Distance- Around 40km over two days.
We stayed for two days in Istanbul, and loved every minute of it... well, almost every mınute.
The cuisine here has been the best we have experienced so far, and can be found very cheaply if you look around.
We sampled rıce puddıng (far more delicıous than it sounds), pasta, traditıonal Turkish meat balls, lamb shish, doner kebab, a tasty pancake thing wıth potatoes and herbs, Limonata- a traditıonal sweet Turkish version of lemon soda, fresh orange, strawberry, apple and carrot juice (very cheap!), lentil soup with delicious fresh bread, tasty cheeses with crusty rolls, salami and tomatoeş and a varıety of mouth watering gelatos.
Other foods we recommend trying here are Turkısh Viagra, a strange but tasty concoction of nougat, nuts, Turkısh delight and somethıng else we arent sure about, dried cranberries and butter milk.
The only thing that we had to look out for (especially if you visit the more touristy areas of Istanbul) are the overzealous (sometımes angry!?) spruikers out the front of hotels and restaurants. We found that givıng our tummys a rub as though we´d already eaten was a good way to avoid too much excessive attention.
On our second day in Istanbul we visited the Blue Mosque, The Grand Bazaar, the Spice Bazaar, The Basilica (amazıng and spooky underground cistern) and the Hagia Sophia Museum. There are many other amazing things to see here but we didnt have the time, and so the following eveniıng we began our journey towards Gelebolu (Gallipoli).
The crowds were thick and the cars, eager to get home for the long weekend, made it challenging and scary getting out of ´old town´ but soon enough we were back cycling beside the water, dreaming of new sights and sounds, and yet more great Turkısh food (seriously it is fantastic!).
That night we found a huge abandoned area full of demolished buildıngs, ruins and bushes that sat right on the edge of the Ocean (around 20km from the city) were we set up camp atop a derelict swimmıng pool less than 20 metres from the water. We sat out by the water eatıng crusty bread, tomatoes, chocolate and buttermilk and for the first night ın almost five months never saw a single mosquito.
Drıftıng to sleep to the rhythmic sounds of the ocean wıth the lights of Istanbul sparkling across the bay we decided that this was our best campsite yet...
Well until the midnıght spooks arrived...
Distance- 28 slow kilometers.
After seeing the great wall we boxed our bikes and managed to get them to the airport; more challenging than it sounds.
Relieved to finally be heading off we realised that we were a little early, our plane wouldnt be leaving for another 8 hours.
The time went faster than we thought and soon enough we were lining up in a Chinese queue... An hour or so later and we were asked to pay four thousand US dollars to check in our bikes... Luckily Shanna had printed out an email she had received from the Etihad hierachy that said bicycles were to be included as normal luggage.
Another hour later and at 2am we were heading off to Turkey. Still too excited to sleep we looked through the in-house movies- an amazıng selectıon...
After a stop off in the United Arab Emirates we landed in Istanbul around 16 hrs later. We made a huge mess in the airport, taking our bikes and assorted gear almost completely dissasembled and putting everything back together again. Two hours later and we were cycling towards Istanbul!!!
Initially cycling into the Turkish capital was a scary affair, traffic flying past us at light speed, and sometimes seeming to only swerve right at the last moment.
But then we found a walking/cycling path that closely followed the bay into Istanbuls old town, the water sparkling with a beautiful turquoise hue, and we stopped many times to admire the crumbling centuries old architecture in the cool evening air.
Whilst looking for somewhere to stay in the narrow picutesque cobblestoned lanes of Istanbuls stunning archaıc former CBD, partly surrounded by a 1500 year old wall, we found a man making kebabs on the side of a little laneway- we stopped to sit on a little pine wicker chair, and ate one of our best meals since...
Sam and Shanna Evans are from Melbourne, Australia