From East to West: Cycling Across Turkey

“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is not cure for cuiosity.”


As you already know, we really enjoyed cycling through Turkey as the camping was easy, the weather was great (mostly), and the people were incredibly friendly. Here is a summary of what we experienced through throughout those two months.

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Cappadocia: Underground Towns, Cave Filled Mountains, and Some Pretty Crazy Rocks

“You know all those things you have always wanted to do? You should go do them.”


Cappadocia is one of the most famous sites in Turkey, and rightfully so. Though during our first few hours we were overwhelmed by the sheer number of touists, resorts, and unfriendly people (it’s a lot like Disney land for adults we decided) but the natural beauty of the surrounding rocks and the thousands of interesting caves waiting to be explored soon won us over.

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The Rolling Roads of Turkey: Hills, Caves, and Modernization

“I suppose that was what attracted me to the bicycle right from the start. It is not so much a way of getting somewhere as it is a setting for randomness; it makes every journey an unorganized tour.”


The last week has been a mess of small rolling hills which meant that we were constantly climbing yet going almost nowhere. Though we completed three passes, it felt like a whole lot more because even the downhills were full of small frustrating ups. That being said, at least we were on a smallish relatively quiet road, and at least we got over 500km out of the way!

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Gas Stations and Sun, Kisses and Cold

“How to Overthrow the System: brew your own beer; kick in your Tee Vee; kill your own beef; build your own cabin and piss off the front porch whenever you bloody well feel like it.”


The last week in Turkey has been a blur of hot beautifully sunny short days and cold nights through very easy terrain. As the sun now rises by five-thirty, and sets, much to our dismay, by four-thirty, we have continued to use the sun and not the manmade invention of “hours” to guide our days. We still get up with the sun while it’s -5C or so out, cycle throughout the sunny hot days (20C or so, though in the full sun it feels a lot hotter, and on the downhills a whole lot colder), before finding ourselves a campsite by four in order to quickly set up the tent and cook, sometimes in the dark. By six or so we are listening to a final podcast before bed, and we are always asleep by seven. Though this seems absurd, if we were to move time two hours forward (so that we would get up at seven-thirty, and go to bed by nine) it wouldn’t seem that silly at all.

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Turkish Food: Eating With the Family

“The art of being happy lies in the art of extracting happiness from common things.”


One of our favorite aspects of staying with a family in Van was all of the wonderful homemade Turkish food it enabled us to try. Every meal was communal, meaning that everyone ate from the various dishes set out on a large tablecloth on the floor. There was always plenty of bread – a staple in any Turks diet – that we used as a spoon to eat dips, soups, and salads. I absolutely loved this communal set up without individual plates because I could keep eating or stop eating whenever I pleased instead of filling my plate too full and then over eating to finish it, something I’m really good at. It was also sort of fun having everyone sharing gathered around on the floor sharing all of the dishes since it felt a lot more intimate than being all spread out at a table. I’ve made Kevin promise me that we can still occasionally eat like this when we get home to Oregon. He in turn has decided we should get a wood fire stove so I can make bread and such like they do here… Who says you can’t keep traveling (at least through food) once you go back home?

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A Glimpse of Fall in the Turkish Mountains

“Your legs are not giving out. You head is giving up. Keep going.”


Though our second pass was difficult – 2,500m of gain plus a fifteen kilometer extra climb up and down somewhere in the middle – the mountains and valleys all around made the steep climb worth it. Our favorite part of this pass was when an older couple invited us into their home for tea and fresh pastries that she made right there in front of us. The village was near the top, 2,000m high, and already had a tiny bit of snow on the ground (and was below freezing every night). In fact, all of the surrounding houses were already abandoned for the season, and our lovely couple was headed out to their winter home for the next eight months the very next day. Though we had never really pictured Turkey to be a cold and snowy place, we are quickly realizing that it’s a good thing we started on these passes when we did because a week or two later and we could have easily been trudging through snow. In just one week Turkey has bumped it’s way up to our favorite country this trip as the paved quiet roads, beautiful scenery, and hospitable people have made every single day wonderful.

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It’s All Uphill From Here

“The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.”


Our first few days through the northeastern Turkish hills proved to be our wettest days yet as we found ourselves in an unrelenting storm for days (and nights) on end. In fact, for eight hours one day I sang this song (to the tune of “Mister Sun”) –

“Oh mister wind, wind, mister abnoxious wind, please go home sick todayyyyy.”

– which probably gives you an idea as to which part of the storm was getting on my nerves the most.

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Welcome to Turkey

“Destined to be an old women with no regrets.”


When we got to the “baggage check” station between the boarder of Georgia and Turkey we were prepared to laboriously take off every bag, put them on the X-Ray, and then repack our bags on the bike on the other side because that is what everyone else was doing. When the man in change of the station saw us though, he waved us through while ignoring our passports (which he was suppose to check as well), asked us half-heartedly if we were carrying alcohol or cigarets (no), and then, without missing a beat, asked us if we wanted some tea. So as everyone else was waiting for their passports and bags to be checked, we stood off to the side with our first cup of Turkish tea. Welcome to Turkey as a cyclist.

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