Sunday, November 14, 2010

Last legs

From Antalya to Istanbul

We sorely needed a detox from our 4 days of shameful, resort-style indulgence (despite its being interspersed with some actual medicine and learning). Back to basics, we said. So we hightailed it down the road to Antalya and beyond, chasing reports of forested mountains rippling down into the sea. Only about 15km beyond the city though, we found the new daylight savings time bringing darkness upon us earlier than we would like and we turned off the road to the beachside.
Like all the picnicking spots along here, you have to pay to swim at the beach. Australians chaff at this notion, our beaches being overwhelmingly public and free. However, they did let us camp here and we had the luxury of picnic tables on which to prepare our campstove meals. So we swallowed our cultural misgivings and relished being back in the tent where we belong.
Two days of bathing in the temperate Mediterranean waters and reading books on the beach had us ready for the next adventure:  Istanbul. Our last two sections of riding on this adventure across Asia would feature logistical rather than physical challenges. 1. Get bikes onto bus for Istanbul (easy, we’ve done that one before). 2. Get off bus in Istanbul and make it to our accommodation in Taksim. 
The first went without a hitch, discounting the pooled efforts and mutual charades of two cycle tourists and four employees of the bus company which resulted in an artful arrangement of our bikes around other people’s luggage. The second was a little more tricky and I have truly come to admire those who ride the whole way into this un-bike-friendly city. Non-existent bike lanes, footpaths that disappear or are colonized by multiple traders, bridges lined with fishermen who dangle their fishhooks blithely in front of your helmeted face. This city seems an appropriate book-end to the other burgeoning, second-world seat of empire in which we began our journey, Seoul. We arrived there in a chilly spring with the promise of cherry blossoms and now we enter an autumnal Istanbul in which we will begin the sad process of stripping our bikes, cleaning to quarantine standards and packing them up. 

Cycling Summary:
Berek to Topcam beach camp (out of Antalya) 65km
Beach camp to Bus station 27km

From Antalya to Istanbul


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