We had a lazy start which enabled me to do the blog and some other IT bits and pieces
The first 20 miles were relatively easy along a main road but still with sea views, although the road was very busy we had the luxury of the hard shoulder to protect us. At our first pit stop Gary was so hungry he managed to wolf down 2 Hailey bars, 2 packets of croissants and half a packet of nuts washed down with 2 lemon drinks and some water!! this was only 2 hours after eating breakfast.
Gary; Ginette starved me to death last nght, the nice gesture from the owners of the pancake filled her up so she didn’t want any more food, hence I didn’t cook, so like I say she starved me.
Ginette – I never knew I had this sought of control….
The next part of the day was not very pleasant we joined the D110? which was extremely busy with heavy vehicles and no hard shoulder, to add to this the road seemed to climb and climb we pulled over at the first garage and agreed we would pull off the road at the first opportunity.
Gary; with no hard shoulder to ride on the lorries were not giving us much room, there was little space for any wobble errors so it was really tense uncomfortable riding.
Gary; we came across a food market, we were in heaven. loads of fruit and vegetables some of which we hadn’t seen for ages (mushrooms, courgettes and aubergines) however as we would not be camping it was not worth stocking up but we did come away with a healthy veggie meal for the evening and a load of fruit as well.
Ginette – Once off the road we were able navigate our way to our camp site which was less miles than we thought. This meant we arrived at about 4.00ish, the camp site was empty which meant we had the field, toilets and showers to ourselves, heaven. The only thing missing was a wifi connection and somewhere to purchase some cold drinks, but we soon found a village 2km down the road which could provide us with both.
Gary; the camp site was in the middle of the countryside, nothing else around, it was a huge pitch with well kept lawns and clean and tidy toilets and showers. We have it all to ourselves.
Ginette – In the evening we visited the local village which once again was full of men sat outside of bars and lots of stray dogs (this will be one of my strongest memories of Turkey). We soon found the internet cafe and were able to negotiate the wifi code so that we could log on to the internet, this sounds easier than it was, it took several teenagers, a husband a wife and a phone call before they agreed to log on for us.
Before heading back to the campsite we did a quick tour of the supermarkets to see if we could find a bottle of wine, it was 3rd time lucky, but at least we managed to find some, we also managed to purchase 4 eggs (for breakfast) unfortunately they did not make the journey home as they were supplied in plastic bags not boxes. I wasn’t looking forward to the 2km ride back to the campsite, as I knew it would all be uphill but much to my surprise we flew up it, it is so much easier without the panniers.
Gary; A moment to treasure.
Sitting with Ginette with the sun shining on our backs with red wine uncorked, sweets at the ready and writing our diaries. a really nice way to finish the day.
Day 78 Field in the middle of nowhere on our way to Istanbul
46 miles cycling
good night sleep – did have a dogs chorus at some point each of them competing to out bark each other.
navigated a route to the first bridge which showed as a fairly straight back road between the two main roads. This was initially a wide gravel track. I stopped to check we were going in the right direction when 2 policemen came over wanting to know if we were OK we ended up with a photo shoot for us and for them.
The route was a Stuarts route at one stage a lorry had tipped its load of rubble into the road and fully blocked the way, we managed to dismount and push our bikes past the obstacle but cars would have stood no chance.
another stage of the journey was blocked by the passing new road which had a fence running alongside of it. To find away through we had to cycle a few hundred meters down the gravel road and then cycle back up the new road to join the old road.
Net had a whoopsy and fell off her bike at this gravel junction, the first of the ride but she was fine, just as well as I didn’t even know she had fallen off. Ginette: charming, there I am with a fully laden bike on top of me and Gary’s no where to be seen, I will have to practice my distress call because it had no effect…
Gary – The road then turned into a wide mud true with red warning signs that we could not read so ignored. Fortunately the road joined the road which turned out to be a tarmac road. I really enjoyed this route it was a little bit hilly but I felt a lot stronger than I had in the previous days, however Ginette was finding it a little harder (later that day she started her period so that probably explained why she was not feeling herself)
We had a couple of bridges to cross, some main roads to cycle on which were not good and some coastal roads.
We did at one stage aim for the main road to cross the river but this turned out to be what looked like the motorway so we turned off and headed back to the smaller coast road.
We took a few wrong turns, its hard o navigate with an iPhone, if I leave it on the handlebars it overheats and shuts down, so I have to stop, look, cycle and try to remember the direction of travel.
On the way into Istanbul we passed some grassy area by the sea, it was very noticeable how many men sat together or slept laying on each other in the shade, there were hardly any women.
We navigated through the city, passed the ancient walls without too much problem, don’t get me wrong the roads were very busy and we had to dodge cars, taxis and buses, buses were the worse they came really close.
We got involved in a small traffic jam of buses and cars and weaved our way past, it was a bus station but also a market which was selling loads of bikes and it looked like it was doing a roaring trade, we spotted loads of old cardboard bike boxes which was a relieve because we needed some to box our bikes for the flight.
We found the apartment, it was really close to Taksim Square, we unpacked and went for a wander. As we reached Taksim Square we sore lots of riot police, armed and ready for trouble!
