Turkish people make you happy

Km 2605 – Fethiye, Turkey

WEATHER & GENERAL STUFF

In the meanwhile we reached Turkey: first new currency, first stamp in our passport and there the first limited duration of stay. We are welcomed with a special hospitality and have already been invited to drink a cay (tea) uncountless times.

The weather is intermingled: we had many sun flooded days as well as many rainy days, especially recently. Right now we have 25 degrees and sunshine.

ATHENS

  • In front of the house of our future host we meet the first other cyclist. Keith, the 38 year old Canadian, has been cycling during the past 5 and a half years and since he is cycling from Australia to Canada and therefore exactly coming from where we would like to go, we curiously listen his stories and hints.

  • Athens is a large city: laut, a lot of traffic, little green areas and it easy not easy to find your way around. Additionally the metro is on strike (so I innerly decide to spaciously cycle around large cities from now on). The city has rather little to offer to us – except for the Akropolis. That’s why we each decide to do some excursion: Alex is cycling to the top of mount Panithos (1400m) for two days, I take the bus to Chalkida for three days.

CHIOS

  • The ferry to the beautiful island of Chios arrives at five in the morning. We pass the time until sunrise in a Café with WIFI until the sunlight calls us to discover the smaller and taller hills of Chios.

  • On the whole, Chios is rather hilly which allows us nice views onto the sea, the bays and lonely beaches. We enjoy the calmness, watch some shepherds, but unfortunately already leave the island after two cycling days. We don’t want to be stuck on the island for too long, since the ferry to Turkey doesn’t leave regularly.

IZMIR

  • As we are sitting on the ferry on our way to Turkey, we see a couple with the fully loaded bikes push their bikes onto the ship. Manu and Jonathan are from Austria and have cycled all the way to Chios as well. Of course, we start the cycling to Izmir together.

  • Right after our arrival to this new country we are overwhelmed by the hospitality. Alex wants to buy olives and bread, but they quickly turn into a gift and all four of us are invited to a tea. Many people greet us, wave or curiously talk to us.

  • While we search for an camping spot we go to a nearby house all together. A small woman opens the door. With sign language and dictionary we can explain our plan to camp and she agrees to it (evet = yes). At the same time she tells us a lot of other things which we don’t understand. But her clearly uttered yes is sufficient for us and therefore we arrange everything, cook and sleep. Maybe one hours later a cross-country vehicle drives onto the lawn and spotlights us with his headlights. We hear the sound of creaking loud speakers and Alex immediately understand that this has to be the police. Both officers are friendly and want to know our plans and our route. After resolving everything, they ask us, if have already eaten. A third man, the owner of the nearby house and husband of the friendly woman, makes clear that we are welcome. Maybe he couldn’t fit us into his imagition (camping cycle-tourists!?) and was therefore afraid to have some vagabonding wrongdoers or something similar on his land and that’s why he called the police?

  • The next morning the small woman is standing in front of us again. With her black sparkling eyes she is talking a lot again, Jonathan and Alex just understand “food” and “tea” and follow the talkative. She gives them a big tray with breakfast and looks a little bit as if she was sorry about last night’s happenings. Hopefully, we didn’t cause any family trouble! Ah, if we just spoke Turkish!

  • Five kilometer before Izmir, Manu says: “… and Izmir is the third biggest city of Turkey with four million inhabitants.” OH NO, if we had known that before…

  • We spend some easy-going days with Mustafa, Süleyman, Pelsin, Berat and Sultan. All of them are just great. They prepare great Turkish meals for us and we eat them all together sitting on the central carpet of the corresponding apartment. One day we take a bus downtown and discover the market with Manu and Jonathan where we discover and try new food (among others: Salep, a hot drink that tastes like milk rice without rice).

KUSADASI

  • We couldn’t find a good map of Turkey and forgot to look up the way in the internet. So we end up cycling some kilometers on the highway until we end up on a motorway and stay there for the rest of the day. That doesn’t put you into good mood, but we manage to find a really nice and hidden camping spot.

  • As we cycle through the changing natural phenomenons the next day we appreciate it even more – being between the mountains and then following the coast. It’s often like that: one day you pass too much traffic, the next day it is calm and lonely again; one day it rains, the next day the sun comes out again. C’est la vie!

  • With Simay and her friends we go out “to have a tea”, how amazing – no one suggests “to drink a beer”. The second night we go out into a bar with traditional Turkish life music and even learn some steps of the corresponding dances while we just join and dance along.

