Turkey/Türkiye Upwards October 2022

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  • In October myself & five friends will be setting off from Dalaman riding north to Bandirma (ferry then up to Istanbul) over a fortnight with ten days riding. We're taking gravel bikes & have a route of about 560 miles we've put together - Komoot.

    It'll be the most exotic place I've been bikepacking so far (previous trips being mainly western Europe), so pretty excited.

    Things I'm most looking forward to:

    • Seeing ancient ruins - riding past Ephesus & Bergama.
    • Actual gravel as opposed to the mud-strewn cobbled staircases we call gravel in England.
    • Biggish climbs (nothing that monster round the Aegean).

    Things I'm least looking forward to:

    • Finding suitable food (I'm vegetarian).
    • Finding bike boxes in Istanbul.
    • Second half of the route is maybe a bit boring.

    Has anyone been touring around this bit of Turkey before? Any route/general advice/experience welcome!

    Edit: for visual interest, my Ritchey which I'll be riding.

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  • Meat-free food will not be a problem.
    Every roadside foodstop will offer 'pide', Turkish long/narrow pizza with topping of your choice.

    Lentil soup often available at these places, as well.

    Still eat dairy?
    Try the 'yayik ayran', naturally, literally 'wild' fermented drinking yoghurt.
    If it is slightly fizzy it is even better for your gut health and biome.
    Turkish cheese 'peynir' can be a bit bland.
    'Eski' should mean aged/tastier.
    Crumbly Tulum peynir is normally aged in a goat skin.

    Evening meals: seek out somewhere with steam trays for vegetable based dishes, and cool displays, of typical mezze-type dishes.

    Turkish bakers offer a range of meat-free boreks, and do try the simit and Tahini bread/tahini ekmek.

  • I toured across a small section of Turkey as part of a bigger trip in 2009 with three others, entering at Edirne and finishing in Istanbul. No overlap of your route (which looks really interesting) I'm afraid, but here is my limited advice:

    We flew back from Istanbul and asked for bike boxes from a local shop. Got told to follow one of the bike shop guys who marched off to their lock up which was about 20 mins away - bit unnerving while we were trying to keep up with the guy through back roads but ultimately fine! Istanbul seemed a common end point for cyclists so I wouldn't worry about getting hold of a box - just be prepared to barter if the initial price is daft. Goes for the rest of your trip too - we once sat down to eat without seeing a menu and whilst hospitality was great, the price was definitely plus tourist tax. Which is fair enough, just better to know before hand!

    I naively didn't appreciate that Turkey was a predominantly Muslim country until we entered and promptly discovered it was Ramadan (still cringe thinking back to ordering lunch outside a restaurant while the majority of people were observing a fast). As a group we felt a bit self aware as we didn't want to be inadvertently disrespectful having no appreciation of the local culture/customs. Fortunately we met a local guy who had spent a few years in London and could tour guide us - he confirmed that Turkish social conventions were no different to any other. Enjoy the culture, architecture and ornate mosques if they are open to visit!

  • ayran

    That stuff is gross.

    The pide and bakery stuff like various versions of burek is mostly winner though for sure.
    (study the variations: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B%C3%B6rek­#Turkish_variants)

    OP: see if you can find my partner's earring at ephesus, thanks.

  • Mass-produced commercial 'ayran' thickened with whey powder,
    the natural stuff, only available out of town?

    You could subsist on asure, (Asuray), or Noah's Pudding,
    supposedly consisting of 41 different ingredients, rice, grains, currants, dried apricots etc,
    (supposedly everything that was left in the pantry when land was sighted from the Ark).

  • ayran

    The bottled stuff. But as a rule "fizzy milk" is not something I'm going to go out of my way to try. I've had some kefir that's been heavily flavoured to mask the fact that it's gross and that stuff is ok but that's about it.

  • Yeah, I'm fine with dairy. Cheers for this, useful advice!

    How was the water situation? Thinking mainly should stick to bottled water, Komoot says there's a lot of public water fountains, not sure if we should trust it though.

