I had been in Pamukkale for several days, awaiting a new rear wheel. Once I got my wheel, I was off again. The original goal had been to ride to Bodrum, and take the ferry to Datcha where I’d ride through Marmaris and continue east. By the time I arrived in Mugla, it had begun to rain, and the forecast called for rain for the next several days. So I opted instead to go directly to Marmaris.
Seeking shelter with a fine young Turk by the name of Firat, I stayed with him until the rain passed. I was amazed to see him doing his masters in philosophy on Hume. Hume, being a 17th century scottish philosopher, had published in the old english. I was impressed, that Firat was studying this, english being his second language. For native english speakers, Hume’s writing is not easy to understand.
My stay in Marmaris was quiet. The place is a big tourist destination, and packed with discos and bars. There were a few drunk Brits, and most places were uninteresting. I did however experience excitement of the geological variety, taking in a 6.3 earthquake while writing in my journal on the beach. At the time, I thought I had hallucinated, as no one else seemed to take notice. When I next saw Firat, he asked me if I’d felt the earthquake. Now it all makes sense 🙂 Online, I discovered the Turkish government geological maps with activity and severity. It turns out that this is quite common here, and Turkey regularly experiences earthquakes. I guess this is why no one on the beach seemed to take note.
When the rain had stopped, I continued to make my way along the coast. Riding down the highway, a car with a bike on the back stopped on the side of the road, and a older bearded fellow got out and offered me an energy drink. His name was Erhan, and he was coming back from Izmir where he had done a tour for several days there. He lives in Fethiye, and was on his way back. I took his email, thinking we’d maybe go for a beer upon my arrive.
Expect the unexpected.
That night I camped near Köyceğiz Gölü, a lake near the coast. A pretty campsite, but too close the road.
Unexpected event number one. Near 11pm that night, I’d just fallen asleep in my tent when I heard a gunshot outside my tent. There were several minutes of panic, and I reluctantly peered out of the tent. Some Turkish youths were busy firing their guns away at something across the lake. They had not seen my tent off to the side, and only noticed when I opened to zipper to look out. Thankfully, they then left me alone. It took me several hours to shake my paranoia off and fall asleep again.
The goal the following day was to arrive at Dalyan, and visit the ruins of Kaunos. The ruins resembled every other Roman site I’ve visited. Still nice, but it’s starting to get a little less interesting.
I was really more interested in seeing the Kings tombs in Dalyan, just down the road. These Lycian tombs are dated 1000BC, and are very impressive.
Arriving in Fethiye, I looked up my host Yaprak. I had plans to only stay for two days, have a rest, and continue on. Yaprak’s a breath of fresh air, in a place of seemingly stifling convention. She’s a high school teacher, with ambitious of taking a break off teaching. Odd, I know a few people in this situation.
I needed new tires for my bike, and thought I would try a bike shop in Fethiye. I emailed my new friend Erhan, and he referred me to a local bike shop. It was just my luck that the bike shop had the tires I wanted. I thought I would have to settle for a pair of continental tires, and I was delighted to find myself with a new pair of marathon plus tires. Since I got 12,000km out of the last pair, I expect to get the same out of these. By my calculations, they should last me until I get to Nepal. Expensive, but worth it.
As I’m chatting with the bike shop owner, Erhan shows up in his car. He speaks little english, and I little turkish. All I’d pretty much understood was that we were going for dinner on a boat. We hop into the car and drive out of the city… ok, I guess we’re going to Gocek, 30km away. We arrive for a cay with one of his friends, and he picks up groceries, six packs of cigarettes, and a bottle of massage oil. We then hop into a zodiac with another young turk, and zip out across the bay to this yacht that’s anchored nearby.
It’s at this point I put together the fact that he’d just bought cigarettes and massage oil and have a little panic attack. I instinctively trust this man, however, if my bullshit detector isn’t working it will be a awfully long swim back to shore. Relief overcomes me more than I can explain when I meet his girlfriend, Sevgi. I’m then treated to some of the best hospitality I’ve ever had. Sevgi speaks english fluently, and we all sit around and shoot the breeze for a while. Dinner is served, and in the ten months I’ve been on the road, it qualifies as one of the best I’ve had.
The boat is amazing as well. I’ve never been on a boat this nice, it is luxurious. In the summer months, it’s rented out to European tourists who flock to Gocek to sail around the med.
I spent the night in one of the cabins. I had no idea I was to spend the night either, but what the heck, it’s not like I’m going to say no. I’d say it’s a rather fancy step up from my tent 🙂
Waking up, I was again treated to a superb Turkish breakfast in the morning. The tarp on the outside of the cabin rolls up, and we had our breakfast in the sun. Glorious.
Erhan put it all quite exquisitely; expect the unexpected. This was certainly unexpected.
Erhan and Sevgi then took me on a little expedition to Kayaköy. There is an old Greek city there, that was forcibly abandoned during the Greek-Turk war in the late 20’s. It’s quite a large city, and more of the buildings still stand.
Incredibly unexpected, all coming from a stranger stopping on the side of the highway 🙂 Erhan and Sevgi, I must thank you once again for one of the most incredible experiences of my journey.
I shall never forget your outpouring of human kindness.
