(written by Nancy)
Even with our long naps yesterday we both slept hard last night in our very big hotel room. I guess that once the adrenaline from the ride wore off we were both very tired so a good night’s sleep was just what we needed. Breakfast this morning was a full-on buffet affair and it turned out there were quite a few other guests in the hotel, at least if the breakfast turn-out is indicative. Breakfast started at 7am so we went a tad bit early and within a few moments after 7 there were people streaming through the door.
We had blue skies when we woke up but by the time we had the bags on the bikes the clouds were rolling in. Hmm, didn’t look to promising. But, too late to change our mind so off we rolled, making our way back to the D100 to continue our path westward. The road was heaps better today – we only had a little bit just out of town that was a bit rough, but the traffic was much quieter and soon we had a decent shoulder. Much, much better than yesterday.
The weather, on the other hand, was a bit concerning. Lots of heavy grey clouds ahead and we thought we were in for a wet ride. We stopped at the small town of Corlu for a tea, trying to decide if we should call it a day or take our chances and keep riding. At this point we had about 40k on the clock and knew we had at least 50k to go. It was only about 9:30 at that point so we decided we would keep going and hope for the best. And, as luck would have it, despite all the big dark clouds we only had a couple of spits of rain, not even enough to get us or the road wet.
The ride today wasn’t really anything exciting, though after yesterday that was okay! Mostly just fields of wheat or some other kind of grain and then lots and lots of factories. It looked like they might be clothing factories – many of them had the word “tekstil” in their name. Seemed a bit odd, plopped out in what seemed to be the middle of nowhere but perhaps they are close enough to Istanbul for easy transport to the rest of the world. We passed an Efes beer brewery as well, the telltale smell of hops peaked our interest as we approached but we both were thinking “no alcohol in Islam”. You actually see “Efes”, the local beer, everywhere so I’m not sure why we had those thoughts.
We rolled into our destination town of Luleburgaz about 12:45 and stopped at a little café to get something to eat. A family that had just finished up their lunch kindly bought us a cup of tea, which hit the spot as it was a bit chilly. We had some nice lentil soup for lunch and then got some directions from the proprietor to the city centre, where she said there were some hotels. This town has a population of almost 100,000 so we figured there must be at least a couple of hotel s to choose from.
The town centre seemed quite busy and we finally pulled over into a road that had been barricaded and was now full of pedestrians walking about. We could see lots and lots of flags about and some balloons down the road a bit. From where we stopped we could see three hotels, so Dave set off to check them out (it was his turn today). As I waited with the bikes while Dave went in the three that he could see I had two groups of young men stop to chat in English with me.
Today is a national holiday – Youth Day – and there is a big celebration in this town. Apparently groups of young folks have been invited to this town for a conference of some sort, and there is a concert tonight in the main town square. Many of these young people are studying English in school and are anxious to practice with a native English speaker when they can.
We finally picked a hotel after Dave’s inspections – actually not the nicest hotel, as the nicer one apparently had very bad customer service skills and that was it for Dave, being the customer service champion that he is…. So, instead of sitting in a nice room I am sitting in a very small closet… Actually, the hotel we ended up in, Hotel Suruc, is not that bad, just very small – there isn’t much space to move once we got all the bags in. And, one of those groups of nice young men are also staying at this hotel and were very kind to help Dave speak to the manager of the hotel and even helped us take all of our bags upstairs. It is much cheaper than the nice hotel across the street, which I told Dave means we have some extra for the hotel tomorrow night in Edirne…. (junior editor’s note: I’m leaning towards camping in Edirne – sounds good to me anyway)
Once we got cleaned up we headed out to see what all the excitement was about. The place is hopping with people and there is a big stage set up for the concert, which apparently starts at about 8pm. I suspect given the volume at which they are playing the taped music now that we will have no trouble hearing the concert from our hotel room… We wandered past some guys selling baby chicks and baby ducks. When we stopped to take a look one of the fellows handed me a little baby duck and then motioned for Dave to take a picture – and he grabbed a chick and wanted to be in the picture too! Another fellow standing nearby spoke some English and translated for us, telling us that the fellow really wanted us to take two little ducklings. I was tempted, but could not quite figure out how I could carry the little guy so that he wouldn’t get cold or smushed.
As we started to walk on and continue our stroll the fellow who was translating invited us to sit down and have a cup of tea. We had a fun time chatting with him and his friends that were gathered in the area. He acted as the translator for all of the questions from his friends. There was even one fellow who apparently rode his bike quite a bit and had done some touring who was very interested in what we were doing. After we finished our tea we asked him if he could recommend a good place to get a lamahcun. He said of course, and instead of giving us directions he would take us there. So, off we went with his cousin for a stroll to a restaurant, where they delivered us to the front door. We thanked him for all of his help and said our goodbyes.
The lamahcun was very good – hit the spot, like it always seems to. We wandered back through town, past the concert stage. People were already starting to grab their seats. Our translator friend said the entertainer that would come on later this evening is a famous pop star in Turkey. I’m guessing it is not someone we know, but apparently she is famous.
We stopped for some snacks for the road tomorrow and made our way back to the hotel. There we met the owner’s nephew, who has just returned to Turkey after 3 years studying in Sydney. His English was very good so we chatted with him for a bit. He loved Sydney and is anxious to return when he can – I know the feeling some days.
I think it will be an early night tonight, as long as the noise from the concert doesn’t keep us awake too late. Tomorrow we have a bit shorter day but the weather continues to look a bit unsettled. Hopefully our luck will hold out and we will stay dry as we make our way to our last stop in Turkey.