Saturday, 19 May 2012

20 May Stage 38 Selcuk - Cine

Dep  945     Arr  3.45     Dist  89.8 km      Total  3807.5 km

The link with the FIG event didn't materialise after all. Terry contacted me later and we had a chat. The connection here in the Artemis was intermittent but I still can't understand what happened.

I didn't realise but Selcuk is the modern name for Ephesus. There is a castle - the castle - up above me as I type this in the garden over breakfast. So that's why there are so many hotels in this relatively small town.

Last night I had my fish, with chips, rice and salad. It was huge, and delicious and then went for a nap and emerged later to watch the big game. Unbelievable drama - well done Chelsea.

I'm heading towards Mugla today and hope to get as far as I can to make tomorrow's ride as short as possible. The climb up to Mugla is one of the toughest climbs of the whole journey and I want to make it in one piece. I'll have a day off in Mugla and then finish the job.

The early climb was quite tough and I was 500m from the top when I was joined by Christoph, who is a 63 year old German chap who is on his way around the world. Someone even older than me going further, a lot further than me. It's just not on. We decided to ride together for a while and were careering down the other side when another heavily laden cyclist appeared coming the other way. This chap was quite young and was from South Korea, of all places, and had been away for about a year. He was camping every night and living on fruit from the trees. He actually had no money but didn't seem bothered at all. Humbling if you ask me.

After the initial uphill slog the ride was mainly flat or downhill on decent roads and with little or no wind. There were only a couple of little humps near the end and we made good ground working together like a well-oiled machine. We decided to settle on Cine as a place to stop, mainly because there are no decent sized towns between here and Mugla and, therefore little chance of a hotel further on. There is no wireless in the hotel but we have found an internet cafe and I'm blogging here now. Tough, tough day tomorrow, 700m or so uphill to Mugla. Can't wait.

Today's track

Friday, 18 May 2012

19 May Stage 37 Izmir - Selcuk

Dep 9.45    Arr  3.30    Dist  80.6 km      Total  3717.7 km

I opened the blinds to a nice sunny morning with not a cloud in view so the cape was relegated to the bottom of the bag. I had a look at the route and noticed that Kusadasi was actually a bit out of the way and I could save myself a bit of time by finding somewhere on or nearer to the main road. That place was Selcuk which is quite small but the internet showed any number of cheap guest houses there so that became the new plan. I didn't know if breakfast was included but wasn't really bothered. I just wanted to get going. I had had a serious look at the way out of Izmir and it wasn't going to be easy. Ironically, it was much the same as the dolmus ride I had had yesterday which was a stroke of luck in a way but a real nuisance in another way because of the busy nature of the roads.

I stuck to the inside lane and used the footpath whenever I could although it was very uneven and very slow. Safety was all important and I still had a couple of near-ish misses as cars and vans went across me as they turned off the main road. I had read the route quite well though and, after an hour and a half of nervous riding, I made it out of this sprawling and very busy city into the country and a nice smooth wide hard shoulder. Progress was steady. I called at a petrol station and got some of these fantastic Turkish biscuits for breakfast. I ate a packet straight away and placed the other packet opened in the bar bag for my ten minute treat which reduced to every 5 minutes and then less for some unknown reason. The small towns rolled by and I was 20km or so from Selcuk when it clouded over and the wind got up. I got a bit wet and the last hour was slow progress but I arrived in the town and slowed down looking for a place to stay as I neared the centre. As I crawled along a car stopped in front of me and a man stepped out and asked 'Are you looking for a nice place to stay?' I said I was and he proceeded to tell me, in perfect English, about his place which was 600m back and a bit off the road. It sounded right and I followed him there - and I am here now actually, where I am writing this chapter in the sunshine of his garden while waiting for the FIG gang to contact me for my latest guest appearance. I'm having a Turkish tea but will soon be having a beer or two and Falcus will be cooking me a fish with the trimmings as I watch the Championship play-off and then the Champions League final in his bar if I can stay awake long enough. Nothing yet from Terry and the FIG fundraising event.

