(Bernie) Today was a great day. It all fitted together amazingly and we both felt much better. It is astonishing how quickly the body adapts and gets fitter – so although in those moments of half sleep before the alarm went off my body was telling me not to get up, once we were up and going it all went well.
We headed out of Bilecik in good time – coasting downhill – and losing almost 250m of hard gained height – to the valley bottom. We tried to enjoy it and blot out of the mind that this means having to gain all this height back again and more. We were soon climbing on the road to Sogut, a lovely quiet road into beautiful landscape. Not saying the climbing wasn’t hard but the weather was cooler and the air was getting fresher as we got higher, which helped.
Sogut was very conveniently placed for elevens’s and we stopped in this pleasant little town with cobbled streets. I still have to get used to being the only woman in a cafe and getting odd looks (well that could be the lycra shorts and bright pink T shirt). As everywhere in this part of the world, there are men sitting in cafes conversing and passing the time and drinking tea. Good social interaction and far healthier than sitting in pubs. The women presumably drink tea at home. In spite of what we hear about Turkish coffee, very little coffee appears to be drunk. But the tea, served in little glasses, is delicious and refreshing. We stocked up with some supplies then it was steeply up out of town. We had a minor mishap when we thought the road we were on joined up with the main road. But in fact came to a halt by a steep bank with the main road just above us! We manhandled the bikes and trailers up the bank and managed to get on to the road without mishap! This section of the road climbed up into an area reminiscent of alpine meadows with herds of sheep along the way and fantastic views. We were reached over 1000m we allowed ourself to stop for lunch and had a lovely picnic.
The afternoon run was relatively easier with no prolonged climbing. Wild flowers were in abundance and crickets chirping. The scenery gradually changed to become sparser as we started a whizzy downhill to the next main valley that we were to follow to the city of Eskisehir. A large motorway cut along the valley but David managed to navigate a lovely back road right to the outskirts of the city. We paused at that point to look at the guidebook, googlemaps and booking.com.
The SIM card we had nearly given up on the evning before came into its own. The best hotel write up in the Guide Book was on booking.com reduced from over £200/night to £37! Those of you who know me will know I like a bargain, and this really was one! Then as a loyal member of the site it dropped even further.
Navigating cities can be a nightmare but we found out way there pretty easily, The city had a lovely feel – clean wide streets lined with trees and flower, a good bike path along some of the way. We stopped just to find the last bit of the way and, as now seems inevitable, a man asked us if he could help. We were in fact very close to the hotel but he made sure we got there with a friendly wave goodbye, No hassle, not wanting anything in return.
The hotel was amazing. It is a listed historic ottoman building with rooms round a series of courtyards. Our room has an amazing original panelled ceiling. There are even fluffy dressing gowns! We really will camp tomorrow……..perhaps.
After reviving and resting we set out to explore. The hotel is in an old district of wonderfully ottoman buildings. We found a stunning old mosque, next to a caravansari (a hostel for travellers) with cavernous ceilings! There was an old education centre where a choir was practising ancient music. This is where the “whirling dervishes” come from – an islamic monastic sect with strict rules including a 1000 day initiation process. We didn’t see any dancing but there were lots of photos.
Then to dinner in town – a traditional bistro with meses and shish kebab. You just point and they bring it! No prices and goodness knows if we were charged a “special rate” or not but it was fine and the end to a great day.