Roasting Like Turkeys in Turkey

Posted by on Aug 15, 2012 in Blog, Turkey | 6 comments

We were a bit nervous to take our first flight with the bikes. We had chosen to fly to Antalya since this was the cheapest fare we could get from Germany to Turkey. It is a popular holiday destination for Europeans with resorts lining the beaches for miles and miles. There are flights to Antalya  every day from almost every airport and we ended up paying less than 100 bucks each for our tickets with SunXpress.

We got to the airport in Berlin about 3 hours before our scheduled departure. Equipped with a big roll of shrink wrap, two rolls of tape and a bunch of boxes we went to work on wrapping our bikes. All the Germans watched us while they were waiting for their check-in. We got done after about an hour and had no problems checking our bikes in. Phew.

Got our bikes wrapped up for the plane.

Got our bikes wrapped up for the plane.

Once we arrived in Antalya it took us another hour to assemble our bikes back together. At first sight we were really glad that they seemed to have made it to Turkey without any damage. However, when I tried to attach one of my front panniers I realized that part of the rack was broken off. I have no clue how this could have happened considering that it is a one inch thick metal tube. Handy as Eric is he fixed my pannier up with some zip ties and I was ready to go. 

By now it was already dark outside. As we wheeled our bikes through the airport doors we were in shock. Yikes, it was hot. It was like walking into a wall of hot, humid air and sweat was forming immediately on our bodies. Eric and I looked at each other and realized that we had made a mistake. We knew that Turkey was going to be hot but we hadn’t calculated in the humidity. As all the tourists were heading to their air-conditioned hotel transfer buses that lined up in front of the airport they were looking at us as if we were crazy. Well, there was no choice now and we hopped on our bikes and pedaled along the major road that was leading to Antalya.

As we were making our way into town the traffic was further increasing with huge intersections popping up and no way to escape to sidewalks as they had ledges that were about 10-15 inches high. There were more buses on the road than cars and we felt a bit intimidated.

I was riding directly behind Eric when he was entering an intersection for which the light was just changing to red. I realized that we had to go really fast so as to not be in the way of the traffic coming from the right. As I was pushing my peddles harder and harder, I started yelling behind him “Go, go, go” wanting him to speed up. As soon as Eric reached the other side of the intersection he suddenly slammed on his breaks. At that time I was going as fast as I could and slammed into his back tire. Poor Eric got thrown off his bike and onto the sidewalk on his right. Immediately three men came running up trying to help us but Eric signaled that he was OK.  He just had a few scuff marks on his arm but we both felt shaken. As I helped him up he told me that he thought I had been yelling “no, no, no” so he had decided to stop his bike. All in all, I really don’t enjoy riding through larger cities especially when there are no bike lanes but unfortunately a lot of times we don’t have a choice and it’s just part of what we get with our choice of travel.

After about two hours of working our way through the busy streets we reached the old part of town of Antalya. At 11pm the small streets and restaurants were crowded with tourists and we pushed our bikes through the narrow alleys in search of a pension. We got a great deal at Sabah Pansiyon and felt happy like little kids on Christmas morning as we entered the tiny room. Yes, yes, yes…air-conditioning.  I don’t think I had ever needed it more in my life.

The next morning we got up early to explore the old part of town of Antalya before it got too hot. Street-side shops lined the narrow streets and the marina was filled with tour boats waiting for tourists to hop on board. It reminded us a bit of the Moroccan medinas especially when we got pulled into a carpet shop and got the same sales spiel that we heard so many times before.

Antalya

Antalya

Antalya Streetside Carpets

Antalya – Streetside Carpets

Antalya Marina

Antalya Marina

We left the hotel after the midday heat had passed and cycled in the direction of Olympos Beach.  Unfortunately we didn’t make too much progress with our bikes that day since we needed to stop in town for two errands. The screws for Eric’s kick stand had broken in half due to the weight of his loaded bike and we needed to get new ones. Luckily we quickly found a bike shop where the helpful owner handed them to us. The second errand wasn’t as simple. It took Eric over two hours to get the employees at the Vodafone store to sell him a data card for his USB modem.  Eric is still working for his family’s business so he needs to be connected as much as possible.

Overlooking Antalya

Overlooking Antalya

By the time we had cycled through the urban sprawl of Antalya it was already getting dark and we started looking for camping. We saw a big grassy field with some bushes next to the highway. The field was lined to the right with a large electric fence and Eric noticed a sign that had a guy holding a gun on it. I figured that it was referring to the fenced in area so I still wanted to camp on the field, especially since there weren’t any other options anywhere nearby. As we were sitting in our tent later I suddenly saw the shadow of a person next to the bushes behind the fence. He stood for a while and then moved slowly with Bruce Lee like movements between the bushes.  I could tell that he was watching us. I’m not sure, but I think I could make out a gun in his hand or maybe I imagined it because of the sign. Creeepy. For the next hour or so Eric and I were sitting still just observing the silhouette of the man moving back and forth. We considered packing up our tent and going somewhere else but we were both too tired and eventually fell asleep.

