World Cycle 2014: Turkey

My trip in Turkey has just started, and already I have been invited to a man’s night out to see a lamb slaughter, visited beautiful Istanbul, and stood where the trenches once were in the World War I in Gallipoli.

Overview: here

Last country: Bulgaria
Next country: Georgia

Day 66. Ivaylovgrad – Erdine: What a day of experiences! Not much cycling, but a lot of excitement and lumps in throats crossing the border into Turkey (at least a lump in my throat). It feels kind of like a coming-of-age as a world cycler. We have left the ‘west’ and are in TURKEY, having cycled here from our European homes – Holland for me and England for James!
wpid-20141118_185203.jpg Day 67. 76km. Erdine – Lüleburgaz: 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.
Day 68. Lüleburgaz – Gümüspinar: The end is nigh – at least for the European leg of my trip before my winter pause. James needs to be in Istanbul on November 20 and Istanbul is still a long way away. Long kilometres on the main road before we branched off on the smaller road approach into Istanbul. Oh. And I passed 5000km.
Day 69. Gümüspinar – Istanbul: The rain and thunder howled around our tents at night, but left in the day as we cycled along our own private freeway – almost car-free – towards Istanbul. Its great to see my friends in Istanbul and have a lovely evening in front of the fireplace.
Day 70. 46km. Istanbul – Bandirma – Biga: Is it cheating? Well, no. I’ve already cycled all the way from Holland to Istanbul. This is just a side-trip waiting for my flight to take me away from the winter. But, yes. It was cold, windy and very bleak, and I hitched a lift with a truck. Such a lovely offer.
Day 71. 95km. Biga – Çanakkale: Today was a day of thoughts. The road was straight and the wind was strong, and my thoughts were on Australia and my youth. I had studied the war-poet Wilfred Owen at school, and I felt a lump in my throat as I approached the almost sacred Anzac territory of the Dardanelles and the Gallipoli peninsula. My family was here 100 years ago, as were the families of the lovely people around me that have welcomed me to their country. War is such a horrible thing.
wpid-20141126_145925.jpg Day 72. 90km. Çanakkale (Gallipoli peninsula): The sun came out on this frosty day as I peddled alone on the wind-swept peninsula. Outside, I only heard the tranquil sound of the wind and the waves, but inside I felt the earth shudder, the chatter of rifles, and the screams of pointless death around me – almost 100 years ago. Tiny knolls in an all too common rolling-hill landscape have great significance by the death burden they carry. Today I felt that burden, and cried.
Day 73. 72km. Çanakkale – Çan: A little kitten, all alone, meowing on the side of the road. Outside in the cold. I almost tried to take her in my handlebar bag. Passers-by didn’t seem too concerned. Maybe they didn’t understand me. She might freeze. Or get squashed.
Day 74. Çan – Gönen: Good cycling roads are different to good driving roads. A good cycling road has few cars, and no fast cars. It therefore needs to be windy, have some bumps and potholes, and pass through many small villages. Today the road to Gönen was never signposted as such. A good sign! I confirmed that it actually did go to Gönen and had a lovely, peaceful ride through the Turkish countryside.
Day 75. Gönen – Bandirma – Istanbul:
My last day of cycling for 2014. It has been an amazing trip. I am now left with my memories, some great new friends, and my three dog rocks. They won’t be needed any more now.

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