On September 30th 2014, day 67 of my trip, I left Istanbul and started on the Asian part of my journey. All looked still the same on this continent…

It all started well that day. As usual, I took my time. Before leaving in the morning, I spend what time with my host from Kadikoy. And after having breakfast and say our farewells I started pedaling.

The first 30 km were a joy. I cycled near the shore of the Sea of Marmara. The weather was fine, the roads were free of traffic and flat, until I reached the city of Kaynarca. Bye bye calm seashore and hello heavy traffic!!!.. The D-100 highway to the city of Izmit was nerve-wracking, the shoulder of the road was very narrow, a lot of trucks, noise and the industrial landscape, made this part of the road a bit unpleasant…

The ride was also a bit longer than I had expected (but that happens very often).  Once I arrived to the city of Izmit I followed the road to the home of my warmshower host according to route the GPS (iPhone app. Pocket earth) had laid-out for me… And as I learned that day, it doesn’t give you the best road to follow: steep climbs (where I had to dismount and push the bicycle) and some pointless turns, made the last kilometers very tiring. The dark of night caught up with me and I was late (I know that a lot of my friends would say: “well, no surprise there”). I was glad that Magsud was still waiting for me at the rendezvous. His smile and calmness, made me feel relaxed and welcomed from the first moment.

Magsud H.  is a twentysomething computer engineering student at the University of Kocaeli. Originally from Azerbaijan, he moved to Turkey to continue his studies. He shares an apartment with his friends Sinan and Fatih. As a great warmshower host, he gave me a place to rest, shower and eat, topped with some great stories and insights of the daily life of university students and Turkish culture.

Magsud is an avid cyclist, having already done several short bicycle tours… In the summer of 2014 he had planned his first big one: a bicycle tour from Kocaeli to Baku. But due family affairs, he had to cancel his trip.

The night I spend with those guys (and some other friends of theirs) I got some new insights in the life of Turkish university students, their aspirations and challenges. So recognizable but also so different to my own experience.

The night passed with good beer and laughs. The beer was a bit difficult to get around their neighborhood. According to Turkish law, selling alcohol near schools and places of worship is prohibited. And retailers are not allowed to sell alcoholic beverages between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. That is a big bummer for 18+ students, and for me.

My hosts were very considered and left me to my own, and so I had a good nights rest. The next morning the first to wake up was Fatih, he prepared breakfast for us all. Everybody was at the table, sharing…

After taking some pictures to support our memories and saying goodbye I got on my bicycle feeling a lucky man. Thankful for having met such great guys!!!

“Magsud I’m looking forward to read, hear and see the stories of your journey”… For everybody else I share with you a video that Magsud filmed during his bicycle trip between Kocaeli and Ağva and an other from Kocaeli to Sapanca.

See and feel the joy of a bicycle trip!!

From Left to Right: Magsud, Fatih and Sinan

From Left to Right: Magsud, Fatih and Sinan

 

 

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