|Happy Thanksgiving everyone. We hope you all had a great holiday and had your fill of turkey. We're celebrating with a different kind of Turkey and are very grateful to have this opportunity.
We (especially Lynda) were a bit apprehensive about cycling in Turkey. We had been told the roads were terrible, full of potholes and crumbling edges, the traffic was really heavy and fast, and the drivers were crazy and would try to run cyclists off the road. We are happy to report that we have found the roads to be in excellent condition (though the surface is very coarse chipseal so they are slow), we have had excellent shoulders to ride on (the first shoulders of our trip), and the drivers are generally courteous and friendly. The roads are VERY hilly and hot but the views are spectacular!
We have been making our way south along the coast staying in small coastal towns along the way. We spent a day at the amazing ruins in Ephesus and another at the smaller but equally impressive ruins at Priene. It's hard for us to fathom how truly ancient these sites are. We visited the church where the Virgin Mary worshipped and the amphitheatre where St. Paul addressed the Ephesians (and got run out of town). We spent a night in the resorty town of Bodrum where we found a market street full of Turkish people enjoying dinner and Raki (the Turkish version of ouzo) and joined in the fun.
Most of the towns are nestled in small coves along the sea, surrounded by high hills. When we started riding, the hills were very, very dry with just a scattering of silvery olive trees. As we've moved south and east they have become much lusher, covered with pine trees and at lower elevations with citrus and pomegranate trees that are heavy with fruit. The sea is an incredible blue here and very inviting after a hot day of riding.
As beautiful as the scenery is, it's the people that are the real gems here. They have been nothing but warm, friendly and generous. We are met with big smiles and greetings as we ride through small villages and try out our Turkish greetings. On our first day of riding, on our first big hill, an old man sitting in a wagon full of melons starting cutting up a melon when he saw us slowly crawling up the hill. He called us over and fed us the sweetest, juiciest melon you can imagine and would only take a thank you in return. That kind of generosity has proven to be the norm in Turkey, making it a pleasure to travel through.
Since arriving in Turkey we have been riding with the young German couple we met on the ferry to Turkey and it has been great to have the company. We are very well matched in both riding ability and temperment - in fact, we have probably met the only German cyclists that get started as late in the day as we do! They are on their way to Damascus, which makes our trip seem rather tame.
We are now in Fethiye, on the Turquoise coast of southern Turkey, and have met up with our friends from Yellowknife Barb and Pietro deBastiani. Tomorrow, weather permitting, we will all head out on a gulet (traditional Turkish sailing vessel) for a four day cruise along the Turquoise coast in an effort to enjoy some relaxation while avoiding MAJOR hills. After that we will head to Antalya to start the final stage of our trip, ending in Istanbul.