Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Day 144 to Istanbul Turkey, 87km, 11,950km to date, 1253m up,  20m end.

The last day!  Great scenery, however it was raining heavily for most of the day, hence almost no pictures.  After being inland for most of the ride, we arrived on the Bosphorus Strait and rode most of the length of the Strait.  We stopped for lunch at a floating restaurant, then rode as a group the rest of the way into Istanbul.  About two blocks from the hotel, we stopped to celebrate, many photos and glasses of Champagne. 

For dinner we went to the restaurant in the Maiden’s Tower, which is on a small Island in the Bosphorus in the middle of Istanbul.  A very very nice evening.  This was our last meal as part of the tour and a fitting last meal it was!  I was told that there are scenes in two James Bond movies that feature the place.  It is worth Googling.

I get to spend today being a tourist in Istanbul, way too short a time, then fly off first thing tomorrow.  I’ll do one more post with some summary thoughts.

A pic from the hotel:

Arrived Istanbul, all happy and safe.  Looking forward to exploring tomorrow.

More details later, a couple end pics:

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Day 143 to Sile Turkey, 99km, 11,863km to date, 86km to go, 1733m up,  20m end.

Another day with lots of climbing, however a really beautiful day.  We started off in the fog which slowly cleared about 1/3rd of the way into the ride.  After lunch we arrived back on the Black Sea, conveniently at a resort - might as well take advantage of the beach (Robinson Beach) and resort.  So, a bottle of nice red wine and a swim were in order.

This was our last full riding day, only a partial day into Istanbul tomorrow.  The wine consumption that started with the swim, is expected to continue this evening….

A few pics (none from the early part as it was too foggy):

The beach and resort:

No comments about the funny tan lines...

Monday, 3 October 2016

Day 142 to Kayacik Camp Turkey, 124km, 11,860km to date, 182km to go, 1343m up,  35m end. 

A very good day.  The early part of the ride was along the ridges from the camp location to the coast, I felt like I was in Tuscany in Italy.  Then we dropped down to the Black Sea coast.  After a few km it was getting fairly warm - so a swim in the Black Sea it was.  The Black Sea was a very nice temperature, cool but definitely not cold.

It will be a fairly hard day tomorrow, then a relatively easy day into Istanbul.  Wow, 5 months coming to a conclusion, a bit hard to believe!

Some pics from the day:

Finally after riding 90% of the way across Turkey, we see the Black Sea:

Grant and Bruno in for a swim, I joined them after this picture:

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Day 140/141 to Kaymaklar Camp Turkey, 141km, 11,761km to date, 303km to go, 1713m up,  228m end. 

I’m starting to find these days fairly easy, or saying it better, not really hard.  With temperatures a bit cooler and a bit of wind behind today, really helped. Only 3 riding days left, one expected to be medium-hard, one hard and the last easy.  Really hard to believe it will be over in 3 days!

Yesterday, we had a rest day in Safronbolu.  One of my objectives has been to find a Turkish coffee.  I succeeded, but it took a bit of searching.  Turkish coffee is fairly rare in Turkey, in fact, so far I have found in only really high end bars/restaurants. My success yesterday was at a fairly fancy rooftop establishment. I have also found out that there are no Turkish coffee beans, the coffee beans are imported (African, South American).

My Turkish coffee:

About to depart our rest day Safranbolu hotel:

A few pics from the day:

I liked the construction of this railway bridge and protection:

Friday, 30 September 2016

Day 139 to Safranbolu Turkey, 126km, 11,499 to date, 446km to go, 1510m up,  407m end. 

A bit of a harder day with a fair bit of climbing, but we have a rest day tomorrow.  Our last rest day before the 4 final riding days to Istanbul.

I’ve made various comments before about the call to prayer from the Mosques - a bit more:

I am a totally non-religious person, so it is odd for me to be commenting on Mosques…  

This morning, although we were camped what I thought was well away from any town, it turns out we were close enough to 5 small towns that all five call to prayer’s were like next door.  The acoustics were excellent, with each call echoing off the nearby hills.  The morning calls happen about 1/2 hour before sunrise, so a very appropriate alarm clock.

I’ve noticed that even the smallest two cow town has a mosque, similar to churches in the Maritimes and all these Mosques function with calls to prayer.  Many very small towns have two or more Mosques.

I did a bit of homework last night whilst in my tent. (If I have any of this wrong, please correct me)  The lyrics of the call to prayer, the Adhan is one of the most lyrical, inspiring prayers for Muslims.  The recited prayer used in the call to prayer is the same for each call except the predawn version also includes the words “Prayer is better than sleep”.

I found out today that many (most?) calls are pre-recorded soundtracks, however in some Mosques, in particular larger Mosques, the call is a “live performance”.  I was told that all the calls one hears in Istanbul are “live performances”.

Some of the calls I have heard are absolutely beautiful, so I searched to see what I could find.  I found the following call/performance to be very exceptional:

I have been impacted by the lack of tourists coming to/from Turkey, my flight home on the 8th has been canceled, I suspect due to lack of business.  So I am now returning on the 7th, a loss of a tourist day in Istanbul, however I have been a tourist for 5 months and the desire to get home is strong.

I didn’t take any pictures today, so this is the campsite from last night (could be anywhere in BC):

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Day 138 to Bushcamp, Turkey, 125km, 11,373 to date, 571km to go, 2131m up,  908m end. 

A great cycling day, albeit the highest climbing day of the whole trip (2131 metres).  A bit cool for most of the day - jacket on, jacket off, jacket on etc., The  top of climb for the big climb of the day:

We have only 5 riding days left to Istanbul, in fact today was the last Thursday that I will ride!  What for the longest time seemed like an impossibly long way away, is now rushing towards us.

Again last night when the call to prayer was “calling”, all the neighbourhood dogs were howling in unison - it was both funny and oddly pleasant.

Some of the town as viewed from my hotel room:

The countryside in the later part of the day is just like the Kootenays, dry, lots of pine trees.

A couple pics from the early part of the day: