A walk up Tahtalı Dağı in the winter

Tahtalı Dağı (aka Mt. Olimpos) is the most famous of the high mountains near Antalya.  It’s certainly not the highest, but it sits quite near the sea.  The view of the mountain’s 2366m summit from the seaside resort of Çıralı is pretty fantastic, particularly in the spring when it’s warm enough to swim and the mountain is still covered in snow.  I ought to have some photos of that — Ferda and I have stayed quite a bit at Çıralı, climbing, camping, and enjoying the beach — but I don’t seem to have any photos.

DSCN0808 by bryandkeith on flickr

Tahtalı sees more people on its summit than any other mountain in Antalya, but that’s not because it’s a such a great climb (it’s not).  It’s because there’s a teleferique to the summit!  The reason I had never climbed this summit was precisely because there is a teleferique to the summit!  Hasan and Fahri organized this winter ascent in February 2016, an unusually low snowfall year.  It probably would have been a funner climb in February this year (2017) when there was much more snow.  We drove up to Beycik and started walking a little above that at about 1150m.  It was surprisingly green down there.  We ended up having a casual 7.5 hour day with rather warm weather for February. Continue reading

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Camel wrestling in Yenipazar

I stumbled across these photos the other day, and I realized I never wrote about a blog about camel wrestling.  Camel wrestling??!!, you ask.  Talk about click bait!  PETA will like this post about as much as the one about bull fighting in San Miguel.

The sport (can you call it that?) of camel wrestling is held each winter in the Aegean Region of Turkey.  Matches are on Sundays throughout the region from November through March with as many as five venues on one Sunday.  The schedule’s out for the 2017-2018 season so you can start planning your trip!  We went to a match in Yenipazar, not far from Nazilli, Aydın, in February 2016.

DSCN0728 by bryandkeith on flickr

Ferda grew up in İzmir, smack in the middle of the Aegean Region, and somehow she had never been to a camel wrestling event.  No one in her family had either, and they all looked at me a bit skeptically when I told them Ferda and I were leaving very early on Sunday morning to catch a few hours of camel wrestling on our way from İzmir to Antalya.  Ferda, however, was more than skeptical.  She really didn’t want to go at all and balked at the 15tl entrance fee once we finally arrived at the festival grounds.  The locals immediately pegged her as being from İzmir and let her in for free.  We were among the few non-locals and stuck out with our backpacks and Goretex rain jackets. Continue reading

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Family and friends in Utö, Torö, and Stockholm

Ferda and my last two weeks in Sweden were spent in and around Stockholm.  It was a family reunion of sorts in Utö, Torö, and Stockholm.  On my last trip to Sweden Erland took me on a short (four-day?) sailing trip in the beautiful Stockholm archipelago.  I was excited to visit these islands again.

The first get together was on the island of Utö in the archipelago.  Ferda and I did a big shopping trip in Västerhaninge, rode our heavy bikes the short way to Årsta Brygga, took to ferry to Utö, and enjoyed a nice sunset and an evening on our own before the rest of our crew arrived the following morning on a ferry from Stockholm.

20170722_222938 by bryandkeith on flickr
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Bicycle touring southern Sweden

Before bicycle touring in Sweden, I was worried it’d be endless forest and way too many mosquitoes.  I was pleasantly surprised.  We were, however, entirely south of Stockholm in the southern third of the country.  I guess if you were to go north, well, it would be endless forest and probably way too many mosquitoes in the right (wrong?) season.  Compared to our flat ride from Hamburg to Malmö, the hills of southern Sweden provided some nice relief, giving pleasing views and fun riding.

This is a typical bicycle-touring-Sweden photo. by bryandkeith on flickr
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Hamburg to Malmö, on the bicycle again

A three-country 10-day bicycle trip with Krista and Kurt from Hamburg to Skåne, Sweden.  Ferda and I flew from Antalya to Hamburg via İstanbul, and Krista and Kurt were waiting for us at the Hamburg airport, smiling.  They’d already been on the road about a month, cycling from Amsterdam.  After our 10 days together, Ferda and I continued on to Stockholm.  The four of us had hoped to do the whole trip together from Amsterdam to Stockholm, but with various commitments we only managed these 10 days together at the end of their trip and the beginning of ours.

Starting the ride from the Hamburg airport by bryandkeith on flickr

Interestingly it was the second three-country bicycle tour I’ve done with Kurt this year.  We cycled in Spain, France, and Andorra in March, and here we were in Germany, Denmark, and Sweden in July.  That’s four new countries this year for bicycle touring for me, including two countries I had never been to before (Spain and Andorra).  I think I counted this was my 8th visit to Germany.  My complete lack of German language ability is a bit embarrassing.

Krista was a great help putting the bikes together at the airport.  They had also thought to buy all the food we’d need until the grocery stores opened again the following morning, Monday.  Since Kurt and Krista had been on the road, they had all the maps and navigation figured out.  Ferda and I pretty much followed them blindly for the first few days, not knowing which route they had chosen or which villages we visited.

The general plan was to cycle together to southern Sweden, passing through Lübeck, Roskilde, and Copenhagen — all places I was looking forward to visiting.  Lübeck’s historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, famous for this city gate,
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