To all the people who I have taken to task for calling this a holiday, a small apology. We have, over the last few days taken an accidental holiday. You remember how I mocked the world of the backpacker until we had to take a couple of buses. We found that 18 hours in the close company of strangers was hard. Very hard, and apologised a bit.
Now we have had to spend a few days in hotels, in what can only be described as a ‘ holiday area ‘. You know what, that is hard as well. We have been very unlucky with noise. I know it is a recurring theme here. Hotel number 1, we were woken by the call to prayer, followed by a ‘ dawn chorus ‘ of the hotel parrot.
Scientifically, the most disturbing noise in the world is a baby crying. Nature has made quite sure that the little parasite gets your attention, and it is now hard-wired in us all in that hard to ignore double helix.
The second most disturbing noise, is a door being slammed shut. This is what young people do as a form of expression, rebellion and just out of habit. It takes just a few months to form your first words, and then learn to stand upright and take those first steps. But then it can take another 40 years to learn to enter or leave a room without slamming the door. We have had a short series of hotel rooms where we have tried to sleep in rooms adjacent to the young taking a bit of R&R. It;s bloody hard work.
The road to Izmir from Manisa would be a very hard commute if you had to do it twice a day. It is not that far, but goes up and over what in cycling terms is a Cat1 climb. Arriving in Izmir is like diving out of the clouds to land by commuter jet at a city centre airport. An exhilarating ride, that is best done without engaging much imagination at the consequences of a spill at speed.
Izmir is a wonderful place for sitting and watching. We did rather a lot of both, and slipped into a holiday mood despite the parrot. We pimped up the bikes with the help of PARKURBIKE, and suggest you do the same.
Leaving Izmir will almost certainly require you to ride into a headwind. We linked together small roads that came and went, using the gps to visit small fishing harbours and the posh house zone. It all settled down to one single road to be followed without any navigation. The mist burned off as we rode along the D300 to Cesme in a comfortable 32’c.
All coastal riding will find a hill. This one came along with the noon sun. The nasty headwind is now your personal friend. It stands between you and the cycling equivalent of parking up at the curb with the hood up and steam billowing out. Heat and gradients can, and will make your day miserable if you let them.
Before you get to the coast there is a zone of bleak, dry nothingness. It is inhospitable enough that you would be questioning your decision to come to Turkey, if you were riding the other way. There is also the very Asian zone of rubbish tipping, wild dogs and a few lost souls who call this home. Where they live out their lives at the very base line of society.
If you had not already seen Ephesus, you would be working your way slightly down the coast from here. It is a ‘100 things to see before you die ‘, sort of place, so make sure you do. We have booked into a cheap hotel on the coast, just before Cesme. There are big, and almost totally empty hotels. It is picture postcard perfect, but heart brakingly melancholic.
It has a 3 month season that is about 10 days from kicking off. This coast is the only place in Turkey that is tolerable in the summer thanks to a permanent and cooling sea breeze. The water the intense blue of Greek mens eyes. We are on holiday.
It is official, when we finally work out the error message on the ferry boat’s web site. There is no combination of times, routes or island hops that will get us away in under three days. A combination of Greece reluctance to work on the weekends and Turkish not wanting to do too much on a Friday, mean that we are here at Cesme for the best part of 3 days. We are trapped in a holiday paradise.
We book into a cheap hotel. It turns out to be a mistake, but all is well now. The usual thing happens. You get help to your room with your bags as you arrive. You warn the guy that he is just about to attempt to clean lift 100Kg of startlingly coloured bike luggage. He goes ahead anyway. When you come down the three flights of stairs to leave, you will get crossed arm indifference as to how much you are carrying. This is strange, as you still have an online review to write. There is little sleep and much slamming of doors.
Hotel 2, and the same thing occurs. If anything there is even more hormonal force behind the slam. It is Saturday night. This being Turkey, the owner comes to you at 3 in the morning and takes you to another hotel he owns. You are given a massive upgrade and 100 apologies, along with his eldest daughter’s hand in marriage if appropriate.
In the background to the last few days, Turkey has been doing its best to have a revolution. People have taken to the streets in their thousands to protest at the government. They have complained to us that they are being turned into a new Iran by the people in power here. Every intellectual that we have met and particularly every woman with a degree and ambition is unhappy about the direction of their country. Even in the quiet streets of Cesme there was demonstrations on the streets last night. It got applause from the people at the pavement cafes who know that this will be a ghost town if a proposed ban on alcohol and street cafes comes in.
The protestors are drapped in the national flag and many carry photos of their founding father Ataturk. We wish them all the very best as they deserve a better government. The usual censorship of the WWW. and other media has been imposed and only we know what is going on by looking at the BBC.