Monday, 31 January 2011

Day 135 Turkey 31/1/2011, Mahmutlar–Gazipaşar–Free-camp outside Goçuk. 33.7miles/54.29km, 3hr26minutes, Av 9.8mph.

The sun was shining when we woke up and Debs seemed a lot better. After a good breakfast we loaded the bikes and bid farewell to Rob and Silvia.


Like so many others on the trip so far, we can't thank them enough for their hospitality. We have had a lovely few days and it has given Debs a bit of time to recover before we push for the border. We will stay in touch and we hope you enjoy reading the blog.

After a quick supplies stop in the town, we were soon heading along the coast. The going for the main part was fairly flat although, as to be expected, a head wind sprung up to add a dimension of difficulty. As we neared the town of Gazipaşar the road became quite twisty as it snaked along the quite rugged coastline. The views were terrific, it was really nice to be riding once again along the sea.

From Gazipaşar it was farewell to the sea for a while as the road headed inland and up. We had stocked up on water in the town as we were planning on free-camping somewhere in the next 30km. As lunchtime arrived we decided to forgo the bread and honey, instead opting for some food in a small restaurant. The food was really good even if Debs had to brave her worse nightmare, bones in her chicken!

Despite the fact that she was feeling a lot better, the days exertions had taken there toll on Debs. Her energy levels aren't yet back where they were, so as the road started to climb we started looking for a place to camp. For a while it didn't look very promising, but as we rounded a bend I spotted an area that looked alright. Further investigation found it to be a little stony, but otherwise ideal. Getting the bikes up a hill took a little bit of doing, but the ground is fairly level and we are well hidden from the road. Hopefully we will get a good nights rest.


Sunday, 30 January 2011

Day 134 Turkey 30/1/2011, Mahmutlar. A long walk and a rest for Debs.

Debs slept better last night and she appears to have turned the corner as far as her cold goes. Nevertheless she didn't really feel up to a long walk.

After a hearty breakfast Rob, Silvia and I got ready to go for a walk, while Debs got ready for an afternoon of rest and recovery.

Heading into the hills we quickly left the modernity of the town with its apartments and hotels behind. Before too long we were in the heart of rural Turkey where every bit of land is either used for grazing animals or to grow crops. In this area the main crop appears to be bananas. Rob informs me that they are only grown in this part of Turkey, presumably because the climate is good enough to sustain them. I hadn't thought of Turkey as a banana growing country and I certainly don't remember seeing any produce of Turkey stickers on any bananas that I have bought in England. Apparently most of them are sent to Istanbul; what happens to them after that is a mystery.

The scenery in the hills was very beautiful, aided no end by the fact that the sun was shining brightly. Hopefully there has been a change in the weather and we will have a few days of pleasant cycling conditions ahead of us.

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Reaching a high point we had a terrific view of Turkey's south coast, including the nearby town of Alanya and its castle. Having reached our halfway point, we stopped for a çay and got to try a fruit which could only be described as a not particularly nice small melon.

As we walked back down towards the town, it's possible to see the scale of building that is still going on along the coast. This seems in slight contradiction to the tales of foreigners selling up and going home because of the recession that we keep hearing. Even up in the hills there seemed to be quite a few villas and holiday homes being built. A large amount of them appear to be empty or unfinished; either the builders have run out of money or they are just hoping the market will pick up. It certainly seems like the rate of growth in Turkey at least has not slowed down.

Back at the apartment I checked on Debs and she seemed a lot better for the rest. The walk would definitely have been too much for her.

Once again Silvia cooked us a lovely dinner and we had an entertaining evening hearing the story of how they met. After a tiring day for me and a restful one for Debs we headed to bed for some well needed sleep. The weather looks like it will be good for our continued trip along the coast.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Day 133 Turkey 29/1/2011, Alanya–Mahmutlar. 6.71miles/10.82km, 48 minutes, Av 8.4mph.

I would love to say that the weather improved over night, but aside from the fact that it had stopped raining, we awoke to pretty much the same as yesterday. Debs cold hadn't improved overnight either, if anything she was worse than the day before. It was looking very fortunate that we only had a short distance to cycle today.

Not wanting to impose ourselves too early on Silvia and Rob, we loaded up our bikes, left them behind the hotel and went to have a walk round the town. The wind had become quite strong during the morning, so we had a fairly blustery stroll along the sea front. Alanya castle and its ramparts are an impressive sight, but a combination of the awful conditions and Debs' lack of energy meant that a walk up the steep hill was a step too far.


Instead we wandered back along the seafront, stopped and had a look at some interesting sculptures and then went for a simit and çay.

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Back at the hotel I called Rob to let him know that we would be about 2hrs. The line was terrible and I could only hear about half of his replies, so we left it that I would call again if we got lost. The ride out of Alanya was awful, into a strong headwind and persistent rain, we were very glad that we didn't have far to go.

