Turkey Route

Our route so far through Turkey

Roads

Roads in Turkey were generally in excellent condition. The exception was some of the interior, particularly around Aksaray. However, we saw lots of roadworks going on, so it’s likely the roads will be much better in the near future.

There is usually quite a wide shoulder along the main roads in Turkey, which is perfect for cyclists to use (it’s often used by slow moving mopeds.) There is a lot of litter thrown out of cars along the road, and Turks have a penchant for a particular brand of sparkling mineral water which comes in a green glass bottle, so there is often lots of green broken glass on the edge of the road.

The main roads (one level below an expressway) are labelled as D roads. They can be very quiet and are safe. They are handy to use when you want to get from A to B quickly, as they are usually the most direct routes, with good surfaces and a more gently gradient than smaller roads. There are always small lean-to restaurants, chai places and fruit/snack stalls along these roads, as well as small general stores (called markets) and petrol stations. The three places where we found very busy D roads, were around Kusadasi (though not too bad,) around Antalya and Bursa, both of which were stressful and verging on dangerous. The smaller roads in Turkey are very quiet, but they don’t have the stalls along them, and the hills are steeper. Pick your poison.

Dogs

Turkey is somewhat notorious for dogs which chase and sometimes attack cyclists. There are definitely a lot of them (and cats.) In Eastern Europe and Greece we had problems being chased by dogs, but by Turkey we’d changed our strategy and didn’t have problems. We negotiated them by slowing down around them and riding calmly past, often talking to them. I appreciate that’s not easy to do when one is running at you though, and it can be hard to suppress the instinct to get away as quickly as possible, especially as the dogs are big here because the strays nearly all have some of the massive Anatolian Sheepdog in them. Most dogs we saw had ear tags, which means they have been vaccinated by volunteer vets, so at least you won’t be chased by something rabid.

Beer

For the first 3 to 4 weeks, until we turned inland from Manavga, we didn’t give a second thought to the availability of alcohol. It was frequently on the menu at larger restaurants, so if we felt like a beer we never really had to seek it out. That changed dramatically though and it was very noticeable in its absence. If you are looking for a drink, it will never be served in a place near a mosque regardless of where in the country you are. Even very, very close to Istanbul, the places that served alcohol were tucked away places reminiscent of Working Men’s Clubs. Beer is sold in almost all shops, both small and large.

Blog posts for Turkey:

Talking Turkey

Riding High

The Kindness of Strangers

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