20 March -
Aleppo to Turkey - 74km
It was with
great anticipation that we set off for the border, not
knowing if one can get a visa there. So we arrived, handed
over our SA passports and without any delay we got our
Turkish visa, what a relief!!! We were so delighted we
stopped in the nearest town. How different Turkey is from
the other countries!! We are definitely out of the desert
now, and our little bit of Arabic that we picked up along
the way is of no good here. The people are really friendly
and constantly trying to feed us. Our first night in Turkey
we camped in a park near a lake and people where constantly
bringing us tea and we were even invited to a local
restaurant where we ate for free.
21 March -
Campsite - Belen - 74km
morning we said our good bye's and set off over the
mountains to a place by the name of Belen where we stayed in
a real hotel room, with hot showers, towels, and soap. I had
two showers and rinsed my clothes. Included in the hefty
price was a breakfast spread. Our stay must have been a
total loss to the owner taking the amount of showers and the
amount of food we ate.
22 March -
Belen - Botaş - 87km
breakfast we ambled along for 87km to a place called Botaş.
There we camped on the beach, with loads of local
spectators, but what a beautiful spot. In Turkey one can
free camp just about anywhere without anyone raising an
23 March -
Botaş to Tarsus - 127km
along the toll road which was an easy ride all the way to
Tarsus. I'm sure we are not supposed to cycle on the toll
road, but it was a public holiday and the road was very
quiet (also very few personnel, everything's automatic). Arrivıng
at Tarsus after dark we booked into a room.
24 March -
Tarsus - Kizkalezi - 92km
The next day
we followed the coast and cycled through numerous villages
until we reached Kizkalesi with it's very impressive
castle just off the coast. We cycled past various ruins
until we found a beautiful beach next to the road where we
camped for the night.
25 March -
Kizkalezi - Yeçilovacik - 71km
truly scenic, but very, very mountainous and we cycled up
and up and then down down down just to go up again.
Unfortunately the wind picked up and we were forced to stop
cycling. Fortunately there was a protected wild camping
space next to the sea and so we stopped and pitched our
tents. The wind dropped in the night.
26 March -
Yeçilovacik - Aydinçic - 48km
morning we carried on. Up, up, up we went until we reached
Aydinçic, only 48km later but by now I'd had enough of the
mountains and needed a rest. And, it was nice to have a lazy
day in a room overlooking the ocean.
27 March -
Aydinçic - Anamur - 63km
Oh, how time
flies, we have been on the road for a year!!!
Boy oh boy, is
this a mountainous country!!! But the people are so
friendly, they even came running after us with food just as
I stopped to take my jacket off. A few km further we stopped
to admire the view and more food arrived!! We camped just
outside Anamur and just after we got up we were given a
fresh eel by one of the local fishermen!!!
28 March -
Anamur - Gazipaşa - 82km
From Anamur to
Gazipaşa was only 82km, but even more mountainous than
before (did not think that was possible). So we arrived in
Gazipaşa dead tired and booked into a room just as the rain
29 - 30
March - Gazipaşa - Alanya - 50km
From there we
had a fantastic ride to Alanya (50km) on a flat road (can
you believe that). The road followed the coast all the way,
and in the touristy Alanya harbour area one cannot help but
to sit back and enjoy a beer. Afterwards we found a room,
and we'd hardly booked in when a thunderstorm broke
loose!!! We stayed over the next day as the storm
continued, and filled ourselves with good Turkish bread,
cheese, and olives (and Ernest has grown to fancy the
31 March -
Alanya - Side - 64km
cleared and we had a very easy ride to Side, where we camped
and explored the ancient Hellinistic ruins.
1/2 April -
Side - Antalya - 94km
Then on to
Antalya (94km), another day of flat roads (life can be so
easy at times). We found a very interesting campsite just
outside Antalya with treehouses and old wooden jetties (pity
it's all dilapidated). We stayed 2 nights as there was a
laundry, a job long overdue.
3 April -
Antalya - Bucak - 92km
Cycle to Burdur, take a train from there to Istanbul,
then take ferry across the Black Sea to Trabzon and cycle
out of the country to Georgia. We don't have a lot of time
left on our visa so we need to make a plan. So we set off
over the mountains in the direction of Burdur. It was
freezing cold, uphill, and it started raining. So, the going
was a lot slower than expected and we reached Bucak that
evenıng in the freezing cold and pouring rain.
