Sunday 4th December 2011

Ankara to Istanbul by train

Up at 2.30 for the 4am train to Istanbul, got to the train station 3/4 of an hour before it was due and went and sat in the waiting room, according to a temperature I saw on the way to the station it was -9°! Very cold. There was already a few people in there all snoring away but it was nice and warm. 4am came and went no sign of a train and nobody to ask, so just sat and waited and waited, I kept looking at my ticket just to make sure, yep, right date, right station and 4.11 to Istanbul! People started to drift in but nobody official. Eventually I found an official who said it was at 6 they’d changed the timetable or something, they must have changed it over night as I only brought the ticket yesterday! Could have stayed in bed for a couple more hours! Eventually the train arrived at 6.30, managed to lift my bike up the 3 feet to get it into the guards carriage, left Ankara at 6.50! I like it when the train stops you have enough time to get off the train and get something to eat or traders get on to sell you bits. The landscape is pretty baron around Ankara, but the closer we got to Istanbul it started to get greener. Eventually arrived in Istanbul 11 hours later! Felt more worn out than when if I’d have cycled here!

Saturday 3rd December 2011 Ankara

The Dolmus bus terminal in Ankara Turkey
The Dolmus bus terminal in Ankara Turkey

Got up at normal time and had breakfast then set off to find the Saudi embassy, thought that would be the hard one to get so best sort it first. Had a rough idea where the embassy was as I’d looked on the internet last night and the man on reception had marked it on the map. So off I go wanted to be there at 9, get to where the embassy’s are and go to get my piece of paper with the address on. I’d only left it back at the hotel and that was miles away, so I started to ask people after an hour I gave up, think I found nearly every embassy in the world apart from the Saudi one. So off I went back to the hotel and get the address. After getting the address I thought I needed some photos, so best get them before finding the embassy. Got a taxi this time, even the driver had to ask another taxi driver where it was, it was very close to where I was earlier but obviously not close enough. Anyway it was closed and didn’t open until Monday! Wasn’t going to wait around until then so looked up flights to India, turns out it’s easier and cheaper from Istanbul. If I fly from here I have to change at Istanbul anyway and I’ll have to hang around the airport for about 6 hours. Booked on the 4am train to Istanbul which gets there at about 1pm, long journey but I don’t mind trains at least your moving and you see the countryside. I’ll book the flight to India once I’m in Istanbul hopefully for Tuesday. The lift in this hotel drives me made talk about lift music, all that’s playing on a continuous loop is Celine Dion with that theme from Titanic, you can even hear it as the lifts coming up!

Friday 2nd December 2011

Early morning in Turkey
Early morning near Gerede Turkey

Gerede to Ankara 88 miles

Today started off the way yesterday finished, going up hill! Two big climbs today the first at just under 1600m the second just over 1100m, once they were out of the way it was mainly down hill to Ankara! It’s been cold all day today I’ve had a hat on for the majority of the day, should start warming up soon though!

Felt a lot better today, the last 2 days have not been good. The news about Iran was playing on my mind as I didn’t really know which way I was going to go even though I’d looked at the options on Wednesday! Last night I decided to try and get visas for Saudi Arabia and Egypt, if the Embassy’s are open tomorrow, if not then I’ll get a flight to India. I know the visas will take a while and i’ll have to wait around for a few days, maybe a week or more but at least something will be happening, haven’t got the patience to wait for them to open!

Thursday 1st December 2011

Bolu Dagi Turkey
Looking out from the Bolu Dagi

Duzce to Gerede 70 miles

Nothing exciting today didn’t even get chased by any dogs. It’s been a hard hard mainly up hill. Still thinking which way to go next, my latest plan is to just fly to India, as I think I might have a problem getting from Cyprus to Egypt also the Saudi visa could be difficult. Pretty annoyed about Iran especially as Pakistan had already been crossed off, suppose that’s one of the joys of trying to cycle to Australia.