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.

topics: school presentations, press interviews, live chat madness, email Turkish students!; jump to dispatch

BikeAbout Log


Rider Notes: February 18-20, 1998

Food of the Day: zeytinyagli yemekler

Our favorite Turkish food thus far is a specialty of our new mom: the ever-healthy and vegetarian dish generally called "zeytinyagli yemekler" or "olive oil food." click to hear an audio clip Often served as one of numerous side dishes in a traditional Turkish meal, it can be prepared with nearly any variety of vegetables, and is usually served cold. Given the flavors inherent to the vegetables, several olive oil food dishes can even be prepared for one meal. The best part is that because it is marinated in the dressing, the food stays fresh for several days - providing that andrEa or Corinne manages to leave any leftovers.

To prepare "zeytinyagli yemekler," or olive oil foods, first choose your main ingredient. Below is the recipe Gülden's mom used for two dishes, of which the main vegetables were celery root for one, and leeks for the other. It isn't very specific, because she encourages experimentation until you get it right:

Cut an onion into small pieces, fry in a cm or so of high quality olive oil. Add large pieces of tomato and cook for 3-5 minutes. Mix in big chunks of whole leeks (or celery root and stalks) and carrots, adding salt and pepper to taste, and half a glass of water. This should all be cooked together over a medium fire until all the vegetables are quite tender and thoroughly coated (but not drowning) in the veggie-scented olive oil sauce. Serve cold or at room temperature, but it's great warm, too!

Word of the Day:

Person of the Day: Ozge Zihnioglu

The favorite school subjects of Ozge Zihnioglu click to view a photograph, a student-host from the American High School, are philosophy and history. She will study International Relations at University in Ankara next year.

Ozge charmed us to bits when we asked her about celebrated female heroines in Turkey. She said that while there are some female role models for young women in Turkey, they are not widely celebrated by the public. When we asked if this bothered her, she said no, because she intends to become one of the first women to hold this title! You GO girl!

Place of the Day: American High School

The American High School library is the school's Internet hub, from which we were allowed to download our e-mails using their fast lines and speedy computer. While there, some Turkish authors and books that are frequently translated into English were recommended for young adults wanting to get more of an insider scope of the country.

Authors and books include: Yasar Kemal, Resat Nuri Guntekin, the poet Nazim Hikmet, "The Black Book" by Orhan Pamlik, and "The Night" by Bilge Karasu. "The Turkish Pen" (anthology) was suggested due to the humor provided by Aziz Nesisu, and the most prominent female Turkish writer and book they had was "The Road to Bagdad; Magical Adventures" by Guneli Gun. Happy Reading!

Tech Fact of the Day: intermission

Between fits of laughter, Gülden said she would never forget the look of surprise on andrEa and Corinne's faces when a film they were watching suddenly (and we mean VERY suddenly) stopped and the entire audience evacuated the room. Of course, the screen lit up with a message saying, "Five Minute Break," but because andrEa and Corinne couldn't read it (it was in Turkish), they had no idea what was going on! Gülden assured us that intermission is a common practice in Turkish theaters, and no cause for alarm.

Group Dispatch, February 18-20
picture of Corinnepicture of andrEa

andrEa and Corinne spent all day Wednesday having wonderful food pushed on them by Gülden's mom, and running various errands in Izmir. click to view a photograph

andrEa crossed town via ferry with Gülden click to view a photograph to get her non-digital camera a check-up, and enjoyed the many views of the surrounding city from the water click to view a photograph and the harbor. click to view a photograph She was enchanted by the use of ferries click to view a photograph for mass transit click to view a photograph, and the visit to downtown Izmir click to view a photograph gave andrEa a chance to see more of the city's interior. click to view a photograph click to view a photograph

In the meantime, Corinne and Çidam (Gülden's sister) got an Internet software upgrade at EGENET, the Ege (Aegean) University Internet Service Provider. We've had some funny Internet connection woes, and the "patch" software they supplied us with should help. (Much thanks to Niyazi Fellahoglu at the Technical Help Desk.)

The remainder of the day was spent catching up on dispatches from a busy and quick week in Turkey, while Gülden the Goddess made additional arrangements for our stay in Izmir. This included scheduling a cinema visit - perhaps the most important thing on our to-do list - preparing for press and school visits, and then heading off to the live Chat 'n' Debate at the Izmir Ozel Türk Fen Lisesi, or Private Turkish High School of Izmir.