4 April -
Bucak - Keçıboru - 85km
change so easily, got sms from Esther to say she will meet
us in Istanbul and cycle with us for a few days!!!
Great, so now we don't need to rush, we will just extend our
visas when we get to Istanbul (hope it is as easy as it
sounds). Can't wait to see Esther again, this is going to be
so much fun!! So the next day we cycled right past
Burdur, climbed more snow-covered mountains, and cycled
through green farmlands until we reached Keçıboru. This is
a small village where tourists are unusual, judging by the
way the local people stared at us.
5-7 April -
Keçıboru - Sandliki - 67km
On the 5th we
cycled on but as we reached Sandliki I had enough of cycling
for the day, this is just to much hard work (mountains,
cold, and rain!!!). So we stayed over for the night. In fact
we stayed the next day as well as the weather took a turn
for the worse (we were nervous of snow in the mountain
passes). This town seems to be a ski resort of sorts, and
obviously doesn't ever get very hot (the room is geared only
for cold weather). Walking around town can be a timeous
affair, as we get invited into shops for tea (even at the
8 April -
Sandikli - Altintas - 110km
birthday came on a bright sunny day and we packed up and
left, so good to be on the road after 3 days in a room. We
have just discovered that there is a whole hour difference
in time in Turkey!!! How slow can one be!!!
The road seems
to be less mountainous now and after 110km we camped in a
farmers field, with cows and all!! The spot was next
to a petrol station so we had loads of people coming to chat
and bring us tea and Turkish delight.
9 April -
Altintas - Inonu - 82km
Again it was
freezing cold in the night and once again we woke up with
ice on the tent. After some more tea we left (at around
10.45) We met 2 cyclists from Germany (the first since
Sudan) cycling for a 6 week holiday.
between Altintas and Inonu is definitely porcelain country
and there are various porcelain factories all along the
road. It started raining again and we were offered
accommodation by a local man in his house (a container
divided into two rooms). We, however, opted for a road side
motel where it was nice and warm but it had a bit of a light
problem (automatic motion sensor switches light off and on
all the time). Ernest fixed it so we could at last read in
taken to picking up all kinds off things along the road,
mainly tools, he claims that a no 10 spanner is fits the
nuts on his bike racks, and an adjustable spanner seems to
be a tool no man can cycle past!! Well it came in
handy, he even fixed the shower door that could not close
10 April -
Inonu - Inegol - 112km
Once again we
left very late, it is really cold in the high lying areas,
and hard to get out of bed. We met another lonely cyclist
along the road on his way to Beijing. The rest of the day
was mostly downhill (at last) and we were lucky enough
to find another nice bit of green grass next to the
road to camp.
11 April -
Inegol - Gemlik - 88km
fantastic day, a perfect day for cycling, flowers
everywhere, at Gemlik we left the main road and followed the
scenic route along the coast. Although very hilly it was a
fantastic ride, and we camped in a grassy parking lot right
next to the beach.
12 April -
Gemlik - Cinarik - 70km
We packed up
slowly, reluctant to leave our nice camp next to the beach,
and carried on cycling along the coast, stopping numerous
times to enjoy the view (or was it to rest). The road
was still extremely hilly (true to a scenic route). Another
road side camp on a green hill overlooking the Sea of
Marmaris signalled the end of the day. We could see the
lights of Istanbul beckoning from across the bay.
13 April -
Cinarik - Istanbul via Yolova - 21km
It was a very
short ride from where we camped to Yalova where we took a
ferry into Istanbul, avoiding the freeways. The road from
the ferry port into the city center was very quiet and we
were the only people on the road, the reason for that we
only found out later, apparently there was a international
cycle race on that day!! Good thing we did not encounter
them, just imagine what a picture that will make!!
After a good
shower at the guesthouse we went out to eat in a restaurant
(Ernest's belated birthday present)
We spent about
the entire day trying to extend our visas in Istanbul, but
to no avail. No one speaks any English and it seems that
there is no one that can help us, they want to extend our
residence permit which is not what we after but a tourist
visa extension. In the end we gave up and decided it will be
less trouble to go to the border, go out the country and
come back in again. So the next day we took a train to the
Bulgarian border with all intentions to cross the border and
re-enter Turkey, but to our surprise we ended up at the
Greek border!!! We crossed the border but on the Greek
side they did not want to stamp our passports as we had no
visa for Greece and so back to the Turkish border!!!
