Thursday, 19th of April 2012
When we arrive to Denizli it is getting hotter. We could not find couchsurfing hosts there so we look out for a cheap pension and find a small room for 35 Turkish Lira (15 €) for the both of us. We plan to spend only two nights there but then we get to know our neighbors. There are Shahnaz and her sons Mustafa and Morteza from Afghanistan, Arash from Iran and Maggie from the Dominican Republic.
They all live in the Pension and we make friends from the first moment on. We stay three nights in the end and spend one whole day in Pamukkale and another one working. On the third day we take some time sorting out our messy room and saying goodbye to our new friends, but at 2 pm we finally leave the city. It is hot and the wind blows softly in our backs – yes, really, in our backs.
This does not happen too often so we do not stop too often. In the map I see a lake about 70 kilometers behind Denizli. Wow, it must be great to camp on the side and go swimming in the morning. We do not care for the tiny hills and go faster and faster. “Just imagine, we can lie down in the grass, have a nice bath and enjoy our dinner watching the sunset”, I think and pedal a bit faster. “Or we can do a real beach day and I can finally use the bikini I carried for so long!”
We cycle faster and faster (today’s Average Speed 17.3 km/h) and there it is – a Salt lake. No water, no beach, no grass. No bikini (it is chilly in the evening), no swimming, not even a possibility to get close to the salt because of a huge train rail. Well – I will have to wait for the Black Sea coast. Anyway we camp between the road and the rails and enjoy the sunset eating our delicious dinner in a field. Who needs a beach if you can have a field instead?
The sun stays with us and so does the wind. It just changed its direction and blows from the front now. We have a couple of breaks and eat the best Pide (kind of a long and thin Pizza) that we have ever had in a small town called Dazkırı. In Dinar I see a watermelon stand. Watermelons! Seems like the season started! My mouth is watering. Though we have to carry enough kilos I ask for a small one. The price is 20 Turkish Lira (8.50 €). I ask again, I must have misunderstood that. Really – 20 Lira. So we leave without a Melon. I will probably have to wait for Iran for that.
We have some longer hills to fight with but on the way back down we can enjoy an empty and well asphalted street without potholes. We roll and roll and reach a new record of 60.9 km/h. In the night we camp close to the street again with an empty house as a privacy shield.
By the next morning I discover that a small screw is missing on my rack. With all our baggage we better look for a shop to get a new one in the next town. So we look out for a place to check the Couchsurfing page, a shop to buy breakfast and another one to get the missing screw. First we find a bike shop. The owner looks through all his screws but cannot find a fitting one. In the meantime his colleague leaves and comes back with breakfast for all of us. I use the google translator in the shop’s computer to communicate easier. After nearly one hour we have eaten some pastry, drunk each three glasses of tea, laughed a lot with owner, colleagues and costumers and have written some couch requests online. The bike is fixed and we want to go on. When we ask for the price the owner feels personally attacked. “I could not charge you for that!” he says a bit outraged. So we leave without paying.
It is windy again and not as hot as during the last days. The wind blows stronger and stronger from the right. It blows so strong that I have to stop. So I stand on the side of the street holding the bike strongly with both hands trying to open my eyes and watch through my own hair that is blown all over my face. Every overtaking truck takes the wind away for a moment and we have troubles standing on our feet. We stand like that for some minutes wondering what to do now. Then we decide to go on carefully. We struggle up some hills and the higher we cycle the stronger the wind blows. Then the street turns left. I cannot believe our luck. We have the wind in our backs now! It pushes us forward so fast that I have to use the brake.
I scream and laugh and scream again and feel like a little girl during her first rollercoaster ride. Even though the street is curvy the wind never blows directly from the front this day. We enjoy our day in the steppe landscape and enter the state’s capital Afyonkarahisar in the afternoon. Here we meet Sinan who offered to host us for one night. We walk through the city, eat sandwiches, drink tea and go to Sinan’s friend’s house where we his flatmate had prepared Kısır, the vegetarian version of Çiğ Köfte. Kısır is a spicy paste made out of bulgur, vegetables and spices. Çiğ Köfte also contain raw meat. Though everybody wants to taste some Mexican food we cook and eat a third time and come back far after midnight. After more than 70 windy kilometers and three meals I fall asleep as soon as my head touches the pillow.