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21st – 22rd Dec – Istanbul to Kayseri

January 26, 2011
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In terms of staying true to the essence of cycling half way round the world, there is no justification for the next 1,200 km we took in the relative comfort of a (train), BUT in terms of the scope of our own trip, I will do my best to argue the case for it…

Firstly, it was two days to Christmas, and the appeal of being in Capadocia, camping in a cave on Christmas Eve and drinking Raki was incredibly tempting.

Secondly, with our time being precious, we wanted to be able to take in the road at a comfortable and decent pace. We felt that there were times when we rushed through Europe, and the thought of doing the same in Asia was worse than the guilt of taking a (train).

Also, doing this means we can go down into the Middle East, thus avoiding the worst of Turkish winter – which actually extends the mileage!

Anyway, justification over – it doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. The train was certainly an experience in itself – we just made the only train of the day, after spending the majority of the afternoon looking for bike boxes which we were told we needed to take the bikes on the train. Of course when we got on the train there was no such need, and we ended up transporting three very large and heavy bits of cardboard half way across Turkey only to leave them at Kayseri train station.

The train was very comfortable for the first few hours, with regular cay sellers walking up the aisle. The night was not so comfortable though, and anyone who has tried sleeping on a seat for 12 hours can tell you. I ended up lying across the gangway much to the annoyance of passengers boarding at Ankara and beyond.

The morning came fairly quickly and we preoccupied ourselves with longing stares out on the road running next to the train line that we were missing. We enjoyed spending several hours hanging out with the train staff, hanging out of the door as the train meandered through the mountains, smoking cigarettes and playing on my new bongo!

Eventually (four hours late) we arrived in Kayseri train station. All the staff helped us offload the bikes (and the boxes) and we got ready to hit the road and find camp. We hadn’t even left the station before we were approached by a curious and slightly dumbfounded rail engineer ‘arent you cold in those shorts?’ who insisted we come into his station office for cay. We followed him into the building and sat down, and very quickly the room filled up with the entire staff of the station, about 25 people in all. They were all very curious about us and in particular our clothes (specially Harry’s full length spankys). They even whipped out the Sitar at one point, and insisted on a group photo outside the office – it was great!

Eventually we managed to peel ourselves away and managed to get out of Kayseri (this was Harry’s first ­­­­experience on a fully loaded bicycle, on Turkish roads, and in particular Turkish buses. The road out of Kayseri was a bit hairy) and we found camp nestled behind a shed on the side of the road.

 

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