17th October 2009 - Alaman to Izmir

About 20 miles from Dalaman airport is a large freshwater lake at a place called Koycegiz. It is famous for very large carp up to 45kg. The hotel we stayed at organises fishing holidays and David decided not to do any fishing this time, but we may return another time for a shorter trip as it is such a nice area.

Next stop was Marmaris which is a Turkish Blackpool. Fortunately it was out of season which tamed it a bit, but there were still loads of Brits among the fish and chip shops and bars. We thought of John Lumbners and his Fixed centre cycling holidays - only one way in and out via a 1000ft climb!

Generally, the prices here are not as cheap as they used to be. There has been high inflation for the past 10 years and low inflation in Britain which puts the relative prices up outside Britain. Accommodation and fruit and veg are generally cheaper than home, but fuel costs are high. Petrol and diesel is about 1.20 pounds a litre which when we left home was a bit higher than we paid. Our hotels have been between 12 and 30 pounds a night mostly including a reasonable breakfast of cheese, tomato, hard boiled eggs, cucumber, olives, jam and bread with tea.
Everything seems to come with tomatoes - Joan is now sick of them!

Marmaris is at the start of an 80 mile peninsula which has a ferry at the end crossing to another resort – Bodrum. We were not sure that the ferry was still operating, but decided to chance it anyway as the road looked very scenic on the map. It was. Up and down very big climbs all the way and views of the sea both sides. In the Rough Guide it was described as torturous and thats by car.

At the end of the peninsula we found a campsite with a nice wooden bungalow in a very quiet spot at Datca. While there we met the first touring cyclists we had seen. Two from Canada and two from Germany and we all had an evening meal together.

The ferry was still operating and we caught the afternoon boat to Bodrum which took about 2 hrs. While waiting for the ferry David did a bit of fishing and caught his best fish yet which a harbour cat promply grabbed and dissappeared with smartly under some rocks.

Our plan from Bodrum was to cycle some minor roads to an inland lake called Lake camici which is said to have many waterbirds and wild life. The only problem was in finding the roads which were unclear on the map and even worse when we started cycling. After many hours of hard climbing in the heat we were only halfway there and diverted to a smalll village called Iassos. For the first time cycling in Turkey we walked up some climbs. David's shirt was so wet with sweat that he could wring it out.

At Iassos we met four Turkish cyclists on a short cycling holiday who told us that the route we had taken from Istanbul was rubbish and to contact them if we ever intended to ride in Turkey again. They were appalled that we had not stopped to visit every ancient site!

It was "find the lake " again the next day. This time much flatter but gain nobody could tell us how to find the small road marked on our inadequate map. Eventually after about 30 km more than planned we sighted the lake and stopped at the first hotel we found. There were only a few ducks on the lake, the hotel was twice what we usually pay and it rained all night. We treated ourselves to an all-you-can-eat meal that evening and ate all we could.

In the morning Joan found a four inch long millepede curled up in her bed. The hotel owner said that as it was brown and not green it was OK!

Back on the road and after ten miles of slog over hills Joan suddenly remembered that we had left our passports at the hotel desk. A taxi ride costing 25 pounds taught us a lesson. We usually just present photocopies but gave them the real thing this time.

We often talk about road-kills and friends know that David takes pictures. He now has a large wild boar and a porcupine to add to his collection.

Kusadasi is another British tourist town but it seemed much less developed than Marmaris or Bodrum and very quiet at this time of year.

We more or less followed a flattish minor coast road through olive groves and fields of Okra or "ladies fingers" to Sigacik. Here, we ate in a marina restaurant whose prices seemed very reasonable. Chicken shishkebabs at 10 lire each. The bill included 10 lire for "extras" which turned out to bhe the bread, olive oil dresssing and serviettes so they said. "this is the turkish way" they said. "Nowhere else in Turkey" we replied, "only here!" We found out that it was a restaurant frequented by British and French from the only package hotel in the area.

Our intention was to stop next in Izmir which is the third largest city in Turkey. But we carried on riding through the city constantly being cut up at bus stops, stopped at countless traffic lights and found ourselves at the other side where we started to look for a hotel.

We were out of luck and stopped 30km later at the largish town of Menemen to find a hotel. "there is only one hotel here" we were told, "and it is not very good".

Dave and Joan Wooldridge