Tuesday 31 December 2013

Mutlu Yillar!

Turkish Raki

Raki is said raku. The dotted I changes it to that sound.  Yeni is just the brand, it's like "new" I think. 

Apparently this drink hasn't made it big abroad yet. I can see why. It comes clear in the bottle and turns white when mixed with water. Amazing. 

Huseyin says don't smell it, which helps. Just have a sip and chase it with water. Even with it mixed 50/50 with water in the glass it is excruciating.  Hints of anise. I don't yet know what it's made out of. 

Meal was Adana style kebab (town of Adana is where Huseyin grew up). With chilis. Now we're talking. Tomato, onion, cucumber, ride made up most of the rest of it. Fresh bread. 

Koycegiz - Ekincik - Dalyan

Today was supposed to be an easy 40k. Around a beautiful lake, past some old castle and tombs. 


Going around the lake with beautiful views. 

Erik did some wrong turning at Suktaniye and led us up a 425m climb. We picnic'd part of way up. 

Then down the other side to Ekincik. The road ended which is how we figured out things weren't quite right.  We checked our food supplies.  We map read "talked" to some locals, then back up the climb. 

So we get to the top and I reckon we could go back down and retrace. But there's also this dirt road off to the right that goes the right way. Amazingly right then a guy comes down that road on a motorcycle. We try to communicate but not much happens. Fortunately a tractor with a guy and a young girl comes down. I show him our destination, he reads the map, and points down the gravel road he just came from. 

I ask how many kilometers. Guy shows seven fingers and the universiality of youth has the girl say seven in English. Beauty.  My guess from the relief map is we have to climb 200m more. 

Beautiful road, great views. We climb 300m more, but more climbing cumulative as it rolls a bit. We're in a national park. I can see the coast, where we came from, and where I think we're going. There's wild mountain goats talking to us when they stand in the road. Donkeys who don't work in the winter roaming about. The sun is setting. 

This is the most excited I've been all trip I don't know exactly where we are. The map is ok but not great.  No cell reception for bail out maps. Sun going down. But we have snacks and a couple bottles and gore tex.  A bike with a light, and fortunately my clear glasses too. I have energy galore. I feel alive. Somehow my lack of concern and excitement about our new route nullifies any concerns Cindy would have. Awesome. 

We get to the ferry we were supposed to be at past dark. The ferry is a lady in a dinghy who rows back and forth. She's the mom in town you don't disobey as you don't want to get smacked by those arms of iron. 

We were a bit late. But fun!

Sunday 29 December 2013

Aegan coast

After 10 days on the Aegan coast, here's some thoughts after sedentary touring, bike touring, and sight seeing either way. 

The coast is lovely. More rugged than I pictured. Rocky, steep. Switchbacks are steep. Roads are narrow and quiet.  Great for cycling.  Lots of places to get long climbs up bigger mountains than I thought. If one were to explore the forest roads by hard tail or 'cross bike there'd be a plethora of treasures, those trails are everywhere. Water springs in stone carvings at sides of road all over. 

Words that are redundant here are words that should be elsewhere as well. Fresh, organic, free range. Steps from ground to plate are very few.  Diet is quality stuff I should eat more of. We went days without processed foods or fried stuff. Omelettes and kebabs are the only things done with grease of any kind. Getting your RDA of fruits and vegetables is not a difficult task; locals probably think being told to emphasize fruits and vegetables in the diet would be very strange.  Those 100 mile diets where your food comes from nearby are redundant too. I probably ate more honey than I have in years. There's bee boxes everywhere. Tea, on breads, etc. favourite innovation was the trick of carving butter with your fork, putting honey in middle, whipping it up, and putting it on bread.  That could be a diet killer. But better than frosting. I feel better. Of course it's vacation, commensurate with less stress, air conditioned environment and fluorescent lights, and more activity, but the food aspect is noticeable. Lastly, we got one Turkish delight in a bazaar. Wow. Heavenly. 

Traffic is nicer to bikes than home by a long shot. Everyone loves the tandem. By the numbers we got zero aggressive drivers and 100% toot toot honks, waves, smiles and the universal thumbs up, fascinated kids, hellos from old men smoking and drinking teas in towns.  While we have electrics and hybrids jammed down our throats, roads seemed to favour €10-20k diesels that get 1,000k+ per tank.  Scooters are everywhere. They haul firewood, families and goats. People turn them off to coast downhill. 

People are nice. In two weeks we got zero displays of rudeness, impatience, foreigner distrust or ripoff, or religious judgement. Zero. We got patience, hospitality, intrigue, care and just good genuine treatment.  Everywhere. Despite language being extremely unrelated to ours, we never struggled. People brought you back into the kitchen to show you ingredients they offered. Showed you hot peppers and motioned for how many.  Easy.  Aside from how they treated us, they seemed to treat each other very well, and their animals nicely too. Animals aren't seperate from life in the small towns.  Chances are your pensiyon has chickens in the front yard, a cat in the kitchen, sheep out back and bees by the gardens. 