Today's track

18 May Stage 36 Yenisakran - Izmir

Dep 9.50     Arr  3.20    Dist  71.6 km    Total  3637.1

Yesterday evening I had just about achieved an acceptable level of pinkness when the sun went down over my little bungalow. Guldem, the lovely lady responsible for this establishment, had recognised my craving for Turkish tea and had very kindly brought me a couple of cups while I was blogging away in the evening sunshine.

I went and got dressed and found a place to eat by the seaside. It was a bit cloudy and cool but looked like a nice sea front. I had chicken kofte and a Tuborg and returned for my high tech link-up with the FIG gang in Ovacik, not Fethiye as I had earlier reported. I think it went well. I don't think I made too much of a nit of myself and allowed people to see that there was really somebody out there.

I came back and phoned home and also rang Nigel from the Thursday night gang, just as he was sitting down to his first pint in the Anvil, or so I thought. He was at home. It turns out that they hadn't gone out at all. This is unheard of. I will have to get home and fix that!

I awoke in the morning just after six to the unusual sound of rain on the window. The sky was very, very gloomy and I did the only decent thing. I turned over and went back to sleep. An hour and a half later the weather was at least as bad but I got up and started the long, slow process. I was making a coffee when I saw a shape at the door. It was Guldem with a tray of Turkish breakfast. The room was a right mess with my clothes randomly dispersed so I was a bit embarrassed. I thanked her profusely. What a gesture. I knew breakfast wasn't included in the price and was prepared to stop to eat after an hour or so. Now, I wouldn't have to stop so early which was a great bonus. I don't think Guldem realises how important that is. Her kind thought made my day so much easier. When I finished loading the bags onto the bike we had a couple of photos and I set off actually saying 'I hope we can meet again' and meaning it. I had really enjoyed my short time in this little holiday camp.

The ride was quite uneventful, mainly because of the rain which didn't happen. I couldn't believe it. There would be dark heavy clouds ahead and I would the veer to the left and so on, several times. The wind was here and there but never a major problem. I caught a few drops of rain in Aliaga and actually got wet in Menemen but soon dried out. My computer was missing bits so I had to rely on road signs for distances and they were decreasing nicely thank you. Menemen is quite a big place itself and the centre is more than 30km from the centre of Izmir so I was amazed to see the end of Menemen followed about 3km later by the sign indicating the start of Izmir, population 3.5 million or so, and there's the rub. An hour later I was still picking my way carefully through the suburbs of this very big city. Carefully is the operative word. I was no longer a novelty. I was a nuisance and it was as if I wasn't there to other drivers, dolmus drivers especially. I soon got to know my place and that was hugging the kerb and not venturing out past the inside lane.

I found the hotel which was like a University campus. It is owned and run by the Turkish Water Board and is used mainly by their workers. This had been arranged for me by Terry through another FIG member who has connections in that field and what a beautiful place it is. The room is so comfortable and clean and modern so a big thanks to Jill, I think her name is. Apologies if not.

There are no obvious eating place nearby so I jumped on a dolmus with the intention of jumping off when I saw somewhere. There wasn't anywhere nearby. There were plenty of places to get new wheels for your car but eat, no.  I found myself 10 minutes later in the middle of a spaghetti junction leading to a highway 3 or 4 miles long with nothing either side. We came to a suburb with a few bars which looked promising but I couldn't get off because I would never find my way back. I stayed on for another 20 mins or so until everybody had gone and the driver stopped and asked me where I was going, in sign language. I explained that I was staying on so I could go back to where I started. He then explained that he was going home for his tea and pointed across the road to a dolmus going the other way. I jumped off and started back and then recognised the 'promising place' so I took a chance. I had a beer and some sausage and chips and the waiters told me which dolmus to get back to the hotel.

I made it back OK but was still hungry and asked at the reception if there was a restaurant. There was indeed in another building and I went and stuffed myself with the old stand by, chicken shish and an Efes of course.

Back in the room now planning tomorrow's ride to Kusadasi which isn't far away. Big check on the weather. I can't be as lucky again, surely?