  • Most water outside the main conurbations, especially Istanbul is fine. Erdogan and predecessors as Mayor of Istanbul allowed too much development in the immediate countryside without enforcing an adequate sewerage system. Consequently there is still a profutable businees supplying household with 19L containers of drinking water.
    A large diameter new water main to supply Bodrum was trenched alongside the new(-ish) dual carriageway, (the one you see in coverage of the Tour of Turkey), 7-10 years ago, so that whole peninsula has 'good' water, but still visitors buy the 19L containers.
    If you are passing by Milas, be sure to try the mineral water owned by the local council 'Labranda Su', ('su' = water). Its nothing special, but rather give money to the local council, in a non-Erdogan supporting county, rather than buy brands of multinationals.

  • Erikli su is now owned by Nestle.
    Hayat is owned by Danone.
    Ukudag su is still Turkish owned,
    as is Sirma su and Kizilay su.

  • I haven't checked your Komoot routing, but for Efes/Ephesus, stay and eat in Selcuk rather than the overpriced developments near Efes.

  • This is great information - thanks for sharing. Had suspected that we'd have to be up for a bit of bartering!

    Picked up a book on the history of Turkey & it feels like we'll be in the more Muslim side of it, so will take a note of a few does/don'ts, similarly don't want to make a faux-pas! That said, friends & I like a drink after a day's riding, am wondering how easy it is to find beer/wine where we'll be as it's haraam. Guess it'll depend if we're in touristy places or not.

    Another friend is in Istanbul right now & sharing pictures of the mosques - look incredible (& massive)!

  • Ah yes, I encountered burek in Croatia last year, never partook though as to me it was always rather nebulous as to whether it had meat in it or not. Will have to learn some meaty words to avoid.

    Fizzy milk conjures memories of playing around with a soda streamer in my youth - think I'll be giving that a miss as well.

    Will keep an eye out for the earring!

  • Thanks, this is assuring. Was considering whether or not to bring a water filter, which seemed more appropriate on earlier incarnations of the route (wilder & more inland), but can probably get away without now.

    Politics of the country certainly seem interesting at the moment. As is their financial situation with their inflation currently at 80% apparently (makes the dire stuff you hear about the UK rate at the moment seem insignificant). Makes it hard to know how much money to take with us, guessing cash is king over there.

    Edit: have adjusted the route to go via Selcuk, looks like a good option.

  • Cheese, actually Curd/Spinach/Cabbage/Meat/Apple
    All the above can be used as filling for burek in addition to the way pastry is assembled/rolled to create regional varieties.
    But going back to OP - there is absolutely no worries about being vegetarian in Turkey. Travelled the whole of the country mid 80s than lived two years on the south east coast (Alanya) back in 90s and the abundance of non-meat dishes is staggering, at least compared to what was on offer in UK when moved here.
    Equally I do not think your second part of the route will be boring, it is after all a different country with different landscape, culture, sound, smell and taste. My first visit was by mix of busses and hitchhiking and even when waiting for hours for a lift on empty, dusty roads, helped by listening to mr slowhand on my (tape) Walkman, I was amazed by how everything was just...... different.
    And the boxes in Istanbul will not be that difficult to obtain, if you do get stuck, ping me a PM, I have few mates that can at least ring around the shops to find you one.
    As just seen you last comment re cash - yes csh is king, but do not hold too much on you, no need as prices are very low compared to UK. Another thing to remember is that tech is also king in Turkey, they are quite advanced contrary to some perceptions. Even in 80s they had fully airconditioned busses of the highest quality, while in the UK......Good luck with the trip

  • Turkey is a Muslim country.
    There are some non-Muslim minorities in the major cities, but 20-odd years of the Erdogan regime has encouraged assertive Clerics. See the reversion back to a mosque for Haghia Sophia in Istanbul.

    However, broadly those living along the coastlines, especially the Aegean, have always been more tolerant of travellers and foreigners.

    This map, (I can't find a better one), shows this.

    In terms of welcoming foreigners, speaking non-Turkish languages, (often German as well as English), serving alcohol;
    CHP >> AKP >>> MHP.

    Having said that, it is worth having a lightweight long sleeved shirt and long trousers to out on if visiting a mosque or shrine.
    These will double up as mosquito protection in the evenings, so you will need them, anyway.

  • If you're stopping in Selcuk,
    be sure to visit this place the Basilica of St. John.
    I had never heard of this place,
    and it's not well publicised even in Selcuk,
    (the ac'ed museum is well worth a visit).

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Turkey/Türkiye Upwards October 2022

Posted by Avatar for GideonPARANOID @GideonPARANOID