Week 7 – Turkey

Sunday 12th to Saturday 18th May

Lesvos and Turkey

Sunday 12/05/19 – Ride & Transit Day: Lesvos to Ayvalik

So today was the day we were going to get to Turkey, and it started out real nice, but ended on a sour note.

But it began with lovely sunshine and breakfast on the deck of the hotel watching the fishing fleet return to port.

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Then a clockwise circuit of the eastern side of the island stopping off for a brew besides this quiet bay with a small harbour nearby, and watching a couple of guys working a net in their small boat.

Before continuing on past the old fort then on to the port of Mykilini to catch the ferry.

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It’s only 1 1/2 hours to Ayvalik from Lesvos and the sea was calm as we entered Turkish waters with the mainland on our right and the sun setting over the islands to our left. Beautiful.

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But that’s about where it ended because customs stung us €50 each for a visa then wouldn’t release the bike because we didn’t have 3rd party insurance. Now my research had told me you can get this insurance at every entry port. But not at Ayvalik so it seemed, and they had no idea where we could get it, nor did they care.  I was very impressed, especially as we’d already booked a hotel 45 minutes up the road. By this time it’s 10.30pm and Norma and I are walking the streets of an unknown Turkish town like a couple of homeless waifs looking for a pension for the night – found one for €20 with no hot water.

Monday 13/05/19 – Ride Day: Eceabat

Back to the customs office nice and early and they direct me to a tourist agent down the road who might know what to do. The LONG and the short of it was that we were on the road by 1.30pm. Very frustrating, ain’t going back to Ayvalik even though it’s a nice looking place. So to Eceabat.

Day 23 175k

Tuesday 14/05/19 – Lay Day: Eceabat – ANZAC

For those who don’t know of it this is where Australian and New Zealand troops had their first taste of WW1 beginning on the 25th April 1915 when they attacked the western side of the Gallipoli Peninsula at what is now called ANZAC Cove.

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A little over 6 months later they evacuated without having won any of the objectives given them by the incompetent British High Command. Australia lost 8,700 dead, New Zealand 2,700. The British lost nearly 28,000 troops and the Turks lost anywhere between 150,000 to 250,000 men. The madness of war. This is the cemetery adjacent to ANZAC Cove. Private Simpson who, with his donkey, is famous for carting over 100 wounded soldiers to safety is also buried here.

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Lone Pine Cemetery

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Chunuk Bair Cemetery and remnants of trenches where New Zealanders fought and died.

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When you look at the terrain that these young men were expected to fight through you’ve got to ask yourself what idiot was in charge.

There’s a memorial to both sides on the waterfront at Eceabat with the ANZACs with their backs to the water.

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Looking around this entire area the Turks leave one in no doubt whatsoever that they won, and they did. That bit anyway. Today Turkish national pride is huge, there are Turkish flags everywhere, they must have manufactured millions of the things. Good for them.

Wednesday 15/05/19 – Ride Day: Istanbul

310klms to cover today so up, packed and an early breakfast then on the road. We did pretty well and were braving the hectic traffic of Istanbul by 2pm. Things got a bit pear shaped as we got into the center of town as we got lost trying to find our hotel (not unusual) and ended up in the middle of the Blue Mosque at the prayer time – I kid you not. I have no idea how we got in there as all the roads were blocked off and there were police EVERYWHERE and they weren’t impressed. Thanks Google Maps. There must have been something very special happening because the next day at the same time there were thousands of people all over the place, roads open and few obvious police. Finally found our hotel.

Day 24 310k

Thursday 16/05/19 – Lay Day: Istanbul

We did tourist stuff. This fantastic garden / park just up the road from our hotel and below the Topkapi Palace.

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The Blue Mosque and adjacent Hagia Sophia Museum

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And the Basilica Cistern. Pretty impressive.

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Finishing the day with dinner on a cruise around the Bosphorus.

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Friday 17/05/19 – Lay Day: Istanbul

Today we beat the worst of the crowds and hit the bazaars – Spice

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and Grand. All very hectic and hassled by every store owner “Everything is half price today because it’s my birthday”, now there’s an original line. It gets very annoying after a while.

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We wandered a bit.

In the evening we took a long walk around the old city and that was Istanbul done.

Saturday 18/05/19 – Ride Day: Edirne

It seems that Istanbul doesn’t wake up early because there wasn’t a lot of traffic as we headed out of town after a huge breakfast. It was a terrific day for a ride as we rode the mainly back roads west towards the Bulgarian border.

We’ve been very impressed with how fertile and productive the countryside is, with summer crops well on the way to maturity as far as the eye can see and everything lush and green. Not that this picture shows it very well.

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So to Edirne which is close to the Bulgarian border, where we celebrated our Turkish visit with ice cream, even though it was Saturday and not Friday.

Day 25 275k

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