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Europe – Done…

December 18, 2009

Two Fenerbahce fans were (sort of) happy to pose for a photo...

So, I have made it to Istanbul which means I have covered a continent and 11 countries without a single puncture. Last night I stepped onto Asian soil for the first time, switching sports temporarily to watch Fenerbahce defeat a Moldovan outfit – not a classic. Istanbul is a highlight of the trip so far, more on that soon, but comes after the first major low – a monster lorry-dodging session on the D-100 into the city before I arrived last Saturday.

Those of you who read the comments to my blogs know I’m a bit of a mummy’s boy – well I’ve had some Mum time this week – she came out to visit from London bearing Christmas stocking, cracker and Santa hat, which was a great surprise. She probably didn’t realise that she would be dragged to all corners of Istanbul in search of a game of cricket in this most un-cricketing of cities. Despite the best efforts of government officials in Istanbul, I think we have finally found a place where we can have a game and not get arrested.

Tomorrow (Saturday) morning at 11am I am giving a talk on cricket and Cycling To The Ashes at Berlitz University, close to Taksim Square in the centre of Istanbul. We have found a few cricketers, so are heading across the Bosphorous to Asia for a hit. I’m happy to be back in the possession of a Mongoose cricket bat, which Sam Collins from The Wisden Cricketer Magazine brought out here with him. Sam has come out here to do a feature on me, and to re-build his cricket career away from the spotlight of Barnes CC. I think he is getting a bit nervous about his first cricket appearance in Turkey.

For now though, we are off for a final meeting with a government official to double/ triple check we are ok to play cricket, before returning to the hotel at 13.10 today UK time for a chat live on Test Match Special (198LW) during the England vs South Africa Test.

I also have a few videos of the last two weeks, which will appear on this blog very shortly, so please check back soon.

If you like this blog, then feel free to sign up to updates by email. I have also added a new feature at the top of the page which allows you to share my blog on social networking sites. Please help me by doing this – thanks! Since I wrote the blog we have had a meeting with a local government official who is allowing us to play cricket in the historical centre of Istanbul, outside the Hagia Sofia in Sultanahmet Square at 2pm on Saturday. Incredible news, so come along if you’re in town!

10 Comments leave one →
  1. December 18, 2009 7:36 am

    Fantastic. We’ll be listening in on TMS today. Hope the weather holds up for you. It’s chucking it down in Fethiye!

  2. Dad permalink
    December 18, 2009 9:13 am

    Why did the Fenerbahce fans make you stand on a soap box? Was it to hide the monster behind you?

    Mum’s back with your first “report” and comforted to note no saddle sores, healthy appetite,strong in mind and body and thoroughly enjoying yourself. 10/10 to date so well done and keep going.

    And thank you for letting her come home!!

  3. December 18, 2009 9:36 am

    Good job Oli!

    You have a growing Hungarian fanbase 🙂

    Check the videos on oli @

    Cant wait to hear more of Istanbul…

  4. Tom permalink
    December 18, 2009 11:24 am

    Looking forward to the TMS lunch show – you’re becoming a regular guest!

    Great progress mate – 1 continent down, 3 to go – easy…

    Merry Christmas and many thanks from all of us at the Taverners.

    You’re a star!

  5. Mary Higgs permalink
    December 18, 2009 11:54 am

    Hi Oli!

    Am loving the blog – it’s cheering up a cold and snowy Friday at work!

    Good luck with the next stage of your trip and have a very happy Christmas 🙂

    Mary xxx

    p.s. If you want to make a detour via Pakistan my brother lives in Islamabad at the moment and is handy with a cricket bat!

  6. December 18, 2009 2:28 pm

    Had no idea about your adventure until we saw Hurriyet newspaper online this morning. Fantastic idea and I’m AMAZED you’ve found some cricketers in Turkey. Will definitely be following the rest of your journey AND showing our Turkish friends your blog. They’ll never believe people know about cricket here. Best of luck with the rest of your journey.

  7. December 19, 2009 8:28 pm

    Hello Oli,

    Brilliant stuff mate! Lucky you’re not still in Belgium – we’re heading for -18 tonight and that’d put a few icicles on your nose.

    All the best from us here.


  8. December 20, 2009 3:19 pm

    Congratulations on reaching Asia. Alas, not able to witness the cricket in Istanbul as I’m still up in the hills of eastern Bulgaria, about 5-6 days ride away. Which won’t be along the D-100 now!

    Have a good Christmas


  9. Istanbulram (sadly more football than cricket) permalink
    December 22, 2009 9:35 am

    Hey there

    Stumbled onto the improv game out side the Hagia Sophia on Saturday. It was very funny looking at the faces of those watching this crazy English man and an even more crazy game. You could just read it on all of their faces……. What the **** is going on here!!!!!!
    However the best was when the French guys decided to have a “bat” and a “bowl” or maybe that should be a poke and a, well I was going to say throw, but it wasn’t even that… So funny!!!!

    Anyway good luck with the rest of your epic journey and take care on these crazy roads.

  10. Becca permalink
    December 25, 2009 12:13 pm

    merry Xmas from Villars from all the Ratcliffes, we are sitting in a restaurant up the Mtn with it snowing down heavily outside. Haven’t been to the Mtn of the bolt arm and the man with the most amazing blue eyes yet. Merry Xmas xx

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