Today's track

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

17 May Stage 35 Ayvalik - Yenisakran

Dep  10.15    Arr  4.15    Dist  80.6 km    Total  3565.5 km

I had earlier asked Cumhur if I could eat at his little restaurant but he said he only had toast and the town would be best for me. I did some communicating in the room and found that my passport had arrived in Fethiye and would be waiting for me when I got there. Good news and thanks to Terry and the British Consul, no less, for making it happen. I imagined my little friend in Edirne thinking I must be very important to have attracted this level of attention.

When I came down, with the best of intentions, to go to the town for food and a shave, Cumhur informed me that he was, in fact, cooking and I could have fish soup and aubergine kebab with salad. I thought better of it and declined graciously. I set off and realised the town was quite a way and then saw a small shop only 50m from the hotel. I bought a razor for half a lira and went back. I asked Cumhur if I could eat there and he said 'of course'. I had a shave which took ages and hurt and then proceeded to have the most fantastic meal. It started with at least six different types of salad on one plate and all so tasty. The soup was tremendous and the main course was so much better than I had expected. I was actually allowed to drink and had a couple of bottles of draught (yes, I know). The whole meal cost a bit more than I had expected at first but it was pretty special and, with the beers, I suppose I can't complain.

Breakfast was great as well and I ate every bit and eventually got going under a clear blue sky. I had set off under heavy cloud for the last two days and managed to dodge the rain. Would sod's law kick in, I was wondering? It didn't but the wind was against for most of the day, despite a number of changes in direction, and I was quite fed up for the whole of the  ride. I was feeling a bit saddlesore as well, which was a bit ominous, but kept changing position and it eased a bit. One bright spot was when I stopped at a petrol station type cafe after Bergama. I asked for cay and water and the young lad was fascinated by my bike and kept asking me questions in Turkish. As I finished a cup he brought me another. I do love Turkish tea and needed the fluids and sugar anyway. I asked an older chap for food and he apologised and showed me racks of biscuits. I chose two and ate one packet while communicating with the youngster over another cay. I had four altogether. The man refused payment for the Turkish tea so I left a lira on the table when I went. The young lad ran after me and forced it into my pocket. He seemed offended.

I had a couple of choices with today's destination. The planned distance was around 90km which would leave a leisurely 60km to Izmir tomorrow. If I stopped short today it would only make tomorrow's ride a little bit longer and I was knackered. A distance sign then said Aliaga 19km and Izmir 80 km and I was in two minds whether to push on or not. I turned a corner and my mind was made up. The wind hit me harder that ever and almost stopped me dead. The next hotel it is then. There were roadside signs for two 'pansiyons' as I approached Yenisakran and I decided the first one I got to would be the one. I also decided I wouldn't be going far from the main road. The Sakran Pansiyon won. It consists of six little 'sheds' or bungalows nicely set out in a well-kept garden. There is a small kitchen with tea and coffee. I have had a great shower and I am sitting here now, blogging outside my place getting some sun on my white body.

There is a FIG fundraising function tonight somewhere in Fethiye, I think. Apparently I will be featuring on Skype if all goes well. I'm off for something to eat now and will return to prepare for this sensational event.

Today's track

16 May Stage 34 Ayvacik - Ayvalik

Dep  9.40       Arr  5.10       Dist  114.3 km      Total  3484.9 km

I dressed for dinner and when I sat down I was joined by Murat, who was to be my translator for the evening. He said he worked in a bar in Marmaris where they called him Ronaldo because of his facial resemblance to the footballer. Yes, maybe. He was another young man of about the same age as Ulker and the others and described them all as his friends. I couldn't figure out family connections. Maybe they all just live here in the pension. There was no menu so I asked what was convenient and ended up with kofte and cold pasta which was just about OK but I could have done with more. I did what should be done on these occasions and every scrap of bread. I asked for a beer and Murat said they didn't have it. I could buy it at the shop up the road. I was off like a shot immediately and the old chap, who was the chef, said something and Murat shouted after me 'not here please'. So I did without. Water and Turkish tea would have to do.

