It's only been a couple of weeks since my last ramblings, but with
Syria (where the internet is banned) and Jordan (an unknown internet
entity) I don't know when I'll next be able to write.
sea rushes in and seems to stop just before my feet. Wave upon
thunderous, mysterious wave. Captain Moon lurks in the background,
casting his long white shadow across the black ocean. In the distance,
a flicker of light. Is it a ship or maybe a lighthouse helping
seafarers home, across on the other shore of the Bay of Marmaris?
The pebbles rustle against one another, gossiping about the days
So, I was sitting at the gate of the campsite, literally only 5
metres from the waves jingling over the pebbles. The light above
me gave the moon a hand to illuminate the keyboard of my Psion.
Taking a cynical view one might assume I'm doing a very bad Eric
Cantona impression, but it's just the way it is. After six days,
I finally escape the clutch that Istanbul had over me. On the Road
again. (Isn't that the name of a song?)
I headed west and the south towards the Aegean coast,
first stop Galipoli on the Dardenelles. The road along the Bay of
Marmaris for about 50 clicks included some magnificent gravel and
dirt. (Well it was for me, a boy wet behind the ears in the off-road
riding fraternity!). A few little hamlets clung to the hillside.
They reminded me of Nepal in the Himalayas. The blue salt liquidy
stuff ensured I wasn’t too confused. A complete contrast to
the cosmopolitan bustle that is Istanbul only 70km to the east.
The Empire's foreign policy
The World War One battlefields, cemeteries and memorials
of Galipoli were sobering. What a senseless, pointless massacre.
In places the opposing trenches were 8 (eight) metres apart! Barbaric.
3 cheers for the Empire's foreign policy and its “Greatest
Briton”. I think not!
The detour to Troy was a mistake. Nothing to see
and a naff looking imitation of a wooden horse.
While I remember... I hope I don't speak too soon,
but Turkish dogs seem friendlier than Greek dogs. In the past 3
weeks not one has attempted to chase my bike or chew my leg.
After visiting the ruins of Pergamon (where my Paris
Underground 'Carte Orange' ID masqueraded as a student card and
got me in for free) the road passed very smelly Izmir and led to
At 9am, the huge 24 000 people capacity amphitheatre
was still empty. Then the fat, old, badly-dressed (guesses as to
their nationality on a postcard) brigade arrived. They still couldn't
spoil the magnificence of the place. Walking along the long cobbled,
pillar lined passageways, I kept on trying to imagine what it would
have been like to stroll through there 2000 years ago. The only
images that came into my head were from Monty Python's 'Life of
Brian'! (and I was also wearing sandals!)
All the fuel prices displayed on the roadside service
stations are complete acts of fiction. All pumps charged the same
price: the equivalent of US$1 per litre (whatever the exchange rate
that day might be). I handed over 19 million Turkish smakeroonies
for 40 litres. I dearly hope Syria is cheaper.
I left an uncrowded, naff and decidedly bad taste
Oludeniz and tried to cross the mountains via a track I spotted
on my O.S. map. 15km up (to a dead end and 15 clicks back down),
fully loaded, over some very rocky piste. Hardly a wobble. A short
while later, there was a rather large 'wobble'. More like a hopefully
never to be repeated complete wipe-out.
Going up (!) hill on a smooth road round a right
hand curve. The usual: lean bike, sit straight, steer out of corner
and hey presto.... completely lost it. the bike ended on its left
(!) side pointing down (!) hill with fuel gushing everywhere. I
can only figure that the back end went right, the front left and
most of the impact was taken by the left side of my pannier box.
Its whole bottom is buckled. On this day I learned that hot bitumen
without any gravel in it is quite slippy. Don't worry I won't forget
this one in a long while! I was very lucky to be only a shaken and
only the pannier had to be straightened a little. Maybe somebody
was with me, keeping an eye out for me.
The very pleasant Cas campsite had people on it,
whose nationality I am also forbidden to mention. All the deck chairs
were taken! Nobody lying on them, just covered in their towels,
while the sat at the bar and talked loudly. It's great pretending
to only speak English. I met a Swiss cyclist (of the pushbike variety)
who had spent the last 7 months riding from Hong Kong en route to
Egypt. Mad pal, stark raving mad!
In Olympos I stayed in a tree house. Very mellow
and relaxing. I even got some rock climbing in, care of a couple
of Turkish climbers from Istanbul. With a top rope I climbed a sea
cliff route, about Severe 4c. The highlight however, was walking
up to Chimaera, to see flames burning on the hillside. There seems
to be natural gas under the surface, which seeps through to the
surface to burn away merrily. There were about 10 different flames
ranging from a couple of inches to 2 feet high. Ancient mariners
used this as a sighting beacon/ type of lighthouse long before they
were invented. As I looked beyond the frames there was more light.
Stars in their millions. The Milky Way formed a huge white band
across the sky. I have never seen so many stars, as that night.
Yesterday I rose early in order to reach Cappadocia.
The 600km were over ever changing terrain. First winding coastal
road past disgusting high rise tourist monstrosities to Antalya,
then north and inland up into harsh rocky pine tree strewn areas
and finally 200 clicks straight on and east from Konya across endless
desert savannah to Cappadocia. I did manage to talk my way out of
a 11.3 million lire (US$25) speeding ticket (121 kmh in a 99 zone)
The 'didn't know, no money, I'm a stupid tourist with a daft
grin' trick worked, but I don't want to push my luck again.
is seriously different from anywhere you'll see in the world. There
are fantastic rock formations where people carved whole cities into
the volcanic rock. I even took the liberty to ride around them (only
a bit, mind) on the bike.