At five o'clock(ish) I wake to hear the first call to prayer of the day. I slept well thanks to the several layers of rugs beneath me. Katharina and I rustle through I bag of goodies that was mysteriously dropped off to us at some point in the night. Coke, peanuts and cake make up our breakfast...or so we think. Leaving our room we are bathed in bright sunlight, though thankfully the heat has not yet come to the day. While packing our sleeping bags they motion us to come inside. Once again we kneel around the table though this time with Tayfun's mother and father. Round two of breakfast is delicious and is washed down with plenty of Chy. I pay close attention to our hosts in an attempt to learn correct etiquette. Only simple things like placement and use of cutlery, how they manage with one hand etc. They give us more fresh bread for the journey and then we say our goodbyes – two kisses. I get the impression it's going to be a long learning curve.
In Saray we stop for a coffee as from here on Katharina and I go in different directions. She hopes to take the bus from here to Istanbul, I am going to attempt the, apparantly hellish, ride into the city. We sit in the cafe and Katharina notices that she is the only female, a fact I overlook entirely. A stranger appraoches and introduces himself as Umut. A jolly fellow with a very shiny gold tooth. I roll the map out on the table and he helps us both with our routes. After coffee Katharina and I say our goodbyes. It's been good to cycle with company once again. I wonder if these encounters will drop in frequency as I move further from the beaten cycle path.
At Aidanlar I make the usual stop at a garage. The cashier greets me with a bottle of chilled water. We sit and “chat” for ten minutes or so. I use inverted commas because he doesn't speak English, and I no Turkish. That said, it's surprising how much you can communicate without a common language. Obviously it holds one back a little, but it's still very possible to have a conversation, and it's certainly shouldn't be an excuse not to try. In between story swapping he goes to serve some customers, only to return with a bag of goodies selected off the shelf. We continue to talk and drink chy, until I realise I've been sitting for nearly an hour. The road calls me back as always. The first unfriendly faces in Turkey appear in the form of two children. From the back of a pickup truck they throw rolled up news paper at me and gesture that I should go back to wherever it was I came from... “U picku materinu” - you could say. With this my mood takes a slight dip. One of the effects of riding alone is that my mood swings are 'lubricated' and as such slide up and down with increasing ease.
I find a shaded spot to stop for lunch and a WP, and here take some time out to talk to my girlfriend Jess on the phone. From 15.00 onwards I'm following my hand drawn map, which to my utter amazement actually serves me rather well. Two men in an official looking pickup truck blast me with their siren and motion me to stop. Perhaps wrongly I expect their first words to “papers!”. I'm disappointed in my own cynicism when actucally they jump out and say “Hey cyclist!” One of the guys is a cyclist and is interested in my contraption and my trip. I sense my slight discomfort – still haven't quite got used to all the people carrying guns(these guys both are). I figure better officials than bandits though, and I expect to see much more of it the further I go. They point me in the direction of Balaban – where I expect to find a campsite. I don't really want to pay to camp, but the dirt is mounting up once again. I continue riding in the soft evening light. My course gradually turns North and in the distance I can see the Black Sea. At the entrance to a private estate I ask the guard if I'm in the right area. He motions me inside and points me up the hill. After asking around it seems there is no camp ground. A little confused, and running out of light and patience, I head back to the road. I get more than twenty meters down the road before a lady in a Navara stops on the other side and lowers her window.
“Hello, do you know where you're going?”
Momentarily I struggle to compute that I'm being spoken to in English.
“Er H-Hi, I'm looking for somewhere to camp, and was told there is a campsite around here...”
“Follow me I will show you where, and if not you can stay at ours”
Relief flows through me. My mind switches to try and ascertain where this very kind lady is from - speaking excellent English, and not looking typically Turkish. It turns out the camping is not available and so I roll back down the hills I've just climbed up and through the gates to a rather grand dwelling set into the hillside. It turns out Maria is from Holland, and her husband Sinan is Turkish. I waste no time in warning them of my excessive and unpleasant odor. It's only fair to give them the “heads up”, not wanting to offend my new hosts while they form their first impressions of me. Maria shows me to my room and I put my stuff down. Sinan hands me a cold beer and Maria suggests I take a dip in the pool while she prepares dinner. It's at this moment that I wonder if I've actually been hit and killed by a car, and now occupy a dreamy world of hedonistic eternity. It seems fortune favours me today. I rest my beer on the table and go for a splash – using arm and chest muscles that have hardly been tried over the last months. I can't help but laugh aloud at my rapidly changing situation. I wish there was a way I could demonstrate my gratitude to those that show such kindness. From the small (chy and conversation) to the overwhelming position in which I now find myself. Sometimes a verbal “thankyou” just doesn't seem enough. It's nice when people take an interest in my trip – as that's really all I've got to offer...my story. At such times I have renewed enthusiasm for my blog. In this instance Sinan and Maria do take an interest. We talk at length about it and other topics over a wonderful dinner. Sinan is retired from the textile industry and Maria is an artist. We drink wine and smoke cigars, Sinan's hobby is gadgets – and he has an array that would put most to shame. They both speak English as well as I and make great company. I learn about their work and family life, and also get some background info on Turkey. Sinan lends me some books on Istanbul and I spend an hour before bed making notes on the things that take my fancy. I sleep very, very well.
Didn't take any pictures today it seems....