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Tangerines and Water – Christmas in Iznik

December 25, 2009

It is Christmas Day and I am celebrating hard. It is 2pm and I have already  devoured 7 tangerines, and sunk two bottles of Erikli Natual Spring Water – and I’m half way through my third. They are 1.5 litre bottles so that’s going some. On the front of each bottle is a photo of a snow covered peak. It is, apparently, Uludağ Mountain, a 2,500 metre ski resort 50kms from the small rural town of Iznik where I find myself spending Christmas.

Yesterday afternoon, as I cycled into this town made famous for it’s tile production in Ottoman times, I stopped in a local cafe to re-fuel. I told the horde of inquisitive waiters “For me it is Christmas tomorrow!” Their responses varied from “you want Iskender kebab?” to “where you from, Sweden?” and bizarrely “you need hair cut?” Unsurprisingly, none of them wanted to join in the festive spirit and roast a turkey with me.

I was tempted to leave my bike in town and take a local bus up to the ski resort at Uludağ to see if my newly acquired quad muscles had improved my skiing. I decided not to, because getting miles done is my priority – a day of rest is serving me better.

I woke up early this morning, wished myself Merry Christmas in the bathroom mirror, and headed out. Iznik is a town with a rich history. As soon as I wandered into it’s ancient, dusty streets this morning, to learn a little about it’s past, the heavens opened and I got soaked. I did manage to get the photo of Santa chilling in front of a Roman arch that you see at the top of this post though.

So a day of admin and emails on Christmas Day…. but I’m not bitter. I have received so many kind emails and texts from friends and I thank you all. In truth I feel very detached from Christmas because of where I am. Santa and his elves can wait. There will be plenty more Christmases and probably very few opportunities to cycle around the world. For now I must get back into the cycling routine. I got out of the habit during 10 days in Istanbul, but now I am really excited about crossing Turkey. Until now I have been unsure what route to take, so I was heartened to hear from Sam Williams, who cycled to Kenya last year. He took on a very similar route to the one I have planned through Turkey, albeit in summer. So tomorrow I will head into the mountains towards the University town of Eskişehır and from there towards Southern Cappadocia where I hope to see some of it’s famous fairy chimneys and underground cities.

I notice it has stopped raining, so I’m off for another go at sight-seeing. Below is a simple video blog from before Istanbul. Enjoy…there are more on facebook!

Cycling To Australia – in Turkey on a New Motorway
Uploaded by cyclingtotheashes. – More professional, college and classic sports videos.
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4 Comments leave one →
  1. stuart Sandy permalink
    December 26, 2009 6:28 pm

    You & Simon have both obviously had very differant Christmas’s this year! We thoroughly enjoy being regularly updated of you progress fron the parents, It must have been a great treat to experience the luxury of a Hotel bedroom & bathroom during & after your Mothers stay in Istanbul! What a fascinating city!
    Louise asked me if I would like to join her on a Fund Raising cycle ride form Buck House to Windsor – a mere warm up before breakfast for the likes of Oli Broom!!
    Keep uo the good work – we are all full of admiration. Happy Christmas & A Very Healthy & Productive New Year!!!! LOL SandyXXXXXXX
    You missed the very muddy boxing day games ,great for the spectators but shit for the teams!!You sound as though you are having the most fascinating time,well done.grab every oportunity that comes along.Try singing Slade christmas songs to rival the early morning muessin(spelling?) call from the mosques!!!!Well done and keep warm.LOL Stuart

  2. johanna permalink
    December 28, 2009 6:06 pm

    Hi! Merry Christmas!
    You’re adventure and your blog are very inspiring. I admire what you’re doing! Especially your next twists & turns will be interesting to me- I’ve been dreaming of cycling from Istanbul to Damascus for some time now ..
    You’re probably not going to remember, but we’ve met- for about 3 seconds. You were cycling through Brussels and I shouted out “Bon voyage!” and you answered “Merci!” It was on a cobblestone road pretty much in the centre and you had just done a pretty long climb.
    Only today did I look you up online, I remembered your sign “From London to Brisbane”. I will be back to read your blog.
    I wish you wind in your back, smooth roads and many more kind encounters with locals and other travellers!
    Kind regards from Johanna
    (I’m German, but raised in Washington DC and German. I’ve been living in Belgium since 7 years and when I greeted you in Brussels I had just live my house)

  3. Andy Thompson permalink
    January 1, 2010 3:25 pm

    Maybe you should check this link out to the Turkish National Cricket team that is based in Ankara and played in Corfu in the summer.

  4. Gill permalink
    January 4, 2010 1:02 pm

    Happy New Year and sorry we missed you by about a week in Istanbul! It was my first visit there with Rachel and I was amazed at the size of the city. Your Mum and I agreed that the underground cistern was the highlight of the trip (well, maybe the afternoon tea at the Four Seasons Hotel came a close second!) As I cycle round the lanes of Cookham I think of you on your fantastic journey and it keeps me pedalling along, although I can’t quite make Quarry Wood Hill yet. It was good to catch up with Mum and Dad on New Year’s Eve at S&S house.
    Take care

    Love Gill and John x

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