bicycle travelling
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TURKEY I: ipsala-istanbul

8. October 2002

TURKEY I: ipsala-istanbul

2210 km, istanbul (TR)

like at every border before, also at the greek \/ turkish border, all vehicles are forced to take a disinfection bath. law and justice everywhere! after the first few kilometers in turkey, i feel

very well. i do not know exactly why, but many things here seem to be familiar to me. nevertheless my last visit was 15 years ago. at that time our whole family travelled to turkey - with an old peugeot 504!

and my feelings were not bluffing. when we asked at a gas station for a place to stay, it was not difficult to find one. just behind the gas station. great! in 'real' europe it was sometimes very hard and long-winded to find a proper place to stay for the night.

also on the next day we easily found a campsite at another gasstation. although ali and savas could not speak german nor englisch, communication was easy by using hands and feet. they invited us for tea, and at the next morning even for breakfast. they served us bread, tomatos, cucumbers, chees and cay (the national beverage tea).

from ipsala to tekirdag we cycled away from the ocean. then on to istanbul on the northern coast of 'marmara deniz'. the 150 kilometer to istanbul were no fun at all to cycle! village after village, countless row-house housing estates, so called 'sitesi', in between. moreover traffic was worse, near to istanbul even the hell. we were really happy, when we were leaving the city freeways. bine and me stayed on a campground at the outskirts of the town - for 16 EUR!

therefore on every morning we took bus number 81 to eminoenu - a ferry station in the city - at the galata bridge. this bridge has changed a lot during the last 15 years. because of destruction by fire, a new one was build. in early days small fish-restaurants sesttled under the bridge, full of life and filthy. nowadays it is clean, with expensive, huge but empty restaurants. security guards at all entries of the bridge, to prevent small sellers, fisher or beggars to get on the bridge.

most of our time we were hanging around in sultanahmet district, the old part of the european part of istanbul. the basars are attracting me most. many people, thousands and thousands of impressions and odours. bine gave me an arm ring for birthday present! the aya sophia impressed me not that much, as 15 years ago. the sultanahmet mosque (also called 'the blue mosque') has a very warm, comfortable atmosphere. we are sitting half an hour inside to reflect the atmosphere.

on my 30th birthday we survived kumkapi - an amusement district, with dozens of restaurants and - of course - full of tourists. we try to find a restaurant which is not too loud and overcrowded. in most of them turkish musicians are playing turkish music with full power - like the tourist 'heurigen' in vienna. nevertheless, it was something different, and the food - fresh fish - was very good.

we detect many hostels in sultanahmet, and bine was keen on asking about the price. a double room for 16 EUR! but much more beautiful, in the city, and other travellers around. we like that much more! so we moved on that evening from the campsite into the city. it was good value, although it was quite expensive: we were forced to pay the following night on the campground, because the check-out-time has been elapsed. moreover the man betrayed us. he fored us to pay one additional night because the entry form was 'wrong'. asshole! but we have to learn, never hand out a passport without any confirmatiom!

it does not matter. we enjoyed living in the city. the days were coming and going very quick. sometimes we 'just' hanged out at the ocean, in the parks or walked through the narrow roads. here in istanbul it is really very pleseant!
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