As it turns out we had rather less distance to go than I had thought. In less than 10km we arrived in Mahmutlar. If we had known it was this close to Alanya, we would have carried on yesterday. Our map had clearly shown that we had over 20km to go, if only I had tried to ring Rob yesterday!

Arriving outside what we believed to be Silvia and Robs building, I attempted another phone call and we soon saw Rob waving at us from their apartment balcony. Shortly afterwards Rob was downstairs to let us in and help us get our gear upstairs. Fortunately the apartment building has a lift as carrying all our stuff to the 7th floor would have been a challenge. Although it was a bit of a squeeze, we then fitted the bikes into the lift and took them up to their floor. Rob was concerned that they wouldn't be safe left downstairs.

Their apartment is lovely, with a terrific view over the sea. It was just a shame that the weather was so bad. After we had showered and got changed, we all took a walk into the town centre to visit the Saturday market. Mahmutlar appears to be a bustling little town, which according to Rob has changed a lot in the seven years they have had an apartment there.

Having bought some food and, more importantly, wine we returned to the apartment. The rest of the day was spent chatting, eating a lovely meal prepared by Silvia and having the odd glass of wine. Unfortunately Debs is still full of cold, so at around 9:30pm she went to bed and I followed shortly after. Hopefully if she is feeling a little better, we will go for a walk in the hills behind Mahmutlar tomorrow.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Day 132 Turkey 28/1/2011, Manavgat – Alanya. 42.94miles/70.08km, 3hr54minutes, Av 11.1mph.

The pain in my leg got much worse last night and for the first time I became concerned about how much damage I have done. Fortunately by morning it had eased a little and I felt alright to carry on. On the other hand Debs woke after a terrible night suffering from a sore throat, runny nose and all the makings of a nasty cold.

What we really didn't need, was to wake up to a puncture in Debs' bike. Fortunately I spotted it before we tried to load the bikes, so while Debs packed up our gear I fixed the puncture.

Once again there had been a change in the weather and yesterday's sun had been replaced with grey skies, the likelihood of rain and a very cold wind. Not the best start when we were both, albeit for different reasons, suffering from a lack of energy. Nevertheless the show must go on and we were soon rejoining the main road bound for Alanya. Although in actual fact we were getting along quite quickly, it was one of those days when you feel like you are making little progress. The road was a little hillier than the day before and the wind was more in our faces. Every break that we took didn't seem to come quick enough.

At out first stop we were greeted by a rather enthusiastic puppy, which took a liking to my ankle. So much so that I ended up with some small puncture wounds. We may have received a cup of free çay but it came with the price of a few ml of my blood!

Suffering from a severe lack of energy we stopped at a shop and had an early lunch. After getting used to a buffet breakfast in the hotel, the toast, honey, egg and banana that we had this morning probably wasn't enough. It is quite astounding the amount of food we need to eat to sustain our energy levels. A lunch of a whole loaf of bread, copious amounts of honey, crisps, chicken, chocolate biscuits, banana and a chocolate bar had us back on our feet.

As we got to the outskirts of Alanya and went in search of a camp-site, the heavens opened. Our enthusiasm for camping lessened with every soggy kilometre.

While in Fethiye we had received a generous offer of a place to stay in the nearby town of Mahmutlar, by a lovely Dutch couple called Silvia and Rob. The problem was that Mahmutlar was still over 20km down the road and neither of us had the energy to go that far. Instead we carried on to the town centre and decided to try and find a guest-house for the night.

Stopping at an apartment hotel we negotiated a good price and have ended up with two bedrooms, three balconies, a living room and best of all a kitchen! Hopefully the weather will improve tomorrow, so that we can have a look round the town and then head the short distance to Mahmutlar.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Day 131 Turkey 27/1/2011, Antalya–Aspendos–Manavgat. 57.35miles/93.59km, 4hr29minutes, Av 12.9mph.

After what seems like ages we are finally getting back on the road. The rain and grey weather of the last few days has gone and we were treated to a sunny, though slightly chilly, start to the day.

Having filled our stomachs at breakfast, we brought the last of our gear down from the room, handed back the key and loaded the bikes. We hadn't bothered rushing too much this morning and after a fond farewell we eventually headed out at about 9:30am. We found the right road out of the city and quickly got back into cycling mode.

By now the morning chill had gone and it was turning into a beautiful day, even the wind was slightly behind us. Our plan today was to ride to Aspendos, have a look round and then get as close to Manavgat as we could. According to our map there is a camp-site in Manavgat, failing that we were just going to free-camp somewhere.

Even though I had been wearing my knee support, my leg injury once again reared its head as we neared Aspendos. I really have no idea what I have done, I was hoping that the rest in Antalya would have helped. Let's hope it doesn't get too much worse, because we really don't need another long lay off.

We made it to Aspendos in really good time, purchased our entrance tickets and went to have a look round the best preserved amphitheatre in Asia Minor.

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This is my third time in Aspendos, the most notable being when I attended a classical concert there. It is a shame it is the wrong season as I would have loved Debs to be able to see a performance. The acoustics in the theatre are terrific and it is a great setting, especially when lit up at night. We will add it to the list of things to do one day!