Returning to Fethiye, Erhan advised me that there would be a cycle tour and a mushroom festival in a nearby town on the weekend. I decided to stay a couple more days, and attend this festival. So much for only staying two nights in Fethiye. In the meantime, I took the opportunity in Fethiye to ride around the peninsula west of the city. I believe it’s some of the nicest coastline I’ve seen in Turkey.
Saturday morning, Erhan and Sevgi picked me up and we drove inland to üzümlü. Fifteen of us began our ascent up into the mountains, destined for a little village I did not know the name of. The climb up to this little village was worth it, as there was a restaurant up there. Bread, cheese, butter… everything made by the people living in this small village. Simply amazing. Coming back down was a pleasure too, 25km nearly all downhill, that glorious sense of flying at 50km/hr as the world washes by you.
Sevgi had arranged accommodation with a local in üzümlü, so we spent the night there. The town is famous for it’s mushrooms, which are reputed to bring health benefits, and it’s homemade wine, which will undo the former benefits. We spend the night getting faded on a rather large bottle of homemade wine.
Erhan has a kind of energy I’ve never found in anyone his age. I was pretty desperately hungover the following morning when he woke me early for cay in the city centre. Never a moment to lose. Back to Fethiye again, and I’d decided I would take a day to rest. I conceded that it was probably not a good idea to go on another tour with them after having just climbed 1000m, and then expect to ride another 800km to Konya. I hung out with Yaprak and her kittens for a while…
We went to the pier… to drink a late night beer.
One last night at Yapraks and I set off again on another 800km stretch. The first stop was saklıkent, a large canyon I would pass on my way. The scenery was delightful…
Once in the park, there isn’t much to see. It’s a big canyon with a river.
However, I got the feeling I must return there with climbing gear.
At dusk, I followed the river south until I found a suitable place to camp.
Abandoned buildings tend to make a great shelter.
The neighbour came and visited in the morning. He was surprised to find me there. I was surprised he wouldn’t leave. The man stood and watched me make pancakes and coffee for nearly an hour. This routine is no longer nearly as interesting for me.
Later in the day I made it to Patara. I had originally planned to camp there. It’s a great thing I didn’t. I would have blown away. It was still a very nice place to visit.
It will be one of those nice places to visit again with a pair of climbing shoes.
Huzzah! I almost fell in when this photo was taking. Life #953.
From Patara, the road following the seaside to Kas was nothing short of amazing.
The towns along the way are mostly resort towns, tourist traps of the common variety. But the sights to be seen along the road…
I camped right in the town of Kas, finding a nice little spot next to the heli pad. Figuring those odds would be slim, I pitched my tent there and watched the sunset.
Waking, this is why I often procrastinate in the morning.
Two days later, I found myself in Olympos. The ancient Lycian city was an important port in Hellenistic times, and later in Roman times. Now it seems to be popular in Hippy times. The setting is impressive. It lies in a deep valley, covered in heavy foliage.
Continuing north, I made a lunch stop in Kemer to see what it was all about. The beach isn’t really very nice, but the view is spectacular. It is also a tourist destination for Russians, there were a few there at this time.
Continuing along to Antalya, there are little gems along the way. I stopped a Topcam beach, and took in the scenery for a time.
In Antalya, there are many free beaches as well. Konyaalti seems to be the big one, but it was full of tourists and I had little interest in that.
I wasn’t that impressed with Antalya after what I had just seen. Being a large resort town, it’s the kind of place where you’re treated as a tourist commodity more than anything else, and there always seems to be someone out to extract money out of your pockets. So I didn’t stay, I continued east. The highway was less interesting, but it least it was flat and the distance was covered quickly. Along my way, I ran into two Czech cyclists who were on their way to Trabzon, and planned a tour along the coast of the north sea back to Istanbul. They are the first foreign cyclists I’ve seen here in two months.
A little while later, I clocked my 15,000th kilometer along that same road.
Damn, it feels good.
My original plans had been to head north to Beyşehir, and my next two attempts to go north did not succeed. Each time I was told that I would have to continue east until I found the main road. I was informed that the roads I sought were either closed or in very bad shape. After my previous shortcut when I left Istanbul, I didn’t think taking a shortcut over a 3000M mountain range would be a particularly wise idea. So I continued to Manavgat and spent the night there. I found a congenial spot for my tent upstream from the famous waterfalls there.
In the morning, I began my climb north over the mountain range. I stop frequently at the water fountains along the way, as do the Turks. They frequently stop to have a picnic. Twice I had lunch with Turkish families along the way, it was amazing. There’s usually homemade Turkish food involved.
The pass I had to deal with was 2000M in elevation, and was a little more difficult than I had anticipated. The rolling hills made it more like a 3000M gain, and adjusting to the +5C after having spent a week in +25C made it seem harder.
Yet, the views coming down were nice. The mountains were still covered with snow.
Once down in Seydişehir, it was all flat. The sunset over the mountains north of town was worth mentioning. Simply amazing.
I camped near Seydişehir, in a place that had no trees. The only shelter I found from the howling wind was a canal drainage.
The view again in the morning was worth procrastinating over.
And finally, I arrive at the sprawling Metropolis of Konya. A rest with other couchsurfers is nice.. See how they keep their distance from the bearded hippy 🙂
Now I’m off to Cappadocia, another 800km ride straight east.