Webmaster's Note: Because the BikeAbout team is traveling in smaller groups for a little while, we have changed the format of the journal slightly. The dispatches for Turkey will be presented in geographical rather than chronological order. To view the chronological order, go to the itinerary.

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While Ethan, Anthony, and Padraic are visiting Antakya and cycling to Mersin, Corinne and andrEa are traveling along Turkey's Aegean coast:

Rider Notes: February 13–14, 1998

topics: pine honey (food), St. Peter's Castle & Museum, potholes on the uphill; jump to dispatch

Food of the Day: Pine honey

The Mugla region is notorious for its pine honey. click to view a photograph We were delighted to sample some because it was beyond delicious and made a special treat out of our next few stops to munch bread before tackling the next hill(s).

Pine honey is sold literally everywhere, and often from the roadside. click to view a photograph We were grateful that the people selling it (in addition to huge jars of olives, and other unidentified delicacies) were not pushy. Unlike in Morocco, they didn't so much as call out to us on our bikes — making the honey taste all the better.

Word of the Day: S(h)erefe — "cheers"

When toasting with water or wine to new friends or a bon voyage, the Turks say s(h)erefe! click to hear an audio clip

Tech Fact of the Day: Stereotypes and cliches

Stereotypes and cliches about Turkey (or any country) helped shape the image we had of this (or any) country. Often they were proven untrue, as is usually the case when dealing with stereotypes. In keeping with this, the bus trip into Bodrum was full of surprises.

The minibus left right as we got on, even though there were only two other passengers at first. However, it collected people very frequently along the way — just like the city buses we're used to in the States. But the thing that shocked us was that people obeyed the signs indicating that smoking is no longer allowed on buses! A legendary stereotype about Turkey is that people often smoke cigarettes anywhere, everywhere, and all the time. We were pleasantly surprised, to say the least, to find that this was untrue on the bus — especially when it was crowded!

Person of the Day: Mr. Osman Esen click to view a photograph

Mr. Osman Esen has been an English teacher at one of the city of Milas' middle schools for nearly 18 years. Due to sharp population increases in Milas in recent years, mostly as a result of refugees fleeing terrorism in the eastern part of Turkey, classes in his junior high averages a whopping 60 students per class. His English classes would be delighted to correspond with young people through snail-mail, until they have more and better Internet access in the Mugla region schools.

We encourage you to write to:
Mr. Osman Esen
Milas Merkez Ilkogretim
Milas, Mugla

Place of the Day: St. Peter's Castle in Bodrum

St. Peter's Castle in Bodrum —built at the beginning of the 15th century by the Crusaders of Rhodes (their coat of arms is carved into the wall click to view a photograph), the latter also known as the Knights of the Order of St. John or the Knights Hospitaller — is a wonderful "living" museum, complete with live animals. click to view a photograph

Built from green marble, column pieces, and other items click to view a photograph found at the Mausoleum across the bay, the castle contains displays and exhibits covering topics such as life on the ancient port click to view a photograph click to view a photograph and cargo transport by sea click to view a photograph click to view a photograph during Phoenician times, as well as the lives of the Crusaders who lived here. click to view a photograph click to view a photograph (The museum designers similarly chose to exhibit pretty much whatever was lying around, including this mind-boggling sphinx. click to view a photograph) Updated and thematic pieces of detailed history click to view a photograph bring you closer to the reality of the subjects, so exploring all the towers and rooms click to view a photograph, the church, and the dungeon of the castle was informative and a lot of fun. click to view a photograph click to view a photograph

As a lookout toward the sea click to view a photograph, both harbors click to view a photograph, and the city click to view a photograph, the ramparts here can't be beat. click to view a photograph Just be careful! click to view a photograph

This overcast morning, the clear blue of the Aegean shone in the morning light click to view a photograph and the castle glowed in all its patchwork splendor. click to view a photograph

Bodrum was defended as a holding of the Ottoman Empire until the end of WWI, after which it became part of Turkey. After the 1960s, the municipality decided to renovate the castle by adding new decorations, rebuilding parts of the walls, and attaching some modern structures as well. click to view a photograph click to view a photograph

Today, each tower click to view a photograph of the castle is marked by a theme (German, French, English, and Snake), completing the strange but enjoyable overall picture.

Group Dispatch, February 13–14

picture of Corinnepicture of andrEa


The ladies woke up mighty sore after yesterday's ride up and over the mountain into Mugla. And day two of biking in the mountains with the trailers brought loud complaints from Corinne's knees and andrEa's lower back. This meant a good morning STRETCH for both.

Before leaving, from their pension room window click to view a photograph, they got their first glance of community life on Turkey's interior click to view a photograph, noticing the triangle-shaped brick chimneys click to view a photograph and painted walls. click to view a photograph

Their departure marked the second main event in Mugla's recent history (the first having been their arrival), as again everyone in the neighborhood stopped and watched them pack and tune up the bikes.

Once on the road, they were glad to encounter no more mountains on their journey to Milas, but there were PLENTY of steep and treacherous hills. They were also again surprised by the green vegetation click to view a photograph click to view a photograph and delighted by the scent of the pine forests through which they biked. As their second day on the road in Turkey click to view a photograph, they were still trying to figure out the road signs, which can be pretty curious things. click to view a photograph

As they made their way through an industrial area click to view a photograph called Yatagan, they tried to decide whether they would stop at the ruins of Stratonikea and the ghost village (a former mining town from last century) of Eskihisar. Pulling into Yatagan, they realized it was such a big deal for them to be drinking tea out on the sidewalk with the men from the local coffee shop that they decided to continue onward and simply gaze at the ghost village from the road.

Biking through the forests, a few bees raced and chased after them, no doubt curious about them. While the bees eventually lost interest and moved on, Corrine and andrEa learned that the bees in the Mugla region are notorious for their pine honey click to view a photograph (see the Food of the Day). A lot of dogs chased the ladies as well today, probably because of their rattling trailers.

The poor roads only got poorer, and potholes brought the cyclists to a halt more than once, particularly on the uphills. The trailers carry so much weight at the rear of the bike (which, with the trailer, could just as easily be called a "vehicle") that on an uphill, going slowly as the ladies sometimes do, it's a struggle just to stay upright. click to view a photograph Add to that the potholes. The dip into a pothole feels like it creates a hill within the hill, and even the reserve power in one's thighs and calves can't always get over the extra 1 cm high ridge in the road! click to view a photograph Navigating around the potholes on the uphill at such a slow speed is also rough. And then, of course, there was the headwind. With the headwind in the valleys, the very gradual and slightly uphill climb into Milas was a strenuous battle. Overall, today was quite a serious workout.

After their somewhat sunburned arrival in Milas click to view a photograph, they had to hunt around for a hotel. Everything seemed to be closed since they are here during the "off" season. But they succeeded in finding a place and, after lots of bargaining (by Corinne, of course), by the end of sunset they had a warm room with a HOT shower, beds enough for four people, and a balcony — which is great for when you have as much laundry to do as they did! Later, venturing into town for dinner, they realized that Milas was somehow not as cold as Mugla, and kept their fingers crossed.

As for tomorrow, they had already decided that the best plan would be to save a day of biking by taking a bus to Bodrum to look at the castle and ruins there.

After dinner though, first things first: In no time, they were both fast asleep, their sore muscles urging them to rest.

By 8 o' clock the next morning, they were able to wake up in time, climb the 2 km (1.2 mi) of steep hills by foot to the bus station (otogar in Turkish, pronounced like "auto" and "gar," as in garage), and were on the first bus to Bodrum. You can check the Tech Fact of the Day for a closer look at their smoke-free Turkish bus experience, which ran counter to one of the stereotypes they had heard about the Turkish.