After we had looked at the impressive amphitheatre, we headed up the hill behind, in hindsight not the best thing to do with an injured leg, to get a good view of the whole theatre from above.

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If we had had more time there are lots more ruins to look at on the site, but it was lunch time and we needed to get moving.

A light lunch of bread and honey set us on our way back to the main road and onwards towards Manavgat. Considering it has been a while since we have done any serious cycling, we were making really good progress. The road being smooth and flat certainly helped, as did the beautiful weather.


Before too long we were turning off the main road to have a look at the ruins of Side and to try and find the camp-site. Unfortunately we somehow missed the right turning and managed to bypass the ruins. Our luck seemed to get even worse, when we could see no sign of a camp-site only large resort hotels. The chances of finding a camp-site looked even bleaker when I stopped to ask someone and he told us that there was no camping places at all. Opposite the hotels there was a large amount of park land which would have been ideal for us to camp in, but we needed to get some water and there were no shops. All the while we were looking the miles were racking up, the plan had been to have an easy start back, it was now looking like anything but.

Thinking that we may have to head back to the main road, we carried on and stumbled upon a shop. Stocking up on water, I asked again if there was a camp-site nearby. Our luck had changed, the shop keeper told me that there was one about 2km up the road. Buoyed on by the news, we followed his directions and almost immediately saw a sign advertising camping. Even better, when we got there it was open, although it took a while to find someone to pay. It is the grandest camp-site we have seen since Europe, the showers are hot, the ground is flat and we have wireless internet!

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Far from being a gentle start back, we recorded our longest distance so far and also our best averages. Now all I need to do is rest my leg!

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Day 130 Turkey 26/1/2011, Antalya. Packing, food shopping and a few ill considered beers.

While Debs packed her bags this morning, I looked through the gear that she had brought back with her. We are both waving goodbye to carrying loads of books, because we are now the proud owners of Amazon Kindles. So far they look to be excellent, as long as they hold up to the rigours of travel then they will be a great asset. Of the other things that she brought back, most useful will be a gift to me from her parents. I now have a Thermarest chair that I can sit in while I write my blogs when we are camping. Sally and Andy, thank you so much.

We now have business cards to hand out to people, some spare tent pegs (takes the worries out of losing some), some new cycle clothing and two Union Jacks to hang from the bikes.

After Debs had finished packing her bags we went out for some food, which was followed up with a few beers in our favourite restaurant Favori.

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The beers seemed like a good idea at the time, but what they actually succeeded in doing was making us sleepy. This would have been fine, but we still had some food shopping to do. By the time we got back to the hotel we were dead on our feet.

Returning once again to Favori, we had our last meal in Antalya. I have had a good time here, even if towards the end I was running out of things to do. The hotel and its staff have been brilliant, I have always felt welcome and it has felt like home. Although I am pleased to be moving on, it will be a little bit sad to say goodbye.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Day 129 Turkey 25/1/2011, Antalya. Debs & Toad return!

Today was all about Debs coming back.

Doing a bit of research on the computer, I found out where the airport bus was likely to drop her off and headed into the city to meet her. There was of course the possibility that she would take a taxi instead. Which would mean that I would be waiting in the middle of the city and she would be at the hotel wondering where I was. Predictably that is what happened! After she didn't turn up I headed back to the hotel only to find that she had arrived and then gone back out to look for me. Fortunately the hotelier had given her directions to a bus stop that I knew, so we did eventually have our reunion, just a bit later than planned!

It is really good to have her back, it sounds like she had a really good if somewhat tiring time back in England. We now have everything we need to get back on the road , but we will stay for one more night to give Debs a rest and to give us time to pack all our gear up.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Day 128 Turkey 24/1/2011, Antalya. A day of sorting and packing.

Another breakfast where I ate my weight in olives. The olives have been pickled/made? by one of the hotel staff and he seems very keen to ply me with them every morning. I am not complaining, but there is a limit to how many I can eat.

Rather uncharacteristically I unpacked all my bags when we arrived in Antalya. After breakfast I set about trying to get everything back in the panniers in a relatively orderly fashion. Packing is not really my forte, mainly because I get distracted by pretty much everything. I am sure it took a lot longer than it should have, but I eventually got everything sorted. For some reason they don't seem as balanced, weight wise, as they were before. Perhaps I shall have to repack later.

Heading out for a bit of air, I picked up some supplies from Kipa (Tesco) and discovered that wine is on offer. I assume it is wine, the bottle is entirely in Turkish so it could be interesting. What I really need is a wine that goes well with grapefruit!

Great news, it is wine and it's drinkable!

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Day 127 Turkey 23/1/2011, Antalya. A bit of blogging.

Not much to report today. After another extended breakfast, I finished my blog entries and uploaded some photos.

As they were cleaning my room (all ready for Debs return), I went for my usual stroll around the city. The grey start to the morning slowly cleared and was replaced by a lovely sunny day, it seems the rain doesn't last for that long here.

