Bananas and bad roads to Anamur (89/14,204k, 1413m)

(written by Nancy)

Both of us were a bit cold last night so didn’t sleep all that well.  We couldn’t get the heater to work and we only had skimpy blankets – actually we had about 4 or 5 skimpy blankets, each of them about a twin size so we layered them all on top of each other but that usually results in a bit of a wrestling match while asleep as each of us grapples all night to get enough blanket.

Dinner last night was actually okay – the meatballs were tasty and the salad (the usual green salad, not fruit salad as the translation tool seemed to suggest) was good so score one point for the hotel.  We couldn’t hang around this morning for them to get breakfast going so we ate some our oatmeal in the room and were on our bikes heading out of the parking lot by 7:15 or so.

The weather had turned and there was hardly a wave in the sea –completely different to the last couple of days.  There was only a light wind and we even had some sun as we started out.  s and it was nice to see a bit of the sun.  Unfortunately the clouds rolled in shortly thereafter though, so we didn’t see much sun other than the first couple of kilometers this morning.

It seemed like we climbed for the first 30k of today’s ride – the initial bit was relatively gradual as we made our way past villages filled with greenhouses.  We saw lots of strawberries that looked almost ready to pick, and another plant which I think was probably cucumbers or zucchini that filled many of the greenhouses – most of those were still just flowers, no fruit yet.  We rode up a valley and up a pretty good hill, climbing 500m up to the hillside above the coast and then the road followed close to the coast with lots of ups and downs to keep us occupied.  We saw more bananas as well, and at one point a van slowed down beside us and a fellow handed us out some fresh bananas to snack on.  Quite tasty they were – a bit like finger bananas, small with lots of flavor.

We stopped for a snack at about 30k or so when we passed a restaurant of sorts at the top of the hill.  They didn’t have much to eat but we did get some tea and bread with honeycomb (from the proprietor’s own bee boxes that he pointed out to us) to spread on it – very tasty.  The views from the café were pretty stupendous – it was right on the edge of a cliff that looked like it went straight down to the water.  Unfortunately the fun moment was tainted a bit when it came time to pay – one of those Turkey tourist moments when he charged us much more than it should have been for such a simple thing.  But, oh well, we smiled, paid the man and made our way back to the bikes.

From our snack stop it was downhill to the sea – nice to have a bit of a rest after all the uphill.  We rode through the village of Yakacik, which seems to be a big processing spot for bananas.  We stopped at one roadside stand so Dave could take a picture, and the little old lady manning the stall really wanted to tell us all about the honey she was also selling, in many different forms.  She seemed to be telling us the honey with the honeycomb in it was particularly good for making you strong and healthy – at least we think that’s what she was saying as she raised her arms and flexed her none-too wimpy muscles and beat her chest a couple of times.  Dave smiled, shrugged his shoulders and pointed to the bikes, trying to tell her that unfortunately we did not have any room to take one of the very big jars of honey.

From Yakacik we went straight back up, a decent climb up at least 500 more meters.  Unfortunately this is where the road construction started.  And this was road construction with a vengeance – at times it looked like the whole hillside was blasted away, with rock, rubble and gravel everywhere you turned.  Not quite the thing you want to deal with when you are climbing a fairly significant hill.  We hit 14% at one point and I couldn’t keep control of the bike on the gravel so had to jump off – just a bit too nerve-wracking for me, dealing with the gravel, the steep hill and the traffic going by.  Dave kept going up over the next rise then pulled his bike over to the side and ran back and helped me push my bike up to his.  I know, what a guy…

We had a bit more up and down after we finally made it to the top of the second big climb, and on one section we had our second banana hand off from a truck passing going the other way, of all things.  He actually stopped and waited until we got close enough and then tossed us some bananas.  We rode on a bit more until we found a flat spot so we could stop and eat them before they got smashed in the next up and down.

We finally got some pavement and had a big downhill to the sea again to a small village – we think it was called Demiroren, though it also seemed to have another name, something like Melloc.  Just as we made the last turn to the sea and into the village I pulled over to watch a tortoise start to make his way across the road.  He had made it about half-way when Dave came around the corner and stopped to take a picture before picking him up and giving him a ‘ride’ the rest of the way across the road (just ahead of a speeding car).  Just up the road there were two restaurants – by this time we were pretty hungry so were enticed into one by a fellow standing on the balcony who spoke pretty good English.  We didn’t want to take too much time, as we knew we had yet another climb in the last 23k into Anamur so ended up with a couple of fried eggs and bread and of course some more tea.  Just what we needed.  Unfortunately we had to decline one of the fresh fish that they should us – not sure how that would feel on another climb!

That last 23k into Anamur was enough to wring the last bit of energy out of us.  We climbed straight out of the lunch spot and soon hit yet more construction.  Again the method seemed to be to destroy everything along the way and replace it with gravel.  It was crazy, as we only saw about 2-3 dumptrucks and one cat working on the construction the whole day, and there was at least 30k of construction.  We saw them working on a pretty big tunnel as well.  There were times when you could not really see where the road was going up ahead of you, just massive piles of gravel.  When we finally reached the top and the end of the up and down section that followed we rode by a couple of construction workers and one called us over to give us  each a piece of sweet cake – just the thing to get us to our destination.

The downhill that we were looking forward to into Anamur was not to be – the road construction continued and it was impossible to go very fast.  We both had cramps in our hands from holding the brakes.  When we finally reached the end of the construction the smooth pavement felt incredible – it was really a battle getting through that construction.  It would have been a very scenic ride up through the mountains but we really couldn’t enjoy the scenery as full attention was required just trying to get the bikes through the grave.  Oh well, in a few years I am sure the road will be great!

We made our way into Anamur and headed toward the beach area where we knew most of the hotels were located.  Along the way a car drove up beside us and the fellow driving asked if we needed a hotel, because gosh, he had one!  We agreed to follow him to his hotel to take a look.  It was okay but pretty basic  and not on the beach so we decided we would continue down to the beach area and get something to eat and check out the other options.  After a nice chicken doner at a corner shop we headed a couple of blocks down the road and ended up at the Hotel Eskya.  It is a good family run hotel, really clean, hot water, internet, the whole works.  The mother and father do not speak English but their adult son and daughter do.  They are all a very friendly bunch so it seems like a really nice place, which we needed after last night!  Plus, they have three little kittens that are very entertaining.

We went down the street to a restaurant for dinner and watched the live band play some Turkish music for a bit.  Now we are both struggling to stay awake so it is time to sign off.  We have decided to take a day off here tomorrow as there is a nice castle to see and, well, we need a day to rest.  Dave says today was the biggest total day climbing since we left Nice – feels like it right now!

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