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Hilly short ride to the Turkish festival in Polatli (42/15,062k, 430m)

(written by Dave)

Before I talk about today, I have to make a correction about the spa at the Saracoglu Termal Hotel in Haymana.  Yesterday we reported that they told me that the spa closed at 8PM.  I think it was something else that closed at 8PM as the spa was open all night long.  I think that massages may have finished at 8PM.  Anyway, this worked out well for me as I was able to cure all my current ills, plus give my legs a nice treat by running down to the spa after dinner.  Nancy is not a “hot-tub” person so she hung back.  The water was pretty hot, very chemical smelling –still, I had a nice soak.  I also learned how to stop an elderly Turkish woman in her tracks.  It’s easy – just be in the lift wearing a bathrobe when the doors open.  Going to and from the spa, I had this happen.  Both times the woman took one step forward and did an immediate u-turn.  No way they were going ride a lift with a chicken legged, bald caucasian man.

Brekkie was good this morning.  We got more of the Turkish resort spa vibe.  Most of the people we saw last night were sitting at the same tables again this morning.  When we checked out, the manager acted surprised that we were only staying one day.  You get the feeling that many of the guests come here every year, stay the same length of time, in the same room, sit at the same table every meal and have the same spa treatments every day.  There was a parade of bathrobe-clad guests in and out the spa this morning.  We managed to commandeer the lift long enough get all of our bags down to the lobby without scaring any other older Turkish women.

I had thought that today’s ride would be downhill as Polatli is 450 meters lower in elevation than Haymana.  Unfortunately, our maps don’t have enough detail to give us the real story.  We ended up having 3 500 foot climbs and could really feel yesterday’s Ks in our legs.  The scenery was mostly rolling wheat fields.  Looks like the winter wheat that I used to see when I was in college in Idaho.  Nancy thought it looked like Pendleton.   It was only 42k so we made it to Polatli before noon.

In town, we settled into a café for lunch.  It was my day to check out the hotels and rooms so Nancy was pretty relaxed.  We’ve been alternating who gets to make room inquiries and negotiate the rate.  We admitted to each other this morning that when it was not “my” day, relaxing was a lot easier.  I did a couple days in a row a while back when Nancy was tired so today I feigned a headache.  No dice, I had to hit the pavement.   Got a pretty good deal on the Gordion hotel right in the centre of town.  It has an ok room but perhaps the smallest bathroom we’ve seen on the trip.  It almost feels like a motor home bathroom.  Nancy has hit her head already forgetting to duck when entering.  I’m still head-bump free.  Best of all, however, tomorrow is my day off.

Once we settled in and showered, we decided to head across the street to check out what looked like a local market.  There was also a visible set of stairs leading to a monument that looked interesting but it appeared to be a few Ks from the hotel and we couldn’t be bothered with the walk.  The market turned out to quite fun anyway.  It wasn’t really a market, rather some sort of fair with lots of ladies in traditional outfits making and selling whatever they happened to specialize in.  And men hanging around drinking tea and not doing much else.

There were not many folks who spoke English.  One guy came up to us and tried, informing us that we were at a “Turkish Fair”.  Quite funny as both of us thought, ok, that makes sense, as if we were in Sydney or Portland and all the local Turkish folks had gotten together.  Later, it kind of dawned on us that a “Turkish Fair” in a town in Turkey was a little silly.  We saw some signs and we think it may have been a fundraiser for something – we will never know.

We wandered from table to table trying just about everything that was on offer.  The bake goods table had too many things to try but we made a small dent trying.  We sampled a few things we’d not eaten previously, the best being a poppy seed cake, sort of baklava like and a real winner.  Next was the gozleme table where we tried a tasty cheese variety.  The final stop was the cig borek table where we tried our first freshly fried borak – it was too hot to eat – right from the fryer.  One of the “borek” ladies later brought us a couple of baklava for a treat, smiling widely when she slid the container over to us.

Sampling Turkish food is fun.  Doing it in Turkey, at a “Turkish Fair” where there are no other caucasians is double fun, but it can make quite a spectacle.  There is much pointing and giggling.  Of course I always have my camera at the ready and this adds yet another bit of fun.  Invariably, one of the ladies is a bit of a ham who wants her photo taken.  Some of the ladies are shy but all join in, quickly rolling down their sleeves and adjusting their headscarves so as not to expose too much skin.  Getting all of the ladies to smile at the same time is quite difficult.  In fact, even the most forward ones stop when I point the camera.  The key is to take a lot more photos than they think you are taking as they inevitably let their guard down.

We are now in the room looking at our Istanbul plan – it’s a bit hard to believe we will be there in just a few days.  It’s a big city and we are not too sure about trying the “roll into town and have look” technique.  We have a few days before we reach there but it’s a good short day task.  Tomorrow we are heading for Sivrahisar, or there abouts.  From what we can see, the only option there for sleeping is another “Teacher’s House”.  The real issue is we have to cover 160k in the next two days and Sivrahisar is only 60k.  We’d rather make it a bit further tomorrow so we may try out the “stop at a servo and set up the tent” option.  This seems to be pretty common, with both of the pairs of recent bicycle travelers using it.

We’ve been on small roads the last day and a half.  They are nice with little traffic but they also have the rough chip seal surface.  We are hoping the bigger road tomorrow has a smooth surface, but time will tell.  The price you have to pay for the smoother road is usually more traffic and I am sure we will have a bit more tomorrow.  Off to find some dinner at one of the many restaurants around the hotel.

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4 responses to “Hilly short ride to the Turkish festival in Polatli (42/15,062k, 430m)

  1. My lilacs are in bloom too! Glad you are enjoying some northern hemisphere spring! Great pictures of the cooking, working women! Yummy choices, too. So, are you going to stay with Bruce or just meet him for a short time? I think he lives outside the city a bit.

  2. That Wisteria tree is a purple robe locust. One of my favorites and they grow in Northern Nevada! The baked goods look yummy!

    • Thanks for the plant help – you beat Rose to the punch – she normally is Johny on the spot with the weird ones. We saw a bunch more of these same trees today. Seems a popular planting by the Turkish highway folks.

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