Cycling South-West Turkey
There are many touristy towns dotted along the coast in south-west Turkey (I can understand why – It’s beautiful), but the initial familiarity, excitement and novelty of being in such places (which I spoke about in Part 1) slowly wore off. I found them rather more unfriendly, and different to the rest of Turkey. By the time I reached Kaş, my patience was wearing thin. While cycling I had been brushed by a car in traffic trying to squeeze through a gap that simply wasn’t there. I had been bumped into by a moped while stationary on the pavement. In the midday heat, a man had refused my request to have my water bottles refilled – apparently I had to pay for that. The final straw came when I had arranged a host in Kaş. I arrived late and just needed two minutes of wifi to find the address. For the first time of the trip, I was told No. No explanation. Just ‘No’. By the time the 6th restaurant in a row had refused wifi, I couldn’t take anymore. The fake smile and greeting while they thought they were getting my money quickly turned to a meek shrug of the shoulders and brief shake of the head, no longer able to make eye contact, or want anything to do with me. Desperate and defiant, I sat down on the restaurant’s steps and ate my sandwich there. In a chirlish act of rebellion, I left my plastic sandwich bag on the cafe’s steps with a vision of how this dramatic gesture (sticking it to the man) would really teach ‘them’ a lesson. In reality it only serves to demonstrate how tired, dejected and alienated I felt. I never found my host, and ended up sleeping in the car park of a mosque, ready to leave Kaş as early as possible the next morning.
Such incidents do little to blemish the overall cycling though, especially with the clarity afforded by hindsight. These days I seemed to slot seamlessly into a harmonious rhythm with nature. The sun governed my day, gently waking me each morning, a promising new sunrise in a new place, another day to explore new horizons. The sun dictated when I should stop cycling, the unbearable heat provoking me to leave the bike and enjoy a soothing dip in the sea, followed by a snooze cowering in whatever shade could be found. In the comfortable cool of some of the last evenings of summer, I ate while watching the sun dip below the horizon, my cue to retreat to my tent.
There is much to be said for this slow pace of life, something to which I believe a high value should be attached. I have a strong fear of wasting my time on this planet, but simply sitting and watching the calming repetition of the waves, or laying out admiring the star-filled night-sky, my days actually felt longer and saturated with more memories.
However, the days were also full of challenge (and reward) presented by the blend of hills and heat. As the temperatures continued in the high 30’s. The greatest pleasure came when stopping to rest; I would take my shirt off, which gradually turned white with salt deposits, and wring it out, shedding it of a couple of kilograms of sweat. The worst part was having to put it back on later! The downhills provided only minor respite as the thick air continually on my face felt like the heatwave sensation when you first open an oven. I longed to feel cold again, thinking back to my ski season. Little did I know, two weeks later, I would be shivering myself to sleep, feeling stupid for ever complaining about the cold – (stay tuned to the blog to hear about north-west Turkey)!
A few of the sunsets while cycling south-west Turkey!
During this section I visited the mysterious, mythical 'eternal fires of Chimera' - that is not a blog post you want to miss!