|Posted on November 9, 2008 at 10:13 AM|
November 9, 2008
Istanbul - Ankara (Turkey)
4500 km and 65 days since leaving from France
First of all we would like to thank everyone for the encouraging messages via our guestbook, and emails.
It has been an adventurous week, we arrived in Istanbul in the morning heat on Monday. We spent a full day enjoying some of the many sights this town has to offer. We visited the sublime downtown, the Grand bazaar, the Mosques... and walked the countless little streets filled with restaurants and small shops. After dinner we had our 'carpetseller' experience. We were taken into a basement full of carpets, offered a tea and a smile. They tried hard to sell us a carpet, we doubted, but left an hour later without a carpet and 2 dissapointed sellers.
We left Istanbul the next morning, we planned to take the bridge across the channel, to finally step into the Middle East. Unfortunately we found a huge traffic mess. Instead we took the ferry across. We spent the entire day biking through the suburbs. Sometimes along the shoreline, sometimes inland. The road was extremely busy and the level of pollution extremely high. It took us 3 days to get out of the polluted industrial area. It took us quite some motivation to get going, and we were wondering if we would ever reach rural Turkey and a place to camp.
Luck seemed to have left us as we had forgotten to ask back our passports in the hotel in Gebze. We figured this out while looking for them the next evening in Adapazari, a 105km further. It took us a day to go back and forth to pick them up by public transport.
After passing Adapazari the landscape began to change. Less industries, smaller towns, and more agricultural land. Finally when we started to climb towards the Turkish interior plateau, we found some wilderness. Above 1000 meters high we biked through steppes and pine forests. Every hill seems to have a different scene, some are dry and grassy, some are covered with trees, some are of red or white colored volcanic rock. We noticed the road was constantly going up and down, and we were climbing several passes a day. Our highest pass we climbed in Turkey, was 1570 meters high. We camped there and woke up in the frost and found out it was -8 degrees celsius. Making us appreciate the winter gear we have been carrying around for so long without not much use. Otherwise, the temperature during the day reaches 25 degrees celsius. In the central plateau we are enjoying biking through semi-desertic landscapes with a low population density.
The Turks are very very nice, very helpful and sincerely friendly. Everywhere we stop in public areas, we are offered help and of course the traditional Turkish tea. Even on the road, most of cars and trucks greet us, honking and waving at us. We feel very safe and welcome to be here and among the people.
The sound of the call for prayer coming from the Mosks minarets is a true delight and something we look forward to hear every day. They wake us up at 5.30am, join us for lunch at noon and call the end of our day at 4.00pm before sunset.
Because of the short daylight, we have changed our routine. We are starting to bike at 7am and finish our day around 4pm. we are making an average of 115 km a day
As we arrived in Ankara today, we were greeted by 2 men on bicycles. We asked them where we could find a hotel and after a few phone calls, they escorted us through the streets. Stopping cars and buses to let us through the traffic. They brought us to a luxury 4 star hotel, owned by one of their friends, where they gave us 'friendly' price. We shared some tea and lots of laughter with the 2 cyclists and the owner of the hotel. They explained us that they were kyrgyzstanese, Kurd and Turk, making the room filled with international backgrounds.
From Ankara we are now heading South East, aiming for the Cappadoccia region. We should arrive to Nevsehir in about 2-3 days.