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Rough travel day from Alanya to Gazipasa (52/14,115k, 150m)

(written by Dave)

Not every day on the road is guaranteed to be easy.  Today proved one of the harder travel days.  You’d almost expect that a hard travel day involves lots of miles, big hills or even headwinds.  Well, not today.  In fact we barely get credit for a riding day at only 52k.  Today we had dicey weather right from the start.  Actually, it started last night with a couple downpours from the current storm system.  And then it continued this morning with some very threatening clouds, strong coastal winds and some very impressive surf.  The latter not affecting us, other than the psyche factor.

I should actually mention that we slept pretty well in the hotel last night.  We had been warned about the loud nightclubs and discos in the town of Alanya (yes they still call them discos in Turkey).  It turns out that it wasn’t the young kids that had us worried as we headed to bed.  At the hotel next to us a group of elderly German tourist started pouring in around 9PM for what turned out to be some form of Wednesday night karaoke.  They were belting out old show tunes mixed with John Denver classics as we headed upstairs to our room.  We heard them pretty clearly as we drifted off to sleep but honestly can’t remember much after that, other than not being able to get “Rocky Mountain High” out of my head all day today for some reason.

Back to the ride…  We seemed to be riding around rain squalls all morning.  We never really got wet, except when the road was close to the sea where the spray from the waves got us.  It was quite breezy but we did enjoy some spells where this was actually behind us.  The road surface after Alanya changed back to Turkey chip seal.  The nice smooth asphalt ended about the same time as the package tour hotels.  We started with four divided lanes and wide shoulder and ended with a narrow two lane road and no shoulder.  Around the time that the road narrowed, we came across more spectacular coastal riding.  The turny road did a good job of keeping the cars moving pretty slowly.  The coast here was quite spectacular, much like it was earlier in Turkey except now we also had massive waves crashing all about.

We made it to Gazipasa around 11:30 and stopped for a tea and some assistance finding a hotel that we had noted.  No one was sure other than to say, “off by the sea”, so that’s the direction we headed.  We spotted the two known hotels pretty easy and settled in at a roadside gozleme stand to weigh our options.  I checked out the first hotel (Selinus Beach club) and it was ok.  It had everything we needed, including dinner, which given the lack of other options around seemed like a good idea.  We rode to the second hotel and it looked closed and pretty much sitting out in a field by itself so we went back to the first one and booked in.

Here is where the day got harder.  While the hotel was okay on the surface, after getting to our room we discovered that many things were not working.  They were open for the season but only just.  First we had a pretty dirty bathroom with no toilet paper (not too hard to fix).  Next we found that the TV cable was new and not yet connected.  Soon we found that the internet was not working and probably worst of all, there was no hot water.  They had asked us to pay when we checked in, we didn’t negotiate a discount and were pretty upset at this point.  It’s one thing to get taken but when you are paying full price it hurts even more.  None of the staff spoke English, other than to say “no problem”.  They told us that we had to let the water run for 20 minutes (at this point it was coming out a trickle and was still cold) and that everything else would be fixed tonight.  After 30 minutes of letting the water run, I’d had enough.  I logged into google translate on our iPhone and wrote “no tv, no wifi, no hot water, we are leaving and want a refund”.  I hit the translate button and walked into the room where all the staff were eating lunch.

Funny enough, the woman who checked in actually took our side, yelling at the other staff.  Soon our water started to work, a call was made to the internet company and they offered us a room on a different floor where the TV had been connected.  We declined changing rooms (the room they offered smelled very smoky, which wasn’t a good exchange for the TV) but we decided to stay.  Nancy unpacked the bags again and we finally got a shower at nearly 4PM.

Both of us were pretty stressed but really, keeping perspective, other than being taken for chumps, nothing really bad has happened.  We don’t need TV.  We can use our phone for internet.  Someone once warned me that when anyone says “it’s the principle”, then what follows will probably be an emotional argument that would be better managed with a pinch of moderation.  We’ve managed to find some snacks and are now getting ready to head to dinner.  Life could be worse.  And tomorrow is a new day (phew good to get that off my chest).

I almost forgot to mention that we are entering a region known for banana plantations.  This is Turkey’s banana production area.  We’ve seen lots of bananas in Queensland and SE Asia but never like they do them here.  The package tour hotels have gone and have now been replaced by coastal cliffside terraces planted in banana trees.  These trees have the best view a banana tree could ever have.  What was odd about the plantations to us was that several were new or just being put in.  It is odd that banana plantations are more profitable than a stack of condos when it comes to ways to use a coastal headland.  I think I feel better about the bananas – they still make a bit of a mess of the hillside but at least they are natural and can easily be removed.

In the middle of riding through one of the plantations today, we came across a man and woman tending a herd of goats.  I saw the man and goats on the left side of the road and the woman on the right hand side.  Nancy must have been looking elsewhere and only saw the woman.  Just as we approached the man yelled something to the woman and she bent over and picked up a handful of rocks to persuade the goats into not crossing the road (rocks are all that most of the shepherds use on goats here in Turkey).  Nancy, having missed the man and goats thought that the woman was going to throw the rocks at us.  The woman and I got quite a chuckle out of it, though I think that the woman might have been a little embarrassed.  I am pleased to report that no rocks were thrown at us or the goats.

Drinking a cup of tea and chilling now.  No worries, no stress (keep saying that).  Who knows what we will get for dinner – the girl at the front desk typed in something that translated as meatballs and fruit salad so we’ll see.  Tomorrow is a longer day to Anamur – some 85k away with some climbing also reported in other cycling blogs.  At this point the weather looks ok – maybe a little patchy.  We’ll probably make our own breakfast in the room as we have little confidence in the staff here pulling off an early meal.

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6 responses to “Rough travel day from Alanya to Gazipasa (52/14,115k, 150m)

  1. Even better pictures of the ocean. Those are great. Sorry for your tough time.

  2. Good pictures of the crashing waves. Hope the hotel tomorrow is better and stress free.

  3. Beautiful coastline!

  4. Nancy looks stressed/tired even before the hotel issues–I’m sure tomorrow will be a great day and a good boost for your spirits. It does look very pretty. Thank goodness for google translation!

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