A few days have passed since the last time, I will try to increase the frequency of my articles so as not to make a huge pavement long to read.
Day 225: Svilengrad> Edirne
As expected the day before, we expected to cross not one but two countries, but especially two continents: Europe and Asia.
As soon as we wake up, we leave the Bulgarian “Las Vegas” and head for the Bulgarian-Greek border. The border being very close, we only pedaled a few kilometers to reach it.
For the first time since we left, we are on a virtually deserted border post, with many buildings abandoned everywhere. In order not to complicate our task and be sure to arrive in Turkey the same evening, we pass by the highway linking Svilengrad with Edirne (on the Greek side of course), where we believe that very few people on the road and almost than foreigners (Germans, French, Poles, Austrians, etc.). First stop, we stop at a gas station to have a snack, where prices are much higher than previous countries. In order to reach the only village we will meet in Greece, two choices were available to us according to the guest of the previous day: a road drowned under a river or continue on the motorway to the village.
Not wanting to take a risk and not knowing the road that cuts the river, we preferred to take the traditional way. Once in the village, we are looking for a place to eat Greek at least once before leaving for Turkey. We then headed for the river, where a large restaurant is present. After eating almost at the water’s edge (and for much more of what we used to have), it’s time for Imad to put his feet in the water while I do mumuse with the drone.
In the same place, we were able to discuss with Dimitris, a former Greek professional soccer player with whom we were able to exchange about our trip and whom we are delighted to have met.
Back on the road, we stop in a cafe to drink local alcohol: the Ouzo which is a pastis. While we were drinking, we took advantage of it to do some ladies’ games. At the end, the alcohol was so good that we had trouble rolling right.
After only a few meters, we were surprised to see the customs post just in the village where we were, as we expected to see it at least a few miles away. After a quick check and usual questions, we are back in the saddle for the second border post. I want to clarify that as French, one does not need a visa or other to return to the country, which facilitates travel France> Turkey. For the second check and for the first time we had a quick check of the bags (really fast) in order to be sure that we were not bringing anything illegal into the country.
For information, from Greece to Turkey there was only us, but in the opposite direction I think that the waiting time was at least two hours given the number of cars in the impressive line- waiting.
Soon after, we are at Edirne, our stop tonight after so much effort (I am joking for the efforts). On the spot we could see that Turkey is much more modern than we thought, with light everywhere, life everywhere and food everywhere!
We went to the cinema in a huge shopping mall a few hundred meters from our hotel, to relax a bit. After the film, we went to the town where we were escorted by a herd of dogs to our roof (so roughly 4-5 kilometers).
Result of the day: 51 km
Day 226: Edirne> Luleburgaz
Once our breakfast is taken, we are back on the road, or rather the motorway towards Istanbul. Why the highway? Because it is the only road from Edirne to Istanbul, where finally very few cars pass by and where a fairly large emergency stop band is present to guarantee our security as well as possible.
Although this is a fast track, we are dealing with a few mountains here and there forcing us to use our legs.
In a village where we passed, we stopped in a bakery to eat some great cakes and taste Turkish tea and coffee for the first time. We take the opportunity to discuss with the manager who explains that it is a family business for 2-3 generations, and where we learn a little more about the country, like the fact that it is modern “only” for 20 years following the arrival of large companies such as Alcatel which allowed the country to take off. To welcome us in Turkey, he offered us what we had picked up earlier.
We had planned to stop in Luluburgaz, where, according to our friend, a bike shop is present, in order to make a review of the bike. Arrived on the spot and having a failing plateau from Poland, I crack and I decide to change it (with a chain) to start on a good foundation. So I find myself with a new plateau and a new channel for less than 110 €, much cheaper than in Poland. We also learn that a hotel for cyclists is present in the city, where we can sleep and wash for free.
So head for the “Velo Park”, where it was true that as a cycling traveler you can sleep for free in a kind of equipped park so that people can cycle with the few courses present.
After putting our belongings and taking a shower, we ride our mounts again so we can obviously take a tour of the courses before heading downtown to take a stuff to eat and hope to drink beers.
To eat we stop at “Facefood“, a kebab looking like “Facebook“, taking up the police of it. Once the belly is full, it’s time to drink a shot. We wander around the city for a few days and find several bars available that sell beer! So, obligatory stop where we drink a few pints and play the foosball present.
After taking over our bikes, I had the opportunity to eat my first car door offering me two new scars (on the shoulder) and where all the people around the crash site came to ask me if I had a car, was going well or had to call an ambulance. The alcohol being present in my blood at that time, I had hardly felt anything at the time all go well but especially the bike.
Result of the day: 81 km
Day 227: Luluburgaz> Silivri
It was only when I woke up that I noticed my new marks on the body, but hey, this is neither the first nor the last time!
In short, we are back on the highway where only after a few kilometers I reached a new plateau: the bar of 5000 kilometers!
On that day we had an unbelievable strength of wind all day, preventing us from rolling easily. Despite this we managed to reach Silivri, the last big city before Istanbul. We were lucky enough to see the sea for the first time (at least for my part) from the start and even bathe in it! Having taken a hotel near the beach, it was so quick and easy to get there, while eating in a seaside restaurant.
Before heading to the hotel, we saw a chocolate factory where we had to make a stop. Inside, we had the right to taste chocolate from this family business that has been present for 20 years in the area.
Even before we got to our hotel, it was planned to take another one but obviously it was no longer a hotel by the time we arrived.
