From Sea to Summit

Maybe we’re overstating our altitude, as we still haven’t reached our highest point in Turkey, but when its 35degC, they definitely feel like mountains! The combination of slight headwind, poor surface and humid weather are a killer for progress!! From Istanbul we took a 2 hour catamaran ferry across the Sea of Mermara to Bandrima. As this was our first ride in over a week, we took it easy with a short pedal to a nearby campsite for our overnight stop, before properly getting back on the saddles the next day and heading South up and over the previously mentioned hills. That evening we were looking for somewhere to stop when we spotted some locals having a picnic so headed across to ask if they thought we would be okay to camp… Turkish hospitality meant that as we pitched our tent  we were invited to join their fish supper, despite having full stomachs (having just eaten at a cafe in the nearby town) we spent an enjoyable evening in their company as more and more cay was poured!


A day on, and up in the hills and far away we stopped to ask a Shepard if we could camp ‘over there’ (using international language of mime). As we were pitching our tent he came over and showed us to a more hidden spot, so we took his advice and relocated, he even came back in the morning to check that we were okay. Thank you Mr Shepard!  Through more hills and beautiful scenery we got our third puncture of the trip (not bad for over 2000km),  we stopped under a canopy to hide from the rainstorm and patch the tube, as Tim was putting the tyre back on, the fire station crew came over and insisted that they start up one of their trucks to re-inflate our tyre with its air compressor! It probably would have been faster to pump it by hand but they insisted that they wanted to help. With the wheel back on, the rain had eased, so we continued.


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Istanbul: end of leg 1

The route into Istanbul isn’t easy on a bike, this is how we did it: The road from the northern border was smooth and very quiet with a wide shoulder, perfect for cycling! Heading east from Kirklareli on the D020 it turned into a weaving twisty road through hills and forests, mostly quiet but with the odd busier section. However, closer to Istanbul the road was being converted into a dual carriageway and later a motorway, with the odd dirt section, just to keep you on your toes!  Most of the traffic was heavy construction/quarry lorries which were later joined by more cars, but there are no alternative routes. This was endured until Kemerburgaz where there is a lower speed, smaller road into the centre of Istanbul with it’s chaos and traffic jams. Honk! Honk! Beeeeeeeep! The roads East from Istanbul look even worse so we’ll be taking a ferry….

caymore caycay cay?

We have learnt that in Turkey, it is impossible to refuse a gift, in the 3 days to Istanbul we were given 12 cays (Turkish tea), in a picnic area, a park,  a mosque, and at multiple petrol stations! Often we had just stopped for water or to rest but sometimes we had to move on to avoid a tea headache!!! We were also given 2 cokes, 2 cucumbers, a handful of strawberries and some bread by friendly locals. We’ve also gained 2x mega-led torches from a Turkish cyclist who stopped for a chat.

cay yes?boyz at Taksim SquareIstanbul

Once in Istanbul we took time out to relax, holiday with friends, repair the bikes, catch up with admin and plan the route for leg 2: across Turkey.

Leg 1 statistics:
[Cycled: 2063km in 38 days]
[Camped: 19 / Hotel/Hostel: 13 / Sofa surfed: 6]
[Total spend: £13 each per day]

Here is our video from leg 1.