I caught the ferry from Yalova
Turkey - 6 Weeks
Turkey has become one of my favourite countries due to its exetremely friendly people, its diversity and its unique geological areas. Turkeys history is fascinating and layered (with civilisations such as the Romans, Greeks, Lycians, Thracians, Hittites, and many more having strutt their stuff here) and there are Islamic and Christian influences from more recent times. There is some amazing countryside from the Turquoise coast to Cappadocia and there are unique sites like the chimaera, flames comıng from the earth to Pamukkale, terraces of carbonate minerals left by the water flowing from a mineral rich spring - quite frankly for someone who likes variety Turkey cannot fail to impress (and no I didn't get a job working for the tourist board). The short versıon
of my trip is that I spent 3 weeks cycling from Istanbul to Antalya covering 996 miles in 17 cycling days and then I met Steph and we hired a car for 2 weeks, using it to cover just over 5000km. During the cyclıng stretch I visited Anzac Cove the WW1 D-Day equivalent, Troy, Pergamon (Greek Ruins), Ephesus (Roman Ruins), Kaya Koyu - an abandoned
town, Xanthos (Lycian Ruins), Patara (a 5km beach with Roman ruins on it), Myra (a Lycian rock cut city) and the chimaera - natural gas flames exiting the ground. During the driving part we drove to Pamukkale, an amazing area with chalk like rock made from a spring, Cappadocia - a simply amazing area with incredible rock formations and thousands of rockcut rooms, churches cut into the rock and 40 underground cities that could house 30-60,000 people, Nemrut Dagi - a site with massive head sculptures at the top of a mountain, the Islamic part of Turkey, Gobekli Tepe - some stone circles with carvings on them, they are newly discovered but the oldest human-made religious structure known and then we drove back to Anatlya for a week of chilling
The long versıon
Week 1 -
I arrived in the cheap mans airport so was about 30km from Istanbul so due to the time of arrival I took a ferry to Yalova, camped up a hill and then took another ferry in the morning to the centre. I stayed a night in Istanbul to check out some of the sights, the best of which
The Blue Mosque
I thought were the blue mosque and the Basilica Cistern - the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that lie beneath the city. On the third day I cycled out of the city through endless miles of industrial estates, shopping malls and generally ugly development and then a pretty shitty day ended with torrential rain causing me set up camp in a mosque being built. The countryside was pretty boring except a nice section of coastline on day 5 and the week ended with a visit to the very interesting WW1 battlefields, where the Allies tried to invade Turkey but we were slaughtered, the Aussies and Kiwis were affected particularly badly.
Week 2 -
Week 2 began with a visit to the ruins of Troy which were ok but not amazing, more of a "got the T-shirt" sort of place then more storms and heavy rain caused me to get a hotel room for a night before continuing on to the Pergamon acropolis, some really cool Greek ruins on top of a hill, with great views over Bergamon and the surrounding valley. The North Aegean coastline was quite nice with cute little fishing
villages but I was short on time so whizzed through most of them. The week ended with a visit to the amazing Roman ruins of Ephesus the most complete Roman city after Pompeii.
Week 3 -
Week 3 was really tough, the heat, heated up and I was drinking 6+ litres of water a day, I had a front pannier bolt snap and also one of my tent poles snapped. The week started by me doing a couple of 70 mile days to make up some ground, cycling through some nice countryside (in particular the rock formations south of Aydin) and meeting some really nice genuine people (people gave me water and chocolate bars). Once I reached Fethiye, I needed the help of a man with a drill to remove a snapped bolt from my bike and then after that there were plenty of sights to visit, starting with Kaya Koyu - a town abandoned during the 1923 population exchange when the Turks made all the orthodox christians move to Greece and the Greeks made all their Muslims move the opposite way, it was an intersting open-air museum if not a
The Basilica Cistern
bit eerie. After Kaya Koyu I spent 3 days visiting rockcut tombs at Xanthos and Myra and Roman ruins at Xanthos and Patara, the site at Myra was particularly impressive as it was a rockcut city. To end the week I visited the chimaera - natural gas flames exiting the ground near Cirali then cycled in to Antalya to meet Steph who flew in to join me.
Week 4 -
Steph was out to visit for 10 days, although that turned in to 3 weeks, and we hired a car for 2 of them. We started by visiting the amazing Pammukkale, an area with chalk like rock made from a spring full of minerals then on the 2nd day we drove across the country to Cappadocia, stoppıng to visit Catalhoyuk, a significant neolithic sıte, along the way. We spent 4 days ın Cappadocia, 3 in Goreme and one in the Ilhara valley, and spent the whole time exploring some of the amazing sites. We saw Kaymaklı one of 40 underground cities in the area which are built like rabbit warrens, Kaymaklı was believed to have housed 30,000 people and made up
The Basilica Cistern
They used a medusas head from Greek ruins
of 8 floors. There were some amazing rock formations in the area, the fairy chimneys being the most famous and there were thousands of rooms and churches built in to the rocks, some of the churches had amazing frescoes / religous paintings in them. In the Ilhara valley we visited the cathedral, a massive rockcut religous site with some burnt out frescoes inside and we also had breakfast at a restaurant with tables in the middle of the river. The week ended with us sleeping in the car up Mount Nemrut so that we could enjoy the sunrise and see some huge sculpted heads.
Week 5 -
After seeing the massıve heads we almost ran out of petrol, having to use gravity to help us reach a petrol station but then from there we continued on to Sanlıurfa, a cıty close to the Syrian border. We based ourselves in Sanlıurfa for 4 days and from here visited Gobekli tepe - a site where they are uncovering some stone circles which may change our understanding of history and when civilisation began as ıt ıs believed to be 12000 years old but has some
There was so much comedic material
unexplainable stone work and also ıs believed to be a religious site. We also visited Harran with its famous beehive houses and Bazda cave which is far less well known but was a massive cave that seemed to have been carved by machines or very big people. We went on a little road trip from Sanlıurfa towards Iraq stopping in Mardin for great views over the Syrian plain, Hasankeyf to sleep in a restaurant under the stars, a town called Batman and Diyabakir with its big castle walls. Hasnakeyf was a little town set on the banks of the river Tigris that has been there for 11000 years and you could really sense the history - there were the ruins of a Roman bridge and other older buildıngs - we were really sad to hear from the local family we stayed with that the powers that be are buildıng a dam that will flood the town in about 3 years. The week ended with us driving 950km back to Antalya where we intended to chill for a week before Steph flew home
Week 6 -
Relaxing in Antalya - eating, using
There were some great word-plays
the pool and a few drinky poos
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