I have always dreamed of a trip to Turkey, with it's rich history and culture, grand landscape, generous people and tasty food. But more than this, in some way I see it as a place that connects the first and second halves of my life--the West and the Orient. I have mostly lived on the peripheries of this divide, the far flung edge of Western Canada and the rim of Asia in Japan. At least geographically, this is a vast divergence. Turkey, though, as land and culture mingles these two worlds and this speaks to me, as my own experiences also blur the lines between West and East, us and them, self and other.
After regaining my backpacking ways on a trip through South America, I was originally planning to bus and train through Turkey. Then cycling to work one sunny day, the image of cruising the Aegean coast popped into my mind and I started thinking that a bicycle tour would be a great way to see out-of-the way places, meet local people and connect with nature. As I looked into this more, the idea started to take shape, gaining a frame, spokes, and tires, and the growing enthusiasm of the rider. Now my trip will take me from Sicily to Istanbul, via Greece as I meander the Mediterranean.
Today I leave Tokyo with my bicycle and just the essentials on an evening flight with a transfer in Istanbul for a flight to Catania on the island of Sicily, Italy (you know, the odd shaped ball at the end of the boot). I arrive there in the morning and will assemble my bike and ride into the city. The first two nights I'll stay in a B&B apartment to get my compass bearings. The owner is also a university teacher and seems to be a nice guy. Will pick up some camping gear and a map in Catania and plot out a route after getting some local advice. Then it's me, the open road, the sea, and blue and starry skies.