Sunday, October 17, 2010

Biking the Mediterranean Coast of Turkey

My first Turkish picture needs to be of Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey.

After a rest day on Rhodes, I thought I was ready for Turkey. I had a short evening strolling around town where I had to try five different ATM's to get my card to work and heard old school Donovan playing. Then, I headed home for a quiet night planning my route through Turkey.

Marmaris waterfront represening Turkish pride and the desire to take you on a tour.

My hair never did that when it was long.

The local bazaar which is fun to ride in when its empty.

In the morning, I left early and chugged up hill for 5km into a valley of the Taurus mountains that separate the coast from the Anatolian plateau. From there, I took a right and followed the road to Antalya. The valley was dry, but beautiful. There was one set of fields tucked in front of a mountain after another. Every 10km there was a sign to tell me how far I had gone. There were fruit stands selling mandarins and pomegranates. There were strange water pipes dropping water near near the road by a bunch of restaurants. It was hot, very hot. Athens has been hot too, but this was different. I was really missing those fall temperatures in northern Greece.

Marmaris harbor.

A different type of car wash. I saw these running non-stop everywhere, but did not know what they were for until this truck showed me.

Eventually, I got the need to feed and pulled into a grocery store looking for lunch. Ideally, I would have made a sandwich. They had no bread. They had no spreads. They had no cheese and no fruit. I was screwed for my usuals. I just got a drink and some crappy snack mix. The owner invited me to join him at his table while he played cards with a friend. It looked like rummy so I watched for a while and then asked to join. They dealt me in. It was funny learning the little nuances of the Turkish version. You can only lay down three cards at a time. You can only play one card on someone else's stuff. You can't play all your cards and not discard. What you put down does not count. Only the cards you get stuck with count. If someone gets to a 100, the game ends and whoever has the least wins. It was really hearts rummy.

Some old guys that let me join their Turkish rules rummy game.

My first big mosque in Muslim Turkey.

After a long lunch, it was time to ride again. I changed my route from the main road based on recommendations from the grocer. He was sending me to a small town near the coast. The heat was hurting me and I just could not get my legs going. When I got to Dalyan, I was not sure what I wanted to do. It was a tourist town. One tour operator asked me what I could help with in English. When I responded, he had no idea what I was saying. We tried this a couple times before I gave up. Eventually, I decided the thing to do was nothing again. I got a Turkish bath and pared it up with a massage (finally!). During the bath, they got skin rolls off my back from a recent sunburn. Yum! The massage felt great. I was in heaven or a place like heaven. My massage was in a hotel lobby area. I could see and hear cars driving by. People who explored the far reaches of the lobby could see me. It was curious, but good.

This adorable kitty just wanted a little food. There are so many strays.

This is making me miss Pittsburgh and miss the pooch.

Lycian tombs above the Dalyan River.

After a great night's sleep, my hope was to swim and the hit the road. Fortunately, I got stuck at the beach for a little longer than expected. Some local kids wanted to chat so I indulged them. Then, I explored the Giant Loggerhead turtle conservation facilities they had. They have a bunch of injured ones in captvity. Their hope is to let them heal and release them, but some will never make it. They can only swim in circles with two fins.

An injured Giant Loggerhead Turtle which lays its eggs at Iztuzu Beach.

Dalyan River delta.

Iztuzu Beach.

When I left the beach, I headed towards my old route on back roads. They are so much more enjoyable than the main roads if you can find the good ones. One of my big lessons this trip was that it is worth the money to buy a good map. Though, I still don't feel like I could afford to carry the weight of as many maps as I would have needed. Maybe, I could have shipped them to myself. Anyway, the local roads took me through pomegranate and mandarin orchards. I was so tempted to start eating them. All of them. I don't think they were ripe yet. However, when I got to the road I realized that vendors were selling plenty of them. I should have given them a try.

The ripe pomegranate and mandarin orchards of coastal Turkey near Mergenli.

Iztuzu Beach

On my way back to the main road, I found a bad gravel road. It was going to be a mess. It looked like the road to Theth. It also didn't have signs for which way to go. A woman came by in a car and I waved her down. Instead of stopping, she sped away as fast as she could. That was a little disconcerting, but a guy on a scooter came by and told me which way to go and that the gravel ended in a 100m. I was off again and happy.

The Sulungur Gola, the 'lake' just behind where the Dalyan River runs into the Mediterranean sea.

If you know me well, you know I believe in gender equality. I am all about conservative traditions, but it drives me batty that the men in some islamic traditions where up to date modern clothes while the woman are still wearing their full classical burkas.

Late in the day, I rolled into Fethiye. I had gone about 100km, but it felt like a lot more. I was hurting. My intent was to look around and then move on. However, I remembered that a friend had mentioned the Blue Cruises left from here. Since my legs just weren't working I thought that maybe doing a cruise would help out. The Fethiye to Olympos cruise would take 4 days. I could bike it in 2. I didn't like that, but knew that I needed some rest.

The Taurus moutains that divide coastal Turkey from the Anatolian Plateau.

I decided to sleep on it. While exhausted in my hotel, I was flipping through the channels. They had Hustler TV, the porno channel. I don't think I have ever been in a hotel with free porn onTV, but what really threw me was that I found this in Turkey. Turkey is muslim. Lots of it issecular, just like the United States, but I just never thought that is something I would havefound in a country that I consider to be a little more conservative. Maybe it isn't that conservative. Maybe it was an anomaly.

I am not sure who this is, but I love the helmet on this statue.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,

    Combine this with stops at historical and cultural places of interest along the route, and you have the best combination of a healthy, sporty and relaxed holiday. You enjoy extraordinary rides and views of this beautiful coastline and feast on exquisite Turkish culinary delights. Thanks a lot...