It has been a while since I last posted anything here and you may have been forgiven for thinking I had hung up my walking boots and cycling gloves for a permanent return to the pub. You would, of course, be wrong! It is true that Istanbul has been occupying me for a couple of years though, as I dipped my toe into the wonderful freelance work. An area that I have approached with a ‘say yes’ attitude and has led me to various different jobs including English teaching, waitressing, writing restaurant listings, editing business emails and a thesis, appearing as extras in films and most randomly – acting in a travelling childrens theatre company.( Not quite running away to join the circus, but close.)
It has also been lovely to pop back to the UK a couple of times to catch up with friends, family, weddings and all things homely. But eventually my itchy feet were going to get the better of me and after the best part of 2 years living in and exploring the frenetic, diverse, sometimes frustrating, often surprising and never boring city of Istanbul, I am once again on a boat across the Marmara sea, on my way to explore some more of Turkey. This time I will be heading south, towards the Toros mountains initially and then maybe further east – but we’ll see. My planning was hampered somewhat by the very cute, but not overly helpful Bruce – who preferred the idea of sitting on Turkey instead of cycling round it.
Sadly Carra is not able to join me as our ramble through central Asia 2 years ago all but destroyed her. When I brought her to the touring bike shop in Istanbul upon our return the mechanic basically said it was a miracle she had made it as far as she did, so she is now retired and enjoying the glitzy surroundings of mum’s garage!
So step into the limelight (and the sweaty seat post of my bike saddle) my new wheels – Raven. Right now she is strapped to the back of the ferry as we bounce along and I dearly hope she is still there when we reach Mudanya as once again, everything that I own (and is not in a suitcase or box in mum’s loft) is stashed in my bike panniers.
Skip forward a few hours and I was back on the road proper, sweat streaming down my face, weaving an overloaded bike up the seemingly never ending hill and feeling the burn in all my muscles. The houses gave way to rolling hills full of greenery and olive groves, the shoreline below stretched out behind me in my wing mirror and I even got a couple of thumbs up from passing drivers.
My body might not be so happy tomorrow and in the coming days, but tonight I have been treated to a comfy bed, warm shower and a lovely evening with my hosts Ahmet and Sevil in their beautiful house just outside Bursa. Once again I am reminded of the kindness of strangers, and all too soon the sadness of saying goodbye to new friends – but it is definitely good to be back on the road 🙂