While on my stroll I made the slight error of buying 2kg of grapefruit that I thought were oranges. My only excuse was that it was dark in the shop and they were next door to the oranges. Still every cloud, I now have a way of using up the excessive amount of honey that I purchased earlier in the week.

A light rain started again this evening, so it wasn't with much enthusiasm that I headed out for dinner. I eventually found a restaurant that did a karaşik pide (mixed Turkish pizza), so although slightly damp I was very full when I got back to the hotel.

It suddenly feels like the time has gone really quickly, I better sort out my gear tomorrow.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Day 126 Turkey 22/1/2011, Antalya. A trip to the museum.

The rain was still falling when I woke this morning, so I was the only one who braved having breakfast outside. Admittedly I was under cover, I wouldn't want my bread and olives to get wet!

By the time I had eaten my body weight in olives the rain had eased. If there was ever a day to visit the museum this seemed like it. I had considered waiting for Debs to get back before I went, but she doesn't really have much of a love of museums. More of an outdoor action girl!

Rather than take the tram, I walked the few kilometres to the museum. The tram only goes every half hour and takes approximately as long as I did to walk, plus I have my cyclist physique to maintain!

The first part of the museum is a collection of small finds from the many surrounding archaeological sites. It is the next part that makes Antalya museum so interesting. Within the next few halls they have collected many of the beautifully preserved statues and carved tombs from nearby Perge. The original settlement must have been quite a sight to see when all of the statues were in place. It also makes a change that for once they aren't all housed in the British Museum. You get quite used to seeing little signs in museums saying 'this is a replica the original Is kept in the British Museum'.

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I had forgotten how impressive the collection is, I may have to visit again with Debs when she gets back.

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On the way back from the museum, I managed to find a replacement for my old fleece. No longer will I be known as Matt short sleeves, or at least until this one shrinks in the wash!

Fingers crossed it looks like the weather forecast isn't entirely accurate, as there has been no more rain. All being well I may go for a short bike ride tomorrow, having to ride out of the city every time is slightly demoralising though. It is much easier knowing that you aren't coming back. Still as Debs has got our Syrian visas, we will soon be back on the road.

Hope everyone has a good weekend.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Day 125 Turkey 21/1/2011, Antalya. A whole lot of nothing!

Not much to report today, so I will just include a few photos from my wanderings. I am starting to consider offering my services as a guide, as I suspect that very few people know the old city better than I do!

I thought about doing a tour of interesting graffiti, but the standard here is quite low. I probably need to head into the more modern part of the city for that. Nevertheless the Kaleiçi is still a nice place to wander around.

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The nice weather came to an abrupt end this afternoon, with thunder, lightning and torrential rain. There was a slight lull later in the evening, so I was able to go and get some food. Looking at the forecast for the next few days though, it looks like it is set in for the time being. Hopefully it will have dried up by the time Debs gets back on Tuesday.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Day 124 Turkey 20/1/2011, Antalya. Kuaför by Frank and shouted at by a Belgian.

I have left it long enough, it's time for another haircut! While travelling, this always leaves me with a slight feeling of dread. Taking the simple option of just having it shaved, in theory takes some of the concern away. For some reason though, whenever I ask for a grade 5 (it used to be a grade 4, but that was too risky), the Barber always seems to nod and then do whatever he feels like doing. I had a good feeling about Frank though, for one being in the centre of the touristy old city, surely he would have at least some command of the English language! Surprisingly he did, although not that much.

Picking up the clippers he showed me the grade 5 guide and promptly set to work. Or at least he would have, if the clippers had been charged. Replacing the battery for another produced slightly more life, however the slightly strained sound it made as he started cutting my hair, had me convinced that I was going to be stuck with a half shaved head. Fortunately the battery held out and I ended up with a reasonable haircut.


I hadn't asked for a shave, but Frank seemed so keen that it would have been a shame to stop him. What I would liked to have stopped him doing, was removing his massage/torture device from the counter draw. There is nothing like having a seemingly unqualified person set about you with a mains powered, vibrating massager. Frank belonged to the school of if level 1 is good for you, then imagine how good level 10 must be. My especially favourite bit was when he massaged my, possibly now re-broken, collar bone. Perhaps he was thinking that the resistance he was feeling, was something that could be vibrated back into place with the addition of a little more force.

When he finally stopped and told me that it was good, I was relieved if not relaxed. I am sure you are asking yourselves, how much did he pay for this treatment? A rather reasonable 15TL (£6), which was worth it for the experience alone!

Taking my new haircut out on the town that evening, I went to a restaurant and got shouted at by a Belgian. In truth it wasn't really shouted at, more of a to. The man had had quite a lot of beer and he had an interesting approach to speaking English. It was as if the words built up in his brain like rising lava and then suddenly erupted from his mouth. Generally followed by lots of very loud laughter. For the next couple of hours he explained that he and his wife were retired and now travelled around Europe and Turkey in a ford transit. He was very proud of the fact that it wasn't a camper van, instead just a van that they sleep in. They were quite good company in a deafening way, plus he bought me a beer!

