21 – 28 October 2016
When I arrived in Istanbul, I had to wait a week for my cheap(ish) flight to Denmark, so lots of time to go sightseeing. However, after the long and mentally exhausting trip, I was not in the mood for touring around the city. Despite being in the heart of the tourist district, I only left the hostel to shop food and a few other practicalities. Since the bombings, around 85-90% of the tourists had disappeared, so it wasn’t much fun walking around anyway, as all the locals desperately tried to attract the few potential customers.
In the hostel I slept, relaxed, read and got in touch with ”civilisation” having internet for the first time in months. I also had a slight stomach challenge for a few days – nothing serious, but interestingly it never happens staying in the middle of nowhere, eating local food and drinking water from taps and creeks. Likely, I got some bacteria from the guy in the dorm bed next to me, as he had been seriously sick for a week.
I left the bike and most of my stuff in the hostel in my flight bag - the luggage I brought to Denmark was either excess things to be left there or things to be repaired and returned to Istanbul e.g. my air mattress and bike pants. I took about 20 kg to Denmark and returned with around 35 kg including a new tent and lots of new bicycle parts incl. a new rear wheel, three tires, a new cassette chain as well as a new handlebar stem. Having left the flight bag behind, I put my luggage in a canvas bag, which created a lot of attention. On the way to the airport, I was stopped five times by police/security wanting to check the bag, though they never did a thorough job. While in Denmark, I had some cortizon injections in my trigger finger - I was happy to avoid surgery and even happier when it some time later turned out to remedy the problem.
22 - 26 November 2016
Back in Istanbul, I decided to do a bit of sightseeing and spent a day walking around the tourist area visiting the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sopia and Topkapi Saraya (palace). Quite nice with what I imagined was relatively few people, partly because of the bombings and partly the off-season.
Besides all the bike maintenance I did, I decided it was time to proactively change my rear gear cable having biked with it all the way from Kashgar in China. I had the parts and could do a decent job myself, but getting it perfect, I preferred getting professional help. I had read reviews on the internet and chosen the bike shop Bisiklet Gezgini, so one day I took the ferry to the shop on the Anatolian side of Istanbul. The mechanic cut the cable and a few minutes after told me, he didn’t know how to change the outer cable-protection – I told him it was easy, but he refused and I had to do it myself. It worried me that he couldn’t do a simple thing like this, so it was no surprise when he gave up adjusting the gears 1½ hour later. It could only shift 8 of 9 gears and made strange sounds and still they embarrassingly tried to charge me full price. I of course declined and left without paying – I came with a bike that worked but needed proactive maintenance and left with a bike in worse condition. I biked around for an hour adjusting the gears and getting them somewhat right though the shifter still only did 8 of 9 gears. I was convinced, it had to do with the cable length, but I didn’t wan’t to chance changing it, leaving Istanbul the following morning.
With the biking around Istanbul my trip total was up to 54,300k.