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 making their way to Adana, Turkey, Corinne and andrEa are traveling along Turkey's Aegean coast:

Rider Notes: February 11–12, 1998

topics: mountain, youth hostels, exhaustion, forever sunsets; jump to dispatch

Food of the Day: Sebzela corba

Sebzela corba is a warm, cheap, vegetable stew found just about everywhere in Turkey. We were pretty worried that finding vegetarian food would continue to be a problem, but were happy to find that in every lokanta (see the Tech Fact of the Day) or cafeteria, there was a sebzela corba, a nice vegetable soup!

Word of the Day: Rakim — "height about sea level"

We asked many people about the mountain passes we did and would have to pass over, but no one could give us a definite indication of their elevations. Certainly, no maps gave us this information. Perhaps if we had used the Turkish word describing height about sea level, rakim, we might have had better luck. Yet another lesson learned too late. Or better yet, we could have asked "How high is the mountain?" in Turkish. click to hear an audio clip

Tech Fact of the Day: Lokanta

Traveling through (expensive) tourist towns in Turkey, such as Marmaris, you need to know how to eat cheaply. This means eating with and like the locals. A kind young man who escorted a group of us from the Marmaris Interyouth hostel to dinner explained that any eating facility called a restaurant would surely have high tourist prices for meals. However, any place called a lokanta or lokantasi would be a place more like a Turkish cafeteria, where locals eat cheap food, and would thus be our better option.

Person of the Day: Tharrini

Waiting for the boat from Rhodes to Marmaris, we met a monastic (a person who lives in a monastery) named Tharrini. click to view a photograph A few days too late, she invited us to stay at the monastery where she has lived for the past five years. Tharrini is an iconographer, which means that she paints different religious images for use in her monastery and as representations of her monastery elsewhere. Originally from Boston, Tharrini took the female version of the Greek name for Michael, Tharri, the patron saint of her monastery.

She gave us many tips on the border crossing processes as well as where to eat and hang out in Marmaris, as she is seasoned in the ways of this city and often crosses back and forth to renew her visa for Greece.

Anyone wanting to visit the Tharri Monastery for the day or overnight may contact Tharrini, as all are welcome. Located high in the mountains outside the city of Rhodes on the Island of Rhodes, the monastery is a serene and ancient place.

Monastery Tharri
Laerma, Rhodes
85109 GREECE

Place of the Day: Sunset on the sea from the huge mountain without a name

The road from Marmaris to Mugla click to view a map followed the Aegean Sea in and out of the mountains, carrying us back to sometimes higher, sometimes lower, but always scenic views of the water. The shore dipped into the mainland in narrow coves and wide bays, between rocky cliffs and climbing hills, amidst farms and towns, and was always a beautiful sight as we wound to and fro around the bends. When we stopped to evaluate the fading light of the late afternoon, we noticed the clouds turning orange at the ridge of the lookout point, and went for a closer investigation.

What we beheld there was a sunset more fantastic than either of us would have ever thought possible. Sitting at nearly 800 meters (2625 ft), we watched the sea stretch beyond the shore, fading into infinity in blazing reds and oranges. Even the dropping temperature and howling, whipping winds couldn't move us from the site. In fact, it took a truck to get our star-struck selves the rest of the way up the mountain and to the other side. In the pale fading evening, we saw the city lights of Mugla before us. In contrast to the sunset, it was a letdown.

Group Dispatch, February 11–12

picture of andrEapicture of Corinne

With heavy hearts and fond memories, Corinne and andrEa left their new friends in Rhodes, Greece, to go to Marmaris, Turkey, and do their thing along the Aegean coast of Turkey. Many people were disturbed to hear that they would be two women biking through Turkey without the company of men, but Corinne's biggest concern was trying to cover their activities through an entire country on videotape with only 45 min of tape! Because they hadn't met up with Padraic when he returned from New York, they didn't get new videotapes, and the supply was running out.

After the obligatory insane wait-and-passport shuffle, this time on the Greek side click to view a photograph, they were eventually allowed to load their bikes on the boat to Marmaris. While they waited, though, they met most of the other passengers who spoke English, including a very interesting monastic (person who lives in a monastery), named Tharrini, whom they decided there and then to make the Person of the Day.