When they finally left, the bar owner came out from where he was hiding, it appears that they had been in the bar quite some time. As a thank you for distracting them from him, he bought me another beer. Maybe I should have a haircut more often, because this one is clearly lucky!

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Day 123 Turkey 19/1/2011, Antalya. Some shopping and a rubbish boat trip.

Convinced that I must have missed the outdoor clothing shop last time I went to the shopping mall, I decided to have another look. It could be said that this was really just an excuse for a short ride and something to do. This time I found the shop, but they didn't have what I wanted. Still, as my route was mainly along a cycle path it was quite a pleasant ride out.

Walking down by the harbour, I got approached by one of the many touts attempting to get you to take a boat trip. Although not that interested, as there isn't that much to see, I stopped to look at his brochure. The brochure was full of pictures of waterfalls, caves and big resort hotels. I can't really see how a large, faceless, concrete, resort hotel is much of a sight but perhaps some people like them.

While the tout was telling me the price 10TL (£4) for a 45 minute trip, I was fortunate to see some Turkish locals get on board and hand over 4TL (£1.60). The tout looked a little embarrassed quickly accepted my 4TL and I got on board.

For the next 15 minutes we headed out of the harbour, past a waterfall that you could see from the city, possibly a cave and the wrecked ship that you could also see from the city. The shipwreck is of note though, due to the large painted sign on the cabin that says 'Safety First'! After 15 minutes we reached a small fishing boat, delivered some supplies to them and then turned round and went back to shore. A round trip of 30 minutes, if you include 15 minutes sitting on the boat going nowhere, then I suppose it was a 45 minute trip!

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I have no idea what the other foreigners paid for their trip, but there were a few disgruntled people getting off. I was tempted to wait and see if the tout got lynched, but considering what I had paid, there wasn't much point in complaining. If nothing else, it was worth it just to see the harbour from a different angle.

There is a longer boat trip to the Lower Düden waterfall, which I have been on before. If you get a meal included on the trip it is probably worth doing, although as it involves the boat backing in towards the waterfall, I would leave it until the summer time.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Day 122 Turkey 18/1/2011, Antalya. A spot of bike cleaning.

As I promised normal service is resumed.

I must have been tired last night as I fell asleep sometime around 8pm. Consequently I missed Ram on his last evening in Antalya, unfortunately I missed him at breakfast as well. If you read this Ram, sorry I missed you, I hope you got home safe and your wife hasn't moved all of your stuff on to the lawn!

I have been putting it off, but today I finally got round to cleaning Debs bike. Yellow Narna has now been rechristened Shiny Yellow Narna! I have decided that the reason people buy black bikes instead of yellow ones, is not that they stand out less. It is simply because you cant see the dirt and oil on the frame. It took me ages, but I think you will agree the result is very yellow!

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Cleaning completed, I changed the hub oil and then gave my bike another quick clean. I can't possibly have Debs bike looking better than mine!

The rest of the day escapes me, it would be fair to say that some warm weather and relaxing was involved. There was also very possibly a beer!

Monday, 17 January 2011

Day 121 Turkey 17/1/2011, Antalya. A trip to the zoo or 'The Lion and Matt'.

Hopefully this doesn't look like the first sign of madness! It occurs to me that this will mean very little to anyone outside of the UK and probably then only a handful of people, but hey ho.

There's a famous seaside place called Blackpool/Antalya,

Well Antalya is on the coast and according to the Tourist board it has been referred to as paradise on Earth, so I guess in their eyes at least it's famous!

That's noted for fresh air and fun,

Can't argue here, although fortunately we are talking about Antalya, I don't remember anything too fresh aired about Blackpool. It could be said that Antalya is noted for Kebabs, it's old city walls and apparently it's jams!

And Mr and Mrs Ramsbottom

Debs & Toad, you will have to allow me some poetic license here!


Went there with young Albert/Matt, their son.

Young Matt, and a charming fellow he is, although he isn't there son. We are back to allowing some license!

A grand little lad was young Albert/Matt,

Not so little thanks,

All dressed in his best; quite a swell

Bit of a problem here, as I only have two changes of clothes and neither could be described as best!


With a stick with an 'orse's 'ead 'andle,

The finest that Woolworth's could sell.

Change this to a bike with a Rohloff rear hub and as Woolworth's aren't selling much of anything any more, the finest that Thorn cycles could sell.

They didn't think much of the Ocean:

Have to disagree, its very nice.

The waves, they were fiddlin' and small,

True, haven't seen any waves for the last few days.

There was no wrecks and nobody drownded,

There is at least one wreck and as to the drowning I would rather not think about it.

Fact, nothing to laugh at at all.

I did see a cat fall off a wall into a dustbin the other day, which was quite funny!

So, seeking for further amusement,

I have to confess, I am starting to run out of things to do.

