Turkey’s convoluted southwest coast means that it’s actually impossible to bicycle from Bodrum to Antalya sticking to the coast. You must go inland and cross some mountains. Inland we went. Mountains, oh yeah!
Snežana took a bus to Antalya, and we agreed to meet there in about 10 days. Kurt and I chose a fairly direct route to Antalya, trying just to head east. Of course, the mountains will have nothing with such plans. We started by heading south to the Aegean and followed the coast east. Then it was NE to Beyağaç, SE to Arıkaya to cross the Gölgeli Mountains, NE to Beyköy and Hasanpaşa, SE to Korkuteli to cross the Katrancık Mountains, and finally east again and south into Antalya.
We ended up paying quite a bit of attention to the elevation, trying to find a route that wouldn’t have too much snow. Since we never had to turn back, I guess you could say we succeeded.
The diversity of landscapes in this short tour was stunning — bright green hills covered with olive trees; steep escarpments straight down to the stunning blue Aegean; a steep-walled canyon which opened to a gravelly, braided river; rolling mountain pine forests with clear streams; a roaring river cutting a fantastic narrow gorge near Yolçatı; two mountain valleys full of fruit of orchards; at least three high plateaus reminiscent of San Luis Valley or North Park; brown, desolate hills that seemed a world away from the lush green Mediterranean land just over the last pass before Antalya.
As always, the Turks were generous. In Yeşilköy not only were we treated to çay, but two different groups gave us bags of locally grown apples. Down the road in Hasanpaşa, I asked the friendly grocer if she had any onions to sell. “No, but I have some at home. Would you like me to get some for you?” Please. Her mother soon showed up with 2-3 kg of onions. Oh, and she bought us tea as well. When I tried to give half the onions back (we didn’t really want to carry so much), she insisted, saying they were a gift. They lasted over a week even as Kurt and I used as many as possible in every dinner.
At a small pass above Kirazlıyayla, a man selling sweets out of his van stopped to say hello and give us samples of his yummy treats. In Büyükalan, however, the generosity was over the top. The vegetable seller, after selling us vegetables, bought us tea. Then the boy who served the tea insisted on treating us himself, and, thinking that we had put the money on the tray, gave it (back) to us. So in the end we actually got paid to drink tea there.
In Yoçatı an extroverted boy started talking to me at the fountain near his house. Soon we were inside as his parents served us hot tea. Down the road in Suçatı, or up, as it were, the owner of a leather clothing factory treated us to tea and then gave us a tour of his operation. When we didn’t buy anything, he ended up giving us a couple leather purses.
At one lunch stop I tried to return some generosity. An old man stopped to say hello and sat down next to us. I offered him peanuts. He smiled, pointed at his empty mouth, and said, “diş yok.” Indeed he didn’t have any teeth! I managed not to laugh right there, but Kurt and I laughed about this interaction with diş yok many times afterwards.
As I write this, I keep remembering more and more offers to tea, a number of which we actually turned down. In Antalya I found the auto mechanic part of town (eski sanayi) where I asked about getting a broken bolt removed from the attachment block of my Tubus rear rack. Two guys got right on it, bought me tea while I waited, and wouldn’t take any money for their work!
I can get used to this.