Chai, Chai, Chai, Chai, Chai!!! As we passed this small Turkish tea shop a man stood and starting shouting for us to join him for tea. We had no option but to stop since he was so excited to see us. We sat with him at this little tea house and although he spoke no En
glish and us very little Turkish, we made conversation about our trip. Where we were going and where we are from. This is Turkey. A place so hospitable that it can take you by surprise. People will open their doors to you, buy you breakfast, lunch, dinner and always tea. Turkey is the tea drinking capitol and the average person will consume 2.5kg of tea each year. (Britain is second at 1.9kgpp) You cannot cycle anywhere in Turkey without being offered their tea, called Cay.
We entered Turkey at the border crossing of Kirkaleri, which is the most eastern border crossing with Bulgaria and we cycled on wards to the main city of Kirkaleri-where we stopped for lunch. We bought borek which is a Turkish meat pastry dish and very cheap, it cost us just 1 pound to fill us both up over lunch. As eating a nice lady bought us our first Turkish tea and we swapped stories about our travels and her travels in Turkey. We said our goodbyes and headed east towards Istanbul. The following day we reached a nice lunch spot in a town called Karnaca, a small village with lots of fresh water. As we walked to the main river, we met a group of five Turkish men so called us over and we got chatting, it turned out that this was the last day of Ramadan, a Muslim festival and it is therefore a big celebration day in Turkey. We joined them for the fest ivies but not before they had arranged their mother to do our washing and set us up a bed in their house for the night! They really were fantastic hosts and we had a great time meeting all their friends and family and drinking long into the night. We awoke the following day with hangovers but a large Turkish breakfast greeted us downstairs so that quickly sorted us out. Turkish breakfast is called Kavalti and includes eggs, omlettes, olives, bread, honey, jam, cheese, cream, cold meats and even chips! It is truly the king of the breakfast, something to rival our own British offering.
We then cycled the next 150km to Istanbul, the capital of Turkey and the city which marks the end of Europe with a crossing of the Bospherus. We had read before that Istanbul is a dangerous city to cycle into so we picked our route carefully to avoid any main roads and motorways. We arrived into the City on road D020 which is on the north west of Isanbul and runs right down to the marmaran sea, this route was perfect since it was not too busy. Buses are very annoying since there seem to be hundreads of local buses who stop and start without any notice!! Also on this route once you have arrived at the sea all you do is follow the coastal path to the heart of Istanbul, easy!! Once we arrived we checked into a hostel for the night called Sinbads hostel just a five minute walk from the Blue Mosque, the owner (not called sinbad!) is an avid cyclist and we could store our bikes their without worry. Also at twelve pounds per night for a basic double room you cannot go wrong.
We walked the five minutes to the Blue Mosque and took in the sights. It is such a large beautiful building but it does get very busy so try to go early if you can also Finola had to wear her home made headscarf much to my amusement!! We then went to the Spice bazaar (very good) and the grand bazaar (not very good) before going for traditional kebab and returning to the hostel. The following day it was time to leave Europe and enter Asia. To do this you must cross the Bosporus, we joined the car queue and for the small price of just 4 lira each (one pound) including a bicycle we hopped on the ferry and crossed into Asia!!
Buy me a beer!! Thank you
This blog follows my cycle ride from Reading, Berkshire to Reading, Pennsylvania.