Week 8 Istanbul and a week of rest
Waking up in the 8th week, just before Silivri, with Istanbul in sight, I was highly motivated to cover some kilometers, even though there would be heavy traffic all day. I had planned to take a different route, which a student from Istanbul had given me when I met them at the border in North Macedonia. However, it was a bit too late for that, so I decided to join the traffic and cycle along the cars for the last kilometers. Fortunately, it was quite fast on the highways, and if you put in your earphones, you wouldn’t hear the cars anymore. It doesn’t really matter, though; if a car hits you from behind, as a cyclist, you’re usually too late to check your mirror. It’s a sort of surrender to something you hope to avoid, but you can’t really manage to. The only thing you can do is not cycle alongside the cars, but taking a detour is not exactly my preference.
Actually, I had no idea where Istanbul truly began, but I cycled through it for most of the afternoon. Towards the end of the afternoon, the makeshift bike stand, which had served its purpose, broke. Luckily, I had arranged to stay with a host in Besiktas, nearby, close to a university. The host gave me some valuable tips.
By around 5 o’clock, I had had enough of the traffic. You can only handle so much of it in a day until you go a little crazy. But once I survive that, nothing bothers me anymore, and I get used to it and even laugh about it. The host advised me to take the metro or a ferry. I chose the ferry since bikes were not allowed on the metro until 8 o’clock.
I missed the first ferry, and after some searching, I found the right station where the boat departed. It was a bit challenging to carry the bike up the stairs, but after a day full of frustrations from cars and other traffic, I could finally relax and enjoy the view on the ferry, which is highly recommended. However, after a peaceful ride, I had to get the bike off the ferry and face a steep uphill. It was too steep to cycle, so I ended up walking with the bike. I think I arrived around half past 9, sweating from pushing the bike. But the host was highly recommended and I slept like a baby on my first night there.
The rest of the week, I mainly visited the mosques in Istanbul, got my bike repaired, and relaxed with the excellent host. In Istanbul, you can go anywhere with ferries, and there’s also the metro that connects you to all parts of this vast city. I also repaired my pannier bag with a spare part that had to be shipped from another city. I had some drinks with an English cyclist who arrived in Istanbul a day after me. It was a truly enjoyable and relaxing week!
Day 1, 30th birthday!
After contemplating my next leg of the journey, as I hadn’t thought much about it, my host came up with an excellent idea to take a ferry and skip the stressful traffic from the other part of Istanbul. So that morning, I decided to take the boat, even though it contradicted my rule of not using public transportation during the bike trip. But some principles are impractical and good to let go of. While waiting for the ferry, I worked on my blog and finally reached the boat to Bursa around 2 o’clock. Unfortunately, the ferry had some delays, making the journey even longer.
Once on the boat with my bike, I sailed until 5:30 pm when I arrived in Bursa. I had some food and, unfortunately, received a little surprise in the form of a flat tire. I had placed the bike behind me and called my parents. Not paying attention to my bike, I assumed someone had deliberately punctured it. After cursing a bit, I walked to a shaded spot. Luckily, it was just a small piece of wire and not a malicious act. I continued cycling further and set up my tent near some olive trees. I had a peaceful night’s sleep without any signal reception.
On that day, I cycled to Bandirma, a beautiful route since I still wasn’t entirely sure where I was heading. It was a calm and hilly day, leading to the coast where I decided to stay at a campsite in the evening.
It was a long, hot day with hills towards Izmir, and I wasn’t sure where I would end up that day. After cycling on many highways with enough space for cyclists, I set up my tent next to an abandoned beehive area in an olive grove after dealing with some angry dogs somewhere near Ivrindi.
In the first village, I had some food and tea with some Belgians who were on vacation in Turkey visiting family. After some more hills, I reached a highway where a strong crosswind greeted me. I arrived in Soma around 4 pm, where I had arranged to stay with a host who had an apartment for me. I planned to rest there for the next day since I was already experiencing saddle sores after only 3.5 days of cycling, and I needed to have a check-up for some red rings on my leg that had been there for a few weeks. They didn’t hurt or itch, so I didn’t think it was anything serious, but I wanted to get it checked by a professional, just to be sure. After good communication with the host, we found each other after a short wait, and he took me to the apartment, a wonderfully peaceful place. I had dinner with the host and his family, and then we visited an old village in the mountains, luckily by car.
In the morning, the host insisted I come over for breakfast. After that, I set out towards Izmir, approximately 150 km away. The day was mostly flat and with a delightful tailwind! I cycled alongside the highway, where there was usually enough space to feel somewhat safe. After covering 130 km, I found a nice park near Izmir where I could set up my tent. Unfortunately, the tent pole had broken a few days ago, so I had to patch it up with duct tape. It worked well, but it looked a bit odd.
The plan was to head to Izmir and see if the Decathlon store could come up with a solution for a repair. After witnessing a swarm of fighter jets flying over me, I arrived in Izmir and went to Decathlon. Unfortunately, they couldn’t help me. So I went to another outdoor store where they tried some things but quickly realized that it wouldn’t work, considering all the holes and bent parts on the tent pole. After thinking it over, I decided to buy a new tent since my journey would last for a while longer. I chose the MSR Hubba Bubba for one person, which was a bit more expensive than the previous one, but I needed something more durable for such a long tour. However, I had to wait for the tent, so I decided to stay at a hotel or hostel for the night. The store staff offered to arrange something via Warmshowers, but I knew it was a bit last-minute. Eventually, they allowed me to set up my tent in the store’s garden. In the evening, I was bothered by a cat that found various ways to play with my belongings, but I managed to get some sleep anyway.
After waking up a bit weird, it was around 10 when they openen the shop. And i had a shower and had some breakfast with the owners. After 2 pm the new tent arrived and having said goodbye I was on my way to do a bit of sightseeing in Izmir. leaving the city afterwards I looked for a camping spot and found it. Near a nice olive tree, i sat up the tent for the first time, a really nice improve ment on quality for sure!