Still in Greece we made us smart how to dress on the bike in Turkey.
Judith is already mourning the short pants and thinks she has to drive with 3/4 pants.
In this heat this thought is not so fun! Already on the swinging ferry crossing we realise that the Turkish women dress like the European women. When we arrive in Marmaris and see that the women are still in the evening in the bikini, Judith can slowly breathe a sigh of relief. We see only one woman bathing in the costume, all other bathe in the bikini. Marmaris is a lively and pulsating city, we are especially thrilled by the safe bike trails!
After a rest day we leave Marmaris. We want to go along the beach through the Marmaris National Park to Dalyan. We set off early in the morning. The cleaning work and the many bottles of beer and garbage around, let us guess that a big party took place. Much later we realise that the end of Ramadan was celebrated. After 5 kilometres, the road is closed because we enter a military zone. We need to re-plan. Quickly we have a solution and get on our way. A two-lane road with a wide shoulder leads us up and away from Marmaris. We leave this main road and pedal hard up a high pass on a lonely road. We are quite astonished as shortly after the pass, already on the descent, we again stand in front of a blocked road. Aha thats why, the road was so lonely … We have no choice but to return and go back to the main street. The morale has been hit, we are now already the whole morning on the bike and we are again almost at kilometre zero!
Every way down has its way up. We stop at an unremarkable hut at the roadside. Unfortunately nobody understand English. With our turkish we can just order water and turkish tea and say that we want something to eat. But that is all … Quickly comes help from the next table. First with english and then with swiss german! Thank Burudu for your help! She also gives us some tips, what we should definitely visit. The Gözleme with Köfte are fantastic! Traveling in autumn is absolutely great because it is harvest time. Again and again we pass stalls along the roadside, which offer freshly squeezed orange and pomegranate juice. Mmh are these delicious and so fresh!
Ui, ui, ui Judith has got a flat tire. Tired we repair this.
Right at sunrise, with the prayer call of the mosques, the alarm clock rings. We are on the lake at Köycegiz. The many coffees are very inviting. We are still on the way to Dalyan. The way there leads to an highway and our motivation for this road is limited. The day before we saw a poster with an advertisement of a ferry. We ask where and when this ferry goes to Dalyan. Quickly we get help and we can hitch a ride with a safari boat. Especially for us, the boat is turnd, so we can tie up our bikes beautifully at the bow. And so it comes that we get the top spots on the boat roof. Shortly before the city of Dalyan we are asked to come down, since the police does not allow to sit on the roof 🙂 In the countryside too, the turkish women dress like the european women. Only sporadically and mostly older women wear a headscarf. We meet the first tour cyclist! It’s the Turk, Murat. He is on a four-week tour from his hometown Istanbul. He also confirms that our bike dress is perfectly fine. Turkey is divided by Ankara, in the western part the more modern and open Turks live, and in the eastern part it is rather traditional. He also gives us a few tips and advises us not to travel to the kurdish area, which we also had not planned.
We like the Turkish hospitality and the Turkish food. People are more dynamic than the Greeks. Many Turks sit on the ground and eat their meals, just as we do. Also the fresh salads, the fine omelets, no pork and the Köfte (minced meatballs) are very welcome. Once again, we enjoy a delicious melon on a roadside. The salesman immediately sits down to us and helps to eat the huge melone. We try to chat with him, but unfortunately we do not understand him … We must improve our turkish.
In Kas, Andi finds in the mirror with horror that he definitely looks like a freak! Beard and long disheveled hair. Luckily, the area teems with Barbers. Andi enjoys the full, turkish “Kuaför” program: This means cutting hair and shaving beard, including eyebrows, removing nasal and ear hair with burning cotton, as well as head and neck massage!
All this for 50 Turkish Lira (16.- CHF).