The actual boat ride was choppy and wet, and they watched the light on the sea from the top of the small ship. As they approached the Turkish coast, they could see the mountains shining in all their rocky glory, and they were even more intimidated than before. The mountains they could see were even snowcapped. That really made them gulp. It was great to get first the distant scope of the area they'd later be crossing at close range. They enjoyed the fresh smell (and occasional taste) of the Aegean Sea as the crossed the 40 km (25 mi) over to Turkey.

The Aegean Sea is the part of the Mediterranean Sea between Greece and Turkey that encompasses the Greek Islands. Corinne and andrEa crossed its southern extremes as they made their way to Marmaris. The Aegean coast was once a booming part of the eastern (Asian) Roman Empire, and thus currently home to many well-preserved ruins of their numerous cities. Also a Greek area at one point, there are ruins of their temples as well, all of which are on their cycling itinerary.

Marmaris, their first Turkish city, is chock full of boats, especially luxury yachts. Marmaris is, in fact, the largest marina in Turkey for such sea vessels. It is today almost exclusively a yachting port (rather than industrial or cargo harbor) with tons of boats and many serious tourists. After Corinne and andrEa arrived at the port, paid an exorbitant price for a Turkish visa, and had all their bags investigated and searched by the customs officials, they decided to stay the night at the Interyouth hostel. click to view a photograph

A youth hostel, for those who don't quite know, is an accommodation with lots of dormitories, usually with between two and six (but sometimes more) beds per room, and shared showers on the hall. Often there are kitchen and laundry facilities too. They are well known, cheap sleeping arrangements for travelers. The people who welcomed the ladies to the hostel were very helpful in supplying them with maps and information, as well as directing them to the cheapest place to eat (see the Tech Fact of the Day). The BikeAbout duo even attempted an appearance at the live chat by hunting down a cyber café, but it had already closed.

The next morning, after three weeks off their bikes, they continued the BikeAbout credo of "Baptism by Fire" and headed directly into the mountains, with the heavy trailers in tow.

After breezing through the town click to view a photograph and making a brief stop at the Marmaris Internet Café, where the helpful folks allowed them to check and send email for free, they began their haul. The unseasonably warm weather was a relief, and they kept their fingers crossed that it would continue throughout their stay in Turkey, where they had been told to expect lots of cold, rain, and even snow.

The first problem they encountered was that the first 5 km (3 mi) out of Marmaris were straight up hill! click to view a photograph Pulling the trailers up (and down click to view a photograph) such mountainous roads was extremely rough on their legs and lungs, tapping and tearing at their out-of-shape muscles. But they were also rewarded with many views of the sea, and, on the first turn inland (which would not be the last), a gorgeous downhill through forests. click to view a photograph They were also continually graced with views of the different snowcapped mountains, the green-ness of which reminded andrEa very much of Austria. click to view a photograph It was beautiful.

Along the roadside click to view a photograph were many mountainside parks click to view a photograph, some with water spouts that thirsty travelers could use. The sun was hot and the water light, untouched . . . and delicious.

The amazing sunset they witnessed from 800 m (2625 ft) was an instant winner for Place of the Day.

Looking up the still-climbing mountain road, the hunt for an empty truck began. Though they knew they were barely 20 km (12.5 mi) from their destination — which would be significantly lower in elevation — they didn't know how much longer or higher the road climbed, and didn't fancy doing the downhill part in the dark.

More quickly than they thought possible, and with the at-first-dubious help of a local restaurateur, they found a truck. Having just delivered its cargo and on its way directly to Mugla, it easily took the ladies and their bikes and gear.

Their arrival in Mugla was THE event of the century, with tea sips and pool games being brought to a virtual standstill. Young men from many blocks around insisted on helping them unpack the bikes and carry the bags up to their room at a small pension above a coffee shop. Such was the willingness of these young men that andrEa joked if she asked one of them to carry her up to our room, too, they would have!

After a quick meal, tea with the pension owner, and much needed hot showers, they spent less than an hour with their computers and then crashed, exhausted from the day's effort.

Meanwhile, the guys have traveled to Adana. You can read about their journey in their February 11-12 dispatch.

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

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Internet access while in Turkey was provided by Raksnet.

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