Cycling South-West Turkey – Beside the sea!

Cycling South West Turkey

Cycling South-West Turkey

The importance of flexibility was demonstrated after talking to a handful of Turkish people; I was unanimously told to drop my plans through the centre and cycle South-West Turkey besides the sea. So I did – turning my wheels south, and heading for the coast.

 

Cycling south-west Turkey reaching Izmir.My voyage began in Izmir, Turkey’s third largest city which stretches around on both sides of a bay like oversized pincers, making the sea, and the 26km of continuous promenade a real focal point. My one night stay gradually became four, as I fell in love with the extremely relaxed, yet purposeful pace of life, where there seemed to be no rush; boats would slowly glide through the bay, evening’s were just made for strolls beside the promenade where street-vendors would hawk their

A morning relaxing in Izmir during bike touring adventure.
Beautifully relaxing writing time as the city slowly woke up.

wares, and fisherman would perch on the edge oblivious to everything going on around, paying a keen eye to the end of their hook. I have since discovered that Izmir holds a special place in the heart of many Turks, and the people living there are described as different. More friendly. More liberal. More relaxed.

 

Saying goodbye to the city, and my awesome couchsurfing host Halit was not easy, but as always, great things await just a little further down the road. I was a hop, skip and a jump (70km) from Izmir when I arrived at Ephesus, which was an incredible place to visit. I was lucky to stay at Adnan’s bicycle house – I have never met anyone with such a passion; his love of cycling, particularly around Turkey proved both infectious and invaluable!

Generous couchsurfing host in Selcuk near Ephesus on bike touring adventure.
Adnan had a huge bicycle house covered with pictures and bicycling paraphernalia.

I was also happy to share the night at Adnan’s with Hareki, a cyclist from Istanbul also cycling South-West Turkey heading along a similar road. For a few days, everyone I met had told me they’d just met a girl from Istanbul cycling just ahead of me. It seemed some times I had missed this mysterious phantom girl by minutes, but I never caught up with her… Until, by complete coincidence we had arranged the same host for two nights in a row, and managed to spend a great few days exploring and cycling together.

Ephesus Grand Theatre while cycling south-west Turkey.
Exploring Ephesus' Grand Theatre with the elusive Hareki!

 

As I headed further south through Kuşadasi, Söke, Didim and Bodrum, I seemed to be getting passed

Cycling south-west Turkey with other bike tourers.
I was put through my paces by many lycra-clad bike club members.

from one bicycle club to another. There were strong links between the clubs, who would arrange somewhere for me to stay, and invariably for members of the club to come and cycle with me. This proved embarassing at times when retired men were still putting me through my paces, and burning me on the uphills, something I thought would have stopped after 6,500km! I was extremely grateful for the company though, and often was shown roads, and sights I would have otherwise missed. The (impressive sounding) Ancient City of Miletus, and the Appollon Temple at Didim are two such examples.

Dalyan rock tombs.
The whole route was dotted with amazing places such as these cave tombs for the rich.

 

As I hit the Aegan Sea, I began to encounter the tourist areas I had been expecting. These areas immediately felt strangely different to where I had been – at times, if I ignored the weather, it was

Beautiful sunset at beach in Bodrum while cycling south-west turkey.
Just one of many incredible sunsets I saw over my time along the Aegan Coast.

like returning to England. Prices were listed in pounds instead of Turkish Lira, and I was as likely to hear an Englishman eloquently explaining how drunk he was going to get tonight, as the harsh Turkish I had become accustomed to. It was novel and exciting to walk the busy streets at night and see the garish neon lights flashing, vying for my attention. In many ways this felt familiar, and I became more anonymous here. I could stand on the edge of the street as people walked by engrossed in their own lives and discussions. I was invisible.

Beautiful view from my couchsurfing host's house in Bodrum, Turkey.
Looking out from my couchsurfing hosts' amazing villa over Bodrum at night!

 

Every time I left such a tourist area, from Didim, to Bodrum, to Fethiye, (an ‘English colony’ as the Turks

Cycling South-West Turkey I saw and ate lots of these cactus fruits.
There is a wrong way and a write way to eat these cactus fruits. You only eat them wrong once.

called it), I was amazed how abruptly everything changed. Cycle just a little out the way, and people were living difficult lives, far removed from the glitz and glamour just down the road. Hours were long, bent double nurturing their crops, or sitting by the roadside, cowering in the shade, patiently hoping someone will stop and buy some of their fresh wares. Everyone was required to help; elderly ladies squinting at me through sunken eyes paused from their labour to offer a toothless grin as I passed while young children waved shyly as I passed, some even daring to venture a ‘hello’. Many locals here seemed unused to seeing tourists and I was regularly called over for çay (teas) and gözleme (pancakes). I couldn’t help but wonder how many of the tourists saw this side of Turkey as they made their frantic shuttle from the airport to the beach resort and back a week later.

 

Check out part two to find out more about my adventures cycling South-West Turkey!

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9 Replies to “Cycling South-West Turkey – Beside the sea!”

  1. Josiah. Greats from holland

    You remember me ?
    Man on scooter. From holland
    Tasty watermeloen ?

    1. Mehmet! Of Course I remember you! I showed my parents the picture I took of you so they could see who they spoke to on the phone!
      I’m so happy that you found the blog!
      Hope all your business dealings went okay in Ankara!

  2. Loved reading of your experience of Turkey. We lived in a small town close to Bodrum called Yalikavak for 8 years and loved being there. I couldn’t reply to your last update for some reason it wouldn’t let me….. I wanted to ask if you would be doing the Black Sea region! An area that we never did get to see. I can now see that you are keeping to the Mediterranean Sea. Will you be going to Cappadocia, if you can it would be well worth it, again another place we did not get to see but hopefully one day we will be able to visit. Enjoy the rest of your travels through Turkey.

    1. That’s awesome! I don’t recall coming across that town, but I had a really great stay in Bodrum! Turkey is incredible huh?
      I’m actually in Cappadocia right now! And yes, from here I will head up to Trabzon on the Black Coast and continue along from there east to Georgia.
      Sounds like you know lots about Turkey and could almost have planned my route for me! 🙂
      P.s. Check out my post from today on Facebook to see a few teaser photos of Cappadocia – https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10204001159503944&id=1671940984&ref=bookmarks

      1. Have just taken a look at the photos and I am really envious right now, Cappadoccia certainly is a magical place and one that I hope to get to one day. Cannot wait to see more photos and hear about the Black Sea area.
        Senin yolculugun keyfini (Enjoy your journey)

  3. Dear. Jo what an amazing experience over 120 days since you left. H. B and your blogs have kept us with you all the way they get more and more interesting as each one appears and we get so eager to hear the next one. You make it so tantalising very well done , so will you take the next few month relating your stories somehow don’t think it will be long enough there’s years of tales to be told . Very Well done. XXXX

    1. Yes, I was pretty excited to realise I passed the 4 month mark just a few days ago. What an adventure it has been already!
      There is still so much of the world to see and experience!

  4. More fascinating journals…I love it. Thanks for sharing the adventure. Sheila ( Upton-upon-Severn)

    1. So glad you enjoyed it Sheila!
      Hopefully the Turkish tourism board will decide they quite like it at some point and offer me a job hehe!
      Thanks for reading and it is always nice to read comments.

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