A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: Kimjoss

Rest day

sunny 15 °C

Restless night sleep. The academy does not have mattresses. There is a wooden bed base for you to put your own bedding on. Our self inflating thermarests are 3.8cm thick. We probably didn't inflate them quite enough, we could still feel the base when turning over. At least we were toasty in our silk sleep sheets and goose down sleeping bags. The jury is still out on our inflatable pillows.
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Polly and Pacman have been safe and sound in a quiet corner of the academy.
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Blue skies are the first thing we see when we wake. Looks like a perfect day to cycle, but our legs sore and tired. We agree to work out the days plan after breakfast. We walk with Nathan and Rory to a local coffee shop where locals are enjoying their first caffeine fix of the day. Our Turkish coffees are like an espresso and set us back 4 lira, 30 cents!

We get back to the academy and Inanç is already there setting up for the day. We get a picture of all of us with our countries flag and then connect on Facebook and Instagram so we can follow each other and stay in touch.
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I do some bike maintenance with some help from Nathan. Our front derailleur needs adjusting as the chain came off a couple of times. All fixed, I test is out by going around the academy track a couple of times.
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Nathan and Rory set off and we decide to have a rest day. Kim braves a cold shower as there is no gas at the moment. She emerges quickly but refreshed. We walk back into town for a late breakfast. Kim happy with borek and I have a butterbean soup.
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We do a bit more sightseeing of the town.
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Then stock up on more muesli bars for tomorrows' ride and head back to the academy to chat with Inanc and update our blog.

The hours fly by and it’s closing time. Lots of farewell hugs with Inanç and a promise to send every cyclist we meet to the academy. He makes sure we sign the travellers wall before he leaves.
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We find a local doner shop. One doner each to go. Back to the academy to eat as the wind has picked up and it’s freezing outside. It’s just us staying at the academy tonight so we hang out in our toasty room, blog and plan tomorrow’s route.

Just after dark there is a knock at the window. A face is peering in. We are a bit surprised and then realise it’s a fellow bike packer. His name is Jan from Switzerland. He found the academy on Komoot (a cycle app) but he hadn’t got in contact with Inanç. We give him a tour, take a picture of his passport and send it to Inanç. Jan thanks us for making him welcome and the tour and jokes that we should work here.

Stats

No cycling today. 12,700 steps instead

Distance cycled - 0km (Total 152.3km)
Ascent - 0m (Total 1770m )
Descent - 0m (Total 1680m)
Money Spent - $23 AUD (Total $245 AUD)

Posted by Kimjoss 00:00 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

Our 17th wedding anniversary

semi-overcast 12 °C

Our room is so warm we wake at 3am to the Ramadan drums. The heat in our room is u so high the clothes we handwashed are already dry. Can't work out how to turn the heat down... open a window. Better, sleep until 7am. Included breakfast is boiled eggs, 2 types of cheese, Devon meat, green and black olives, cucumber, tomato, bread, 5 types of spreads/jams and unlimited tea. Does the job.

It’s our 17th wedding anniversary and we are spending the day together doing what we love - travelling and having new experiences. There will be no food sensations today. We will make up for that later in the trip.

On the road by 9am. Kim is wearing her leggings over her bike pants. I am not finding it as cold. We both groan from our sore bums and legs as we mount Polly. At least we are chaffe free.

Todays cycle is only 50km with more downhill than up so we are hoping for an easier day. The scenery has changed. We're now riding through open farmlands with hardly a tree in sight. There is a light headwind if it was stronger it might be hard work. 2 hours we reach the halfway point. A small town with a farmers market on the street we were expecting a Doner shop for tea and soup. No dice. Komoot tells us we have passed it. Loop back to the town centre and are befriended by a local security guard. He asks where are we from and what do we need. He shows us to the local tea house and tells us if we ever need help to call 121, it’s the same as the American 911. We thank him and park up Polly outside the tea house. The waiter sees us and comes outside and sets up a table to can stay with Polly and be away from the chain smoking locals.
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We sit enjoying our tea and sun, warming ourselves up. Several locals go over to inspect Polly and Pacman. An older gentleman walks by and says hello. He stops to ask where we are from. His English is really good. We have a chat about how we are finding Turkey and our trip and if we need anything. I ask him how much the tea should cost as every time we buy it it's a different price. He says it’s not much, I will buy it for you. We say thank you there is no need. He insists and asks if we want a second. We try not to accept but he is already talking to the waiter. We ask him to join us. He says he can’t as it’s Ramadan but we should enjoy. He wishes us a safe trip and walks away. The waiter brings our tea and 2 bottles of water. He tells us the water is a gift from him. Once again we are overwhelmed by the generosity of strangers.