There was a washing machine in the washroom. Murat had gone off with some of the others and I asked another lad about some laundry. He asked the lady and she had a bit of a Paddy. This new lad explained that it wouldn't be free which I totally understood and accepted and went up to get my washing ready. She came into the washroom as I was stuffing things into the washer and I realised the stuff I had on could do with washing as well. I retrieved my base layers which I had brought to keep me warm in the tent. They had been washed weeks ago and hadn't been worn since. I hoped she understood and would leave while I changed. She eventually got the picture so I did the switch and ran out before she came back and saw me in this provocative evening wear. I heard her doing the necessary and stayed in the room for the night. I emerged later to hang things on radiators and chairs, hoping I would have something dry to wear in the morning.

I slept well and felt refreshed when I awoke. My clothes were all nearly dry so there would be no problem by the time I set off. I had checked the weather and it looked like I was facing another day with the wind against, although it promised to be lighter and the stage was flat following the coast after a couple of early hills.

Breakfast was OK but there was no boiled egg! Unheard of in Turkish hotel history. As I ate there was a steady trail of children of ascending ages in school uniform coming down and leaving. I went up to get sorted and the rain started. I forgot to mention that I avoided the rain yesterday after all the early threats. How miserable would it have been if it had been raining all day? I shudder to think. There were dark clouds ahead and I was heading upwards and towards them. I felt a few drops as I climbed and thought if I can get down the other side sharpish I might get away with this. That's exactly what happened. I got the early climbs out of the way and was freewheeling down behind a big truck that was on its brakes all the time. I heard a pip from a truck behind and some unpleasant sounds from the passengers. I moved over and found it was full of sheep. This guy then took his place behind the first truck and I slotted in behind the sheep - and they stunk!

The sea arrived from my right with the mountains on my left and the road flattened and widened through a series of seaside resorts all along the main road. I got my speed up and that thought was there again. 'If only I could have an hour of this'. I had two and broke the back of the day's ride, bowling along on the flat with no wind. I did a big 270 plus turn at Edremit so the sea was now to my right with a wide plain and mountains to my left. I found the wind was slightly against but it wasn't strong and I was making steady progress. I stopped for some Turkish tea and cheese on toast at one of the many sexy petrol stations they have up here and bought some biscuits to keep my energy levels up. I had the biscuits in the handlebar bag and was munching away, allowing myself one every 5 minutes until disaster occurred. As I reached for a biscuit I lost control of the handlebar momentarily and, in retrieving the situation with my other hand, dropped a biscuit. When dropping a biscuit is a disaster you know you are having a good day.

 The wind got up a bit near the end and there a couple of little kick-ups of 100m climb or so (ahem - polishes nails on lapel) but I got into Ayvalik which is a lovely little seaside town, not as good as Fethiye though. I was coasting along the prom and there was this beautiful little hotel, the Sozer. I asked Kevin Spacey at the desk about the price which was acceptable and accepted and here I am on my balcony (ahem) completing today's story. I've had a shower in the immaculate and well-appointed washroom and will soon be venturing 100m or so into the town where I will be hunting for a beer and some food and may even have a shave. No, it's no good trying to stop me.

Today's track

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

15 May Stage 33 Canakkale - Ayvacik

Dep  9.45    Arr  4.30    Dist  70.2 km      Total  3370.6 km

I got to bed in the "dorm" and there was nobody else about. There was a lot of street noise and loud music coming from somewhere distant. I was very restless and couldn't get comfortable for some reason. I drifted off and then woke soon after with the sound of someone snoring. I was then woken by a couple coming in giggling. Next thing I knew it was morning. I had a decent sleep after all. Daylight was visible through the window over the snorers head, not sunshine though, just a mass of grey cloud. I lay there and drifted off waiting for the toilet call. The snorer was getting organised and trying his best not to make a noise, slowly zipping bags open and placing items carefully on the floor and the bed. When the toilet call came I was about ready to surface anyway and I made my way past the snorer who turned out to be a Japanese gentleman and not young. It was just before eight, breakfast time, so I did the necessary and went up another floor, the fourth, to the dining room. It was the classic Turkish with everything almost exactly the same as I'd had elsewhere. It was good and I scoffed the lot.

