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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Only 3 more Days...?

Day 70
4, 213 km
Pinarhisar, Turkey

Can it be true? Only three more days until what will surely be a teary rıde into Istanbul? How is this possible? It was just a couple days ago that we were halfway, wasn’t it?

I don’t think it has really hit any of us yet as we have just entered our last country – Turkey - and it always feels exciting to enter new territory and spot the differences. This time, it is bordering on extreme. Having spent the last week feeling like we’d stumbled into all-inclusive vacation resorts along the Black Sea, we are once again confronted with adventure as we search small, crowded towns for obscure hotels and find the only restaurant in town with hopes the food is decent.

The border crossing into Turkey was more complicated than any of our crossings to-date, though the people offer easy smiles and are very welcoming. Today, a nice man waved us into a café for coffee and then paid for it.

Turkey is the first country we were required to purchase Visas for entry. While the Australian’s got away with paying 15 Euros each, I had to pay 45E for my Canadian status.

The riders this day were Walter, Lucas, David and Cindy and they had a longer day than the 54km fırst expected. Troy and I had little luck finding a hotel in the original destination on the Bulgarian side, and so made an executive decision to see what the next town had to offer. This meant going through the border and subsequently stalled the riders by at least an hour.

When Troy and I pulled into the next town, it was much smaller. I went into a shop to ask the man if there was a hotel nearby and he said no, but the Turks are not one's to watch idley while a visitor suffers. The next thing I knew, there were 5 or 6 people around me and 3 around the car, all offering us any help they could. Of course, it was all in Turkish, but one man did speak English and soon we were escorted to a man's fish farm 1 km down the road where we were urged to camp for the night.

Camping is fun and all, but this night, not so much. It would save us the cost of a hotel, but it was hard to watch the faces of our tired rider’s when they showed up and surveyed the scene: three tents perched on uneven ground, not a drop of water for showers or toilet needs in sight and the worst part, it was Cindy’s birthday and we hadn’t secured a beer stash yet!

Troy and I left the team to ‘get comfortable’ and drove back into town where we were immediately escorted to a restaurant where the nice woman made us kabobs-to-go and had a young man do a beer run. Luckily, the town we had stayed at the previous night had a good store and we were able to get Cindy a yummy cake that survived the day in the car.

We drove back to the team who didn’t look much happier than when we’d left and tried to brighten their mood with food and beverages. This worked and soon, Cindy was singing, 'It's my party...', with a bottle of Jim Beem in her hand and most of the cake was gone. What was left went to our surprise guests for the evening. Two other cyclist’s from Poland were riding from Istanbul and, on their way past, turned around and asked if they could stay with us that night. We were happy to have them, but I think they were happier to run into us after we gave them cold beer and cake.

Birthday or not, the night ended early and we were all asleep before 10:00, that is until a stray dog woke some of us up with its midnight prowl through the garbage bag we left out…ooops.

photo 1 - sometimes we see local cyclists, but it's rare.
2 - pollution - we had to ride right through this and on a hill, so breathing heavy lung-fulls of air...
3 - camping
4 - streetlife in Turkey
5&6 - views of Black Sea
7 - coffee with Turks
9 - washin' bikes! First time in over 4000km.

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