We woke up in Istanbul and we did exactly what the usual tourist does in Istanbul. We went to discover the city, walked all day, trying to switch to the pedestrian mindset from the motorway madness. I have been once to Istanbul, 7 years ago, and even then it was a pleasant surprise how modern and cosmopolitan this city is. It actually looks a lot cooler than Budapest on the surface. Istanbul is like three times the size, but there are 15 million inhabitants. Culturally it’s obviously a lot more interesting and exciting than Budapest, given that the Ottoman Empire has been one of the longest lasting and biggest arabic powerhouse in the world. So there is a lot to see, and the fact that Europe meets Asia here gives a great atmosphere. This perfectly mixed mood is ruling every aspect of life here. We didn’t dive as deep as we should have into the culture, but honestly, we were super tired, we just wanted to enjoy ourselves and relax a little.
The biggest surprise of it all was the fact that there are dolphins jumping around everywhere in the Bosphorus, literally in the middle of the city. Honestly, I can’t think of a better way to spend an afternoon here than drinking raki with any random stranger who can’t resist to invite you to share one with them, while you’re walking in the sunset on the beach looking at the dolphins. Romantic as a kitchy toilet seat.
We lasted for three days holding hands, walking and sightseeing. It served perfectly as a starting block, but we were ready to hit the road. Our first stop was Pamukkale, but since this country is enormous, about 7-times the size of Hungary, it’s not like you just casually go over. The road to Pamukkale took us 2 days.
We spent our first night in Eskisehir, where there is literally nothing. I’m sure that there is that level of snobiety to be able to find something culturally arousing, but we are obviously not there. We even had a hard time leaving the hotel, since we managed to find a fucking good one, and we were happy af for the luxury of soft blankets and warm shower. We knew there is nothing for us out there, and we were right. But we still made a new friend, Charlie. At least he introduced himself as Charlie. He had a very poor vocabulary, but a perfect accent, and he wouldn’t stop talking. It was quite surreal to listen to his stories, but we still had 380 km ahead of us the next day.
We inputted “avoid motorways” into the GPS and finally we got what we came here for. Endless roads in the middle of nowhere through lost villages, along lakesides and mountain roads.
Even the smallest village is fully packed with solar panels in Turkey, and small cities are a magnitude cooler than their Hungarian equivalents.
Not all bug is an insect
We were in the middle of racing through in wide open sunshine with a huge smile on our faces when I suddenly realised Lilla was left behind somewhere. This happens quite a lot, usually I just have to wait for 1-2 min and she will appear in the mirror. But she didn’t this time. I got cold shivers, this happened once just 20 min earlier, when I turned around and figured she’d only stopped to pee, so now I was sure something’s wrong. Earlier I was almost hit by a truck, that’s also why I pulled over. I drove back, and after a couple of kms I found her on the roadside sobbing, collapsed over her motorbike.
She is not crying on this one
My first thought was: great, she’s in one piece. But I couldn’t relax just yet, she’s not the type of person that cries about every little thing, let alone sobbing. So I got fucking scared. I managed to leave the bike standing, and ran over her. Her face was distorted, she said from the pain. She got stung by something, but it wasn’t a wasp, we had that incident before. That is also annoying and hurtful af, but not this much. And now we couldn’t even find any visible marks on her. After an 8-10 min period of constant spasms and radiating pain over her shoulder she managed to pull herself together. In the meantime a fucking truck managed to sweep my bike, it fell. Hallelujah I bought new arm protectors in Istanbul, so the brake lever didn’t break. But the camera rig did. Lasted for a day, yay for me.
Finally we got going again, and rode in to Pamukkale through the Toscana-like landscape in the sunset.
At this point I can safely distinguish 3 types of bugs splashing over my face.
The wasp-like bugs: I think it’s self-explanatory…
The hitters: Those ones that die with a solid and definite punch on my face. This can be bad or fucking bad depending on the size of the bug. I have been lucky on this trip so far, but once I got hit by a bug that felt literally like someone punched my face with bear fist. I had to stop for 15-20 min to sober up.
The splashers: These ones are just straight up disgusting. It only doesn’t feel humiliating because you know that in that very moment the little fucker dies. If you hit the jackpot, the splash can be accompanied with a loud sound and yellowish stinky splash all over.
The discreets: Those ones are actually quite alright. You just have to clean your goggles or the windshield occasionally, and your clothes get dirty from them gradually.
This snowy mountain is not a snowy mountain
Pamukkale has been high on my list for quite a long time now, I always knew I was gonna get here at some point, and now I did.
There are two things tourists come here for: The first is the incredible wonder of nature that leaves you in an awe. This wonder is basically thermal water breaking out from a mountainside, washing out calc from the layers while producing terraces and pools. Not only it does that, but the calc paints this entire structure and the mountainside white, so it looks like a big snow heaven. Second thing is to take cheesy rainbow pictures in the sunset in the reflection of the water - for the great pleasure of Russian tourists.
