I am sitting on a bench outside the mosque – all packed up – eating cold pizza for breakfast, watching autumn leaves flutter to the ground in this brisk 9˚C air. (I KNOW it was 9˚C because there’s a sign opposite flashing the time, the date and the temperature). The birds appear to be making a racket because I can only hear the lower frequencies: I am sure they sound more melodic to normal ears.
A short while later and half a mile down the road, I ride past a tiny owl – within a foot of my front wheel. This owl was only about 8” tall at the most. I pull over, across the road, and attempt to get my camera out to record this wonderful phenomenon. I can’t believe my eyes – and neither will you, because she flew off before I got the chance to take her picture. A little while later – probably a mile or so, I saw a red squirrel run past – didn’t get a picture of that one either.
I love, love, love cycling today. The weather is downright British, dressed as it is in grey, with a cool breezy demeanour. I ride through fertile lands and wooded, steepsided valleys and small villages for most of the day – until I topped the hills and saw water – the huge Lake Izmir.
Riding alongside the lake involved leaning at an acute angle towards the water as there was a gale force whipping up the waves and trying to blow me off Rowenna. The wind excited a young dog who galloped wildly along the road in playful mode, jumping backwards and forewards – she allowed me to scritch her ears before running and skipping away again. She had a shiny black coat and bright eyes as well as lots of energy so hopefully had someone caring for her.
I even turned down a lift today (gasp!). Does this mean I’m a proper cycle tourist now? It was offered when I’d just about crested the hill and had the downhill to look forward to. I’m so glad I did – as the downhill was great, the scenery a feast for the eyes and the ride into Orhangazi flattish and interesting.
It wasn’t a huge ride today – and I arrived in town at 2.30pm. I found a hotel relatively quickly. It’s getting noticeably more expensive as I get closer to Istanbul - with only 64miles to go!
I had çig kofte – düruüm – a wrap made with a nutty, tomatoey spicy paste and iceberg lettuce and tomatoes – with pomegranate sauce and Tabasco. It was once made with raw meat – according to google (and confirmed later by my warm shower hosts in Istanbul). Accompanied by Ayran yoghurt drink – this is just about my favourite meal in Turkey – street food! Yum! - And cheap at about 3.50 – 4 Turkish Lira for the wrap and the drink.