They paid and went into the Zoo,

This involved about 10km of busy city traffic, a short diversion when I became directionally challenged, a complete lack of signs and the handing over of 2TL (approx 80p).

Where they'd Lions and Tigers and Camels,

All of the above were available as well as goats, which the sign said were native to Turkey. Quite how anyone in Turkey could have not seen a goat before and had to go to a zoo to see one, is beyond me. The hillsides are strewn with them!

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And old ale and sandwiches too.

Nope, it was just as well I had brought my lunch, as there wasn't even so much as a snack bar. I have a suspicion that not many Turks actually go to the zoo.

There were one great big Lion called Wallace;

Couldn't tell you his name, the sign was in Turkish. Lets just say Aslan (Turkish for Lion).


His nose were all covered with scars -

He seemed in remarkably good condition, considering the down at heel surroundings

He lay in a somnolent posture,

He did indeed, probably boredom.

With the side of his face on the bars.

In fairness he was a few feet away from the bars.

Now Albert/Matt had heard about Lions,

I wouldn't consider myself an expert but I have watched the odd David Attenborough program.

How they was ferocious and wild -

I suspect this may be but two of their characteristics.

To see Wallace lying so peaceful,

Aslan did look peaceful and bored.

Well, it didn't seem right to the child.

After a couple of hours of wandering round the dilapidated pens I felt the same way as poor old Aslan.

You never know what to expect with other countries zoos, this certainly isn't the worst I have ever been to. I suspect that Antalya zoo is never going to be added to the list of great ones though. In fairness to them, there did appear to be a huge amount of maintenance going on, so perhaps I just came at the wrong time. It cant really excuse the filthy water in the pools, impossible to see through, because of the fingerprints and grease, glass of the reptile house and the questionable size of some of the pens. Quite why a python needs a room that is about 8ft square, yet a 6ft long Nile crocodile gets a room about the same size and seemingly no pool to lie in, is obviously known only to the zoo officials.

Seeking further amusement I left and went back to the hotel, via a local restaurant for lunch. Unfortunately on the way back my knee started hurting again, which is a little worrying. I will have to keep an eye on it and probably lay off the cycling for a few days, which is a shame as I was just getting back into the swing of things.

Apologies to Marriott Edgar for rather destroying the poem, I felt like doing something a little different and the poem sprung into my mind while I was riding along. I recall reciting it on stage during an old time musical, it's funny what you can still remember. If anyone wants to know how it really ends it's called 'The Lion and Albert'. We used to have a recording by Stanley Holloway, who made it famous, on an old 78rpm record.

Normal service will be resumed tomorrow.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Day 120 Turkey 16/1/2011, Antalya. A brief walk and then a day of rest.

To be honest I couldn't really be bothered with doing anything today. I didn't get down to breakfast until just before 10am and then dragged that out for as long as I could.

Needing to buy some water, I popped to the nearby shop and then picked up some snacks from the bakery. For the rest of the day I just hung around the room reading books, watched a film, did a bit of blog writing, called Debs and generally rested.

A few beers with Ram in the evening wrapped up a strangely pleasant day.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Day 119 Turkey 15/1/2011, Antalya. A bit more failed shopping and a couple of Efes.

After limited success yesterday at finding a new fleece, I decided to give it another go today. Mainly it was just an excuse for something to do and the chance to explore a bit more of the city.

My excursion out, didn't unfortunately go terribly well. Every shop I went in to, the staff seemed to think that I required a personal shopper. In one store the girl was so close that I turned round to look at something and promptly walked in to her. At the very least if they are going to stand that close they could ask me to dance!

Giving up on the clothes I went into a supermarket to get some supplies and then had to fight to hold my position in the queue. Turkish school children seem to be under the impression that queues don't apply to them. I wouldn't mind so much, but it got to the stage that they were actually physically trying to push me out of the way. Not sure what the correct etiquette in Turkey is, I felt it prudent not to give one of them a smack round the back of the head, no matter how much I wanted to.

When two child beggars then singled me out on the street and proceeded to try and get there hands in my pockets, I decided it was time to give up and go back to the hotel.

If Ram hadn't knocked on the door later that evening, I would probably have stayed there until morning.

In our quest for cheap beer, we wandered into the main part of the city and had a drink in a bar where the more you ordered the cheaper it got. This would have been fine, but neither of us actually wanted more than a glass. Mind you, any more shopping experiences like today and I may be found sitting at a table with a 2.5 litre beer dispenser in front of me.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Day 118 Turkey 14/1/2011, Antalya. Hiking shops, bike shops and a shopping mall.

As per my previous post it wasn't an early one this morning. I strolled down to breakfast a little the worse for wear.

In the interests of having Debs stop calling me 'Matt short sleeves' and then falling about laughing, I decided to head to the shops to try and replace my shrunken fleece. After a stroll round the many knock off stalls, where for some reason they seemed convinced that I was prepared to pay more for a fake than the real thing, I headed to the hiking shop. We had briefly been in the shop when Debs was here, but I thought it was worth another look.