The next morning we got up at 5 am. Our plan was to cycle until noon, take a break during the hottest time of the day, and reach Olympos Beach in the evening. However, our early morning cycle got interrupted several times. First, we reached a number of tunnels. Traffic was already heavy (mostly buses) and there was only a tiny pedestrian lane next to two narrow traffic lanes for both directions. Apprehensively Eric glanced over to a parallel tunnel and realized that it was under construction. We quickly decided that we should try to get through that one instead. We crossed the road and started cycling into the dark tunnel. There was no pavement and building equipment was everywhere. After about 1km I felt a little claustrophobic and wondered if there was going to be enough air in the tunnel. I was also concerned that we would run into workers and may get in trouble. Thank goodness we saw the light a little later. As we pulled out at the other end there were some workers sitting who just laughed and waved at us.

Riding through the unfinished side of the tunnel

Riding through the unfinished side of the tunnel

Soon after we left the tunnel behind us, my tire started feeling funny. I stopped and there it was. My first flat tire! We had cycled 4,711km without a single puncture. Not bad, but now wasn’t a good time since the sun was chasing us. Eric didn’t hesitate and fixed it for me. As he was finished he realized that he hadn’t checked the inside of the tire for any sharp items. Go figure, ten minutes later my tire was flat again and Eric fixed it for me.

First flat tire after 4,711 km!

First flat tire after 4,711 km!

It was so hot and humid we were completely soaked in sweat and longing for ways to cool down. The good news was that every few kilometers there were water fountains alongside the road. We stopped at each one and soaked our bandanas in the water and tied them around our necks. One such fountain was next to a seating area where people were enjoying cay (tea). A Turkish couple watched us curiously and then waved us over to enjoy tea with them. Even though they spoke little English they were curious about our trip though Turkey and were full of big smiles and very kind and welcoming to us.

Invitation for cay

Invitation for cay

A little later we were thrilled to see a simple car wash at a gas station that served as a perfectly cool shower for us on our bikes. Going through it was so much fun I decided to do it again. Being a little overly excited I took the curve too quickly and slipped on the slimy cement and fell. The gas station owner came running over to me with a concerned look but I was completely fine, got up and rode my bike through the cool shower. Meanwhile Eric had the camera focused on the car wash and didn’t even notice my fall.

Riding through the car wash with my bike

Riding through the car wash with my bike

By noon we gave up cycling. We were roasting in the sun and our heads were red and felt heavy. We checked the map and found a road that would let us access a beach. We had no clue that this beach was a popular tourist destination. There was a gate where cars stopped and paid 10 TL (5 Euros) to get access, but when we rolled up with our bikes the guard disappeared inside and didn’t come back out. We probably looked so exhausted and ready for the beach he must have felt sorry for us. Happily we rode on and couldn’t believe our eyes when we saw an old Roman Aqueduct in front of bay with calm turquoise blue water. The place is called Phaselis. It is an ancient sea port dating back to 700 BC with ruins scattered across the beach area.

Phaselis

Phaselis

Ancient Aquaduct at Phaselis

Ancient Aquaduct at Phaselis

Phasaelis Theatre

Phaselis Theatre

We spent the afternoon playing in the water and exploring the ruins. We realized that we weren’t going to make it to Olympos that day so we bought a whole water melon for dinner and then camped nearby.

6 Comments

  1. antalya old town sds bike bike house ali :):)

  2. Love your guys’ photos! Really nice! Do you have an email subscription or rss sign up form? Would be great to receive your updates via email.

    • The RSS feed for our blog is http://www.goingbybikes.com/feed/
      It was so great talking to you the other night. Thanks for all the encouragement. Looking forward to reading about your projects!

  3. I want to make one of those “car washes” at home for Daisy! Goldens can’t get enough of the water and this looks awesome! I’m just amazed you guys are burnt leather by now. Stay safe!

  4. What a gorgious picture of th etunell. So glad u r taking lost of photos! I’m gonna subscribe to you RSS!

  5. It looks so hot there! What’s the temperature this time of year? I know what you mean about getting into the air-conditioning after sweltering. Believe it or not, that happened to me when I was in Russia. I thought it would be cold, but it was over 100 degrees in May! Sounds like Eric is still able to get people to do what he wants them to, even on the other side of the globe. Way to go, Eric!