Fuelled by tea and our new favourite muesli bars we set off to tackle the second half of the day. More cheeky little hills all conquered in first gear and a bit of time coasting down hill to relieve our sore bums. Arrive in Luleburgaz by 2pm.

Kim discovered the Luleburgaz bike academy sometime last year when researching our trip. It was founded four years ago by the municipality to provide a place for local to learn how to cycle. They have bicycle available to use and a fun cycle track. They also provide free accommodation, with full facilities, kitchen, laundry, showers, toilets, TV room and and all the necessary tools to repair bike for travellers.

On arrival we are greeted by the manager "Inanç". He provides us with a tour of the academy and tells us we are the first Australians for the year. Last year over 300 people stayed here, a handful were from Australia.

Our room as four beds but it’s all ours unless some cyclists turn up who have not contacted Inanç yet. We dump our stuff and head into town for a late lunch. It’s a nice town with lots of fruit and vegetables stalls lining the streets, shops and cafes. It feels good to stretch out our legs.
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Our anniversary lunch was a Burger for me and a stir fry with pasta and salad. We didn't break the bank on this one - a bit over 200 lira or a bit less than $20AUD

At 3pm a song plays over the load speakers usually reserved for the call to prayer. Everyone stand still like statues. We discover later from Inanç it is the National Anthem. It also signals the end of the school week. It was a bit weird.

Back at the academy we meet Nathan from Canada and Rory from London both bike packers in their 20s.

Last year Nathan bike packed across Canada and this year he has cycled from Portugal and is heading to Asia.

Rory spent the last year travelling Asia and is now cycling from Istanbul back to London. Like us this is his first week, and still finding his cycle legs.

We spend the evening hanging out and talking about all our adventures. At 10pm Kim declares it’s past her pumpkin time and we all agree it’s time for bed.

Stats

Distance cycled - 51.6km (Total 152.3km)
Ascent - 360m (Total 1770m )
Descent - 430m (Total 1680m)
Money Spent - $30 AUD (Total $222 AUD)
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Posted by Kimjoss 00:00 Archived in Turkey Comments (3)

More generosity

semi-overcast 9 °C

Glimpses of blue sky greet us when we wake up. Looks promising. Furkan drives us back to his family's restaurant where I have lentil soup for breakfast and Kim pops out to buy borek - a local filo pastry filled with cheese which we wash down with several hot teas.

9:30am and it’s time to head off. One or two more photos of our new friends before we go.
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Todays ride is 65km, nearly double what we did yesterday and much hillier…it’s going to be a long day! Kim is wearing her leggings over her bike pants as her knees got really cold yesterday.

Up and down we cycle through planted forests and are half heartedly chased by the local dogs. It's like they don’t know what we are. Some chase, some bark without getting up and some just raise theirs heads. Kim had read on many bike packing blogs that local dogs like to chase cyclists and since we are cycling so slow maybe we we aren’t worth chasing!

2 hours in, it's time for a pit stop and we find a bus shelter which blocks the wind. Kim has found a local muesli bar which is turning out to be our riding snack. As we munch away a local dog and her two pups come over for a pat but more likely hoping for food but we are not sharing. Pats will have to do.
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At 1:30pm we reach the halfway point and a restaurant which is in the middle of nowhere. Perfect, as we are tired, cold and hungry. Unfortunately, the power is out. We had seen workers on the powerline a few km back. We need to order something that can be cooked over a fire. It doesn’t take long for our omelettes and tea to arrive.

Just after 2pm we are back on the road. It’s a bit of a slog for the next 3 hours but we push through. The last few hills are a real struggle, but we manage to make it up in the lowest gears! If someone had been walking beside us they would have overtaken us.

At 5pm we roll into Saray, exhausted. We find the cheapest hotel in town. Kim sits outside and books it online to get the best deal. Polly and Pacman are safely locked in a shed. Up to the room, the hot shower feels devine. Scrubbed clean and clothes hand washed. Time for food.