I found an ideal replacement that unfortunately had sleeves that were about the same length as my old one. It looks like I will have to keep looking, although the options in Antalya aren't that great.

Despite the fact that the shop didn't have anything my size, the shop keeper gave me directions to a good bike shop and said that I might find a suitable top in a nearby shopping mall. As the bike shop wasn't far away, I went to investigate on the off chance that they would have a replacement tyre for my bike. The shop was very small but quite well stocked, unfortunately not with tyres. The owner races mountain bikes and obviously know his stuff, he said that he would be able to get me tyres, but they would have to be couriered from Istanbul. Due to the costs involved, I think I will manage with what I have.

The shopping mall turned out to be further away than I thought, so I went back for my bike. Perhaps I missed it, but I failed to find the shop that had been recommended. I did however get some supplies from the large supermarket, a bit of self catering will save on the costs of eating out all the time. I have decided that as everyone here seems to smoke in their room, which drifts into mine, then there is no reason why I cant light my stove. Tonight's dinner will be spinach ravioli with arrabiata sauce, washed down with a hopefully nice Chardonnay.

I was just getting settled in for the night, when Ram, who I was supposed to be going out with last night, knocked on the door to find out if I wanted a beer. Apparently he had been delayed yesterday and didn't get back until late. It seemed rude not to accept the offer, so the evening ended very much like the previous night. Thankfully there was no Celine Dion!

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Day 117 Turkey 13/1/2011, Antalya. More rain, a waterfall, a dirty bike and a few beers.

Well it rained again but I decided to be brave and have a ride to Lara beach, stopping to look at the Lower Düden waterfall along the way.

There is something quite depressing about coastal areas out of season. The road to the beach was along a dual carriageway passing closed and sometimes boarded up restaurants and bars. The rather grey skies and constant spray from the vehicles probably didn't help. Riding the bikes without the luggage is when you realise how much you miss mudguards. By the time I got to the waterfall my back was soaking and my previously spotless bike was once again dirty. Nevertheless I felt better for getting out and about, it would be quite easy to go stir crazy on a day like this.

Arriving at the falls I was just in time to wave off a tour group. This was a bit of a double edged sword, as on the one hand I had the falls to myself, but on the other there was no-one to take my photo. A DSLR is not the best camera to take a self portrait with, it's a little heavy and somewhat on the large side. After a few aborted attempts I managed to take one I didn't mind, it's just a shame you cant see much of the waterfall.

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Taking pity on me, an elderly German couple who were passing offered to take my picture. It was quite fortuitous really, because they weren't remotely interested in the waterfall. Perhaps they live nearby, there are plenty of Germans and Russians here.


Although the rain had stopped it was still pretty grey, so I decided there was not much point in heading to the beach. Instead I headed back to Antalya via a cycle path, which I presumably should have been on during the ride out. It certainly made for a more pleasant ride back to the city. Along the way I stopped to have a look at some slightly quirky frog statues (all with musical instruments surrounding a park bench) and then had bit of lunch at a small snack bar in the park.


Back at the hotel I gave Debs a quick ring and received the good news that she had put our applications in for our Syrian Visas and that they would be ready to collect on Tuesday. Plus she had bought us some maps for the coming countries. There will be no stopping us when she returns. We are approx 700km from the Syrian border so we should get there relatively quickly.

I was supposed to be going out for a drink with a Turkish/British guy called Ram, who is staying at my hotel, this evening. He lives in the UK, in Chester and is a postman (Brian and Pat if you read this I haven't got round to asking him if he has any elastic bands!). Perhaps we missed each other but he seemed to disappear off the face of the earth. I hung around the hotel as late as I could, but then gave up and went to get some food. Stopping at a bar just a few doors down from the hotel, I got chatting to an American guy Kevin who is studying archaeology in Norway and an English girl (who's name escapes me) from Manchester who is the world's biggest and hopefully only, Celine Dion fan. They were both quite entertaining company, although the girl should definitely not be allowed to pick any music on the bars laptop again.

Somehow time got away from me and it was about 2am when I made the short journey back to the hotel. It will not be an early breakfast tomorrow I suspect!

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Day 116 Turkey 12/1/2011, Antalya. Rain! A very clean bike, a shiny new chain and an oil change.

I have been so used to the lovely weather over the last few days, that it came as a bit of a surprise to wake to rain this morning. By the time I dragged myself out of bed and down to breakfast it had pretty much stopped.

I decided to start the day with good intentions and grabbed everything I needed to clean at least one of the bikes. I thought better of doing the cleaning in the hotels terrace area and took my stuff onto the road outside. The cleaning took ages, but I have to confess that with the addition of a shiny new chain my bike looks great.

Popping back to the room to get the oil change kit for our hubs, I had a quick check of my emails and saw that Debs had messaged. The letters we needed to apply for our Syrian visas hadn't arrived, so she was stuck with not much to do.

Foregoing the cycle maintenance for a while we had a brief chat on Skype, then it was back to the bike. The oil change went remarkably easily, it was just a shame that it started raining again.