MILAS

  • The distance from Kusadasi to Milas we cycle with Manu and Jonathan again – unfortunately, it is rainy season and that’s why four out of five common days are totally rainy. Winds and bad streets make advancing even more difficult. Slowly we fight our way forward. While we search for a rain protecting camping spot we end up in a raw brickwork at first. During the night the wind challenges our tent and the moving outer layer of our tents hardly lets us sleep (it’s not so easy to fix a tunnel tent in a raw brickwork). Early in the morning a tempest with heavy rains starts so that we can’t leave the raw brickwork until the afternoon. We stay a second night and flee during a little rain pause into a warm Café where we drink cay, play cards and eat dinner.

  • We cycle through the Deltasi National Park and enjoy the distance along the sea far away from the traffic. But then we enter the canyon where we find on offroad path with a lot of stones. Soon we begin to push our bikes, hours pass, raines come down on us. As we think it cannot become worse, hale starts to fall down from the sky and the 10 kilometeres uphill just won’t finish. This day is a real challenge. A second important screw of Jonathans lowrider breaks; we are soaking wet. After approximately 19 km, we find a little abandoned stone house. Here we can change into dry and warm clothes, make ourselfes comfortable and treat ourselves with delicious food. We don’t sleep through during the night, because the roof is not working well and water drops on us (so we have to put pots everywhere). But still, this little place is cosy, with a nice view and just a blast after a day like this.

  • The next day we cycle down to the coast. In the first village we have a long tea break and warm up at the oven. After 24 km we find a food and vegetable stock that offers us a place for the night – between apples and cauliflowers. Shortly after finding this place the owner’s wife brings us french fries, salat and joghurt! Wow, we never had such a special place to stay for the night before! Amazing country!

  • Later on our way to Milas we meet Cemal, a Turkish cyclist who is loaded with many bags. He gives us a huge smile, shares his nut stock with us and invites us to his home. He himself wouldn’t be there, because he is – as we can tell – cycling to Istanbul at the moment, but his friends would take care of us. A wonderful meeting right next to lake Bafa. Finally, the sun is shining again. During our lucky day we are invited to drink cay (once more) right before we can save ourselves from a short, but heavy rainfall by searching shelter in a restaurant. We can put our tent right next to ruins of Zeus’s temple (Euromos) – a very beautiful backgroup view.

  • The weather has improved a lot and we reach Milas while the sun is shining very brightly. We organize some things (among other things Alex has his stand and Jonathan has his lowrider repaired). In the afternoon our ways seperate again and Alex and I keep on cycling alone.

AKYAKA/GÖKOVA

  • The three days of sunshine really passed too quickly ;( Again we camp very well hidden, directly next to a river. The distance we shall cycle that day is supposed to have one the most beautiful sceneries until now. But the rain wakes us up. We wait and are lucky: a little rain pause – we are packing the tent quickly and go. We are cycling in the rain, facing a long uphill distance as a tractor passes by. He stops and we are allowed to hold onto his trailor (unfortunately, it is fully filled with olives already). But holding onto the tractor is so streneous that I have to let go. But hitchhiking is working perfect and immediately a pickup is taking us. Soaking wet we are allowed to join the driver’s cabin (4 people in a 3-people cabin), drive into the next village to the olive press and can get dry next to the oven there. Besides that, we are offered soup and tea. Ali, our “chauffeur”, even invites us to stay overnight. But the rain has stopped and we like to continue.

  • Up with the car, down with the bike – jippiieh! The following coastal street is continously going up and down. The distance is wonderfully idyllic, during 30 km we don’t see any village and hardly any people. Moreover, the rain stopped. Nevertheless, I am happy as we arrive in Akyaka – although we cycled only 45 km, I am exhausted by the constant up and down and my knees also hurt a little.

  • Right before we arrive at Nurdan’s and Engin’s place in Gökova, we get soaking wet one more time. But this time, we don’t care, since we are invited into a warm and cosy home. The couple is in our age and they are just lovely. Nurdan cooks us a delicious dinner (lentil soup with carrots and onions as well as a potatoe-celery-pudding meal with orange sauce). Together we plan our following Turkey route, cycle to a hidden waterfall and enjoy the time with them and their friends (among others, Süha, who is constructing his own house boat). Engin also shares two of his life philosophies with us: “Small life, happy life.” This means especially that is not important to accumulate money. Moreover, both of them try to be happy no matter under which circumstances (e.g. little money).

GÖCEK

  • On our way to Göcek we take a short detour to Dalyan. Alex decides to swim across a 50 meter wide river. On the other side you can find a mud bath and hot springs among other things. Although it is possible to take a boat for a smaller or bigger amount of money, Alex prefers the adventure. Only after he dives head first into the water, he realizes how cold it is during this season. For me, everything is too cold (it is pretty windy although it is 25 degrees) and that’s why I sit in the sun with a book and enjoy the view.

  • In Göcek we even find a cheap pension. Here we take our time and relax before we will work in Fethiye again over helpx – this time in adrenalin village, a sporthotel.

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