Troy which featured a Gert big wooden horse and a slapper called Helen (she was married to someone else don’t you know) and a stud called Paris, so as this was all in Homers story so apparently none of this bit about Troy may be true. however the bits about the Greek gods is all real hence Aphrodite was a real goddess.
Walking around the ruins I was puzzled at why the stones had all collapsed but the Gert big horse has survived unaffected by time, we even managed to climb inside it.
Day 72 Troy to Canna kale
The dogs might be more friendly in Troy but they’re just as noisy, one dog decided it would join in with the call for prayer, howling at 5.00am in the morning grrrrrr…
We only had 2 hours cycling and although it was quite hilly it was easily manageable and we arrived in Cannakale by 11.20am.
At our morning garage stop Gary had wolfed down some dark chocolate, a real school boy error in the heat, as a result he felt queazy for most of the day.
We had to get a ferry to Ecaubat but we were a little enthusiastic and jumped on the wrong one, as we left port Gary quickly realised our error but the ticket was only 80p (for both of us) so we sat back and enjoyed the ride (about 20 mins) and stayed on the ferry until it returned to where we set off from. No one checked our tickets and we when docked we simply got off and queued in the right line, everything is so laid back in Turkey (I think it is the heat no-ones go the energy to get overly excited about anything).
We could see our hotel from the ferry, so walked our bikes to the hotel. I was exhausted (lack of sleep and heat) and took advantage of a nice cool room and had an hours sleep whilst Gary booked our coach tour for the following day.
Lazy afternoon and evening, we took a walk in a local outdoor art exhibition which had some really powerful images and statutes which recognised the loss of life from all countries that took part in the Gallipoli landings.
In the evening we went down to the Foyer so Gary could spend a couple of hours planning our route to Istanbul, whilst we sat in the foyer we met two couples one from Australia (Newcastle) and one from New Zealand. We should get to speak to the Australians more as they’ve booked onto our coach trip. The New Zealand couple (Gary and Rachel) had spent a couple of days in the area retracing Gary’s fathers tour in Gallipoli they’d found a number of artifacts and seemed really upbeat. They’ve kindly invited us to contact them when we get to New Zealand (we are starting to collect a lot of business cards, we hope we will be able to take some of these generous people up on their offers)
Day 73 Eceabat – rest day
We had a very lazy morning on leaving the hotel room for breakfast.
at midday we met our tour group for lunch, we were taken to a local restaurant where rather oddly we all opted to sit in our own individual groups – humans are strange. It later transpired that some of the group was going to visit Troy and others would be going on the Gallipoli tour with us. Whilst eating several more people joined tables around us. The Oz couple we had met the night before had decided they didn’t want a full lunch because they’d had a late breakfast and instead opted for a pack lunch, which they did not enjoy.
The Gallipoli tour was very interesting and a little emotional (I had not taken into account the effect of seeing grave stones so soon after my mums funeral) It is hard to image the atrocities that occurred during the first world war the idea of young men fighting only 8 meters apart (and less) is hard to conceive. Our guide was really good and provided a very objective view of the campaign (she couldn’t really do anything else as she was taking Australian, New Zealand and British people to see the war graves) but in fairness she did it in style and included some human stories including the following:
An Australian officer was injured in his leg, he was screaming out in pain but his regiment could not help him as he was in a very exposed spot, the Turks could have easily silenced him but instead a turkish soldier waved a white flag which stopped the shooting and he climbed out of his trench and put the wounded soldier over his shoulder and returned him to the Australians.
Another story which demonstrated the human spirit
as the trenches were so close every now and again the soldiers would call a truce during this period no-one could leave the trenches but it meant soldiers could eat/sleep etc without the fear of being shot, on one occasion the commonwealth soldiers heard the Turks singing they stayed quiet and when they’d finished gave them a round of applause they later sang a song in return, the Turks also clapped and praised them. This story would be a good story but it is made even more special by the fact that the Turks were praying and they thought the English were praying.
It was a fascinating tour and we got to speak to a lot of people from Australia some of which had a 6 hour journey back to Istanbul after the 6 hour tour (bugger that)
In the evening we had a simple meal in one of the restaurants whilst eating our meal a wedding party went passed the cafe, we have see several of these in Turkey and Greece, the newly married couple are in a car decorated with ribbons and streamers, they’re often accompanied by a band (in a flat back lorry) and guests in cars and vans, they ride up and down the main high street beeping and honking horns and waving to everyone, we politely waved at them as they passed.
