I am sitting typing this by a stunning lake in a pension – totally exhausted but with a totally unmerited feeling of accomplishment. We woke in our informal campsite when the sun came in about 5.30. That may sound early but we had turned in about 9pm and had slept well, not so cold.
Breaking camp has a rhythm which we have re-discovered over the last few days but from opening eyelids to leaving on the bikes is never less than 1 hour, 15 minutes but of course it can be longer. This morning it all seemed to work and we left just after 7. The road was flat(ish), quiet and the early morning air was still. As I ambled along the thought occurred to me that this was almost perfect. Storks flew low overhead, farm workers waved as we passed fields of white poppies and the road ambled ahead with very little traffic.
After 15km the flat lands ended and we faced a tough 150km climb. Bottom gear and just head down to the top. In fact it was not too bad – partly because it was still early.. Then we found ourselves in a wonderful valley – the pictures will tell the story.
After 30km we reached the town of Karadilli. It was Friday and market day. There were wonderful smells coming from a bakery at the edge of town so we followed our noses and bought bread and mini-pizzas. Then to the centre where we had tea “iki cay lutfen” ( 2 glasses of tea please) from a cafe by the market. Two things make this memorable. First, the imam came over the loud speaker with prayers (at maybe 10am) and everyone stopped and held their hands in prayer. All of the men in the cafe stopped talking, gripped their hands facing them upwards and listened to the words in silent prayer. It showed how deep Islamic belief permeates society here.
Secondly, the tea shop owner spoke some English and was very friendly. He had worked at a hotel in Kusadasi on the coast and so spoke some English and German – as he demonstrated to us. He wanted to hear a bit about our trip but assured us that Egidir was “30km” away. We suspected that it was nearer 70km but said nothing. However he had obviously thought about this and came back a second time to say “many hills, many hills”. It was 70km (as we found out later) and this told us a great deal about how far people travelled.
Fed with tea and cheese slices – also from the wonderful bakery – we left and faced the big climb of the day. It started gently to get us into the feel of the climb and then was very steep as we climbed from 1100km to 1440km. Again the pictures tell the story.
The descent was 10km of the best descending I can recall. 50km per hour swinging round corners on a decent road with stunning views of the valley and the lake below. The road took us across the valley floor and then alongside the vast Lake Egidir. Lunch by the lake was mainly cold pizza – which may not sound good but was just what we needed. Then it was an undulating road along the lake for 45km to the lakeside town of Egidir. Great views but tough cycling as the road was a series of small but steep climbs and descents.
We booked ourselves into Charley’s Pension and had a shower and got clean after 2 days camping. We had dinner, bought a new sleeping bag from the outdoor shop (this is a big walking and trekking centre) and met the fellow residents of the pension. We were back (temporarily) in tourist country which has its advantages and drawbacks. However we are tourists but, like drivers in a traffic jam blame “traffic” without seeing themselves as part of the traffic (or at least I feel like that), we don’t feel we are tourists when we are in places that other tourists rarely venture. It is a comfortable illusion of course.