After an uneventful flight on a very full plane back from Heathrow, along the way I was lucky to get a window seat with the only spare seat next to me.
It was so nice to be able to enjoy the food offered on board. The plane touched down at Ataturk in the middle of the night. Once out of the airport it was hard to believe how warm it was.
The white bus across from the taxi rank was caught to the downtown and then a yellow Dolmus was caught to Uskudar and then it was a short walk to Suleymans apeartment .
Much more economical than taking a taxi.
Walking through the central city at 0100 it was all of 23 degrees.
I had just bought all this winter gear in the UK.
Never mind I felt so much better and it was great to be back “home” so to speak.
Back at the apartment it was almost tropical inside.
I slept like a baby on hitting my bed.
It was good to see Suleyman in the morning. The only real memories of being here were those of wandering around the rooms in constant pain .
I was half expecting it to return.
The next day I rang friends from Coffs Harbour who live here and bought things over from Australia for me .
Things like some US dollars, a new pump, camera batteries, woollen tee shirt and other minor items.
It was so good to see Evan and Cath, some familiar faces for a change. The next night we had a dinner at their house with friends of theirs from Coffs also.
They are living here, Cath teaches English.
Evan cooked a great roast chicken.
We all drank too much great single malt scotch but had a great time doing it. I stayed the night.
In the weekend, I caught up with Marcos brother Ventura, we had a very long lunch together in a great restaurant overlooking the Bosphorous back to the Asian side.
It was such a great relaxing afternoon.
We spent all afternoon eating great food and drinking Raki, an aniseed ouzo like drink.
I had caught the ferry over from Uskudar.
Istanbul has a brilliant public transport system, that of ferries, taxis, Mini vans, (dolmus) and buses. I had a bus card but for 2.5 TL I could get a dolmus to Evans and Caths in Kadikoy.
I took my bike back to Alex at Bicicleta Gezgini. Here he gave it a tune and replaced all my gear levers and all the cables including the brake cables. I also put some large platform pedals on it .
This trip I will not use my power grips. These pedals were very expensive but have superb adjustable bearings and great little allen key screws for shoe grips.
The ride from Suleymans to the bike shop would have been impossible without GPS maps.
An enjoyable evening was had over in Besiktas with Ventura and Alia for dinner. Ventura cooked a brilliant Indian chicken dish. I bought two mid priced bottles of turkish Sav blancs that were disappointing to say the least. I caught the last ferry back to Uskudar at 0100.
I use and recommend Maps.me, an excellent map system that’s off line.
I felt good knowing the bike was now in top shape mechanically. Both of us have had a good service!!
Suleyman had a Russian couple coming for one night so I went and stayed with Cath and Evan for a night. We had a great night out at one of their favourite restaurants not before having a few drinks and good laughs before hand .
I was going to leave on the Saturday but decided to leave tomorrow on the Friday. Good weather has been forcast.
Importantly, I have my letter of Introduction in the process of being issued for Iran.
Caravanastan was used for this, they were excellent.
The weather is still unusually warm here. There have been days where riding in shorts and sandals would have been the most comfortable.
The Locals call March the fence burning month, as there are often cold snaps before April.
A friend told me to leave in late March to get the best weather.
With this mild weather of anything up to 20 degrees is seeing me wanting to get away.
I have a lot of gear. Though, my mesh inner for my Soulo tent was sent home to ease the weight a little.
I really am hoping for some cold weather!! Not to cold though.
My time here in Istanbul has been so enjoyable it really is a city full of great food at reasonable prices, having a pace and everso friendly people that permeate a peaceful relaxed easiness.
It has been very social.
After almost three months of little cycling, it really is time to begin this long journey east. One that I am so looking forward to.