It was an enjoyable evening, people watching, to give you a flavour of the area and Turkey in general here are a couple of things we observed; women wearing headscarfs, long coats and dresses (this is more evident when we’re in more rural areas than in tourist areas but there were a number of women in Ecaubat); fishermen and farmers selling their goods direct to the restaurants and shops, lots of stray dogs and cats; men being very affectionate with each other for example kissing each other, holding each others hands/arms and generally being more tactile than we are in the UK, very old cars on the road (we’re pretty sure there’s no MOT system here, and lots of people crammed into cards upto 9 people in one car that went by.
Day 74 Ecaubat to Saros
46 miles cycling
We had an impressive buffet breakfast at the hotel before retrieving our bikes from the hotel reception area. As we approached the bikes I could hear Gary groan, his back tyre had gone down again. I proceeded to load my bike, play with the hotel puppy, purchase water etc whilst Gary fixed his puncture.
The morning ride was beautiful, we had the sea on one side of us, with a number of ships and boats to watch and on the other side of the road a lot of road construction. It was difficult to imagine that 100 years ago this area would have been a war zone and that during the course of 8 short months nearly 200,000 men lossed their lives. I tried not to think about this but it was difficult to ignore having visited the war graves the previous day.
As we approached Gallipoli for lunch Gary had another puncture so in the increasing heat we pulled over for him to fix it (temp 43c). Gary was getting really frustrated and couldn’t understand why he kept on getting punctures so decided to change the tyre and the inner tube.
We stopped in a restaurant for lunch and sat in the shade, I had a very meagre tuna salad (the greeks could teach the turks a thing or two about food) and Gary had ravioli with a difference, we had expected parcels of meat with a rich tomato sauce, instead he got parcels of soggy pasta, covered with yogurt and sprinkled with some spices, I didn’t like it and although Gary said it was OK he left half of it.
As we neared our camp site, Gary got another puncture in the back tyre. This was becoming a real problem, fortunately (or not) on closer inspection Gary was able to ascertain the problem was with the patches although there were no holes in the inner tube the patches that had been used to repair the inner tubes were blistering in the heat. Gary put a fresh inner tube in his bike and off we cycled with the intention of buying some different patches and inner tubes once we get to Istanbul.
We only had 2 miles to go to find the camp site but it took us the best part of an hour in the blistering heat as it was not very well sign posted. We followed the signs for one camp site and on arrival changed our minds, we would have been sleeping in a field, with two dogs (that were tied up) no obvious toilet/shower facilities and an old car. I was not prepared to pay for this so we decided to carry on to the designated camp site. On arrival the camp owner met us at the gate and initially shook his head indicating he did not accept tents only caravans and motorhomes. We must have looked exhausted because after consulting with someone inside the building he came out and indicated we could stay for one night. After unpacking the tent we took a much needed dip in the sea, the sea was surprisingly very warm and very shallow. The downside was it had scum on the top of it and cows were wading in the sea to the right of us. You wouldn’t want to swim in it but it was pleasant enough to cool down in.
During the night there was an almighty thunder and lightening storm, which lasted most of the night. I am not sure if it was more dramatic because we were in a tent but boy was it loud. it felt like you were on a cat walk with flashing bulbs all night the lightening was really close, you could see it through the mosquito net and the thunder was so loud that it made you jump in your sleep.
Needless to say we didn’t sleep very well but it was very exciting.
Saros to near Hoskoy
cycled 33.7 miles
As we didn’t sleep well last night we decided to have a lazy morning, Gary snoozed whilst i read my boring book (which I’m determined to finish ‘how to get filthy rich in asia’ or something like that, it was recommended on a podcast I listened to last week).
The terrain was much more undulating than it had been in the passed few days, Gary was feeling weary so we took it slowly. However we were going a little faster than a tortoise that was sitting wounded in the road, Gary could see it was still alive so stopped and put him/her in the hedge.
As the morning advanced another thunder storm formed around us, fortunately the road leading to Sakoy where we were scheduled to stop for a break was only 6km away and mainly down hill, the heavens opened about 2km outside which meant we arrived a little wet.
We had our first burger and chips since leaving the UK in a small dry cafe, we made them last so that we could avoid the rain. Once it looked like it was clearing up we went in search of some inner tubes for the bikes and some food supplies. As we left the cafe I somehow popped my thumb, it really made me feel sick it had not dislocated for sometime, I can only think it was a combination of braking whilst going down hill, squeezing the tomato ketchup bottle which did hurt and using my brakes to steady the bike – it was whilst doing the latter that it popped. I quickly dosed myself up on ibuprofen and soldiered on.
