Day 67. 76km. Erdine – Lüleburgaz

Posted: November 20, 2014 in Cycling, Turkey
Tags: , , ,

My head is spinning. This evening was crazy. ‘Don’t turn around’, whispered James as we left the car and walked up the steps of the hotel. Behind us they removed the freshly slaughtered lamb from the boot. What a man’s night out it was.

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In the quest for a cheap hotel in Lüleburgaz, we were introduced to ‘the Boss’ – a middle-aged man in a smart suit, who arranged a room for us in the teacher’s accommodation. And then he invited us for a drive to a country village to see friends.

After 45 minute tobacco-rich drive through the dark Turkish countryside, passing villages with vicious dogs the size of bears, we pulled in to a small farm, and stepped out of the car. We shook hands with the farmer, and then watched as he went into the shed in front of the car where a sheep was lying, struggling, its legs tied together. We were not there 30 seconds and the throat was slit, blood gushed out, and the head was severed, to be inspected by a little dog, its tail wagging furiously. The sheep spasmed for about a minute after the slaughter, at which point we were ushered back into the car and drove on.

The next stop was a tea-house in the little village. We were brought in from the dark and introduced to everyone – all middle-aged or old men. The words Australia and New Zealand were used, causing some comments and laughter. We took a seat at one of the tables near the wooden stove in the middle of the brightly lit room. People stared at us, chatted, and watched the football playing on the television behind us as they drank one glass of tea after the next, and smoked one cigarette after the next. ‘Where are the women?’ ‘At home. Only men come here.’

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I asked for the toilet, and was brought outside by the sheep slaughterer. In the dark, away from the lights of the central intersection of the village, I made out a little wooden shed, much like an Australian ‘dunny’ (toilet). My friend indicated to piss in the grass next to the shed.

Time to move on, and we were ushered back into the car. Next stop was a little ‘holiday house’ where a group of men were sitting out on the verandah barbecuing fish. We were introduced to them all by the Boss, before they returned to their conversation in Turkish. There was a lot of laughter and cheer. The points of entertainment were us, or ‘men’ jokes. It was a really friendly bunch. A lot of delicious fish was cooked for us, and the salad, bread and nuts were pushed in our direction. A lot of Facebook photos were taken before returning to the car where we returned to the town.

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We were taken to the best dessert place in town, where people were moved by the dessert café owner, so we could take a seat. The dessert was superb. James pointed out that I am lucky that my pancreas is working..

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The evening ended with a stroll through the town. Everyone greeted the Boss, and shook our hands, the guys from Australia and New Zealand. Back at the hotel, where the car was parked – ‘I’ll see you tomorrow morning at breakfast.’ The Boss waited and watched as we turned and returned to the hotel. ‘Don’t turn back,’ whispered James. I knew what there was to see, and snuck a peek, even through I may have turned into a pillar of salt. The plastic bags with hooves sticking into the air were rushed inside.

Well. That trumped our day’s cycling down a freeway-like road for 76km in the undulating misty landscape, rising 50m and dropping 50m, and rising 50m again. It was a big road, but not busy, no mad drivers, and a big strip for slow vehicles (us).

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We leave the main road tomorrow as we approach Istanbul. Who knows what crazy things this country will bring us tomorrow. I’m enjoying every minute of it!

Comments
  1. dvanderzwaan says:

    wauw wat een dag!! wat een totaal andere cultuur. Zo knap dat je dit kan aanvaarden/accepteren/over je heen laat komen als of het de normaalste zaak van de wereld is. Ik wacht op je volgende beleving. Trudi

  2. peter says:

    niet op de D100 blijven hoor!
    Je kunt beter via het noorden Istanbul binnen rijden.
    Het blijft wel heuvelachtig

  3. Hugo says:

    Hi!

    My name is Hugo. Together with my girlfriend, Bego, we have been following your steps, both virtually through your interesting blog, and physically, pedalling along a similar route, at least for a few days. You are probably a couple of weeks ahead of us, so we may not see each other on the road. We plan to reach Istanbul for Christmas.

    We are currently in Montenegro; we are crossing to Shkoder, Albania tomorrow. We are not sure whether to take the ferry to Fierze or continue along the coast. The Lonely Planet describes the ferry ride as one of the highlights in Albania. Is it really? Sometimes the LP tends to be on the “everything is great” side… After talking to your friend, who went along the coast, which way would you recommend, mountain or sea?

    Do you know if there is a road back from Fierze to Tirana/ the coast?

    If we finally take the ferry, do you have any tips?

    Thanks in advance for your help. Best regards… and happy travels!

    Hugo Alfonso
    http://aquitanagustito.blogspot.com

    • Hi Hugo.
      Nice to hear from you, and good luck with your trip. I have just consulted with James, and, our opinion is that it depends on what you are prepared for. The biggest concern is that it is cold in the mountains. There may be snow and sub-zero temperatures. The passes in Albania as well as in Macedonia may not be pleasant any more.

      If you are not too prepared for the snow and difficult winter conditions, I would stick to the coast as much as possible. Still, getting from the Albanian coast to Thessaloniki will require some mountains. Maybe James’ route through Burrel and Bulqize to Macedonia may be the best option in this case.

      If the cold does’t worry you, the route through Komani, Fierze and then Peshkopi is beautiful. The road surface to Komani is a bit rough, but from there it is excellent, although the road from Kükes to Peshkopi is very steep up and down and up again. The boat trip is nice and quite fun on the small ferry boat (which leaves at 9am in the morning).

      I had a weird experience in Bicaj (which you can read on my blog).

      All the best, and enjoy!

      Matthew

      • Hugo says:

        Thanks Matthew! After my long and deep analisys and while I was considering all pros and cons…, my girlfriend has decided that we well continue along the coast 🙂 Anyway, we will probably cross to Macedonia further south, so we will cross some mountains. Hopefully the weather will respect us…

        Thanks again and take care.

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