Day 5Week 1
Rolling out of camp.
Forest Baker and Annie Kallus
Climbing Gallipoli Bluffs
Farmers near Troy
Prayer call Blue Mosque
Riding through goats
Well, we made it to Turkey.
Our review of Turkish Airlines: Good legroom, poor service, nice goodies- Forest, as witnessed in the photos below, was rather enarmored with his matching turqouise socks, eyecover and shoehorn. Everything you need to become a gay pirate.
We also learned our first lesson in Turkish hospitality- which is- hospitality sometimes means that stealing is OK. (We watched an Turkish Airlines steward, who was suffering from a shortage of pillows, swipe the pillow of a guy who'd temporarily left his seat only to present it with a flourish to another passenger in the front of the plane).
After touching down and realizing that our bike trailer was not on the plane with us, we learned another cultural lesson: yes means no. At least when it comes to nodding. A low nod means yes. A high nod, with eyebrows raised means no. So, when you ask the front desk manager whether your lost baggage has been found... don’t get all excited when he nods. İt actually means that Mehmet does NOT know where your baggage is- and neither does Turklish Airlines.
While waiting for the bike trailer, we hit some of
Packing the bikes and BOB up for the trip - hope they come through OK...
the main sites in İstanbul. During our short tour, we managed to run into our classmate, Nalini and her friend, the former Miss Turkey. You just never know who you might run into at the Blue Mosque. We got a photo with them below. Good luck on your internship Nalini!
Biking in Farmville
We then left İstanbul by ferry and started biking down the Western part of Turkey (see map). İt was a little strange to hop on a Turkish highway on a bike. For a while, it seemed like we’d signed up for the donkeys-tractors-pothole tour package. To add to the feelings of being out of our element....its easy to feel a little awkward/ underdressed/lazy when you bike by stonefaced farmer and field full of headscarved women farmıng in full skirts.İt doesn’t help that the Turks aren’t big wavers. İn fact, İ'd say that a Turkish farmer makes a conversative Kansas farmer look like a zany reality TV candidate .
Coastline: gaining speed...
Our first stop was Gallipoli. There’s a large national park full of memorials to Turkish, Bristish, Australian and New Zealand troops who died there in the struggle for control of Turkey during WWİ. Very
Dear Turkish airlines:
Surprisingly, you actually have decent leg room, but your food and service suck. On our trip home, please make sure you offer drinks to all of the passengers, not just those sitting in the first 10 rows.
sad to read messages from mothers who mourn their Anzac laddies- even though they were lost almost 100 years ago.
As we continued down the coast, İ had to do an informational interview with Yahoo!, my future employer. Standing on a street in a Turkish port town, it was hard to sound professional with scooters beeping in the background and the sound of techno music and prayer calls bleeding in... İf there had been a webcam, things would have been worse- bike jersey and shorts- PLUS a less-than-adorable long skirt. Great Islam-approprıate sportswear!! As for the bike tan update.... We now look like we’ve been forced into a tanning booth with everything on but legwarmers. Things can't get much uglıer.
Forest met another cyclist on the coast- a retired architecture professor from S. Korea. Ironically, he is amongst the tourists we've met who is the least interested in archıtetural ruıns. This is a man who understands what retirement means. Ba is biking much of the Middle East and we got to share a few meals and campsites with him. One night, Ba casually mentioned having been T-boned while biking by car in İstanbul. Like this is a normal
Awesome booty bag from Turkish Airlines. Still using the socks!
event? This further supported our decision to avoid cities while on bikes.
Our next stop was the ancient city of Troy. We rode through farmer’s fields to get there, which really gave you a sense of how striking the city would have been as a peasant in Roman times...
On one hand, it was fascinating to be there and learn how 9 different cities were built on the same site and to realize Troy’s signicance in so many conflicts. On the other hand, it was sad to realize how badly Schliemann, the escavator, botched the job. So much history lost. Overall conclusion: being near the birth of civilization really motivates you to read more history.
In Troy, exhausted by heat and a new little something- called EXCERCISE, we almost laid down our heads to become fossils. This is no ordinary tired. İt is the tired that comes from watching busloads of well-fed tourists drive past you in the desert as you contemplate your bike as the only way out. Luckily, we met a dirty homeless cat, who was stalking our foodbag which Forest named *Crappy Kitty*. (photo missing) His antics managed to keep us awake through our midday
Wow. We actually found a cab that our bikes could fit in. Sadly, the BOB trailer didn't make it on the same flight.
food stupor. Still feeling a little loopy, we finally dragged ourselves out and back on the bikes in search of water and less mangy friends.
We are continuing our ride now, exploring blue waters of the coast and high desert passes- Turkish grandmothers and tasty treats. Signing off for now....
İn the meantime, we wanted to congratulate Linh and Heather on the birth of their baby girl, Addison Gray Tran. We predict this baby to be an adorable, car-loving, gamer with a baby-PDA and an excellent sense of style!
For the bikers out there who want the details....
How is flying bikes to İstanbul?
Not too bad. We flew to İstanbul on AA from Durham to JFK and then transfered to Turkish Airlines to İstandbul. We boxed the bikes and the BOB. No charge for the bikes. AA said that the BOB box was "oversized luggage", but the woman behind the counter said she would let it go. AA tagged the luggage for İstanbul, so we didn't have to pick them up again in JFK. We did, however, have to check in with Turkish
Annie in denial of the ride we are about to embark on.
Airlines to get boarding passes, which took over an hour. The bikes came out fine...just a few tears in the boxes. When boxing your bikes, though, İ suggest you apply liberal amounts of packing tape to all of the edges. The BOB, however, apparently didn't make it out of JFK and Turkish Airlines could not locate it after we had landed. Luckily, Turkish Airlines delivered it to our hotel the next day around 7pm.
We booked with the Apricot Hotel and they arranged for a driver to meet us at the airport. This removed a lot of potential for stressing out. İ told them that we had two bikes and they said they would send a large taxi. İn the luggage area, we traded in a dollar for a euro at a "change desk" in order to unlock a luggage cart. We wheeled the luggage out of customs, met our driver that had my name on a sign, and then stuffed our bike boxes and luggage into a small euro-style van. Part of the back seat came down and this was just wide enough to slide both boxes in the back, upright. There were plenty of these kinds of
The Blue Mosque - see the video above to hear a prayer call.
van taxis at the airport.
The Apricot Hotel owner and staff were very accomodating. The owner is a big mountain biker and he chatted with us for awhile about bikes and biking in Turkey. İ was able to unbox and build the bikes out in a private side patio. İ think only the staff use it every once in awhile for smoke breaks, so İ was able to get the gear together without being bothered. Lastly, the owner of the hotel owns another building that has a large basement, so he is going to store our three boxes (2 bike, 1 BOB) for us there while we ride for 8 weeks. Lastly, he said that if we had any mechanical problems in Turkey, we could call him and he would get the part from a bike shop and put the part on a bus. He said he could probably get a part to most bus stations in one day. So, if you are planning to start a bike tour in İstanbul, İ highly recommend booking the Apricot Hotel for your first few nights in Turkey.
Tot: 2.432s; Tpl: 0.059s; cc: 16; qc: 62; dbt: 0.0602s; 2; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb