Got everything packed first thing, then went to have a final look around the markets, such busy places there’s a good atmosphere in them. Managed to sort some anti malaria tablets out as well. Bit of a miserable day it started to rain about midday. Strange I arrived in Istanbul in the rain and leaving in the rain!
Got a taxi from the hotel to the airport, so much easier with the bike in a big box. Said goodbye to the hotel staff once again and said you never know I might be back. I most certainly would go back and I would recommend the hotel www.orientexpresshotel.com to anybody, the staff are so friendly and helpful and it’s in a great position.
Got to the airport in plenty of time in case of any problems with the bike. Just as well checked in as normal and was given a piece of paper and told to go and pay for the bike which I was expecting, went over to the excess baggage desk and got charged £380 nearly as much as my ticket! But thought if that’s what it is, that’s what it is! Went back to check in and gave the girl my receipt who looked at it, spoke to a colleague and wandered off to the excess baggage desk, turns out I got charged the wrong price, it wasn’t excess baggage it was sports equipment, because I’m an athlete!! It only cost me £55 in the end much better! Thanks to the staff on the check in desks particularly the girl who helped me, Elif, very good customer service. Seems a shame to leave Turkey the way I am and I’m a little peed off with it! But realistically it was the only safe and practical way, I’ll just have to return at some later date and ride Iran and Pakistan!
Talking to the waitress at breakfast this morning made me feel really good! She said that it only takes six hours on the bus from Ankara to Istanbul and anybody with any sense takes the bus not the train as it’s so slow! At least in my favour I didn’t have a choice with the bike and it cost less than £9! Apparently the story goes that the rail network was built by the Germans and they were payed by the metre, hence the track twists and turns so much and takes so long! Didn’t have anything to really do today apart from play the tourist, which I did for half the day! Soon got fed up with that, I’m not a very good tourist on my own! I did go up the Galata tower and got a good view across the city and walked around for a bit then went back to the hotel and sat in the bar doing emails and photos onto the website, how sad is that! Couldn’t even go for a ride seeing as the bikes in about a thousand and one pieces! Went out this evening to eat at one of the places I ate at last weekend and was remembered. They must all have very good memories, as most places I’ve been over the last day or so, that I was at last weekend, they have all remembered me, even a couple of locals shops that I just walk by say hello are you back again! In the photograph you can see Yohan with the Testi Kebabi at www.homemadeistanbul.com
Very good and productive day, booked flight to India before breakfast.
After breakfast it was off to the shops. Needed a big bag to put all my bags in so I only have two pieces of baggage, the other being the bike. Bubble wrap for the bike, gaffer tape and a box from a bike shop for the bike. Managed to source everything within an hour or two.
Just behind the Spice market there’s a warren of shops selling everything and anything you need, it’s just a case of finding the right shops they all seem to be grouped together. Kitchenware in one part, ironmongery in another and packing goods in another and so on. Very strange how you get a whole row of the same type of shop.
After getting everything it was back to the hotel to pack the bike up. Thought that maybe the bike would just go straight into the box with just the pedals removed and the handlebars turned. Not a chance, so I took the front wheel off, no still wouldn’t fit, front rack was next, then the front mud guard, still it wouldn’t fit in the box! Back wheel was next followed by the rear mud guard and rear rack. Finally it fitted into the box, in a thousand pieces! Don’t know if i’ll get it all back together though, I’m not mechanically minded but I’ll worry about that when I get to India.
I’ve only ever flown with a bike once before and that was earlier this year to Spain, that time I just got a huge plastic bag to put it in and only took the pedals off and turned the handle bars, a lot easier but I stressed out over it so much, funnily enough this time I’m not stressed at all, might be a different story when I get to India and I can’t get it back together again! All in the box eventually!
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!