When I'd packed and taken my stuff down the three flights of stairs, two trips as well, there was Hiroshi outside with his bags, ready to be taken to the airport. He was a very nice chap and we had a good conversation as I got the bags and stuff on the bike. Photos were then taken with staff members and he went for his bus.

The rain had started and stopped and started again by this time and the sky was as dark as ever. I pondered for a bit and decided to just get going. I set off through the traffic and slowly made my way out of the town. The sky looked better to my right and I eventually turned in that direction. It was uphill as usual coming away from the sea. Canakkale looked like a nice town but not as nice as Fethiye. The wind was a bit of a pain and I pictured the route map in my mind. There were no 90degree turns like yesterday. No, a little bend about half way but the wind would have to drop or change direction dramatically for it to help me at any time. There were a lot of climbs and I couldn't take advantage of the downhills because of the wind and the road surface wasn't very good. Roadworks were taking place everywhere so there was no hard shoulder for me to cry on.

I won't go on about it. It was just a hard day. I may have been out of energy for some reason but I think it was just the constant battling against the wind which drained me. I stopped for a break near Ezine and bought a load of biscuits and some water. That was the only time I stopped for more than a minute the whole day. My average speed, excluding stops, was less than 12 kph. It is normally nearer 20kph which gives an indication of the difficulty of the ride. Normally there are adverts for hotels as you get to the outskirts of a town but any adverts at the side of the road were for places 20 or 30km past Ayvacik, which were  resorts on the coast. It didn't look promising. It was a very long uphill drag of 15km or so coming into Ayvacik, my original chosen stopping place and it got steeper and steeper as I got nearer. I was very tired as I turned off the main road towards the centre of the town. The welcome sign gave more bad news. 'population 7000' Not that big really so maybe no hotels. The road into the town was another steep uphill and I hopefully asked at a shop if there was a hotel. It appears there was one 4km up the road. I didn't think I could manage another 4km but I set off. After struggling 100m up the hill I saw a sign for a cafe sign which had the word 'pansiyon' in small letters underneth. I stopped and stood by the door as three teenagers argued over ice creams from the freezer. Dad arrived and saw me. I said 'pansiyon?' The older guy mumbled something and an older teenager or twenty something appeared. There is always someone who speaks English. Ilker or Ulker with the dots on said 'yes pension' and looked at his dad who said 'yirmi bes' which I knew was 25. I nodded and shook hands with all Ilker, dad and all the other lads. A girl sprang into action and disappeared. So I have a room for 25 lira which is less that £9. Ulker showed me to my room with all the others trailing behind. He introduced them to me and then gave me his ice cram. 'My gift' he said. The girl finished off makig the bed and here I am. I have had a shower (cold) and will now be off downstairs for something substantial to eat.

Today's track

Sunday, 13 May 2012

14 May Stage 32 Kesan - Canakkale

Dep  9.40      Arr  6.30      Dist  116km       Total  3300.4 km

Last night I went back to the Karavan pub next door to the hotel. The barman had a ponytail as well. I had another beer and a kofte, which turned out to be a load of small spicy meatballs or even sausages in a baguette. Not what I expected but nice anyway. Every beer came with a bowl of nuts so the job was a good one. When I got back to the room I looked at the route and it was the same road all the way which was brilliant. Why couldn’t Germany be like this? I checked the profile and it seemed a lot harder than when I first planned the trip so an early start waas in order.

I woke up feeling good. There was breakfast, of the Turkish variety, which does the job for me. There is always a boiled egg and slices of cheese and olives, tomato, green stuff and butter, honey, jam etc and of course cay, or Turkish tea. The chap clocked I was English and brought me a cup of warm water with a liptons teabag in. I made do and then asked him for a cay. All the staff were eating at the same time and they all burst out laughing, giving him loads of humorous stick. He was obviously trying to be a smart arse and got it wrong, not knowing I’m a real turk, me.

