So believe it or not we were in the final month of this 11 month trip and although the plan was to carry on back home from Greece after a break at Christmas it certainly felt like we were coming to the end of something substantial.
Not wanting to spend half of our final month in snow, rain and cold temperatures we decided to take a long bus journey from Tbilisi all the way to Mersin on the south coast of Turkey. It was a hard decision to make because cycle tourers never like getting public transport if they can help it but the draw of 20+ degrees, coastline cycling and lots of camping opportunities was too inviting.
We had also recently signed up to Workaway and after two long stints in capital cities (Yerevan and Tbilisi) the idea of spending a week working on a farm in the Turkish countryside was really appealing. So via the site we organised a week with Susan and Orhan who have an olive farm, boat building and horse riding business just west of Antalya. Right up our street! Spending a week on the farm would mean we would have three remaining weeks to cycle along the coast to reach Bodrum where we would get a ferry over to Athens before flying home for a month to spend time with family and friends.
We crossed the border without too many problems, it’s always slightly stressful pushing/carrying and lifting the tandem through the various custom buildings, especially when we didn’t know how long we had for our bus connection to Ankara but all was fine in the end. Luckily this second bus was only half full which meant we could both stretch out over two seats and get a half decent nights sleep. By 8am we had arrived in Ankara with just the 7 hour journey to Mersin left.
The Turkish people are incredibly forthcoming in their friendliness and hospitality and we easily found our connection bus to Mersin, storing the bike and the majority of our bags easily in the luggage compartment before heading off to find some breakfast. We didn’t rush as we had 90 minutes before the bus left. Or so we thought… Returning to the terminal in ‘plenty of time’ we discover the bus had already left and looking up at the large station clock we realised, to our horror, that my phone had set my clock to the wrong time zone. I officially hate apple products…
A really nice guy who spoke good English helped us explain what had happened and we were given a new ticket free of charge and assured that the conductor had been called and would ensure everything got safely stored in Mersin station’s luggage storage. Considering the whole thing was completely our fault we were very well looked after. All was well, and we were reunited with tandem and all of our bags on arrival with lots of lovely people helping us along the way; including a Syrian refugee who had perfect English and who told us all about his successful family run hostel which he had owned in Palmyra before he had fled with his young family to Turkey. I kept thinking what a pity it was that we didn’t have such an energetic, intelligent and generous person coming to relocate to the UK…
It was downhill all the way to our warmshowers host so the 10km to his house in the dark wasn’t a bad ride. We enjoyed the warm sea air and spent a really nice evening with Kadir and his two housemates who were preparing for their English linguistic exam the next morning.