We spent a couple of days in Istanbul. We choose a charming Hotel with a marvelous view on the Bosporus. After such a long ride we decided that we deserve some luxury and also wanted to celebrate our arrival in Istanbul. Morover we wanted to relax after all the strains of 8 weeks of biking, do some sightseeing and do all these nitty gritty things one has to do while travelling.
Istanbul offers a lot of history, beautiful buildings and sites like the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque of the Topkapi Palace (We are not going to tell you anything about the history, Internet offers you whatever you fell like readingJ). We climbed the Galatas Tower, which offers a splendid view over the whole city. When we were up there it just started to rain. On one side we had dark clouds on the other side of the city the sun was still shining – how beautiful that was! We strolled through the Big Bazar, with it’s of smells of different spices, it’s lovely coulours, it’s jewellery! The painted ceilings of the Market Hall are just marvelous to look at. The only thing that was missing was the crowd of people who usually make such a place to come alive. Not only the Market Hall that seemed to be empty, many restaurants were as well. We didn’t have to queue up when visiting any of the tourist attractions. What a pitty that tourists are staying away from this beautivul city and lovely country, as it offers a lot of interesting things to do and see. People are very friendly and helpful.
For the Hotel staff we were somehow looked at to be exotic. Who has such a crazy idea to travel to Istanbul and even further with the bike? The staff didn’t stop asking question about our trip. At some time Metin asked very spontaneously how old we are… after we had told him, his colleague Mehmet replied to Markus: acutally you could be my grandfather, but you look more like my father. What a nice compliment! Before we left the hotel and Istanbul, we did a little photoshooting.
Thrusday, May 11 we continue our trip. We take the ferry to get to the Bosporus and at the same time to the Asian side of Turkey. The two bridges linking Europe and Asia are not ment to be used by bikers. One bridge is for the train, the other is a highway. After reaching the Asian side it took as 2 hours and 27 km to get at the border of Istanbul! This just shows how big Istanbul is.
Our next stop is thought to be Sile, a little town at the Black Sea, Overlooking a lovely little bay and some rocks. For us this means climbing a little hill with our bikes after a long day! Nevertheless it is worthwile as we get rewarded with a great view! By coincidence we found this B&B owned by Toni, a Swiss guy and his wife. The view from the terrasse was just great.
Friday, May 12, was simply an ordeal! After that day we had to admit to ourselves, that we just had made the wrong choice regarding our routing. And we defitily realized, that one meter of altitude difference is not equal to one meter of altitude difference! We had decided to take the back roads to get to Agva our next stop. The evening before we had looked at the ground profil and we new, that a couple of hills were ahead of us. But we defintly had underestimated the steepness of these hills. Most of the inclinations were 10%. Even though we have trained our legs in the last couple of weeks we were not able to bike all hills, we had to push the bike upthill! But at last we arrived in Agva. As little reward we got a very good Cappucino!
Saturday, May 13, was just a day one can dream of. We had wonderful nice and warm weather (30°C), we passed a lovely contry side , the hills were not too steep, we just could enjoy our ride. Trees and grass are still very green, every once in a while there is a flock of sheep or goats. Furhtermore, this area is known for its hazelnut plantation. Over 10’000 tons of hazelnut are harvested evera year. A woman was selling strawberries at the roadside. We didn’t hesitate to buy a bag full of fresh strawberries, sat under a tree and ate them right away. Delicious! After arrival in a B&B with view on the Black Sea (as usual) and a Cay Markus cleaned the bikes while I wrote the blog.