Ihlara to Antalya via the Konya Plains, by bicycle

Another short bicycle tour in Turkey.  It only took 10 days to cycle from Ihlara to Antalya.  The unusual thing about this tour was just how flat it was: ~8000m of climbing in 700km.  That doesn’t sound so flat so we have to put those numbers in context.  That’s the same climbing:distance ratio as our trip from Hamburg to Stockholm this summer and lower than any other trip I’ve done in Turkey.  I guess you’d have to tour in Holland or Bangladesh to get a much flatter tour than this one.

I started by heading south out of Ihlara straight toward the picturesque volcano, Hasan Dağı.  I ended up skirting the northern and western flanks of the mountain, enjoying the views from different angles.

20171113_142825_1 by bryandkeith on flickr
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Kırşehir, Ihlara Vadisi, and Güzelyurt

The Ihlara Valley is on many people’s short list of places to visit in Turkey.  For good reason.  It’s often considered part of Kapadokya (Cappadocia), but it’s a fair bit west of the main area of Kapadokya.  Ferda and I had both been to Kapadokya before, once together, but neither of us had been to Ihlara or Güzelyurt before.

The excuse for this trip was to visit Ferda’s good friend, Yeliz, who moved with her husband and two kids to Kırşehir recently (for his work).  Kırşehir is a small provincial capital smack in the middle of the country, only about 100km north of the Ihlara area.  Few tourists make it to Kırşehir.  There’s not so much to see.  It does seem like a pleasant enough place to raise kids.  We enjoyed the beautiful park just across the street from Yeliz and Ozkan’s home.

DSC06311 by bryandkeith on flickr
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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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