The hotel was the first I saw yesterday and is at the Northern end of the town at the junction of the main D550 road, which operated as a bypass, with the road into the town. I got on the 550 straight away so didn’t see much of the town itself. The bits I saw looked ok but it was easy to see it wasn’t as good as Fethiye. It was up and up, a small down hill and up and up again. Undulating countryside and a decent surface but as I got higher I began to feel a noticeable wind in my face. The wind got stronger and stronger so that even on the flat I was struggling and there was certainly no freewheeling down hill. I had to pedal. Calculations were kicking off in my head. At this rate I’ll be getting there at about 8 o’clock etc. I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again. Push one down then the other, then again, then again. The kms were dropping off, but very slowly. I knew the uphills were in the early part but was just wanting to get them over with. I then went over one crest and round a corner and just didn’t believe what I saw. It was the sea. The Aegean or the Med down to my right. I was going rapidly downhill towards it but with care because the surface wasn’t brilliant at this part. I ended up on an open plain with very little shelter and an even stronger wind in my face. I had resigned myself to a late finish. I stopped at a newish petrol station with cafĂ© and shop attached and had two cups of cay and a chicken doner. I then bought a load of Tutku biscuits at the shop. I had a long straight road ahead of me with a headwind and needed all the help I could get. Eceabat was the other side of this peninsula which also meant a bit of an up and down in the middle somewhere. What I didn’t expect was a gentle curve up ahead to the right, which was away from the wind which became a strong crosswind for a while and then an unbelievable assistance as the road curved more. I got over a couple more more ups and downs until I reached Gelibolu on the other side. I then followed the impressive Dardanelles Straits along the peninsula until Eceabat where I took the ferry to Canakkale.

At the port I bumped into a group of Australians tourists who were interested in my ride and we had a good chat. It then it hit me - Gelibolu is known to us as another name - Gallipoli, where so many young Aussies and Kiwis perished with our boys in WW1. It is a special and maybe even spiritual place for those from down under and I can imagine an emotional trip for those people I had met.
I checked into a hostel less than 100m from where the ferry docked. It is known as Anzac House. I thought the price was very cheap until I saw the room which has 10 bunks and 6 or 8 beds in my room. Fortunately, only 4 are occupied, one at each corner. I managed to have a shower and get out for yet another chicken doner and a beer, only with food again.

My passport has very kindly been posted to an address in Fethiye by the kind people at the Isik hotel in Edirne. That is one big problem off my mind.

A shortish day in prospect tomorrow so I may have a sleep in but the weather isn’t so good so a decision to be made in the morning.

Today's route

13 May Stage 31 Edirne - Kesan

Dep 9.00     Arr  3.30      Dist  112.4 km      Total  3184.4 km

When I do the blog late at night sometimes I leave bits out because they may not seem relevant at the time. Another possible reason may be that I’m a bit tired or, on a good day, a bit bevvied. There are things that transpired yesterday which I omitted but which have now become either relevant to what happened today or a bit more interesting on reflection.

So, this morning I sort of realised that ‘my’ Turkey down South is a holiday resort. Here, in ‘proper’ Turkey, people just don’t drink. I had wandered through this town and didn't see anyone at any sort of eating place with a drink in front of them. When I was nearly back at the 'hotel' and asked for a beer at the kebab shop and ended up with the chicken shish last night I realise now that the lad said only ‘with’ eating as opposed to only 'for’ eating which I imagine means that it’s some kind of rule that they are only allowed to sell beer with food. I had to eat anyway so it worked out OK. I had an early night on the back of this situation and got up at 7.30 after at least two turnovers.