The temperature has dropped and it is starting to drizzle. We don't want to venture too far. After a block and we find a supermarket to buy the necessities - water and beer. Next door is a pide (Turkish pizza) shop. The owner says it is ok for us to drink our beer while we eat our pide in his shop. Using google translate he tells us what’s in each of the pide. We decide on the mincemeat and egg. He heats it up and brings it to our table. He asks where we are from and then about our journey.

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After we finish he brings us cake which he has just made. It tastes like honey cake with sultanas and it’s delicious. Bellies full and ready for bed, we pull out our card to pay. He shakes his head and waves the card away - no need it’s my gift to you. We say we can’t accept but he insists with his hand on his heart. With google translate he wishes us bon appetite and a safe journey. We ask if we could take a photo with him, but he declines. Overwhelmed we thank him again for his generosity.

Back to the hotel we fall asleep full of gratitude.

Stats

Distance cycled - 35.7km (Total 100.7km)
Ascent - 890m (Total 1410m )
Descent - 790m (Total 1250m)
Money Spent - $74 AUD (Total $192 AUD)

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Todays ride

Posted by Kimjoss 00:00 Archived in Turkey Comments (2)

On ya bike / The accidental homestay

rain 8 °C

Wake up and it’s raining so we take our time getting ready. We have been away for 1 week already but today is our first day of cycling. Kim has been getting nervous about what lies ahead and of the unknown as bicycle touring is a new way of travelling for us.

We had previously agreed not to pre-book our accommodation as we don't know what we don't know. But the weather is freezing cold and although the rain has stopped before we set off, it's threatening more. Not ideal for camping, Kim is really not keen to camp our first few days while we get used to riding. So Kim finds a good hotel deal in our planned destination of Yalikoy, 47km away. It's on the Black Sea through what looks like national park. Kim is really anxious to know we have a roof over our head tonight, so I agree we book it. Worse case scenario we don’t make it or change plans we forfeit $50. But more importantly I have a "happy wife" which equals "happy life"!

It’s 11:15am, the rain has stopped so we make a start. It's 300 metres before we hit our first hill, it's not huge, but it is steep. It takes us to the town centre of Karaburun. We make it 3/4 of the way and then need to get off to push. At the top of the hill we turn right to leave town, it's there is a longer less steep hill. A local waves at us to stop and he tells us the road ends up ahead. Google maps shows there is a road so we decide to give it a crack anyway. Hopefully even if cars can’t get go that way perhaps bikes can. We continue on about 3km and are rewarded with 180 degree view of the Black Sea no pictures as it was too cold!
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Ready to go - Percy has pride of place on the handlebars

Down the hill, and at the bottom we see a big gate and barbed wire but stay hopefully. The security guard tells us it’s a state forest logging area and he can’t let us pass. Ok we need a plan B and we haven’t even been on the bike for 1 hour! Yalikoy is now off the table as the alternative route to there is 70km and it's almost midday. We retrace our steps to the town centre and head for the airport where to get onto the D020 highway.

It’s getting cold and we don’t have enough clothes on. After about 1 hour we see the D020. There is a restaurant just before the on ramp. We stop to warm up, have a tea and put more clothes on. Kim has on her bike pants and waterproof over pants, 2 long sleeve tops, her jacket and 2 pairs of gloves - one pair her padded fingerless cycling gloves and the other full gloves which she only packed last minute. That’s the problem when you pack in summer for colder climates you forget how cold it can get.
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Kim inside ordering tea

Warmed by the tea we continue on to the D020. It's busy but has a wide hard shoulder so feel safe enough. There are lots of ups and downs so we spent a lot of time in our lowest gears which equals very slow progress. Our new plan is taking us to Subasi. We had researched this as an option back home and knew there was at least 1 hotel in town.

We finally make it to Subasi, cold, hungry, our untrained legs are toast, our bums are sore, we are very ready to get off the bike. Google maps tells us we have passed the hotel but we didn’t see it. We ask in at a local shop and there are two boys about 10 who tell us they will take us to the hotel. 100 metres back the way we came is the hotel but it’s now closed. Bugger! It’s starting to rain. Double bugger!

