Leaving Europe: Part 1

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After nearly nine months working and cycling through Europe, we finally crossed the border from Greece into Turkey leaving Europe

Like two giddy kids we cycled slowly, taking in our last minutes in Europe before entering the much anticipated Turkey. Weather-wise we didn’t get the greatest of welcomes and our short cycle to Kesan, was dominated by large trucks whizzing by us on the motorway (only road in), ice blocks for feet and rain the whole way! 

Usually at this point, if we’re honest, we would be moaning about the wind, rain and cold but we were so excited and ecstatic to be there that it didn’t dampen our ‘new country’ day one bit (country number eight!). 

We arrived early in Kesan which was located on top of an unexpected hill, and which provided a vision of what was to come in Turkey. We soaked up the incredible new atmosphere. The town was buzzing, the people were super friendly, kebabs and street food at every corner, a call to prayer in the background – we instinctively knew we were going to love Turkey and could already feel we had entered the middle east, leaving Europe behind. 

Leaving Europe
Leaving Europe

Covid Chaos

On Thursday 29th April, Turkey introduced new restrictions halting all travel which meant buses ect. had to stop operating during this time. We were in Istanbul and had spent several days exploring the magnificent city and were ready to leave. We didn’t want to cycle out of the city at a time when everyone was trying to leave, but we needed to get a bus outside of it before their services stopped. We cycled 10km through social chaos to the main bus station, Colm, nearly getting knocked down twice. It was absolutely crazy and we advise, if at all possible, avoid cycling in the city. With a population of almost 20 million and growing its not a good idea. 

As mentioned, we just needed to get outside Istanbul to being cycling again but, as we soon found out, everyone else wanted to leave before the lockdown began. We went to a few different offices to try our luck, but all services had either ceased or were already full. On our last attempt we came across a guy who spoke English and was still operating.

He had a sign outside his shop with all the places they travelled and we stood there and started pointing to towns we had never heard of, asking if they were available, but each time he would look and then say “full”. He had a chat with a colleague and we were then told the only bus available was Antalya, without even thinking or discussing we looked at each other, then back to him and said we’ll take it. We went inside to finalise the booking and found out the journey would take 12hrs. We just booked a bus to the very south with no routes or ideas of what direction we would go when we got there!

We booked a room on the bus journey in Antalya and discussed our various options as to what to do. We wanted to head east, going through Konya and Cappadocia, but with research we knew borders to the east were closed with no opening dates in sight and we didn’t want to visit Cappadocia without the balloons in operation. Decision made, we were heading west towards Izmir…

Colm Larkin & Samantha Paton
Kildare, Ireland
Engaged couple travelling around the world mainly by bike
Currently in Turkey
Instagram @colmandsamstreks

Excerpt from BIKE Magazine, click here to continue reading the full article or get the print edition

August 2021
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