28 October, 2012 – We still had about 80km to cycle into Istanbul since we lost a half day the day before due to the mud. We were sitting on our bikes by 7am (thanks to the time change) and continued our up and downhill ride including another challenge: cross and headwinds, or should I better write storms? The wind was so heavy at times, that I couldn’t hold my bike anymore and had to step off it. And we rode downhill in our lowest gear and pedaled to keep going! Thankfully we didn’t only head against the wind, a few times the wind helped us climbing hills.
Getting into Istanbul by bike was easier than expected. I read a lot from other cyclists and was a bit afraid of too much traffic and only busy roads. But we found a great way to get into town, which was busy as well and certainly not the nicest to cycle, since at the beginning (still 20km before Istanbul) we shared the 6-lane highway into Istanbul with loads of cars and small trucks, but there was a wide hard shoulder, which made it a safe ride for us. There was just one tricky situation, when the road split and we had to turn left because we didn’t want to end up on the motorway. The cars were too fast to just cross the road and we already thought we had to go back all the way. But then a taxi driver stopped just behind us and made all following cars stop so we could quickly cross the road. By the time we headed off this poor taxi driver was involved in a fight with another driver and we cycled away in a nice chorus of honks.
Cycling into Istanbul was a very cool experience. As Istanbul is our final European destination, it had to be special anyway, but we will never forget this great feeling riding through the busy outskirts of Istanbul, the roads jammed with buses, cars, trams and people and we on our bikes in the midst of it. To get into the center took us another two hours, given the size of this city and us not knowing where to go exactly. We once again used our compasses to be able to head into the right direction.
In total it took us 7.5 weeks to get to Istanbul. We cycled through eleven countries and a total of more than 3,200km. We are still a bit frustrated that we haven’t been able to cycle all the way to Istanbul and instead took a train and a bus through most of Bulgaria, but that’s how it is. Istanbul is an exciting place to be and there is so much to see, that we are now happy to have a few more days to explore before the next chapter of our adventure begins.
For those who are interested in more details on our route, we’ve added a country stats page to the blog. Just click the home button and you will see it next to the ‘About’ section. And a reminder for those who would like to see more pictures, they are available on Facebook.