In Kas we are undecided where our journey should continue. We draw several possibilities on the tablet. We are very interested in the backcountry, but ultimately the dice decides for the route. Already the first evening when we ask for water once again we get to know the turkish hospitality. We are offered fresh grapes and red peppers. The next day, we will again be presented with fresh grapes by a passing car. In the evening we ask a farmer for water and he immediately invites us for a cay. In addition to the cay, we get pampered with pita bread, apricots, fresh olives, tomatoes and cheese. He even offers us to tent next to his house and gives us eggs along the way. To sleep on his property we reject politely and move on. We still must get used to this great hospitality. Also on the wayside we are a welcome change for fruit and vegetable salesmen. These older women turn out to be very self-confident and maternal. They are very concerned that we eat enough and have a good seat 🙂
For the Cay we mostly pay nothing, because either someone invites us or the owner wants nothing. Again, we have to reject grateful gifts because our bags are already filled and we declare that we can not carry so much. Twice we are invited by teachers to cay. The twofold father Ali and teacher is committed to the Erasmus exchange program for students. He even invites us for lunch in a restaurant. He is very pleased that tourists are traveling to Turkey despite the tense situation in Turkey.
From Beysehir to Aksaray we take the bus. We want to make progress, because the autumn is approaching and we want to go to Georgia, which is very mountainous. In addition, the desert-like moon landscape to Aksaray should not be very exciting. The trip costs 35 TL per person (9.-Fr.) and the bicycles are for free, however this worked out only after the second bus company. After the bus has arrived the big speculation starts how these bikes can be loaded into the bus. When the eight Turkish men are still puzzling in front of the luggage compartment, Judith sees a solution, takes her bike and simply puts the bike upright into the compartment. She pushes a suitcase slightly to the side and the bicycle fits perfectly in. Except for one man all are enthusiastic about Judith’s action and look at her admiringly. Then it goes quickly and also Andi’s bike is loaded. In Aksaray the first Warmshower.org awaits us. Until now we had often tried to stay at Warmshower.org, but it never worked out. Ahmed is a student in Aksaray. He lives in a bachelor’s flat with Met. We were glad to stay there as we arrived late in Aksaray by bus, but the next day we were also happy to move on.
Aksaray has over 100 mosques. When its time to pray, it sounds randomly from each mosque. We have already asked ourselves a few times why it is not prayed together and more coordinated. In the park, we meet a man who can answer this question. He tells us that 10 years ago there was a good solution, that only one mosque sung and the sound could be heard in all the other mosques. However, this was reversed five years ago, since it was felt that it is more tradition to proclaim the prayer from each individual mosques and that this renewal endangered their aspirations to be accepted by Allah after death. This man also tells us that it is difficult to get a safe and well-paid job. In addition, he confirms our observation that investments are primarily made in road construction and in mosques.
Now we are looking forward to Capadokia. The white sandstones and the rocks with its housings are very impressive. A little off the beaten track, we find a beautiful sleeping place. Andi sees on the GPS a small gravel track parallel to the main road. The next morning this road leads to the “love valley”, which is very beautiful to look at from above.
From Kayseri to Sivas there is only one very busy road, so we take the bus. After several attempts we are able to take the bicycles once more for free. So we pay 25 Turkish Lira (8.-Fr.) per person. Here in this area most women wear a headscarf. Judith wears now only 3/4 pants. With tail wind we drive from Sivas towards Zara. It is also a multi-lane road, but fortunately it has little traffic and a wide safety lane. In Zara, we are talking to an Imam. He proudly shows us photos of his family. After Zara we turn into a small street. A nice pass that takes us above 2010m asl awaits us.
Shortly before Bayburt we are fighting against strong headwind. We were also told that it will rain the next days. After almost 10 weeks without rain and not to worry about the weather this comes as a surprise to us. So we gladly take the offer from a bus driver to ride to Bayburt.