This enormous boarding school is considered one of the best schools in Izmir, although most of its kids are from all over Anatolia (the Asian part of Turkey), not just Izmir. We looked forward to the opportunity to reconnect with students and people, and were pleasantly surprised that the BikeAbout boys were on the chat, too. It was a relief to see that they were together and well, since we had had no word or email from them in a week.

The 12 or 15 students, all age 17, were very curious about the Internet, but explained that they had very little free time between their studies to find out more about it. They were interested in using the Chat 'n' Debate to share as much about their country as possible in such a short amount of time, and to see what other folks think about Turkey. The questions posed in the chat sparked discussion and debate among the students as they tried to formulate a group response on the one available computer.

While Corinne "channeled" the sentiments of the students, listening and typing frantically, andrEa, despite lots of protest and nervousness, did her very first TV news interview - blazing red ears in tact. Gülden's dad, as well as the teachers and directors of the school all looked on during the exchange, beaming with approval and pride, and expressing a keen interest in keeping up this kind of online interaction, hopefully using the BikeAbout project to teach more about the Internet. Please join us in helping to make this possible. You can email the Private Turkish High School of Izmir at itk01@efes.net.tr if you'd like to correspond with students there.

Thursday, we took our bikes and half our luggage in a minibus click to view a photograph to the Izmir Ozel Amerikan Lisesi, or American Collegiate School in Izmir, for a day-long visit and two presentations in the school's auditorium. On the way there, Gülden went over the remaining route with us, to detail the worst mountains that are ahead. click to view a photograph

At the school, andrEa mastered the art of Web site navigation a la big screen projection, and showed pictures of BikeAbouters in action or with friends in the different countries we've visited thus far. Meanwhile, Corinne talked her head off on stage with the bikes, explaining the BikeAbout project in record time. click to view a photograph Together we asked and took questions from the students, who were all very attentive and surprisingly well behaved. The best question we got from the younger kids was whether at the end of the trip we would get an "award" or certificate. We assured the youngster that for all the hard biking, and all the hours of writing dispatches, there were many rewards every day, which absolutely includes meeting kids! The older students shared with us the best parts of living in Turkey, especially in Izmir: the sea, the food, and Turkish hospitality. We couldn't agree more!

Between presentations (yes, this was an active day for us), we were taken on a school tour by three students. One of them, Ozge Zihnioglu click to view a photograph, is our Person of the Day. As part of their introduction to the Internet, students at the American School do Internet research projects. Ozge's project is "Dreams vs. Reality" while another one of the students focused on insanity. Somehow the idea of using the BikeAbout Web site, and quotes from us, the BikeAbouters, came up for both projects; when andrEa was asked the common question, "Why are you doing this?" she responded with the coy answer, "To prove that we're insane."

Interspersed between and after the meetings with the junior high and high school assemblies, we also had a myriad of press interviews and photo and videotaping sessions with the school newspaper, local newspapers and television stations, and national news agencies as well. Posing for cameras with our bikes and computers and students, or biking around and around and around for the video cameras, was a little embarrassing. We aren't used to that kind of attention... although we are used to being stared at.

Students wanting to correspond with Turkish young people from the American High School can visit their Web site at www.aci.edu.tr for email addresses, and/or use this address school@aci.edu.tr to make an introduction. Gonça Erçegil is an Internet-savvy student who will be happy to correspond through the following addresses as well: goncae@cheerful.com and goncae@yahoo.com. Please use these and all other email addresses that BikeAbout supplies in a responsible manner.

To end an eventful day, we relaxed with a night on the town - including a movie - with Ms. Gülden. While the film itself isn't worth mentioning (your average Hollywood explosions and bloodshed suspense-thriller), we have to point out the mandatory intermissions. For a full account of our experience, see Tech Fact of the Day.

Then came Friday. Can you say exhaustion? And we thought biking in and through the mountains was rough! Though we were scheduled to leave early Friday morning, it just didn't happen. Instead andrEa and Corinne both caught up on sleep and still yet more dispatches. But it's a good thing we rested up, since the road to Istanbul would be equally hilly, the weather was only getting colder, and we had plenty more historical ruins along the way, as well as more schools to visit once we arrive in Istanbul! At least by then we'll be a group of five again, and it'll be time to share the various BikeAbout responsibilities once more.

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Internet access while in Turkey was provided by Raksnet.

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