Fortunately the afternoon was much flatter so I didn’t have to use my brakes as frequently as the morning and as Gary was still struggling the pace was slow.
At our next stop I visited the loo (for a wee), it is amazing how many different ways you can flush a toilet, if it hadn’t been done already I would be tempted to produce a book purely on toilets. We have seen western toilets (sit down) with push, pull, touch, sensor, foot pedal flushes and just as many configurations for the eastern style toilet. But I was flummoxed by the toilet that faced me at this pit stop. It was a western toilet, a very posh toilet with the removable plastic seat cover and what looked like sensors everywhere, however when I went to flush, nothing seemed to work, there was no obvious push or pull lever, I waved my hand up and over the toilet basin, I even tried walking towards the door incase there was a sensor somewhere else or there was a timer on the loo, still no joy but I suddenly noticed a button on the inside of the loo basin, I thought this was a strange place to put a button/sensor but as I wanted to leave the basin clean for the next customer I pressed the button and got soaked, as this was the bidet and when your bum is not there to be cleaned the water shoots all over the place. I did laugh but had to admit defeat as I still couldn’t find the flush.
After explaining to Gary why I was so wet, I suggested I cycled in front to give him a brake from the relentless head wind, this seemed to work and after about an hour we started to look for somewhere to wild camp. We checked out a couple of places but with no luck but as the thunder started we decided to make do with an olive grove up on a hill, not ideal for the bikes as the ground was still very muddy from the rain the previous evening, but free so we will not complain.
Before going to bed I went for a wee (no toilet flushes to worry about in the wild), I’m normally pretty chilled about going to the loo at night but for some reason I felt a little spooked, it could have been the corn fields right next to me, I’ve never seen children of the corn (a horror movie) but it definitely felt like someone was watching me. As you can imagine I didn’t hang around and rushed back to the tent, but as I got into the sleeping compartment I thought I saw someone in my sleeping bag and boy did I jump, I’m surprised the tent stayed pegged in. Gary was at a complete loss as to why I had jumped and was now crying and shaking as apparently he had only said boo when I got in the tent, I didn’t even hear him say it but perhaps that was what set me off. Needless to say it took me awhile to go to sleep.
Day 76 Hoskoy to 100km outside of Istanbul
A day with a lot of coastal climbing (25 miles), sea on one side with rugged mountains on the other side. The road in places was quite treacherous, with no barriers and steep drops, most of the climbs ranged between 10 -11% but the switch backs could have been even steeper Gary’s garmin registered 15% but this was after we had turned the corner. It was an overcast morning and the wind was kind to us most of the way, at one point it even felt like I was being pushed up one of the hills.
Once we were at sea level we stopped for a bite to eat and some turkish tea in a village called Kumbag (this appealed to Gary’s school boy sense of humour), before setting off on the main road to our campsite (a further 20 miles away).
We passed a number of campsites on the way but they all looked really basic, we even stopped in one that looked slightly cleaner than the others to be informed in sig language and broken english that the site was no longer used as a camp site but we could stay if we liked. The children at the site were very excited and kept saying ‘yes’ in english but the facilities were very poor and it was clear to see the family would also be using the outside bathroom with us, in addition there were no showers.
We agreed we would stop at the next camp site and although it appeared very basic when we pulled in, it did have everything we needed. We were hot and sweaty so were keen to set up camp and have a shower. As Gary was putting up the tent I heard him make a strange noise as I turned around he was pulling his shoe off which had a tent peg right the way through the sole (he’d been using his shoes to push the tent pegs in). The peg had fortunately gone between his toes so not too much damage done, but it did make our bellies turn.
The shower was a bit of a disappointment, there was only one, it was not very powerful and it only had a shower curtain around it, Gary was lucky and had hot water whereas I had to make do with a cold shower (yuk)
On a positive note the owners were really welcoming and even gave us stuffed cheese pancakes for dinner.
As we were writing up our diaries we got talking to a couple from Holland that have done a lot of travelling in an old van. They work for 2 to 3 years and then travel for a year, they’ve recently travelled through Iran and were very complimentary about the countryside and the people. It made us wish we had included this country in our travels. If it weren’t for the Indian visas we might have changed our plans but as they expire in September we need to head east to enjoy what India has to offer.