The shopping street was really busy with lots of people, cafes, shops and bars, it was Sunday and even though it had gone 6.00pm it was still really lively and the shops were still open.
The city looks like other cities bus has a different feel to it, maybe its because there are less Europeans around, less European shops and less bars although there is plenty of food available.
We had a poor kebab meal then had a drink in a bar and called Richard to wish him a happy father’s day unfortunately he was not there but Gary had a lovely chat with his mum, later we went to another bar and listened to some talented guitar players entertaining us. It was all very pricey but still cheaper than the UK.
Day 79 – 82 (Monday 22nd June to Thursday 25th June)
Our self contained apartment was lovely and the staff were fantastic they even did all of our washing for free.
Whilst in Istanbul it was Ramadan, not that this affected us, Istanbul continued to offer food and drink throughout the day and night but we did get woken up every night at about 2.00am by drumming, this apparently is done to wake people so that they can eat. Gary thought this was a great idea until I told him he could only participate if he didn’t eat during the day, I am sure he has hollow legs. Just as we’d fall back off to sleep the call to prayer would be sounded usually at 5.00am. It must be really difficult being a practicing muslim during this time, broken sleep, no food or drink during the day and if you work in a restaurant you are subjected to cooking, serving and watching people eat. We did see people dozing during the day in parks and sides of the road and some whilst they were supposed to be working, we’re not sure if this occurs throughout the year but we’re sure ramadan has an affect on energy levels during the day.
We experienced more beggars in Istanbul than we have seen in other areas, these were hard to ignore and were mainly ladies with babies and children in tow.
I coloured my hair this week, it was the first time it had been washed for 10 weeks! it feels really silky but the colour looks exactly the same. I’m in two minds whether to continue with the no shampooing routine (also known on the internet as no pooing), I will give it another go whilst in India. To my knowledge it looked OK when I did not wash it, it didn’t smell nor was my head itchy but I did feel it was a little greasy at the routes and dry at the ends, but it is out in the sun a lot. I would be interested to hear if anyone else has tried the no shampooing routine.
Istanbul is a lively city with lots to see and do. The weather wasn’t brilliant and rained at some point during most days but it was interspersed with sunny spells. Below is a brief summary of what we did:
Monday – sorting day
washing all of our clothes, sheets and towels, fortunately this was done for us
booking flights to New Delhi, we didn’t think we could do this on line because of our bikes but as it turned out we still had to arrange and pay for these separately at the airport
find card boxes to package the bikes – found in the 3rd bike shop we visited
find masking tape to seal the boxes
post Gary’s paper diary home – this was probably the most complicated thing we had to do, we found the post office easy enough, queued for about 15 minutes to be told we were in the wrong queue, queued again to be told the post office did not supply envelopes, spent most of the day in between other tasks finding an envelope
box the bikes up – Gary did this, not an easy task as he had to do it in our apartment.
Tuesday – sight seeing
blue mosque – fantastic building
grand bazaar – amazing how many stalls and shops there are in this amazing bazaar, I was fascinated by it, the architecture is amazing too.
spice market – wonderful aromas but very expensive
parks – we walked lots and took the scenic route between sights
this should have been a free day but we spent lots on food and drink, we stopped in the market for a snack and it cost a fortune (we stupidly ate at a market stall in the middle of the Grand Bazaar, we should have learnt from this mistake but clearly not as we then went onto purchase some dried fruit and tea in the spice market which cost the equivalent of £20! Doesn’t sound like a lot but £20 is half our daily allowance and we had already blown our allowance on lunch.
Gary woke with a trapped nerve in his neck, he’s had it before, it looks very painful especially first thing in the morning, the pain eases during the day but he is clearly uncomfortable
Topkapi Palace – we decided we would do this tourist attraction justice and paid for the full ticket and the audio support. It was an interesting but I did feel a little like I was on a school trip to visit the Tower of London, we went from room to room viewing kitchens, jewellery, weapons and the Harem.
Istikial Avenue – walked back from Topkapi Palace up Istikial Avenue a famous shopping, arty street, stopped in an art gallery showing the fettish side of bicycles, very interesting and topped the day off with a beer in a bar.
This was a mistake day, in hindsight we should have arranged to move on to Delhi on the Wednesday. We had spent all our money and seen everything we wanted to see, check out was at 11.00am and our flight to Delhi was not until 7.55pm, to pass the day away we did lots of reading in parks and bars (it’s amazing how long you can make a beer last when it’s cold outside).
We arrived at the airport too early to check in, we were chilled and prepared so plonked ourselves on the floor (no seats available) and read our kindles. Once the gate opened we queued to check in to be told we needed to complete paperwork at another desk for our bikes. Still chilled we queued at the other desk (across the airport) to be told we needed a ticket before we could be seen, amazingly still chilled off we went to collect our ticket to return to the same desk to see the same woman to complete our paperwork and pay the excess luggage cost (£90!). We then trotted back to the check in desk with our paperwork, queued again to see the same man who had processed us when we first went to check in! We didn’t expect it to be straightforward and were grateful that we had completed the process with time to spare and that they didn’t weigh our bikes as they were slightly over the allowed weight allowance.
Next stop India