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Leaving Istanbul and Max's first week

After a wonderful week in Istanbul it was time to get back in the saddle. A shame, because Istanbul can't be explored in just one week. What a beautiful city, with a rich history and really friendly people. We definitely want to return there someday to explore more. I (Max) successfully did my master thesis presentation from our hotel in Istanbul and graduated!

The first day we followed the coast, which resulted in some spectacular views.

Since we were leaving Istanbul, an enormous city, we also had to cycle through some busy city areas and some motorways, but overall it was a beautiful day. That night we stayed in a business hotel in Dilovasi, an industrial city on the outskirts of Istanbul. The place was dreadful (think Liège/Luik) and there was no place to put up a tent, so we had no choice but to take the only available hotel, The next day we rose early to cycle to Arifiye, we were invited via the app warmshowers to stay at Mustafa's place. Mustafa and his friends welcomed us to a tank manufacturing site where they lived in some kind of campus. We went out for dinner and had a great time with them.

Our lovely hosts in Arifiye.

The next day we could not find a place to sleep so we put up the tent in Dokurcun, a small village. We were drinking some late night çay (tea) when a local invited us to stay at his cousin's house, so we could sleep inside. We accepted and left the restaurant to break up camp. After doing so we cycled to his cousin's place, who was not home. We opened the gate to enter his property and knocked on some windows because we did not see a door bell and within minutes the police arrived. After a discussion via google translate it appeared the cousin did not want us in his home and the man we met in the restaurant denied ever promising us a place to sleep. The police did not want us to camp in the village and offered to call us a taxi, but that would mean we would have to leave our bikes behind. After a bit of arguing they did allow us to camp on our own risk. In the meanwhile some sketchy people started hanging around the area we wanted to put up our tent again so we just left and cycled to the next village to put up our tent there. After a sleepless night thanks to the stray dogs barking at each other for hours we left early to wash ourselves in the mosque and start cycling again.

Our campsite after being evicted from the previous village.

The next day we cycled to Nallihan, a long trip of about 80km with a 1250m elevation. This proved to be very difficult for me, since I am not used yet to cycling multiple days with full gear on the bike, but in the end we made it. During the day the carrier on my bike broke, which was fixed by some really friendly local smiths, who also shared some tea with us.

The smith and his friends who helped us fix my broken carrier.

In Nallihan we stayed in a very cheap hotel and the next day we set off for Beypazari. The landscape drastically changed during this ride, no more green surroundings but the rocky landscape you would expect in Cappadocia.

We also passed a famous sight, the Nallihan bird sanctuary, which is a giant lake that is supposed to have a lot of migratory birds, but due to a dry year there was no water and therefore also no birds. It still was an impressive sight.

Nallihan Bird sanctuary without the water and the birds.

In Beypazari we spend our rest day, because at this point I could hardly climb the stairs to our room. The next week we will cycle to our destination in Cappadocia!

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