We saw one homeless person. It seems to be really under control. There's basic living in farms, but we didn't see evidence of destitute life. We saw basic entertainement, and cost effective life, like tea and dominoes and layers of 4 sweaters and a tweed blazer all the farmers wear with a watchman cap, where most of their life cost appeared to be cigarettes.  They smoke a lot. Sad. 

I wish I had a telephoto lens to take distant shots or Turkish charisma to ask people for photos. The moustache, beard, side burns combos here are amazing. They have a lot of raw material to work with. 

I don't really get the religion thing. They're nearly 100% Muslim by statistics. But you can sit having a beer being served by Hassan wearing a hipster outfit while the call to prayer goes out and nobody flinches. The soap operas are juicy and women's outfits span a wide range. Bikini shops and fashion ads didn't have a required amount of cover up, they were full Euro standard. So I can only assume they aren't so uptight in their interpretation of doctrine.  If they think we're "infidels" they kept it pretty hidden.  We sensed intrigue absent of judgement. People would come and ask Huseyin where we were from, how far we were biking, if Cindy ever went in front, marvel at the tandem, then come and say hello to us in English after as that's the word everyone knows.  In this area, I think people have a global understanding of a lot, but probably care more about their daily life than who's killing who and why. They have very wholesome existence and I'd suspect feel very little need to take on the outside world's issues.  I wouldn't. 

This coast felt like going back in time. Other than being on a paved road, there were times in the little towns where horses, miles, donkeys, chickens, cats and dogs, fires, axes, cows, farmers, stone walls, drying laundry strings, hoeing fields drowned out anything new. Occasionally an old Fiat tractor would go by. Pace of life probably hasn't changed much... since life really got going here. 

Like any travel, and in a very healthy dose this time, the "superiority of home" mentality suffered big blows this trip. My daily routine is more rushed, more rude, less tasty and healthy.  They have enough internet (fast wifi is ubiquitous) and TV (should just be called the football viewing device) to get them by. Peaceful, welcoming. If I "got stuck" here without ability to return, I couldn't fathom being very upset, provided I could order bike tires and chains online.  Beat all our expectations. 

Selimiye to Bayir to Marmaris


Basically Turkish Nutella.

Seaside shipyards and sunny riding. 

These guys were waving keenly with their boat laden with rocks. 

We were popular with the tables of morning tea drinkers as we passed through that little village. 

Great roads!

Stopped for tea again in Bayir. 

Finished with a big downhill into Marmaris, the new brakes are great. Marmaris is commercial, lots of resort hotels and such. Seems nice. 

Akbuk to Gokova, Cayir Mekvii to Selimiye

Little bit of rain, but great roads along the ocean. 


Rolling hills along the coasts. 

Nice road. 

Old water cistern. It's deep inside.  They're all over, this is first one I looked in. Stairs go way down. 

Lunch snacks - spinach and feta pancakes, tomatoes, fresh orange juice and tea. 

Finished at nice hotel and dried off. 

Birthday dinner!

Saturday 28 December 2013

Friday 27 December 2013

Biking! Mumcular - Oren - Akbuk

Great to be riding. Not super fast. No rain, just overcast. Nice coastal roads. 

Farmland and little villages. 

Two ~400m climbs.  

Finish down below. 


Nar is their word for pomegranate. I don't know how much it'd cost to make a glass of pure squeezed juice at home, but I'd say definitely more than 50 cents. This is just pomegranates and a squeezer machine. The amount of flavour in this cup blew me away.  This glass had more pomegranate than I'd cumulatively had this far in life. 

Thursday 26 December 2013

Turkish breeze

This hairdo is called the Turkish breeze, and is the product of olive oil shampoo, a little Turkish Airline brush, and of course the Turkish breeze. 

Cindy says it's soft like a kitty. 

Trip to Marmaris

We made our way to Marmaris which appeared to be the Cancun of Turkey. But getting there was awesome.  Check that road. 

Little town along way. All the hills were making pine honey. 

Giant old tree. 

Tree details. 

Town mosque. 

Nice valley. 

Town from another angle. 



We stayed near Selimiye yesterday. Nice spot, fancy hotel. Only us there.  Cindy liked the electric blanket. 

View of Selimiye. 

Hotel with pool drained. 

View of town. 

Hotel plaque. 

Picture frame to take pictures. 

Turkish lunch

We got our bags today!

Then we went for lunch to devise our plans. We've extended our driver and booked extra days.  We went to a restaurant and when asked what I wanted I said Turkish lunch. Here's what that comprised. 

Fresh salad. Like really fresh. With pomegranate syrup or as they say "granate sauce" and spices and lemon and vinegar and olive oil. 

Bulger soup, very good. Also conveniently Erik water. Cindy went with Pepsi. 

BBQ meat balls, onion, tomato, pepper and spices.  Soup, salad and meal make very few stops from farm to plate. Delicious. 

Bitter yogurt drink. I think spelled ayran but said how we say Iran.  No sugar, boiled sheep milk made to yogurt then fluffed up in a machine then water added. 

The ubiquitous Turkish tea.