Ferry across the Aegean Sea

I don’t recall having been on an overnight ferry trip before. 97 euros however have bought me my own cabin which, fingers crossed, will afford me enough sleep to make the most of Athens tomorrow. It was my first time in Turkey and it will be my first time in Athens and mainland Greece too. Previous trips to the Greek islands involved the Pink Palace in Corfu and other such delights.

I’m quietly happy to have made it through the first stage but have a feeling it is the next stage from Athens to Split that will greater expose my physical and mental weakness (for those who haven’t already noticed). 1340km to go (still haven’t worked out the exact route but ‘eurovelo 8’ feels about right) and every book I read describes Greece as a hilly country. Where’s Holland when you need it?

Anyway, one day at a time and tomorrow I will see my old friend Annie, take in as much of Athens as possible, wash my clothes (properly this time), go to a bike shop, and possibly have dinner overlooking the Acropolis. Life is good.

If the hospitality and friendly nature of the Greeks is anything like what I experienced in Turkey then it will be impossible not to have a wonderful time.

Bye bye Turkey. Hello Greece.

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I forgot to mention

Here are a list of things that happened in Turkey that to date I failed to mention:

– There were a curious number of dead butterflies along the road from Antalya to Finike.
– In Alanya I met a lady walking a pet lamb that was so white Persil automatic would have been proud.
– I watched a tortoise crossing a dual carriageway twice pausing in the centre of the lane as lorries hurtled pass. I don’t know if it made it the whole way.
– I expressed my frustration at a taxi driver for changing his price after our initial verbal agreement. We soon made up and I gave him what he asked for. Sucker.
– I went for a Turkish hamam in Alanya. Not bad but their jacuzzi wasn’t working so I made my own.
– My handlebar tape comes off every other day. I’m experimenting with different tapes to remedy the problem.
– I missed out on what would have been photo of the year. Twelve Turkish women picking fruit in a field all with their behinds pointing in my direction. Backdrop was mountainous, I just couldn’t take the shot as I felt it inappropriate at the time.
– Everybody plays backgammon everywhere.
– The best baklava by far were in Gaziantep in my opinion.
– As ever the more touristy the area the less friendly and the less real your relationship with the locals.
– My turkcell sim was blocked after one week and the bureaucracy behind getting it unblocked ultimately deterred me from doing so.

There, now you know.

Travel companion and kindred spirit

There were only two people travelling with bikes from Marmaris to Rhodes on the 9am ferry this morning. Both were athletes. Myself, of course, and Ilias Xanthos the 2012 Greek duathlon champion. We had much to chat about throughout our trip and covered the usual shopping list of topics athletes tend to focus on, nutrition, psychology, attitude, physical preparation and winter training camps (he’d not heard of Butlins). I can only hope that Ilias found my views on the subject useful.

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Came up a little short today

Only 78 km today due mainly to the 90 minute tyre cleaning session morning (feels like an excuse). The tyre session was necessary but it has meant I have pulled up short of my original target Fethiye. At the time I was disappointed but nonetheless decided to get a taxi from Kemer (rather than Fethiye) to Marmaris in order to arrive in time before the shops shut. Fortunately I arrived in time to buy a ferry ticket to Rhodes leaving at 9am tomorrow. Once there I’ll get the first available ferry to Athens.

And with that my cycling in Turkey is over. In the end I only cycled 1020km in Turkey, 400km shorter than originally planned because I started in Gaziantep rather than Diyarbakir. But ultimately this whole bike ride will be about 4300km so still plenty of work left to do.

I can’t thank you all enough for your support. It’s made the whole trip so much fun and I’m really excited for the next stage from Athens to Split.

The lady below kindly released a dove in Marmaris to symbolise my departure from Turkey to Greece. Very thoughtful if not a little cliche.

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