Late leaving again! Climbing up out of Orhangazi I met a man and his wife who invited me to have coffee. He has built his house –but he and his wife don’t speak very much English. It was a lovely hiatus. Then later the same day I met two Turkish English speaking cyclists with some very flash gear on their bicycles.
They assured me I was about to go downhill – but I knew from my map I had another couple miles of uphill to traverse.
Shortly after leaving them, I came upon a hungry dog with four very new puppies. I suspect it’s the wrong time of year for these youngsters – as it was for the kittens in Kekova – but I gave the mum my lunch anyway, as she was obviously more in need of protein than me. I’d have put sudocrem on the open sore I could see on one of her nipples if I thought she’d have let me get near it – but she’d growled at me when I’d petted one of the pups so I suspected not. I gave her a scratch behind the ears instead.
It was up for a while more – with better and better views – until the glorious downhill again – towards the coast and the sea of Marmara.
I lose my way slightly about midway between Yalova and Çiftlikkoy. I see children coming home from school. Ask two guys the way and they give me great instructions and send me down the road I thought looked like it was disappearing (as it got narrower and muddier). I stop for a couple of cheesy buns and a lovely chat with the owner and crazy cat-guy of the pastry shop.
Then had an expensive pizza supper –but plenty enough to put half in a doggy bag for later.
The ferry was fun and then it was on up into Gebze. I had a bit of a minor fall as I was coming out of the harbour – there were posts to the right of the road – and I cycled in between them – not realising there was very thin wire connecting the posts which I couldn’t see in the dimpsy – despite torch and headlight and streetlights. I got tangled up in the line, broke it and (obviously) fell over, which was a bit of a shock. No harm done and onwards. (I had a few drops of the Bach rescue remedy that Sophie from Paris had given me for just such an occasion).
Noone told me there was a hill – which is just as well, because then you just get on with climbing it. I found the hotel after a bit of running around, at about 9pm. The guy on reception was fascinated by me, I believe. I think he was quite innocent – he had a picture of his two girls on his phone, which endeared me to him somewhat. Kept bringing me çay and more çay - however I was a little bit surprised when he brought tea to my room –walking in after knocking (not even waiting for the ‘enter’). It was 0020hrs and I was in bed! Fortunately I was actually awake and looking at emails. I locked the door after that, and took the phone off the hook and slept soundly.
I slept very well on the thick red carpet despite my mat slowly deflating – it must have a teensy weensy hole somewhere. I only had to pump it up once and it lasted. I got up at 7am as I had visions of a host of men entering for prayers with me still snoozing.
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.
6 miles out of town and I realise I’ve left my ‘drinksafe’ bottle and holder back in the hotel room – probably just before I need it most! Oh well – I’m not going back for it!
I get offered a lift by Mehmeb, who doesn’t speak much English, so we have guesses at what each other is saying without verification. He appears to think I’m ‘easy’ and wants sex. He keeps invading my body space. I’m not impressed with his driving skills as he keeps taking his hands off the steering wheel. I make it very clear that I’m not interested and we part, amicably enough, in Tavsanli, which is off my planned route, but makes it straightforward to get to Domaniç. HEY! I’m no longer riding along the D-650!
Perhaps just because its new, this road seems infinitely more interesting than the old. I pass through a victorian style black smoke belching industrial zone on the outskirts of town, but then start following a river. The water means the surrounding area is fertile, has trees, shows green. Farmers are growing strawberries! Then I go past a vast quarry – stark and strangely beautiful in an alien way.
I find a hotel easily enough in Domaniç and the cheapest yet, at 40TL including breakfast (that’s a tenner to you and me). Don’t know where I’ll be staying tomorrow night as there are a dearth of large towns on my route.
Going out to find supper – the town does its best to get rid of me: First I step squarely on a shoe size, flat piece of wood in the dark. It slides on the cobbles as well as any skate. I do the splits and come down heavily on my left knee – which must have looked highly amusing in a “clown slips on banana skin” sort of way but was a wee bit shocking to experience. No harm done apart from a mildly bruised feeling wrist where I put my hand down to save myself. Then, not 5 minutes later, I stub my toe on a raised brick in the road – and decided it’s probably not simple to sue the council here either. I shake my fist at the universe instead.
A newly retired Terri following her heart into a world of woolly creativity. Live the dream