There they did not want to give us a new visa as there is no
proof in our passports that we left the country!!!! So back
on the train to Istanbul. The following day we explored the
options of flying out of the country and back in again, but
the cost of the flight and the cost of the visa in the
neighboring country did not make this a worthwhile option.
So the only other option is to just leave it and see what
happens at the border when we leave the country, quite a
risky option but about the only one available to us.
on the 19th, bike and all, and what a surprise!!! She only
had one bag with her and anyone who knows Ester will know
that that is a record!! Esther packing economically?
Is that passable?
20 April -
Istanbul - Riva - 45km
It took nearly
the entire day to get out of the city and over the
suspension bridge across the Bospurus, (were I am quite sure
we are not supposed to cycle) Esther did not even fall off
her bike once but did wipe out a few cars along the way!!
The going was rather slow as the countryside is extremely
hilly and we managed to do 45km before we found a picnic
area were we camped for the night.
21 April -
Riva - Şile - 51km
We only left
at around 11 the next morning and once again found the road
extremely hilly on our way to Şile. Esther freewheeled down
the hills and pushed her bike up the hills, the heat was
also a bit much for a Scott coming straight from the frozen
22 April -
Şile - Agva - 37km
From Şile we
cycled on to Agva about 37km, where we met two lady cyclists
from Amsterdam (Julie and Mayo) also on their way to
Beijing. We camped close to the beach under some trees.
23 April -
Agva - Campsite - 67km
We cycled off
together through the most exquisite countryside. The weather
was much more suitable to Esther's liking (a bit
overcast) and we managed to do 67km. That night we all
camped together again.
24 April -
Campsite - Unknown village - 81km
We packed up
and left late again, we are getting really bad, leaving
between 10 and 11 in the morning!! We followed country
roads through farmland and tiny villages until we reached
the coast again. Everywhere we stopped tea was being offered
so there is no quick stop and on your way again. In the tea
drinking process we missed Julie and Mayo. The weather
changed and became real cold and after 81km we found a sort
of a campsite in a small village where we could hide out of
- Unknown village -
It was still
freezing cold and we cycled the short distance into Akcakoca
about 18km and found a room with a great view of the Black
sea. At last we could shower and rinse some clothes. That
night we went out to a restaurant, which Esther paid for (in
fact she has been paying for everything since she
arrived!!). The next morning our clothes were still wet so
we stayed another day.
27 April -
Akcakoka - Eregli - 55km
My camera got
wet and stopped working, but seems to be coming back to life
again, so there may be a serious lack of photos for the next
few days. At last we reached a fairly level bit of road, all
along the coast to Eregli, it was, however, not to last and
immediately after Eregili the road started climbing steeply
away from the coast. We managed the mountain and just as it
was time to look for a campsite we found another picnic
area. In true Esther style she started chatting to a local
family having a picnic and they promptly started feeding
her, a feast of chicken, salad, bread and tea. The mist came
rolling in and it became freezing cold in the night.
28 April -
Eregli camping - Zonguldak - 34km
downhill ride into Zonguldak with fantastic scenery both
along the coast and in the mountains. We reached Zonguldak
early and found a hotel. Esther was to take the bus the next
day back to Istanbul (how quickly her time has run out).
29 April -
Zonguldak - Bartin - 67km
The bus left
at 13h00 and we managed to get both Esther and her bike on
the bus without a problem. Ernest and myself cycled on to
Bartin about 67km. We cycled via Filyos, and extremely hilly
ride on a partly gravel road with narrow hairpin bends and
loads of tıp-trucks!! After Filyos the road leveled
out as we got back onto the D10.
30 April -
Bartin - Kurucasile - 75km
We woke to a
beautiful sunny morning and encountered more hills, we stuck
to the shores of the Black sea, and shortly after lunch we
met up with Julie and Mayo again.
1 May -
So for the
next few days we cycled together up more hills along narrow
roads with numerous hairpin bends. The going is really slow,
and although a person goes up and down the down is short and
quick. We camped on the beach and made a good campfire to
keep us warm.
2-3 May -
Doganyurt - Abana -74km
hilly day, Ernest had a flat tyre which is always a hassle
but he fixed it quickly while the rest of us sat watching
the dolphins. Julie and Mayo bought some fresh fish at the
market in Abana and that night we made a campfire on the
beach and cooked a great meal.
