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If you look closely, Istanbul is a tale of two cities, the tiny ‘Bosporus Strait’ connecting the Black Sea from the north to the more southern Sea of Marmara, dividing it in two. All traffic is funnelled through this symbolic gateway, marking the end of Europe, and the start of Asia, and all the cultural changes that that entails.
I was extremely excited about reaching Istanbul. I had been since the start, but there was one more challenge before I got into Istanbul, and that was getting into Istanbul! As I said above, it is a narrow area, with lots of traffic passing through. The moment I had passed into Turkey, I got forced onto main roads (including the infamous 4-lane D100), making a beeline for the city, sharing the road with monstrous lorries, and speeding cars, all moving with purpose, all seemingly horn-happy. It wasn’t enjoyable cycling, and sometimes was downright terrifying.
I came off the main roads, but soon got horrifically lost in the black hole that is Istanbul’s back streets, from which there seemed no escape, and I resigned myself to living out the rest of my life here. I hit the coast, and found my way into the centre of the city, along nice cycle paths and through parks, looking upwards to the many minarets dotting the skyline for guidance (the directional, not spiritual type).
I had expected to be overwhelmed with a similar sense of achievement and pride as seen in my popular video in which I reached Slovenia. That did come, but not until later. My initial emotions was relief. Relief and exhaustion.
I’ve now had time to relax, and reflect. I’m still in the process of compiling some thoughts, so I’ll just write (for now) a very simple list of some of what is going through my head.
- I am completely speechless that I cycled here, that my legs alone brought me here.
- If I’m honest, I’m not sure I actually expected to get this far - it just seemed like such a far-flung and impossible notion when I was planning, and even when I left!
- We can achieve so much more than we think possible, and should strive for more, and be more ambitious.
- We can achieve our dreams, and doing so is worth the effort – it’s important to commit to them, and chase them.
- My life on the road is simple, and right now, I love it!
I've enjoyed a great rest seeing some of the highlights during my short time in Istanbul! My cousin, Josh, came out to visit, and booked us a 5* hotel, which seems ridiculously luxurious compared to what I’m used to. (When I turned up, the concierge asked me three times if I was sure I had the right hotel – I assume I’m not their typical clientele?)