When going on a bicycle tour, and time is not an issue, you don’t have to take the shortest and easiest way. Most of the time the easiest road will be dull and unsatisfying. When asking people which road to take they will recommend the easy one. This is not a bad thing, they are trying to be considered and helpful, taking care that you get to your next destination without any problems.
On the other side of the coin you also have the intrepid, the ones that will send you through places that you only can access with a 4x4WD. Sometimes it works to go through those roads with your touring bicycle. And after all the sweat and cursing, you will be satisfied and glad to have gone off the beaten path. And in other moments, you just have to return and take the alternative road.
And then there is the path that forms before you as you go. The one with the least expectations, the one that will give you that WTF feeling, make your curse, test your strengths, make you feel in awe and in the end put a big smile on your face (maybe not on the same day, but for sure days or years later).
This has nothing to do with my hosts in Sakarya, just sharing something I’ve learned the last couple of months, which I know sounds very cliché. But now, instead of reading about it, I had the opportunity to experience it.
After leaving the city of Izmit, I decided to take the the secondary road to Sakarya. I traveled along the countryside and saw some nice rural villages..
I had contacted Murat through the warmshowers website a night before to see if I could stay at his place for one night. All very last minute. As I didn’t receive a reply in the morning I decided to just pass the city of Sakarya and camp somewhere along the road. When I arrived at the city I decided to quench my thirst for a sugary drink in one of the local bars. The waiters of the place bought me a drink and aloud me to use the free Wi-Fi. Loading my emails I saw that Murat had replied, I was welcome to stay at his place if cats weren’t a problem. This was a bit of a problem for me due my allergies for the furry critters. But as long that I don’t pet them there shouldn’t be any problem.
I was well received by Ugur, a friend of Murat , with whom I had a nice chat. He spoke very good English. That wasn’t the case with the other fellows I met later that night.
Ugur took the time to tell me his life story. He’s a twenty-something who had recently graduated and got married. His passion are mountaineering and diving. He’s a certified diving instructor. He shared me his experience how to dive safely, the best way to camp and what to eat during trekking excursions. I added his recipe of pasta with tuna and sweet corn as part of my camp menu. At the time, Ugur was going through some stressful moments. His wife was granted a PhD in The Netherlands so he was trying to get a visa so he could join here (I don’t now how that worked out).
After our talk we went to the nearest shopping center and grabbed some fast calories from Burger King. There we where joined by some friends of Ugur and Murat, also passionate mountaineers. After dinner they gathered at Murat’s place to play a “first person shooter” game. Which didn’t interest me for the moment.
One of the guys start talking to me, looking interested in my trip and the kind of gear I was carrying. After I enlisted everything and their purpose he simply responded that I earned to much money. I tried to explain that the gear I carried was in function of the length of my trip, my personal interests and perceived quality. His answer was the same: “you earn to much money”. I just stopped explaining. I still don’t know what he wanted to achieve with his remark, I it made me feel a bit guilty. I just concluded that he was trying to make me appreciative of what I had. I tried to see this as a lesson and not as criticism.
The night ended with Murat and I sharing our interest of music. Youtube was a great tool for showing our favorite musicians. Murat recommended bands, such as: Baba Zula, Baris Manço, Cem Karaca, MFO, Jehan Babur, Erkan Ogur, Mogollar, Kâzım Koyuncu, and many others… I shared some songs from Mexican bands such as Café Tacvba and Caifanes. People really seem to connect to these bands. With Belgian bands it’s a bit more difficult. Gorki’s song Mia and music by the band Hooverphonic seem to be favorites.
The next day I left without taking the usual picture from my hosts. Ugur had to take an early bus to Bursa and Murat was sleeping. I left after saying goodbye to a sleepy Murat.
My next destination was Ankara.
I end this post with 2 videos of what I think is one of the most interesting Turkish bands I’ve listened to.