Thursday, August 22, 2013

Up over the border we go....

I guess borders are drawn between counties base on several different factors, but today we found that the border between Turkey and Bulgaria was drawn based on a mountain range. So we climbed at the beginning of the ride over a mountain to get to the border where we got a visa to enter Turkey (15 euros) and after having it stamped and inspected at the entrance gate, we were in.

Each country that is entered, I don't have a clue what to expect and try not to have any expectations. I want to experience the country for what it has to offer, not what I want it to offer.

Upon entering Turkey, we had a quick down hill followed by another climb. The roads were the best that we've seen in a very long time. Newly paved, wide shoulders and beautiful views.

The first town wasn't until about 40 km into the ride. It was called Kirklareli. We pulled into town and as it turned out, it was a pretty good sized town. A couple of kilometers into the town center and shops, bakeries and lots of traffic. Several shops were selling gold jewelry and I guess we'll see more of that as the trip progresses. The bakery was a treat. The first fresh pastries that we had in several weeks. We also looking forward to tasting "Turkish Delight" that everyone has been talking about.

With the first pastry stop out of the way, it was time to push on to lunch about 20 more kilometers (a bit over 12 miles). By this time, the wind was picking up and it wasn't in our favor. Sometimes a headwind, sometimes a cross wind, but never a tail wind. Our pace dropped off rapidly.

After lunch it was more of the same but with some uphills and downhills to add some variety to the day all the way to the town of Vize.

The most striking thing about Turkey so far is the people. We saw the most curious and friendly folks on the road today. Sometimes you will be riding and occasionally a drive will give you a quick beep of his horn to let you know that he's behind you and well be passing shortly. But most of the time drivers will step on the gas and go blasting pass you and not give you any room on the road at all!!

Today drivers behind us not only gave us some breathing room, but drivers of cars and trucks would often give us friendly toots and blink their lights and wave as they passed. All very nice. I hope that it continues.

We also had two drivers in particular go above and beyond the call of duty. At one point a dog started to bark and chase me (not the first time on this trip), and much to my surprise, a car behind me pulled his car off the road and on to the shoulder effectively putting a block between the dog and me. When he saw that I had peddled out of danger, he pulled back on to the road and gave me a toot as continued to drive down the road. Wow I have never had that experience before.

A second driver pulled off to the side of the road to ask if he could help when one our riders had a flat. Maybe the courtesies that we saw today won't be repeated in the future, but it sure was a very nice introduction to a country that I hope to enjoy visiting.

That all for today, Happy Biking,


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