A little nervous we cycled the last 8 kilometers to the Syrian border. We spent the night at Ahmet’s house in Reyhanli and were clean and well fed, so ready for a possible disappointment. After 4 border stops on the Turkish side (passports, customs, and registration number of the bike haha) there is 2 km of no men’s land: a road in the steaming heat with high hills on both sides and outlook posts on top. Then we saw the Syrian flag and the start of the border and we both got a bit quiet. There was a big queue of cars and mini-vans in front of the border and we went in line. And then we saw that the big building on the left said “passports and immigration”. They had a big sign saying: people with visa from the embassy please show it to the officer for a stamp, people without visa please get one at the duty officer. So after some waiting, paying at the bank, walking backwards and forwards with papers with stamps etc we got our Syrian visa and were ready to go! Almost an anti-climax after a month of worrying if we could get in J.
We’re in Aleppo now and the first impressions of Syria are wonderful. The people are as friendly and hospitable as in Turkey (we had many cay and coffee stops on our first 50 km of cycling), they have amazing coffee machines everywhere and the landscape has a very different feel about it with deep red earth. Aleppo is full of little alleyways with beautiful old houses with courtyards (we’re staying in one of them), churches and mosques and you can see the citadel high on a hill.
We’ve not written much about our last 10 days in Turkey though. So we’re sure you’re wondering about the pervert? They weren’t the nice American couple that we met when we were about to have lunch in a field...but some weirdo and his wife who stopped us at the roadside. He was really overly friendly and insisted that we take his photo, in Turkish. You could just tell he was up to something, so we politely gestured that we must go! After trying to stop us a few times we eventually stopped, we thought they were just really eager to practice their English. Anyway, within seconds of stopping the guy pointed at Claire and me, then him and his wife and said ‘sex party?’. We were in shock! Did he just say sexparty??? He did! Now who in their right mind would want to have sex with two cyclists who obviously hadn’t washed for days? We politely declined, as Claire didn’t like his teeth and she had bad shoes :o). That’s a joke....We weren’t really very polite and they seemed to get the message!
Anyway, the cycling from Aksaray to Adana was totally amazing, some of the best we’ve had. We cycled through the valley of Ihlara (Cappadocia) with its ancient rock churches and dwellings in a beautiful gorge. We had a bath in a thermal spring and met so many nice people!!! The route we took went straight though the mountains and we had such cold nights with frost on the tent. One night we even slept in our down jackets! We crossed 2 passes over 1700m and were chased by dogs a few times...all exciting stuff :o)
Have a look at the photo link above to follow the days or click this http://www.flickr.com/photos/40131711@N05/
Claire and Dan