The road construction they witnessed on the way to and from Bodrum would have been a horror on bike, so they were glad they had chosen the bus option. As the morning mist lifted from the hills outside of Milas, they were able to appreciate the scenery and many sea vistas from a different perspective: a bus seat instead of a bike saddle. andrEa napped as Corinne watched the shrubs and forests make a steady then spotted climb up the hills, soon replaced by jutting rock face and an occasional sturdy timber in silhouette at the ridge top.

Thanks to its port click to view a photograph, Bodrum (NOT Boredom), like many Mediterranean coastal towns, has a rich and complex history. Sporting a Crusader castle (see the Place of the Day) and an ancient Mausoleum (actually the remains of the one of the Seven Wonders of the World), Bodrum was also rumored to have an Internet Café! With oodles of enthusiasm click to view a photograph, Corinne and andrEa began a very full day.

The Castle of Saint Peter, perched between Bodrum's two bays click to view a photograph is an excellent museum, and today's Place of the Day. After investigating nearly every inch of the castle, Corinne and andrEa went out to explore the town.

They leisurely wandered past the docks click to view a photograph and the fishermen selling their catches click to view a photograph, through the tourist shops where Corinne finally picked up another pair of sunglasses click to view a photograph after losing hers in the crash in Cyprus. They ate lunch and, again, andrEa napped in a field.

Later on, they passed the grounds of the former Tomb of Mausolus, also known just as the Mausoleum, which was constructed in the fourth century BC and once impressive enough to have been listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. At a time when the city was still known as Halicarnassus, the wife of King Mausolus built the Mausoleum after his death; he had designed for himself a monumental white marble tomb with a pyramid on top of it. This achievement immortalized his name, since subsequent large stone burial caskets are referred to as mausoleums. His mausoleum stood for over 19 centuries, until an earthquake destroyed it, the Crusaders took the building material for their castle, pirates ransacked the precious items, and the rest was put in museums.

After leaving the ruins of the mausoleum and searching for over an hour, they even eventually found the best hidden Internet café in town. Unfortunately, the computers didn't WORK, so they decided to head back to Milas proper to catch some of its ruins before sundown. When they returned to the mountainous area of Milas, they fortuitously met on the street an English teacher named Osman click to view a photograph and instantly deciding he should be Person of the Day. Osman couldn't bear to watch them struggle with their map, and took it upon himself to guide them to all the ruins for which they were looking, as well as answer their many questions about Turkey and the Mugla region. Although they had their handy Lonely Planet guidebook, they always enjoy getting the latest scoop from locals and then comparing them with what is written.

Strolling through town, they noticed its beauty in simplicity click to view a photograph, especially in the older district click to view a photograph where some homes are over 200 years old. click to view a photograph Another interesting architectural facet to this town in particular are the homes built on stilts over a dried river chasm click to view a photograph, thus allowing for drainage should the water ever flow there again. click to view a photograph

Even Osman couldn't say just how old Milas is, but the proof was in the ruins themselves click to view a photograph — as this ancient Doric capital shows. click to view a photograph The Gate with an Axe (the axe was stolen, so it isn't pictured) click to view a photograph is from the Roman era, and, as in many towns, the local inhabitants have built and now live around it. Ruin or not, life goes on. click to view a photograph

While the many pieces of ruins on display in the park click to view a photograph show that the town was certainly a happening place way back when click to view a photograph great attention was paid to its architecture click to view a photograph, other ruins in town are less strategically placed and have become prime stork nesting real estate. click to view a photograph One particular ruin atop a steep hill click to view a photograph is another mausoleum-type tomb click to view a photograph thought to have been modeled after the one in Bodrum.

After walking throughout the town and visiting these historical sites, Osman invited Corinne and andrEa to dinner and, with a toast to new friends, taught them their Word of the Day: s(h)erefe click to hear an audio clip, the Turkish word for "cheers"!

Meanwhile, the guys have visited Antakya, and cycled from Adana to Mersin. You can read about their journey in their February 13 and February 14-15 dispatches.

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Questions? Ask Corinne Go To Corinne's Page or andrEa Go To andrEa's Page!

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Internet access while in Turkey was provided by Raksnet.

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