Result of the day: 90 km
Day 228: Silivri> Istanbul
This morning (actually I had seen it in the evening), I was surprised to find that my tire was punctured, which took us a few minutes of delays for the start but I was able to pose my first in the cellar of the hotel.
After that, we were still lucky to have a day with a lot of wind but especially to take huge risks while staying on the highway. Because yes, from Silivri to Istanbul we end up with a hundred cars per minute with a non-existent emergency stop band. That’s why we decided to risk our lives to the nearest metro (at the airport to the east of the city) after 40 kilometers of extreme danger. Over the kilometers we see that the city is extremely modern and recent with new buildings every 3 meters. Once at the airport, we checked everywhere and each time we had different indications which made us annoyed to the point of finding a door to the airport parking lot where we knew that we did not necessarily have the right .
Once in the subway, we find that it is very beautiful and clean (probably because recent) but with indications almost nonexistent to go from a point A to a point B. The metro is not filled, we do not let’s not disturb anyone with our bikes. Once the three changes made to our hostel, it turned out that the Turkish are really lazy as so many people take the elevators to make only one floor while the escalators are right next to it, which took us some clashes with the locals. In fact since we arrived in Istanbul, we see that people are very different from the present cities we have been through, with less politeness, kindness and all that goes with it.
After this ordeal, we discover that Istanbul is a huge city (more than 20 million inhabitants), finally a huge jungle given the behavior of people. Once we checked in to our vegan hostel (note it), we took information from the best vegan restaurants in town to eat there for the evening. Once the address is in our pocket, we go quietly by walking through the neighborhood very busy and extremely busy. Once there we meet the boss and two of these friends where we all share the meal she had just prepared. This is for me the second time I have the opportunity to eat vegan, the first time being in Vienna.
Result of the day: 72 km
Day 229-230: Istanbul
During the next two days, we first did Vialand, the amusement park in the city where we spent the day having fun despite the lack of attraction with very strong sensations. Right after that, we did several parts of bowling and billiards.
For the evening we were in a bar, the Line not far from our lodging, in order to pass a karaoke evening where we met Evrim, air hostess, offering us the next day a bottle of raki, a alcohol that came in a box with assorted glasses. Evrim, thank you again!
Still in this same bar, we were able to play several table football games before being strongly alcoholic.
The next day, we did a little more tourists walking in the “Sultan Ahmet” district, visiting the old city cisterns, discovering the famous Hagia Sophia and relaxing in a hammam with massage in complement before returning to the bar on the night before a few drinks.
Day 231: Istanbul> Eskişehir
Having the laugh of pedaling in the city, we decided to take the last public transport in order to get away from the city to get a train to Eskişehir to pass the mountains that we did not want to cross (time being counted also as I have to see Marcin in Ankara very soon).
We did not know it yet, but it was a really tough day.
Once arrived at the tram station, Imad had in turn the chance to see his tire punctured, but this shot so because of the valve, which resulted in a change of inner tube in the same tram corridors. After only a few minutes and once the bike was dismantled, security came to explain that it was 15 minutes since we were there and it was forbidden to repair his bike in the corridors because they do not know what we have in the bags (it’s true that I would do an attack in a deserted station rather than in the pedestrian street where we were but good), fortunately French (and Turkish) was there to translate with security and explain the situation .
Once the tire changed, we headed to the tram where obviously the elevator was broken and the security is hidden from telling us we see with our bikes! We had to lug around with our monsters on the stairs to get to the dock where we passed just before and that nobody told us yet.
In short, here we are in the tram, only disturbing the passengers with our business, we were able to make our three changes without too many problems.
It was planned to take a train from Pendik (district 30 kilometers from downtown) to Eskişehir for as explained earlier, dodge the mountains and save time. Obviously once at the station, we were told that taking the train with our bikes was forbidden and that we had to bother to move from here. I warned you, the day was complicated for us. After that, we decided to eat something to change minds. Once the stomach was full, we went back to the station asking if there were no other trains available that we could take just to leave this “hell”: No.
So we are back to pedaling, but heading to a bus station to find a bus to take us to destination. The lights did not include anything, so we decided to pedal a few miles to find a hotel and look for a solution the next day. On the way to a hotel, we were lucky enough (to change) to find another bus station, a real one this time, where we were able to find a bus to where we wanted to go!
The departure being fixed at 7 pm, we waited an hour to be able to take it. Once the coach arrived, we tried to rip us off by asking for extra money for bikes for no good reason. Obviously we did not let ourselves go and we were able to embark for 4 hours to destination.
After the transfer, we found a hotel in the town where we were able to rest and recharge the batteries.
Result of the day: 35 km
Day 232: Eskişehir> Bozan
We take back our bikes after the bus trip.
Nothing special the day, we pedal through new landscapes, more arid than we used to see from the beginning.
Before finding a place to sleep, we spend a few hours in Alpu to eat and drink tea. I also take this opportunity to start writing this article. At one point we went to the park with our beers where we stayed with a group of young people with whom we could not communicate but it did not matter.
At the end of the day we will find a camp at the end of a field to spend the night.
Result of the day: 56 km
Day 233: Bozan> Mihalıcçık
All day long, we pass once again in an arid space and very little variation, where we clearly see that we are in a very old river seen the marks present on the “cliffs”.
We cross asses and even geese on the road.
For tonight, we spend it once again in a hotel, the last before Ankara (minimum). We got to know an older person who spoke a little English who could help us with the room (the receptionist was not there, it was our friend who contacted him for him to come), and we present the only open village restaurant.
Once at the hotel, we took possession of the TV in the lounge to watch Rogue One before heading back tomorrow.
Result of the day: 33 km