Back in Erzurum, back in Hopa, back in Akhaltsikhe, back in Borçka, back in Bayburt, back in Ankara, back in Antalya. I feel like I’m doing circles. I do intend to start bicycle touring again. Soon. Maybe. For now I’m stuck again in Antalya, studying Turkish. Again.
Antalya apparently has a magic magnetic attraction. “Cennet” (heaven) is how the Turks describe it, but foreigners know it too. Antalya is the world’s third most visited city counting by international tourist arrivals. Whoa, was I surprised to learn that! It’s certainly the smallest city on the top 10 list.
My circuitous route to get here from Bayburt involved no bicycle riding. Instead I became intimate with Turkey’s intercity bus transportation — Bayburt to Ankara, Ankara to Eskipazar, Karabük to Ankara, Ankara to Antalya, Antalya to Ankara, Ankara to Antalya. Yes, back and forth, really. Over 50 hours on the bus and somehow not a single overnight trip! The buses stop for meals at overpriced dinlenme tesisi where I hope at least the drivers can get good food. Greyhound, however, stops at McDonald’s so it could be worse.
In Ankara I stayed again with Banu and Deniz in Yüzüncü Yıl, conveniently close to AŞTİ, Ankara’s otogar (given my recent bus fetish). They were great hosts again, putting up with my late arrivals and constantly changing plans. They actually completed their first ever adventure race this October in Fethiye with a group of four newbies. Quite an accomplishment. If I remember correctly, they’re now training for a one day event near İstanbul next month.
In Antalya I play the role of hard-working student, going to class every day and consistently doing my homework. I try to walk along the coast most mornings. The views of the mountains across the bay are tremendous, and there’s now some new snow on the peaks.
Yesterday my teacher was sick, and I got out for my longest ride since I’ve been here. The cyclist who gave me a vague description of the loop does it in about 2.5 hours. Two wrong turns and 6.5 hours later I was back in the city. But really it was an incredible route, the best short loop I’ve seen from Antalya. It doesn’t, however, come close to the quality of many of the loops above Boulder. Oh, I’d love to come ride Boulder-Wallstreet-Sunset-Gold Hill-Boulder!
Some of Antalya’s street art:
Fellow students and the start of a bad joke — a Turk, a German, and a Syrian…