We spot a local doner restaurant, ride up to the front. A waiters comes out and invites us in as he makes room for us to park Polly, Pacman and Percy. We get inside as the heavens open. An omen for us to stay and enjoy a very late lunch/early dinner while we try to solve our accomodation conundrum. I have chicken and rice and Kim a chickpea soup. We both warm up with lots of hot sweet tea. The waiter has a bit of English but he supplements with google translate. After understanding our situation he says he will help us find a local Airbnb or alternative hotel. Nothing is close by :(

We've finished our food and it’s getting wetter and darker outside. Kim and I discuss if we should ask to sleep in the restaurant. Before we get a chance though, the offers us a room at his house. He doesn’t know how much we should pay and asks how much we think is fair. We agree on 500 lira about $40. We can leave Polly, Pacman and Percy in the restaurant overnight and he will drive us to his home. We finally introduce ourselves. His name is Furkan and this is his families restaurant. Turns out the lady who served us our tea is his mum. All four of us and our backpacks bundle into Furkan’s car and we drive about 15 mins to their family home. On the way, a Dominos motorbike deliveryman pulls up beside us. Furkan's mum "Sherif" winds down her window and gives the delivery driver some food from their restaurant. Furkan explains that this is his brother.

Their apartment block is new and the nearby park is recently landscaped with young trees and grass. A new estate we surmise. Inside, everything is new and modern. They show us to the living room to wait while Furkan makes up our room. Turns out it’s his parents room which has an ensuite. We are gobsmacked that they have given up their room for us. We have hot showers, get changed and return to the lounge.

Our hosts have just finished their dinner. It looks like they made enough for us and offer us some. We had just eaten before we left the restaurant so we politely decline. They clean up and Sherif brings out tea and a platter of cookies and nuts. She doesn't speak any English, but Google translate helps us all out. We cover a lot of topics - our jobs, Turkish politics, the super high inflation, their restaurant, family, everyones age, how long we have been married for, and why we don't have kids. Sherif even video calls her niece in Istanbul who has good English so we can chat to her.

Furkan tells us the family bought their 3 bedroom apartment 3 years ago, for the equivalent of AUD$45,000 which was expensive then but now it would cost them over AUD$300,000 something they could never afford. The Turkish minimum wage is AUD$650 a month and Furkan has no idea how anyone can live on this little amount of money. Knowing how much we have paid for things like food and public transport we are also flabbergasted how anyone could live off that amount.

Furkan's father comes home at about 9:30pm. He welcomes us with cake he bought for us on the way home. The cake is a decadent triple layer chocolate sponge filled with cream and strawberries. So incredibly generous to us strangers.

We chat with the father for another hour. Finally we explain that we are exhausted and need to retire. Furkan asks when we think we want to leave. We ask when he normally goes to work as we don't want to disrupt his schedule. We agree to leave between 8 and 9am.

Before going to bed we thank our accidental hosts for their amazing generosity and ask if we can have a photo with them. They oblige. 20230405_221752.jpg

==Stats==
Distance cycled - 35.7km
Vertical - 520m incline / 460m decline

Money Spent:
Today - $118AUD
Includes hotel we didn't stay at

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Todays ride

Posted by Kimjoss 00:00 Archived in Turkey Comments (10)

Goodbye and getting set

overcast 12 °C

Get up to say goodbye to Ozge and Mira as they will drive to Ozge’s mum’s house for breakfast and then drop Mira to school before work. Lots of hugs to fill our hearts.

Alex is working from home today so we pack before he gets up. Alex makes us our last homemade Turkish breakfast and then drives us to the train station. More goodbyes and we hope we will see each other again soon, maybe in London. As leave Alex tells us again if anything happens in Turkey just call me and I can come collect you. We feel like family. Visiting Ozge, Alex and Mira has been the perfect way to start our adventure.

1 train, 2 metros and a taxi later we are back at our hotel in Karaburun on the Black Sea where we have stored Polly and Pacman. We check in, order lunch.
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Now the work begins. I spend the afternoon unboxing and putting Polly (our tandem) back together. I'm outside in the cold and light rain. Meanwhile, Kim is in our toasty warm room. I thought she was packing Pacman (our trailer), but mostly she is writing some draft blog posts from our last few days. Her reasoning is that I would probably just unpack and repack it anyway... as I am better at tetris. She is probably right.
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I meant to take a timelapse video of me putting the bike together, but forgot all about it as I was freezing and just wanted to get it done :(

Posted by Kimjoss 00:00 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

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