We must be
getting used to the hills because the stretch from Abana to
Ayancik did not feel that bad and it was quite a pleasant
day on the bike. The sun was out but not hot and one can
only be amazed at the scenery, very densely forested on the
one side and the blue Black Sea on the other side. At
Ayancik we stopped to do our usual shopping for the night
and then cycled on for about 5km where we found a little
beach to pitch our tents. No sooner had we pitched our tents
and the locals arrived with fish and salad.
Ayancik - Sinop - 55km
Sea was lying like a big lake, not a wave in sight as the 4
of us loaded our bikes. The road was no less hilly that the
previous days and now it started raining as well. We reached
Sinop frozen and soaked to the bone. We found a cheap hotel
and all had a shower (first in days) and set off for the
nearest restaurant. Mayo and July took the bus further along
the coast to Trabzon, as they have to enter Iran by a
certain date and were running out of time. Ernest and I
decided to stay in Sinop for another day to do laundry and
6 May -
Sinop - Batra - 115km
It was still
overcast and freezing cold. The last thing I felt like
doing was getting up and on the bike. At least the
wind was behind us and the hills were not as fierce as the
previous days. We made good time and even encountered
a bit of a level road. We made good use of the
favourable conditions and carried on cycling till after 5.
We found a friendly farmer along the way and camped in his
yard. Made pasta and soya with mayonaise that night.
7 May -
Batra - Terme (via Samsun) -125km
To our dismay
we woke and found that the wind had changed 180
degrees. Now it was coming straight from the front!
It, however, calmed down and it was another fairly flat day,
so we could make up some distance. We even found a
Carrefour Supermarket and could stock up for the road ahead.
Various cups of tea was again enjoyed along the road.
As the day came to an end we camped next to the Black Sea in
a picnic area under big pine trees.
8 May -
Terme - Bulancak - 133km
new road, flat and with a wide shoulder to cycle on.
The road still followed the coast but now there were various
tunnels, cutting out the main hills, what a pleasure.
We flew along the road, enjoying every minute of it.
We found a good grassy patch to camp next to a restaurant,
so needless to say, in no time tea appeared again. It
started raining so we went to bed early, not much to do in a
tent when its raining.
9 May -
Bulancak - Trabzon - 161km
It was still
drizzling when we awoke, and rained almost the whole day.
We packed up as quickly as we could, dressed in rain
gear,and headed East for Trabzon. We were really
getting worried about our visas and have heard horror
stories of what can happen if one is caught with an expired
visa. Our visas expired nearly 3 weeks ago already so
we peddled on to Trabzon were we only arrived around 19h00,
cold and wet. We found a fairly cheap hotel just off
Attaturk Square where we could have a warm shower and a
clean bed. I was really tired and went straight to
10 May -
I ate the last
of my salty liquerish ("drop"), which the Dutch girls gave
me - what a pity, I so love the stuff, its a surprise it
lasted so long. We did 534km in the past 4 days, so a
rest day was called for. We also had to solve our
problem of what to do next. Do we go to the
police and discuss the expired visa before trying to obtain
a visa for Georgia, or do we just break for the border
11 May -
Trabzon - Pazar - 122km
It felt like
an easy day, we peddled along on another cold and cloudy
day, all along the coast and still on the new road.
The tunnels are unlit and pitch dark, so its really hair
raising on a bicycle. At Pezar we stocked up again
with food and cycled a few km till we found a nice small
harbour where we camped between the boat sheds. No
sooner had we arrived and balik (fish), was given to us.
A local couple invited us for tea, borek and salad in their
fancy boat shed. What a feast!! So no need to
cook that night.
12 May -
Pazar - Border - 72km
The big day
arrived and in great antisipation we packed up, at least it
appeared to be a sunny clear day. Two obstacles
awaited us. First to get out of Turkey with our
expired visas and second to try and get a visa for Georgia
at that border, which we'd heard was not possible!
We arrived at
the Turkish border and in true Turkish style they offered us
a seat and tea while they discussed our dilemma. They
pointed out that we had overstayed our visa by 23 days, and
that is a problem. So two options were put to us 1.
pay 300 lire and be allowed back into Turkey in 3 months, or
2. pay only 81 lire and get banned from Turkey for 5 years.
So taking our finances into account we opted for the latter.
Easier than what we thought. So we set off to the Georgian
side and once again we were lucky and could buy a visa
We were in 7th
heaven and could not believe our luck. We cycled the
15km to Batumi in high spirts and celebrated by taking a
room in the town.