Dinner was cheap and not so cheerful, in fact the Turkish burger bar that I went to, makes a McDonalds look like a quality product. I will be having a rethink on the food front over the next few days.

Hopefully the sun will shine again tomorrow and I will get out on my bike. I obviously can't ride it in the rain now that I have cleaned it!

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Day 115 Turkey 11/1/2011, Antalya. Farewell to Debs for now, a short stroll and some maintenance.

The morning passed before Debs departure with breakfast, some last minute checks and a slow stroll to the bus stop, via the snack stalls. We of course got to the stop rather early, but at least the weather was nice . We spent the time we had before the bus arrived, sitting on a bench in the sun beside a fountain.

Before too long it was time to wave goodbye. This took quite a while, as the bus didn't exactly rush away from the stop and then promptly stopped at the traffic lights about 50m down the road. Still it lightened the mood, I will miss her dearly!

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Not desperate to head back to the hotel so early, I went and had a light lunch in the park and then strolled round the old city taking some random photos.


Back at the hotel I got down to some maintenance. I investigated the cause of a squeaky pedal (dry bearings) and stripped and cleaned our stove.

I didn't expect to hear from Debs until she arrived at Sarah's at around 11pm my time. To make sure I was awake I held out going for dinner until later. The restaurant plied me with plenty of tea and biscuits, but the stove was so hot that it was relief to get back into the air. The problem with all this outdoor living is that I am finding being inside quite stuffy.

Back at the hotel with the windows wide open, I watched two films, Daybreakers (not a bad take on the vampire genre) and Exit through the gift shop (a Banksy directed, possible hoax documentary, that I really enjoyed and strongly recommend).

I got an email from Debs saying she was safe not a moment too soon, as I was starting to drift off. Hopefully she will have a good, not too stressful time back home.

Take care babe I will see you soon.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Day 114 Turkey 10/1/2011, Antalya. Airport buses, a hidden tourist Information office, ancient towers, minarets and the odd Efes.

Debs' last full day in Turkey for a couple of weeks. After breakfast we went to try and find out where the airport bus picked up in the old city. It would be easy to believe that there is a conspiracy going on in Antalya to get you to take an expensive taxi to the airport. We found the bus stop entirely by accident whilst looking for the world's best hidden Tourist Information office. In truth we only knew it was the bus stop because an airport bus happened to be stopped in it. There was no sign, timetable or in fact any indication that it was a bus stop. Conversely every taxi company has a clearly printed sign detailing the cost of a trip to the airport. Remarkably they are all showing exactly the same price of €19, except one firm who had a sale on and were advertising €17. Quite why the Turks feel the need to show prices in Euros when it isn't their currency is beyond us.

Having located the bus stop, it became a personal mission to find the Tourist Information office. We had followed the sign claiming 400m to the office and found nothing. Purely by chance and crossing the road we discovered another sign, that was only visible from a particular angle as it was hidden behind a road sign. Following the sign it started to look increasingly likely that we were on a wild goose chase, then Debs spotted the office on the other side of a dual carriageway.

Apart from the challenge in locating the office, there was no point in going in. They had no English maps and the culture program leaflet was for 2010. If anyone can tell me why they bother having the offices if they are going to staff them with disinterested and uninformed people then I would like to know!

Bus and Tourist information odyssey over, we went to do a bit of sightseeing. Strolling through the city, we passed through Hadrian's gate and then carried on to the park to see the Hıdırlık Tower.

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The tower's use seems to be up for speculation. It was either used for defence or as a stage for a signal fire. Either way currently it's cordoned off so you can't do much more than look at it!


From the tower we went in search of lunch and had a hilarious encounter with a shop keeper along the way. Well I say hilarious, he probably didn't find it funny, but being told that a small backgammon set was €55 certainly made me laugh; perhaps a little too loudly.

When quoted those kind of prices it isn't even worth haggling, especially as I wouldn't pay anywhere near that in Britain for a better quality one.

Lunch was certainly of better value, a nice piece of toasted bread filled with Kofte (meatballs) and lots of salad to help yourself to, all for 5TL (approx £2.40).

After lunch we went to have a look at the Yivli Minaret, which according to our free guide book you can climb for a view of the city. True to form it is currently closed, nevertheless the mosque and ruins around its base are quite nice.


While stopped for a cup of çay drama struck! I had lost one of my two remaining water bottles. Debs now seriously believes that I can't be trusted with anything unless it is tied to me. Retracing my steps back to where we had lunch, I found it on the floor by a table. Clearly not wanting to carry it around with me, I had left it there safely until we got back!

Fast becoming regulars of Favori restaurant, we had a lovely 'farewell for now' dinner and a few more beers than planned.

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Debs is looking forward to catching up with some of you over the next few weeks and she will be greatly missed here. The blog may take a turn for the worse over the next few days as my editor will not be available. I have an interesting approach to punctuation; a kind of throw lots at a sentence and hope some of it is in the right place. Take care all.