Unfortunately nowadays the drought is so tremendous, that we weren’t allowed to those parts, even though I wanted to take that photo from the bottom of my heart.
The thermal water, this incredible natural miracle, and the picture-perfect sunsets aren’t only magnets for the unattractive hoards of tourists, the ancient Greeks had their eyes on this spot too, and in 190 BC Eumenes the II founded a city called Hierapolis, where they started working on Soros’ evil plans with all those jews. God punished them for their filthy lifestyle with thy great wrath, that manifested in a huge earthquake in 1334 leaving nothing behind except for some columns and a humongous theater, that is in better condition after 2000 years than our Pancho arena in 20. (Sorry guys you got live in semi Nazi Hungary to understand joke between the lines. Sorry about our president!)
The first flat tire
We spent two days in Pamukkale and the surroundings watching ruins, bathing and stuff. Then just as I was about to hop on my horse, my back wheel hit the ground with a big bang.
I’ve been riding for 30 years now, never once had a flat tire. But at least the shit hit the fan while we were still in civilisation. Our host made a call, then a really dirty gentleman appeared on a really dirty van, that was basically an entire tire repair workshop. But he only gave me some first aid air, and we rolled over to his actual workshop, where he could properly attend the sick and weak. After the doctor’s visit we hit the road towards Olympos.
3 Unesco wonders in 3 days
I was once in Turkey 10 years ago for a 10 days long photoshoot, and then I accidentally discovered Olympos. A bunch of colorful treehouses deep down in a valley along a river filled with lazy hippies. And if that wasn’t enough, there are some old American cars here and there randomly sort of as a backdrop. Then further along the road towards the sea there are some ancient ruins as well, no biggie. Also, the river flows into the sea here, but before it does, it stops to create a nice little clean water pool, just because why not, you might as well have that too not just the sea. I’ve been wanting to come back here ever since, even though there are those places you wanna go back, but going back for a second time is always a big disappointment. But since this was on our way, we did come back, and it didn’t disappoint.
A lot has changed in 10 years. Turns out only a month after I was there, there was a huge fire around Kadir, and 85% of the whole settlement burnt down. They removed all those old timers, and in 2009 they built an asphalt road to the town, that resulted in a massive increase in visitors. Despite this all, the place didn’t lose any of its charm. I have been to numerous of these typical hippie places around the world, but this one is still among the best ones. And the best thing about it is that in the 5 days I have spent there, I haven’t heard any fucking Bob Marley songs. And that’s huge. Normally it’s Marley terror on shuffle and repeat all day long in those places.
So there is everything here that makes up a great place. If you’re bored of the ruins or the beach, you can just ride your motorbike on one of the most stunning coastlines passing by ancient stuffs. We did a little snorkeling, visited some waterfalls, and checked out Myra and Chimera, which is a mountain, where the methane is basically always leaking through the rocks making them sizzling hot. So the obnoxious fucking tourists barbecue on them, but I don’t actually want to talk about those idiots.
Myra is a first class little necropolis. I don’t think anyone could come up with a better name for a metal band, but of course the Greeks did that too. Of course where there are deads, there should be some living, so next to those wall-carved graves there is a theater that can accommodate about 10 000 people. Which we would call rather large today, so imagine in the ancient times! I’d love to see a piece where 10 000 people shows up in the theater. Saint Nicolaus aka joulupukki was born here. So the Finnish Santa is a Christian who was born in Greece in a Turk family. Clear as the sun.
We were doing nothing in this hippie paradise for 5 days, it was awesome, and it was especially refreshing that it didn’t disappoint, and even though in the last 10 years it has lost some of its old charm, it still remained a very very special place. Unfortunately all good things come to an end, so we also hit the road for new good things towards Cappadocia.
In the meantime the handlebar bearings fell apart once more, but I can handle such a thing with my eyes closed and a “phone a friend” lifeline within an hour, easily.
On the way there we stopped in a very muslim, very culturally intriguing city, Konya. Though I didn’t give a shit about culture anymore. So this hippie style chill is cool and all, but I’m too old and sophisticated for that. I wanted a proper hotel room with a clean bed, and I wanted to eat meat because we’ve been going vegetarian for the last 5 days. And I don’t mind if there is no meat, but everything’s better when there is.
Said bye to the sea
Unfortunately while we were there, Bookings.com got red listed in Turkey. For some reason until then we could use it, but on that day there was suddenly no more bookings on the Turkish internet.
We found a fucking good, reasonable little hotel for the night regardless. While we were parking our bikes in the garage, I noticed the steak house in the bottom of the hotel. I deeply hate those assholes who think gastronomy equals to a great piece of steak, but at this point I decided that we won’t even be going to the city but straight into this restaurant and I’m gonna eat meat! To be continued.
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