Monday 5th December 2011

Touring bike boxed up ready to fly
How not to pack a bike


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!

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!