Now, all of my clothes were soaked when I arrived in Edirne for a couple of reasons, one being sweat even though it was only a cock-stride of a ride from Svilengrad to Edirne. The other reason was the storm from the day before. My bags keep stuff dry in the rain. That was not rain the other day. I don’t know what you’d call it but it was above and beyond anything I have ever experienced with regard to intensity, direction, wind speed etc so I do forgive my bags for allowing moisture in to my undies and socks. One of the tasks I had set myself after the short day, was to get the laundry done. I asked the nice little chap in the hotel for a ‘camisarhane’ which to me means laundry. He asked the missus and she smiled and gesticulated that she would do it for me. I happened to have in my hand at the time a Morrison’s bag with my smalls in and she took it off me and disappeared. I couldn’t really run after her and say I need all this other stuff doing as well so I did the diplomatic thing and accepted her generosity thinking that I could do other stuff myself next stop.

This morning after my two turnovers, the reception of the building site, sorry hotel, was hectic, even at that time. Full of orthodox Turkish ladies with full scarves and macs on etc, all babbling at the same time and the old guys all posturing, giving different degrees of stick to my little mate at the reception. I eventually got his attention and he wearily referred me to a young lad. I sort of got the message across about the clothes but he had to beckon another lad working at what I thought was an eating place next door. The second lad was run off his feet with these tourists who had been staying at the same hotel as I had been, allegedly for a holiday, which I thought was a bit strange. I thought for a second that I would like see where they came from to regard this as a holiday, or maybe not. Anyway, this lad asked if I could wait and then said “have you had breakfast?“ A most welcome surprise. This place next door was the venue for the hotel breakfast. He brought me my Turkish breakfast (is there anything better than Turkish tea?) and then the first nipper beckoned me. He had located my clothes and they were with my bags at the bottom of the stairs.

Surreal is what happened next. I was working my way through my breakfast and the fully covered up lady associated with the man who won the complaining competition, obviously a very important woman, came towards me with a smile and placed two nice little red tomatoes next to my plate. I said the usual thanks and thought nothing of it until then she appeared with a gherkin and placed it in between the tomatoes. The arrangement looked well on the table there so I thanked her again and quickly put them in the back pocket of my jacket. There may be further comment about this interlude when I’ve figured it out myself. Next the lady who had offered to wash my undies rushed in and with apologies left a carrier bag on the table. She had forgotten to dry them and was a bit upset but I thanked her profusely and she seemed OK after that.

So with all that going on wouldn’t you have forgotten your passport?  

The ride couldn’t have gone better. The other side of the town was a lot more modern than where I had been with immaculately manicured roundabouts with sculptures on and new office buildings and bars with Efes signs outside. It was nice place but not as nice as Fethiye.

The road was fantastic and there were endless people in the fields waving and shouting. Friendly toots from trucks and cars passing by. Turkish tea at a roadside truck stop. Great progress. Bombing along. Spinning away up the countless hills feeling the helping hand of the breeze pushing me along and then freewheeling down at 50kph on the immaculate surface. Clear blue skies for hours without a threat of rain until - a rumbling ahead, surely not. But there it was, as I turned a corner in this beautifully undulating countryside there was rain on the hill tops and I was heading for a hill top. Then a young man, who had passed me earlier with his mate on a moped, waved me down so I stopped to chat with this lad. He was an absolute squirt and he asked me with a really serious face where I was from. I told him and then he said he was Jandarma and crossed his wrists and said 'Euro' as if he was going to arrest me if I didn't pay him. You do not laugh at policemen but he was so pathetic I couldn’t help myself. His serious face got a bit more serious which amused me even more. I didn’t feel threatened in the slightest and just got going again. It was nothing but an unpleasant interlude which could have ruined the day, but it didn't.

Then the rumblings got louder. I was about 8km from Kesan. Surely I wasn’t going to get wet. The uphill policy changed from spinning in the low gears to going uphill like the clappers and I decided I would stop at the first hotel I saw. The roads were very wet as I rode into the town which meant I had missed the storm or part of it and there at the first roundabout was Hotel Linda. They let me check in without a passport and I had a hot shower and a cold Efes or two at the Karavan pub, yes pub, next door, before following the Premier League games here in the room on the internet. What a final day? Is all I'm going to say.

I'm making arrangements to get my passport back and hopefully all will be well. Tomorrow depends on the weather. If it's OK in the morning I will set off for Canakkale and suffer the consequences if it turns smelly later. Now I need to eat.

Today's track