A few fun days in Berlin with Ferda and Antje

During our week in Hannover, Ferda and I lucked out with surprisingly warm weather for December.  In Berlin, however, we found the cold.  Here are Ferda and Antje, braving the cold to visit this outdoor museum:

Ferda and Antje by bryandkeith on flickr

Don’t be deceived by the sunshine.  After about 20-30 minutes wandering around that site, we were happy to get inside and have something warm to drink.

This was my 4th visit to Berlin.  I’ve always stayed with Antje, and she’s always managed to point me in different directions so that I see new attractions every time.  The exception is the Greek restaurant near her house.  I’ve had dinner there three times in the last seven years.

This was Ferda’s first time in Berlin so we wandered around some of the highlights like the Reichstag, Brandenburger Tor, and Berliner Dom.
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Christmas and New Year in Hannover

Our plans in December and January seemed to change every week, and in the end we had some free time around Christmas and New Year.  One day Ferda and I were chatting with Yasemin when she suggested we go to Germany together for Christmas and visit the famous Christmas markets.  It was a joke/dream more than anything, but Yasemin got online, checked tickets, and it was only 100 Euro round-trip, Antalya-Hannover!  Well, that’s crazy.  I don’t see how the airlines make any money.  In the end, Yasemin couldn’t go because she didn’t have a Shengen visa or even a passport.  Ferda and I, however, jumped on those tickets and visited our friend, Bilge, in Hannover.

Ferda and Bilge by bryandkeith on flickr

On our first evening in Hannover we headed straight to the Christmas market in the old city (altstadt) because it was the last evening for most of the Christmas markets in Germany.  We arrived just a couple days before Christmas, just a day or two after some maniac drove a truck into one of Berlin’s Christmas markets. These Christmas markets are sort of wintertime art and crafts fairs with lots of food and of course plenty of mulled wine (glühwein).  It was fun to see so many people out enjoying the city in spite of the cold and a terrorist attack on another market a few days earlier.
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Fall colors in the mountains east of Antalya

My third short bicycle tour of 2016.  Just like the other two, I again went into the mountains near Antalya, but this time I went east instead of west.  I had been east a couple times to Gündoğmuş by car, but I hadn’t cycled east of Antalya before.  I knew it was beautiful, and I even sent a warmshowers.org guest, Pedro from Spain, up over Gökbel Pass, the only route I know of to continue heading east from Gündoğmuş.  He told me it was great but so steep that he had to push his bike in places.  Yikes, Pedro was right.  Those last few kms from Soğukpınar to the top of the pass were absurdly steep.

DSC06411 by bryandkeith on flickr
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Visa run to Rodos

My first visit to a Greek island was cycling on Chios in the winter about five years ago.  In spite of the cold it was fantastic, making me think that maybe the Greek islands do live up to all the hype.  After cycling five days on Rhodes (Greek: Ρόδος which makes it into Turkish directly as Rodos) a few weeks ago, however, I’m not so sure.

As a cruise ship destination, perhaps it’s fantastic.  In a five-minute walk from the docks, you find yourself in the well-preserved, clean, UNESCO-World-Heritage-Site-designated, medieval city of Rhodes.  I don’t seem to get tired of exploring these pedestrian-friendly, compact towns even while living in one for the last four years.  Compared to Antalya’s Kaleiçi, the old city of Rhodes is larger, cleaner, and attracts far more tourists.  Interestingly, the tourist areas seem to be confined to a few main streets while much of the old city remains residential (unlike Kaleiçi).

One of the entrances to the old city by bryandkeith on flickr
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Antalya ‹—› Fethiye bicycle tour

Wow, I really need to go on more bicycle tours.  This was only my second tour this year, and it was great to get out.  I spent about three days riding to Fethiye which was really too fast and five days returning which was super.  I was in a bit of hurry to get to Fethiye to get a ferry to Greece before my permission to stay in Turkey expired.  I did cycle for a few days on Rhodes, but I’ll save that for another post.

The climb out of Antalya was impressive.  I went through Sinandeğirmeni, Güzle, and İmecik Yaylası, then over the pass to İmecik, mostly roads I had never been on before.  After Güzle the paved road is stunningly steep.  Past İmecik Yaylası the dirt road tops out at about 2150m, the highest pass I know of near Antalya.  I camped just before dark.

This road was absurdly steep and nicely paved by bryandkeith on flickr
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