In Bayburt we study the weather. It really does not look so good for the coming days and we have still to cross a pass of 2500m asl. So we decide to go already in the direction of the pass and to do the crossing the next day. Already after an hour drive we are looking for shelter from the rain. The rain shower only takes a short time and we can go on again. It has cooled down significantly and we are fighting again with strong head wind. Suddenly a farmer stops us. He asks us where we want to go. After learning that we want to go to Uzungöl and over 2500m pass, he shakes his head vehemently and anxiously. He asks us to turn around and to eat and sleep at his place in the next village. Tomorrow the weather would be better. We thank him for his invitation, but we don’t feel like going back. For us, it was clear anyway that we would start the passing the next morning. As we see a wind-sheltered spot with water, we stop and settle for the night. A little later, just while Andi is taking a shower, this worried man comes back and brings us food. He is satisfied that we rest here and cross the pass the next day.
Early in the morning, warmly packed, we head towards the pass. It is once again a very beautiful pass! The gravel track leading upwards is easy to ride. We are astonished when we see a small hut on our path just before the second summit, which has a sign that says „Otel“. Loud music can be heard outside. We are delighted to drink a warm cay at the warm fireplace. It turns out that this older man has lived 22 years in Stuttgart and has now been back in Turkey since 26 years. For 6 months he lives up here and hosts the few tourists and during the winter he stays in Uzungöl. Unfortunately it is quite foggy on the summit and the nice view we have to imagine. Shortly before Uzungöl it starts to rain again. We find a cheap accommodation and have a warm shower. In Uzungöl we encounter the first women wearing a burka which however are Arab tourists. At night, Andi got sick with fever and chills. Judith also has a funny, rumbling stomach. Was it the kebab from lunch or the cheese from dinner or the eggs? We don’t know it. So we’ll stay second and third night.
On Sunday after two days of rest, Andi feels fit enough to continue riding. On this day a Turkish cycling race from Caykara to Uzungöl takes place. Soldiers armed with assault rifle regulate the traffic. What if their instructions are not followed? Will you be shot? But this is not the case. Nobody shows real respect, all cars are criss-cross overtaking the cyclist. Well the assault rifle does not help a lot.
After Of we head for Rize. It is a multi-lane road directly at the sea. We don’t like the area at all. The motorway blocks the access to the sea and only non-cycling crossings and underpasses lead to the sea. Rize, however, is a nice town. After Rize we continue to Hopa. Andi has his first flat and finally a welder re-align his bicycle stand. Juhui, the bike does not fall every other day! A Turkish teacher tells us that there are “ögretmen-evi” in every city, which are cheap teachers accommodation. However, we made different experience, either they are too expensive or full. So we decide to tent. It is slowly getting dark and we seek in vain a quiet and safe sleeping place. When it even starts to rain, we give up the search and find shelter in our first real flophouse: A smoky, dingy room (60TL, 16.-CHF.). The next day we fight through the monsoon like rain to Arhavi, where a package awaits us. Wet and frozen, we arrive at the accommodation, to which we could send the package. To our great horror this accommodation is booked out, but the owner Cengiz regrets this very much and organises a hotel close by, a great room with breakfast for a sensational friendship price. Normally, this hotel would have cost a lot more. We are glad to receive the package at the post office the next morning.
We want to get away from this monster highway and off into the mountains. So our plan was to leave in Hopa towards Arthavi to cross the border to Georgia near Posof. We reject this plan in Hopa as it rains once more. In Hopa we meet a Russian cyclist who arrives soaked and frozen in the same coffee house. Together we are looking for a hotel. However, these are all too expensive for us and so we continue together towards the border. Shortly before darkening, we find a great spot on the beach. It is a campsite, which is however not in operation in October. The owner is very generous. We can dry our clothes in the warm pub and cook in the kitchen. Under the canopy, we set up our tents. At this point, many thanks again! The next morning we cross the border to Georgia. With a crying eye, because the five weeks in Turkey have really pleased us. We were able to communicate a little bit in the Turkish language. Now again we have to learn a new language and writing.
Conclusion: Every Turk smokes! Everywhere we were exposed to passive smoking. The Turkish hospitality is overwhelming! We will definitely take some of them with us. Everywhere we were sincerely received and supported. Great interest in us and our trip was shown. We can not confirm all our concerns and warnings about this country. Turkey is a great country to travel. We have very well experienced the tense situation in the country, we also have experienced a demonstration, and many Turks are worried about how it will continue.